Discover engaging morning meeting activities for kindergarten, (even ideas for distance learning). Get ideas for morning greetings, sharing, activities and news.
I don’t know about you, but the reason I went into teaching was all about kids. I love positive interactions with children – they bring me great joy! The last several months of distance teaching reinforced that for me. It was painful to cut back on these critical interactions!
The joy of positive interactions with kids helped me discover Responsive Classroom (and morning meetings), very early in my teaching career. Since that time, a morning meeting has been a key part of my classroom routine. I want my students to have a warm and caring start to their school day. This sets us up for positive, caring interactions throughout the school day.
This is particularly important in beginning of the year in kindergarten. These children are new in our school and many tend to feel a bit lost. Our daily morning meeting activities for kindergarten help my students realize they are part of a classroom community that cares about them. Every day, we transition from our soft start arrival (learn more in this post) to the carpet for our special morning meeting activities for kindergarten. It’s one of my favorite times of the school day!
How does the Responsive Classroom morning meeting work?
The Responsive Classroom morning meeting includes 4 components:
- Group Activity
- News and Announcements
This amazing book, The Morning Meeting Book, goes into detail on each component, including the rationale, tips for starting each routine, and ways to “fine tune” the morning meeting when problems arise. I strongly recommend it!
Honestly, if you have the chance to get read anything from Responsive Classroom, go for it! Their approach to classroom management is based on positive classroom community, intentional teaching of routines, and an awareness of age-appropriate behavior and activities. They build social emotional learning (SEL) into daily classroom routines and expectations. The First Six Weeks of School is a perfect book to start with. This whole approach matches my desire for joy-filled teaching and learning in my classroom!
Now, back to some morning meeting activities for kindergarten…
My favorite part of the morning meeting is the greeting. It seems so simple – gather the class and plan an engaging greeting so all children are acknowledged and welcomed to the classroom community. But it is the heart of the morning meeting, in my opinion. It builds the sense community and the idea that everyone is in the room is valued. Plus, it can be SO much fun for kids.
The simplest morning greeting is to sit in a circle and “pass” a handshake around the circle. You shake hands with a student next to you, while looking them in the eye and saying “Good morning, ___.” They return your greeting then turn to the child next to them and offer the same greeting. EVERY child is greeted and welcomed – in about 2-4 minutes.
You can mix it up a bit by changing the handshake to a different motion:
- pinky shake
- high five
- hip bump (while standing)
You can also change the words used with the with the greeting:
- hello in another language (consider the home languages of your students)
- “Howdy, ___!” or “Hi, ___!”
- sharing a compliment
Not all greetings need to go around the circle, either. Instead you could:
- toss a ball across the circle and greet that person
- stand up and greet someone, then sit in their spot as they go to greet someone
- everyone stand up and mingle to greet one another
Check out these morning meeting greeting cards for more engaging greetings to use.
In a morning meeting, sharing is different than the Show-and-Tell of the past. It is designed to be more of a give-and-take conversation between the child sharing and the rest of the class. Questions and comments come from the audience, building conversational skills and perspective taking. All children have the opportunity to share each week. (The book goes into detail about the rationale for sharing and how to introduce and organize the sharing routine.)
Often sharing is open-ended – students share some interesting news, something interesting they have seen recently, or a fun activity they have participated in.
In order to minimize the Bring-and-Brag syndrome, (which easily highlights economic differences among families), teachers sometimes offer a sharing “theme” for the week. Some examples might include:
- favorite stuffed animal
- something you do with your grandparents
- wildlife you have seen
- beautiful fall leaf
- rainy/snowy day fun
- things to do outside
- favorite book
- something you created
- tell about a special blanket
- your pet (or the pet you would like to have)
- favorite breakfast
Sometimes teachers use a question of the day as a morning meeting activity in kindergarten. Sometimes these questions can establish the sharing topic for the day. Read this post to learn how to use a Question of the Day routine in your classroom.
