Morning Meeting - part 3: Group Activity

Happy Saturday, friends! I'm back with part 3 in my blog series all about morning meetings. (You can see part 1 HERE and part 2 HERE.) Today I'm focusing on the end of our morning meeting time - a group activity.

As I've said so many times before, I find our morning meeting time to be THE most important part of our day. It sets the tone for what's to come, gives me a chance to connect with my students, and gives my kiddos a chance to have some fun with each other.

We always end our morning meeting with a group activity of some kind. I'm constantly on the look-out for games and activities that fit my requirements for a good morning meeting activity:

1. Easy to learn: Ain't no one got time for long, complicated directions that are even harder to explain than they are to understand! I have 20 second graders - give me quick and fast, with little prep and I'm in!

2. Keep everyone involved: This one is a biggie. Games in which someone gets "out" early on and doesn't get to play for the rest of the time is a recipe for fooling around! I try to find games and activities that either keep everyone involved in some way, or I modify them myself!

3. Add content: While this one is not a deal-breaker, (I think that cooperative games in which students have to work together, learn to take turns, etc. are just as important), if I can add some content while we're doing it then that's a bonus!

I get my activity ideas from everywhere! My go-to resources are resource books from The Responsive Classroom. The math and science ones have really been a lifesaver in allowing me to keep our games fun, but still focus on learning! I check Pinterest for PE games, and often will change up a favorite game to go with a holiday, season or theme.

That being said, my kiddos' top 3 favorite games are NOT content related - go figure! Every Friday, the "helper of the day" gets to roll the dice on the Smartboard and we play that game. We change the games on the dice every month to keep things fresh. These 3 are ALWAYS there!

I learned this game a LOOOONG time ago. I remember doing it in my classroom, then teaching it to a few teachers, who used it with their kiddos. By the end of the year, EVERYONE in our school knew how to play this game! It's very simple and the best part is.... it's quiet! I have everyone spread out and find a place to stand somewhere in the room (create boundaries if you need to). One person starts by tossing a ball to another student. If they catch the ball, they stay in the game. If they drop it, they're out and must sit down. (I'll tell you how I keep everyone involved in a minute.) The key to the game? Everyone has to be SILENT. You talk, you're out. No excuses. When we first play the game we model how to get someone's attention in a silent way so they know the ball is coming. Pointing, eye contact, etc.... We also practice tossing (not throwing) the ball... gently... underhand...The last one standing is the winner.

I did modify this game in a few ways. First, if the person doesn't catch the ball, then BOTH people are out. That eliminates throwing the ball in a way that the other person will never be able to catch it and is automatically out. (Kids are smart - teachers have to be smarter!) If the game is taking to long, I bring on the "five second" rule. You have 5 seconds to toss the ball to someone else or you're out. (I count in my head.) Second graders can take all. day. long. to decide who they're going to toss that ball to. Keep it moving, friends!

So how does everyone stay involved? Once I have a bunch of kiddos who are out and are starting to get antsy, I call out "switch!" and everyone  who is standing has to sit, and those who are sitting get to stand and be back in the game. I do it as often (or not) as necessary. The game usually ends after about 10 minutes when I'll say, "Everyone who is standing is a winner!"

I'm sure many of you already know this game. Give each corner of your room a number. One person closes their eyes and counts to ten while everyone else quietly walks to one of the corners. The person who is "it" chooses a corner and everyone in that corner is out. When there are 4 people left, everyone has to be in a separate corner. Last person left is the winner.

I don't worry too much about keeping everyone involved with this game. It usually goes fast enough that we can play a couple times. Sometimes instead of numbering the corners, I put up pictures to go with the seasons/holidays/theme we're doing. For instance, in March we'll play with leprechaun/rainbow/shamrock/gold instead of corner numbers. This game can easily be adapted to review content - just choose 4 categories (parts of speech, states of matter, place value, etc.) and give students slips of paper with things that go in those categories. Their job is to move to the corner that fits with their idea.

I remember this one from my childhood! Everyone sits at their seat with their head down and their thumb up. The people who are "it" (I choose 4, not 7) go around and secretly put down one person's thumb. Everyone who's thumb is down has a chance (or two) to guess who put their thumb down. If you're right, you stand up and the other person sits down. There's so many ups and downs with this game everyone is involved at some point.

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