Dyan Bransttter | November 2018
Creative Morning Meeting Activities
Last month, I shared tips for incorporating the arts into the greeting of a Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting routine. A Morning Meeting sets the tone for the day, teaches social-emotional skills, and helps all students feel welcome in the classroom. Meetings are also a fantastic way to incorporate the arts. In this article, we’ll dig deeper into the way you can use the activity section of the meeting to integrate the arts.
- Greeting: During the greeting, every child is greeted by name.
- Group Activity: This activity can be a review of something academic to bring it back to the surface, a preview of something to come or a team challenge. It should be a quick, active activity designed for students to practice working together.
- Sharing: Each child has an opportunity to share something about their life. Other students practice listening and offer empathy or share excitement while learning how to respond appropriately to one another.
- Morning Message: The message is a letter posted from the teacher to the students. The students read it together to help everyone understand the focus of the day.
The Arts and Part 2: The Group Activity
After students have participated in a greeting, we transition into the group activity. This activity an academic review, a preview to build background knowledge or a team building challenge. It should be active and students should interact with each other.
Note: The official Responsive Teaching Framework suggests the following order: Greeting, Sharing, Group Activity, Morning Message.Based on research through Trauma Informed Practice and information on teaching introverts and English Language Learners, we have switched the order of “Sharing” and “Group Activity”. The team building approach to the activity helps students feel more comfortable and confident during the sharing step. I like to connect my “share” to something that we learned from the activity.
This step is a perfect time to pull in an Arts Integration Strategy! These are quick and effective ways to integrate the arts while connecting to an academic review or preview. Some of us have used Arts Integration Strategies during lessons, but they are sporadic. By including them as part of a Morning Meeting, they can become a regular part of your day. In addition, it is a great time to teach the strategies so that when you use them during a lesson, students already know how to do them. Here are a few examples of arts integration strategies that work well with morning meetings.
Mirroring: Have students stand face to face with a partner. Partner A silently starts a movement, and Partner B has to mirror the movement. After a short time, partners should switch roles.
After students understand the idea, provide mirroring challenges by bringing in elements of drama or dance and/or combining with content standards. You can challenge students to use a certain type of energy, such as a powerful movement, gentle movement, sharp movement or smooth movement. (Find specific ideas with these anchor charts.) This is a fantastic way to teach shades of meaning with descriptive vocabulary words.
You could also bring in science standards. This week, we used this as a review for forces and motion. Students were challenged to move without gravity, with a lot of friction, with no friction, transferring energy, and demonstrate push and pull.
I love the Stepping into the Painting as a morning meeting activity. The strategy is exactly as it sounds- have students complete a “close read” of the painting. Then, students choose one item within the painting to imitate with their body. By following the steps on the linked strategy card, the class essentially builds a live version of the painting.
This can be done as an activity with any work of art. However, to make it an effective integration tool, spend some time searching for a masterpiece that relates to content you are introducing or reviewing. For example:
As part of my social studies curriculum, I teach the terms rural, suburban, and urban. We complete the Stepping into the Painting strategy three consecutive days as I introduce the words, and each day, I use a painting that represents this type of community. If used as a review, students could provide evidence for why the artwork represents the type of community. Tip: Google Arts and Culture is my “go-to” for finding artwork – the search function allows you to search keywords and many categories.
Rural: “Rural Landscape” by Nikolay A. Klodt
Suburban: “Houses at Argenteuil” by Claude Monet
Urban: “Rainy Night Downtown”, by Georgia Mills Jessup
I enjoy using Tableau “totem poles” as a way to practice narratives. A Tableau is defined as a frozen picture which actors create with their bodies. (Find more information on this strategy here.) Since we emphasize beginning, middle and end across all forms of literacy in the primary years, having students tableau the beginning, middle, and end of a story they’ve read or written is a great way to make sure they are clearly identifying these elements of a story. Here’s how:
After determining what narrative the activity will be based upon, group students into trios. Student trios stand single file. The student in the front sits criss-cross on the floor, the student behind kneels, and the person in the back stands. The line of students should stand together as tightly as possible to make it appear as a totem pole with three heads stacked upon one another. The student on the top should tableau the beginning of the story, the middle student tableaux the middle, and the student on the bottom tableaux the end of the story. Students can perform their tableaux for each other, deciding if they want to share their beginning, middle, and end, or if the class can guess it.
These are just three possibilities out of many Arts Integration Strategies. These strategies are powerful within a lesson but also lend themselves perfectly to an activity during a morning meeting. We should strive to find as many opportunities as possible to help students create meaningful connections. Using an Arts Integration Strategy as a warm up in the morning gives you something to refer back to later in the day when teaching the concept. It helps give students a frame of reference, helps them with retention and allows them to develop confidence.
Find many more Arts Integration Strategies here: https://artsintegration.com/classroom-strategies/