A short, but fun activity is included in the morning meeting to create a sense of class community through shared experiences. These activities can even reinforce curriculum from other parts of the day.
It can start to feel like hard work for the teacher to find a fun activity for every day. You can keep it manageable by using some of the following:
- do a share reading of a poem, song, or nursery rhyme
- practice phonological awareness activities like clapping names or listing rhyming words around the circle (introduce a new word to rhyme with every 4-5 students)
- count around the circle in various ways (forward, backward, skip counting, stop and start counting)
- play I Have, Who Has…? games
- do a brain break video from Go Noodle or YouTube
- sing a few favorite songs
The point is to find a shared, positive experience for the class to do together. But it does not need to be elaborate or time-consuming to be effective.
News and Announcements
In a K-2 classroom, the morning news and announcements are basically the morning message. It’s a chance to give your students a peek at the upcoming day. In the primary grades, teachers include things like the date, helper of the day and special events of the day (library, music, field trip, etc.)
What are Some Virtual (and Social Distanced) Morning Meeting Activities for Kindergarten?
There may be times when you need to adapt your morning meeting activities to prevent the spread of germs. Students may not be able to touch one another, leaving a simple handshake out of the question. You might even have to conduct your morning meeting virtually, through a video conference. Keep reading to learn how to adapt each component of the morning meeting for social distancing and virtual morning meetings.
In these social distancing or distance learning settings, the morning greeting becomes more challenging. Kids can still verbally greet one another, but they can’t touch, ruling out some of the simplest greetings. But don’t worry – there are greetings that can be done without touching and/or through a computer screen:
- Wave and Smile
- Funny Voice (like a robot or a mouse)
- Peace Sign
This blog post from Responsive Classroom offers sample morning meeting schedules for both video conference and chat platforms.
For the most part, the typical sharing routine will continue to work for both social distancing and distance learning. However, due to distractions during video conferences, you might need to encourage brevity as students share. Some examples include:
- one word responses to a themed question
- bring an item to hold up and show (ex: favorite blanket)
- limit class responses to 1-2 comments/questions
- decrease number of student sharing each day (so they may get a turn every two weeks)
These digital questions of the day can be used to spark some sharing conversations during your virtual morning meeting.
When students are in school but need to be socially distanced, many of the same group activities can be used. Obviously, you will avoid games that require students to move around the classroom or trade places, but shared reading, counting around the (distanced) circle and phonological awareness games can still work fine.
Virtual class meetings can still include a group activity, too. Activities that work online include:
- a brief movement video from Go Noodle or YouTube
- shared reading of songs or poems
- singing silly songs together (especially familiar ones)
- Twenty Questions (you can even use numbers or science vocabulary)
- jokes and riddles
- tongue twisters
News and Announcements:
You don’t need to make many changes to the news and announcements for a morning meeting with social distancing. Students can simply be seated apart from one another as you share the message. But you will need to make some changes to announcements for a virtual class meeting.
Since the distance learning school day may look a bit different for every child, you may need to adapt your news and announcements a bit. It is less helpful to highlight anything from the schedule, since students may complete tasks in a different order. However, you could use the news and announcements to highlight:
- a daily challenge (read outside, clean up part of your bedroom, etc.)
- something they will learn about in the coming days
Because the virtual class meeting may be the only time the students are “together” during distance learning, it would be appropriate to move the news and announcements to the beginning of the meeting. Then this message can set up the meeting. You can give a hint about an activity from the meeting in the message.
A virtual message can be on the screen as older students “enter” the virtual meeting, allowing them to read it as the arrive and chat together. For younger students, you can share the news and announcement message by showing it after you welcome them to the meeting.
With a bit of creativity, you can adapt morning meeting activities for kindergarten so they work in virtual morning meetings or for social distancing. If you need do distance teaching, I encourage you to continue having a morning meeting or class meeting, at least once or twice a week. The classroom community is every more important during difficult times.