Starting our school day off on the right foot is important to us. It sets the tone for the entire day. Or, so it feels... But, we really cannot predict what the transition from home to school has in store for us until each and every last foot has crossed through our classroom door, all chairs are down, kids accounted for, and the teachers can commence breathing...
We find having a morning routine is incredibly important to our sanity in class. It helps set each day off right and gives our kiddos a sense of success each morning. They know what to expect. It's predictable. Like coffee...It will happen each and every morning. Without fail...
We have a Person of the Day in our class. We print each student's name on a sentence strip to model appropriate printing of their names. This person is our line leader, paper passer outer, and Teacher's Pet Helper for the day. They love it and look forward to their turn!
It is also a great lesson in patience. They have to wait another 20 plus days for their next turn. :)
Depending upon the number of students and school days, each person gets about one turn each month. To keep track of each person's turn, we tally on the back. We've only had to do this as we've gotten older.
Each morning, we ask our friends to read the name and whisper to the person next to them who it might be. We then ask the Person of the Day to please stand up. This is a great time to see who is listening and paying attention. Once revealed, we read their name, chant their name, snap and clap their name, sky write their name...do anything and everything to share and learn their name, especially at the beginning of the school year!
After a few regular rounds of our "POTD" routine, we like to switch it up on them...
We print their names on the back of the same sentence strip, but with mixed up letters and no capitals.
Tricky-but they LOVE this!!
The kids put their heads together to figure out who it could be. Again, we have them whisper to their neighbor if they know who the mystery friend is. Once revealed, they whisper cheer...Imagine a lot of arms flailing through the air, mouths wide open in pantomime screaming, no sound coming out. ;)
We have also discovered a new trick. ThePOTD from the day before ends up being our "back of the line leader." Not sure about your class, but our friends are constantly fighting, pulling hair, jocking for position on who gets to be at the back of the line. Yes, the BACK of the line...Apparently this is a HUGE deal in the Land of the Littles, which sort of makes it a HUGE problem for us teachers...Sooo...The POTD from the day before our End of the Line Leader. Problem solved.
It's time for our Morning Meeting...
We use stuffed animals to teach them who is speaking and who is listening in large group discussions. It's hard for them to focus on one person and not want to turn to their neighbor and chat about the hot game of kickball that awaits in T-Minus 56 minutes! We get it.
We're always changing up our stuffed animals, but these are some of our regulars...Ya know, goes with our class ocean theme and all...
But, in October we pass around a lil' pumpkin and in January a snowman...Really whatever we've got and our own kids won't notice what Mommy has swiped from their toy boxes at home. Kidding...Sort of...
It definitely keeps it fresh, new and fun for them. We like to keep them guessing...
Here's the Deal...
1. We announce a Question of the Day which will be our speaking topic for the Morning Meeting.
2. We say "Good Morning Room 1." and the kids say back, "Good Morning." back. It's a bit robotic, but it models good communication when someone is being polite to you.
3. Tallest person shares first...That's us! Again, cutting in line modeling. :)
Then, most kids are dying to share, so we start the fuzzy friend around the circle. We encourage them all to share, but we do offer a "pass" option for any who are not quite ready to share. We do ask they at least say, "Good Morning" though. Most usually come around after a few passes. Some just like to see if they can get away with saying "pass", then the novelty wears off and they all share. We are glad.
We teach them how to pass the stuffed animal. Yes, they need to be taught how to pass the stuffed animal. We know, tricky!
But, manners are part of our Morning Meeting too. AND, we have been known to have a few "throwers" over the years...it happens.
When we're done with our Morning Meeting, our Question of the Day becomes our journal writing topic. We are constantly telling them, "If you can say it, you can write it.", "Writing is just a way of speaking with your pencil.", "PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE WRITE!!!" ...Okay, we added that last one...
After a week of topic writing, we all look forward to "Free Choice Friday!" where we share and write about anything we want. They actually cheered last week...It was weird...
Our Person of the Day routine and Morning Meeting time help us start our mornings off on the right foot!
The Spooky Season is upon us. Many of you have plunked down your pumpkins, staked your scarecrows, displayed your dats bats, and dusted off on your cobwebs. It's time for the creepy, crawly, scary, and spectacular. No matter how we slice it, we know everyone will be wired beyond belief excited! Let's just say, the week of Halloween is a total bust thrill... The day before we are wired. The day of we are wired. The day after we are exhausted and wired. The day after the day after we are exhausted, wired, sugared up...You see where this is going? Do you feel our pain? And, this is us!! Can you imagine the kids?!? Hahaha. BUT, over the years we have grown to love Halloween in our classroom...It's an acquired taste, we think. It doesn't sting as bad as drinking orange juice after toothpaste anymore. Nope, we love it. We really do. Our school allows the kids to wear costumes, no masks and of course no weapons ~ We're grateful for that. We add the princess disclaimer because we just know...What's the princess disclaimer? As in, NO princess shoes of any height whatsoever. Feet are to remain flat! But, yes my Pretties...You may glitter them up all ya want! There really is only one downside to this Spooktacular fun...They want us to dress up too. It seems we have loads of ideas every month of the year except for October. Our minds go blank. We cannot for the life of us come up with a costume that we actually want to wear...in public. BUT, we cannot disappoint, so we'll be hitting Target to browse their array of very spooky Halloween tee shirts one day very soon. If they are lucky, we may even through a witch's hat upon our heads just to remind them we are still working people...don't cross us we're fun too! In all seriousness, we do have fun. Fun while learning. And, we love it! This is a great time of year to tie things in that are happening in their daily lives, and let's face it...Around here, Halloween is everywhere! So, we've learned to adopt an "If you can't beat them, join them" mentality. They are going to be excited. There's no getting around it. Weren't WE excited as kids? Of course we were. One night a year that we get to traipse the town getting free candy. HELLOW!!!
We have learned that taking some time out to have a little fun builds a stronger classroom community and really allows us to "enjoy" school. YES, it is possible!! We all need a break for just a little while. We work hard! So, to treat our little Guys and Ghouls this Halloween Season, we will be throwing our annual Spooktacular Celebration in class. We've done this for years, and have it down to a science! We run it "centers" style and invite parents to come in and help.
It's a great story that the kids really get into this time of year!
Something about the patterned story and sound effects gets them every time! Plus, it was $1 in this month's Scholastic Book Orders...SOLD!
After our Frog and Toad and Kissing Hand Booktivities were a huge hit with the Littles, we thought we'd pull together an October Booktivity to extend one of our read alouds. We love the whole "craftivity" verbage, so came up with our own
Book + Activity = Booktivity
It works for us!
These packs have given us easy activities to work into our language arts time as well as provided the kids a real connection to the stories we share!
We'll be working these into our Language Arts time and Guided Reading Lessons in the coming weeks!
And, did we mention they are all aligned with our BFF ~
Okay, so we're not giving up our half of the best friend necklace just yet...but they are aligned!