Morning meeting time in a kindergarten classroom can set the tone for your day. When met with morning meeting greetings kindergarten students can light up and become engaged with the topic of conversation or they can quickly lose interest. Getting your morning meeting to be exciting, engaging, and educational is a vital part of classroom planning and management.
Often students in classrooms, especially ones with a high ratio of students to teachers, go the whole day without feeling like their voice is heard. 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. Learning learning about food and cooking? Ask students to name their favorite food to make with their family. This can be a great way to get them thinking about the subject while also sharing something personal about themselves and their families. However, there’s nothing wrong with simply asking them about something they did over the weekend or what they like best about school. Anything that will pique their interest and get them talking is great.
Make sure that as your students are talking you are engaged in active listening. Children are very insightful and can tell when an adult is engaged in what they have to say. They also know when an adult is simply tolerating the conversation. Make eye contact, nod along, and ask follow-up questions about their stories. Ask the other students to engage in the conversation too, and encourage them to have some back-and-forth about what they each have to say. This way 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
The picture many teachers have in their head of what a morning meeting “should” look like involves students sitting criss-cross on a carpet in a circle. 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. Making them sit in one particular position for long periods of time is sure to burn them out quickly and make them immediately lose focus. Instead, include a game for a morning meeting that will get kids standing, walking, dancing, or jumping.
Getting active during morning meetings isn’t just fun for them, but can also help their focus. Once they’ve wiggled out all their energy, it’s much easier for them to spend the day focusing on the day’s work. Try involving the subject of the day’s lesson in the activity, as well. If you are studying animals, try some movement activities that involve jumping like a frog or stomping like an elephant. Studying musical instruments? Give kids a chance to try out some simple instruments or dance to some instrumental music.
If you’re ever feeling like you are midway through morning meeting and the kids just can’t focus, throw in some more movement on the spot! 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, and you’d be amazed at how quickly it can turn around the attitude of your class.
It’s also a great idea to give kids some freedom of movement even during activities that aren’t oriented towards moving. Having kids fidget or wiggle around while you’re talking might be distracting for you, but it would be much more distracting for them to have to focus on sitting still. If you can learn to cope with seeing some movement out of the corner of your eye while you’re teaching, you’re going to have much more enthusiastic students who are focused on what you’re saying!
3. Make daily housekeeping fun
A large part of the functional purpose of the morning meeting is to get the class situated for the day. 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! Try finding a fun and interesting way that you can turn these necessary parts of the day into something that kids can actually look forward to.
Also consider combining your daily job assignment chart with a game for morning meeting where the winner gets the first pick of the job chart. A great option might be something like freeze dance, duck duck goose, or a trivia game that’s related to your classroom’s subject. 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 kids involved in tasks like the daily schedule, calendar, and weather by having them involved in putting these items on the board. For the daily schedule, that might mean having students come up to help place schedule items onto a hanging chart or onto the whiteboard with magnets. 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. 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. 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 it 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.