Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Morning Meeting

I have a little bit of experience with Responsive Classroom in both public and private school settings, and I knew that I wanted to bring the idea of the morning meeting into our home school. I love the idea that our first half hour of the day helps me to connect with the kids and set the tone for the rest of the day. I try not to take it for granted that my family is connected simply because we are family; connection takes lots of communication and thoughtful interaction. We get time to build our family "community" at other points during the day (e.g. family dinner) but it is nice to start the day on a positive note.

The other great part of morning meeting is that it provides a fun and practical way to reinforce learning standards in literacy, math and science. Many parts of our morning meeting will probably look familiar to other school teachers-- I used many components in my own classroom last year. Other parts have been influenced by Common Core. We are still in the process of developing our morning meeting, but I thought I'd share what we have going on so far.

1. Read Aloud
I really struggled with how to turn traditional school greetings into something that makes more sense for our family. Normally, we have already had breakfast and lots of conversation by the time we start our morning meeting. I wanted to find a way to connect and introduce our work for the day that felt more like "family" and less like "school." One morning, First Sprout asked if we could start the day with a read aloud, and it worked. Snuggling up with a story turned out to be the perfect way to start our day!

2. Morning Message
After reading a story, we turn to the dry-erase board for our morning message. This gives us a chance to talk about what is coming up for the day. We also get to practice literacy skills such as sight-word recognition and letter sounds. As the year progresses, we will work on word chunks and phonics patterns in the message too.
Blanks in the morning message provide an opportunity for the sprouts to interact and engage. Sometimes First Sprout likes to flip the script and write the message with strategic blanks to challenge me.

3. Calendar
I decided that I wanted to use a "real" calendar for home school so the children could get a sense of time passing through the year and gain real-world skills (although we also have a lovely felt calendar that the kids play with). Ideally, we are supposed to circle today and then cross off the day(s) that have passed (this can get a little dodgy if First Sprout does it independently). We also try to mark special days that we are looking forward to so we can talk about how many days are left to go.
We are looking forward to the first day of autumn!

4. Days of School
In my classroom last year, the students tracked the Days of School with a little straw chart organized into hundreds, tens and ones for teaching place value. I found that my students had a really hard time generalizing that practice into other parts of math, so I was already looking for alternatives when I decided to homeschool. We write the number on a dry-erase pocket to practice number formation, and we also add a penny to our "Days of School" jar each day. We are up to 16 pennies, as of today. I plan on working with money a lot this year since it is such an important real-world skill, and when we start looking at exchanging coins, we will have a nice jar of pennies to get us started.
Our penny jar looks so empty! I'm sure it is going to fill up quickly.

5. Weather
In Pennsylvania, we have Core standards in both Science and Math that call for students in first grade to be collecting and analyzing data (based on these Common Core standards). I wanted to bring this idea into Morning Meeting through creating a series of weather graphs that would help us to gather different kinds of data every day. The Daily Weather Bar Graphs probably look pretty familiar to other teachers-- this is similar to a lot of pocket charts I've seen for tracking weather each day. First Sprout decides whether the weather is sunny, cloudy, rainy  or snowy and colors in a box above the appropriate heading to create a bar graph for the month. I wanted to push a bit by adding some more sophisticated data collection in the form of Daily Temperature Line Graphs as well. After we add a box to the bar graph, First Sprout checks the temperature on my smart phone-- which is great practice for reading two-digit numbers. Then we line up the day of the month (x-axis) with the temperature (y-axis) and plot our data point. For now, First Sprout likes connecting the dots to see the daily ups and downs, but at the end of the month I will show her how to average the line to make observations about the general trend of the temperature through the month. Math and Science skills galore!
We are seeing a cooling trend this month. Seeing the data is helping us to understand changes in the weather when the season turns to fall.
Our Days of School counter and our weather graphs hanging from the wall.

6. Warm up
I like the idea of ending our Morning Meeting with a little bit of movement. So far, it has been harder to do this than I anticipated. However, one of my goals this week is to add just one yoga pose in at the end of our morning meeting. Hopefully this will help us slow down and continue mindfully with our morning!

Do you have morning meeting, circle time, or something else similar? I'd love read about how other homeschool families start their day, so please share in the comments below.

Happy Learning!


  1. Replies
    1. I thought of you when I posted the links to Responsive Classroom. Their stuff is amazing!