Morning meeting time in a kindergarten classroom can set the tone for your day. When met with morning meeting greetings kindergarten students can either light up or quickly lose interest. Overall, getting your morning meeting to be exciting, engaging, and educational is a vital part of classroom planning and management.
1. Start Your Morning Meeting With a Personal Conversation
Often, students in large classrooms go the whole day without feeling like their voice is heard. To this end, get them involved in the conversation with a morning meeting question. It’s best to try and find a question that’s related to your current topic of study. For example, are you learning about food and cooking? Then ask students to name their favorite food to make with their family. This can be a great way to introduce the subject while also sharing something personal about themselves and their families. However, there’s nothing wrong with simply asking them about their weekend or what they like best about school. Overall, anything that will pique their interest and get them talking is great.
Obviously, make sure that you are engaged in active listening as your students are talking. Children are very insightful and can tell when an adult is engaged in what they have to say. Also, they know when an adult is simply tolerating the conversation. To that end, make eye contact, nod along, and ask follow-up questions about their stories. Additionally, ask the other students to engage in the conversation too. Therefore, you can not only establish a great relationship with your students but help form a community among your class and set a friendly and collaborative tone for the day’s work.
2. Get Moving During the Morning Meeting
Many teachers picture morning meetings as students sitting criss-cross on a carpet in a circle. However, please know that’s far from the only option at your disposal. After all, kindergarten students aren’t wired to sit still for long periods of time. Students will burn out quickly and lose focus if they have to sit in one position for a long time. Instead, include a game for a morning meeting that will get kids standing, walking, dancing, or jumping.
Not only can getting active be fun, but it can also help their focus. As soon as they’ve wiggled out all their energy, it becomes easier to focus on the day’s work. Additionally, try to involve the day’s lesson in the activity. For example, if you are studying animals, try some movement activities that involve jumping like a frog or stomping like an elephant. Studying musical instruments? Then give kids a chance to try out some simple instruments or dance to some instrumental music.
Take Movement Breaks
If you feel like you are halfway through and the kids just can’t focus, then throw in some on-the-spot movement! For example, put on some music and dance together or put on a GoNoodle video to get the blood pumping. It’s easy and quick to add in some more activity into your morning meeting time. All in all, you’d be amazed at how quickly it can turn around the attitude of your class.
Allow Freedom To Move
Also, it’s a great idea to give kids some freedom of movement even during activities that aren’t oriented towards moving. Although having kids fidget while you’re talking might be distracting for you, it’s much more distracting for them to focus. If you can learn to cope with seeing some movement out of the corner of your eye while you’re teaching, then you’re going to have much more enthusiastic students who are focused on what you’re saying!
3. Make the Morning Meeting Daily Housekeeping Fun
Overall, a large part of the morning meeting is to get the class situated for the day. For example, things like going over the daily schedule, doing the daily calendar, and assigning classroom jobs all need to be managed before the day can truly begin. However, that doesn’t mean these daily routines need to be boring! You can find a fun and interesting way to turn these necessary parts of the day into something that kids can actually look forward to.
Make it a Game
Also, consider combining your daily job assignment chart with a game where the winner gets the first pick of the job chart. For example, a great option might be something like freeze dance, duck duck goose, or a trivia game that’s related to your classroom’s subject. However, just make sure that each student has a chance to get first pick every once in a while and that the same children aren’t winning the privilege of picking first over and over again.
Get Students Involved
Get kids involved in tasks like the daily schedule, calendar, and weather by having them involved in putting these items on the board. For example, that might mean having students come up to help place schedule items onto a hanging chart or onto the whiteboard with magnets. Next, the weather time could include using a dress-up doll with weather-specific clothing. This can be a great way to turn a simple discussion into a hands-on activity. Additionally, you can assign helpers through your daily classroom jobs to be the Weather Assistant and Calendar Helper, or you can have several students each put up pieces of the activity.
4. Use the Morning Meeting to Get Their Minds Working
The first thing in the morning is a great time to introduce new subject material and start a thought-provoking conversation about the topic at hand. Instead of simply lecturing students about new material, use the conversational and personal tone of morning meetings to your advantage. Create a morning meeting prompt that will start to get kids thinking about the topic and providing insight into their own thoughts. This is also a great way for you to evaluate how much background knowledge your class already has on the topic of whether they’re brand new to the material.
Morning meeting questions for kids should be open-ended and encourage further discussion. Instead of a simple yes-or-no question, start them with words like “how” and “why”. Ask them to speculate about a question they haven’t learned the content for you, or explain how they think something works. Ask plenty of follow-up questions and encourage them when they respond creatively or put a lot of thought into their answer. This kind of discussion encourages children to invest emotionally in the material and develop genuine curiosity about the content. It’s also one of the times in your day where you can encourage critical problem solving, independent thought, and speculative reasoning. Daily practice of these skills will stick with kids long after they have left your kindergarten classroom!
5. Keep Your Morning Meeting Short and Sweet
Of course, with so many morning meeting activities you want to do with your class, it would be easy to fill an hour just doing some fun movement activities, having thoughtful and personal conversations, going over the day’s events, and spending quality time together having fun. However, the best practice is to keep it short and sweet – try to aim for there to be no more than 20 minutes between when they sit down and when they’re dismissed.
Kindergarten students are still so young, and their attention span is short. Making them continue to sit past when their focus has run out is a surefire way to get them disinterested in their morning meetings and more inclined to be staring out the window rather than listening. Keep your routine snappy and moving by quickly transitioning between morning meeting activities. Instead of trying to cram a bunch of fun activities into one morning, spread them out throughout the week or use them as special “treat” activities to offer kids rather than doing them every day.
Many teachers dread morning meetings, but the truth is it can be the most fun part of the day! Treat is as an opportunity to spend quality time with your students, get to know them well, and orient their focus towards the topic of study at hand. You’ll develop a deeper bond with your students, and the kids in your class will be motivated and ready to learn at the start of each and every day.