After doing many Morning Meetings, teachers often wonder how to keep the sense of comfortable routine while also varying the meetings enough to keep students (and adults) interested and engaged. Greetings can be especially important because they set the tone for the whole meeting—and the whole day. Here are answers to questions teachers frequently ask about greetings. (The answers apply to the group activity component, too.)
Question: Students are not showing enthusiasm for greeting the way they did earlier in the year. What can I do?
Answer: First of all, consider why students may be losing enthusiasm. Possibly they've turned a developmental corner. For example, greetings that felt safe and right for mostly seven-year-olds might be feeling too narrow for eight-year-olds, who crave sanctioned ways to vent their boisterous side. Look for greetings that fit students developmentally and you’ll likely see a revival of enthusiasm.
Or perhaps you simply need more variety in your greetings. Take a look at the week as a whole and then find ways to vary the greetings from day to day. One day, pass a greeting around the circle; another day, do a group chant as a greeting; another day, do a greeting that gets children up and moving around the room or gives them a choice of whom to greet. Next week, switch to other greetings of the same types.
Here's a greeting that gets students up and moving while also practicing their math facts.
Match Card Greeting
- Give each student a card on which you've written part of an equation. For example, one student gets a card that says "50 – 35"; another student gets one that says "= 15."
- Students move around trying to find the match for their card.
- When students find their match, they greet each other. A simple "Hello" or "Good morning" is fine.
- Students sit with their matching partner in the order of an equation, visible to the rest of the circle. For example, the student with the "50 – 35" card sits to the right of the student with the "= 15 card."
- Going around the circle, students announce their equation while holding up their cards so all can see.
This next one's fun when you want to rein in the movement a bit by keeping students in the circle rather than moving around the meeting space.
Doing the Wave
- Students stand with one arm extended toward the classmate on either side of them and with palms touching (or palms facing but not touching).
- Turn to the student on your left and say, "Good morning, Sara." Sara greets you back. You both then raise your arms in a wavelike motion.
- Sara turns to the student on her left and they greet each other in the same way, with the same motions.
- Continue in this way so that the wave makes its way around the circle.
Question: I want students to have fun, but when we do bouncy, loud greetings, they tend to get silly and forget to take the act of greeting seriously. What can I do?
Answer: You're right to be concerned about greetings becoming silly. It helps to focus on engagement rather than entertainment or frivolity. Remember that although greetings do need to be engaging, they don't always need to be bouncy and loud. First, it's not your role as a teacher to entertain students. Second, the best learning comes from engagement, which can take the form of deep concentration, even fascination, as well as playfulness and laughter. So instead trying to make greetings entertaining for students, look for those that will engage them. Here are a couple to try.
- Holding a ball of yarn, a student greets someone across the circle and gently rolls the ball to that person while firmly holding on to the end of the yarn.
- The student who receives the ball of yarn greets another student across the circle and rolls the ball to that student, making sure to hold onto the unraveling strand with one hand.
- This continues until everyone has been greeted and the yarn has created a web across the circle.
- To unravel the web, students greet each other in reverse order until the ball of yarn is wound up again.
- Give the first greeter a paper airplane. She chooses someone in the circle across from her and greets him with a friendly "Good morning, ______!" and then gently tosses the airplane so that it lands in front of him. (Remind students to throw the plane carefully so that it doesn't hit anyone.)
- The student being greeted waits until the airplane lands and then retrieves it. (Remind students that only the person being greeted retrieves the airplane.) He returns the greeting: "Good morning, ______!" and chooses someone else to greet.
- Repeat until everyone has been greeted.
Question: Coming up with enough greetings to keep things varied and fun takes time—the one thing I don't have! How can I keep up?
Answer: Variety is important, but that doesn't mean you have to change the greeting every day. It's more important to gauge students' interest level: If they're enjoying a greeting—perhaps even asking for it—keep using it!
But it's also a good idea to continue building the class's stock so you can switch things up when you need to. One way to gather new greetings is to ask colleagues to share ones their students enjoy.
And remember that students themselves are excellent resources. When you ask for their help adapting familiar greetings or even coming up with new ones, their enthusiasm is sure to rise. Here's a greeting devised by a fourth grader. It can be adapted for all grade levels and is especially useful early in the year when students are learning one another's names.
Say Your Name
- The whole class begins chanting the refrain: Say your name and when you do, we will say it back to you!
- The first child then says his or her name aloud: Melanie!
- In unison, the whole class repeats the name: Melanie!
- The whole class chants the refrain again as the greeting continues around the circle.
Say Your Name is an example of a greeting that can be easily varied to feel new. Each student can use a different voice—soft, deep, high-pitched, spooky, etc.—which the whole class then echoes. Students can sing the refrain in rap style, add hand-clapping and thigh tapping, or clap out the number of syllables in their names. To make the greeting livelier, students can add a movement to go with their names, which the class then mimics when they repeat the name.
Here's another greeting that's easy to vary. A bonus: it folds in sharing for those busy days when you have less time for Morning Meeting.
- Post a chart like this.
Ways to move Ways to greet Topics to share Tiptoe Link elbows Favorite dessert Skip Handshake How many kids in family Walk like a zombie Pinky shake Favorite book Swim High five Favorite activity
- Call out a direction from each category on the chart. For example, "Tiptoe, handshake, favorite book."
- Students tiptoe around the room to find a partner and greet them with a handshake. Partners then tell each other their favorite book.
- Ring a bell to signal a new round. Call out three new directions. Students move, greet, and share in those designated ways.
- Continue for three or four rounds.
Want more greeting ideas?
Try these resources from Northeast Foundation for Children. Available in our online store.
80 Morning Meeting Ideas for Grades K–2. Susan Lattanzi Roser. 2012.
80 Morning Meeting Ideas for Grades 3–6. Carol Davis. 2012.
99 Activities and Greetings: Great for Morning Meeting . . . and other meetings, too! Melissa Correa-Connolly. 2004.
Doing Math in Morning Meeting: 150 Quick Activities That Connect to Your Curriculum. Andy Dousis and Margaret Berry Wilson. 2010.
Doing Science in Morning Meeting: 150 Quick Activities That Connect to Your Curriculum. Lara Webb and Margaret Berry Wilson. 2013.
The Morning Meeting Book, 3rd edition. Roxann Kriete and Carol Davis. 2014.
Check out our Morning Meeting for Beginners board on Pinterest!
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