The Magic Snow Globe
Standard Met: McREL Arts–Dance Standard 1 (Identifies and demonstrates movement elements and skills in performing dance)
What You Need: Snow globe
What to Do: To help students shake off extra energy in the morning, try this fun seasonal activity. During your morning meeting, show students a snow globe. Shake it a few times, letting it settle between each shake. Next, have students close their eyes and pretend they have a snow globe in a box by their feet. Ask them to open their eyes and pick up the snow globe. Invite them to shake it with their hands and then move the shaking to other parts of their body. Your snow-globe shake narration might go something like this: “Oops! The snow-globe shakes have moved into your shoulders. Everyone shake your shoulders. Shake, shake, shake! Now put your shakes back in your snow globe. Shake, shake, shake! Now the shakes have moved into your arms. Shake, shake, shake!” Continue by sending the snow-globe shakes to children’s hips, legs, and back. In doing so, you’ll address dance standards that require students to move their bodies in a variety of controlled ways. Wind down the activity by having students move their imaginary snow globes back to their hands and place the globes into their boxes for another time.
The Movement Game
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2
What You Need: A musical instrument, such as a tambourine, xylophone, or piano
What to Do: Forget about sitting “criss-cross applesauce” in your next morning meeting. Encourage students to move throughout the meeting area in different ways—but it will take some top-notch listening skills to do so! Use an instrument to play a melody or rhythmic pattern to signal students to move in a certain way. For instance, you might play a familiar tune on the xylophone to tell students to walk while wiggling their fingers in the air. Introduce a new movement each Monday and practice it throughout the week. You can build up quite a repertoire—by the end of the year, you’ll have students skipping, prancing, and tiptoeing. (You can use these movements beyond morning meetings, such as during transition times.)
Build phonemic awareness into the activity by striking a chord, choosing a sound, and singing. For example, you might sing: “ Sss , sss, what begins with the sss sound?” Students should then point to something (or someone) that begins with the /s / sound, such as a sandal, a sign, a circle, or a girl named Samantha.
Statue Patterns and Shapes
Standard Met: CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.A.2
What to Do: Invite students to be active participants as they learn patterns and shapes. Start by asking one student to stand in front of the class. Have the student do a simple pose, such as placing his hands on his hips. Next, invite another student to strike a different pose, such as putting her hands on her head. Establish this as an AB pattern. Ask students one by one to continue the pattern as they join the line. As the year goes on, use more difficult patterns, including ABB or ABC.
You can easily use this activity to teach shapes as well. Begin by choosing one student to stand up and hold a cutout of a shape, such as a triangle, square, or hexagon. Ask more students to join the line, as they hold up shapes to continue the pattern. Challenge students to describe their shape’s attributes, such as how many sides it has.
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2
What to Do: Play a game of Simon Says—but with a twist! Explain the rules to students. The teacher will give two commands for students to follow. Students should always do the first action, but should complete the second one only if it rhymes with the first. Here are some examples:
“Put your hands in the air.”
“Shake them while they’re there.”
(Students do this.)
“Point to your head.”
“Touch something red.”
(Students do this.)
“Put your hands on your hips.”
“Shake your left leg out.”
(Students don’t do this.)
If students complete an action after a non-rhyming pair, turn it into a teachable moment by asking them to call out a word that does rhyme.
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1
What to Do: Children don’t need a pencil and paper every time they write! As you model writing for the class, students can practice invisible spelling. They might “write” with their index finger on the carpet, on their neighbor’s backs, or in the air. Invite all students to practice the formation of letters or the spelling of important sight words so that everyone remains tactilely and kinesthetically engaged. While forming letters, it also helps to verbalize the movements. For example, if students “air-write” the letter o, you might say, “Okay, everyone. Start the letter at the top and make a big circle with me. That’s how we make an o!”
The Interactive Morning Message
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1, K.2, K.3
What You Need: Large sheet of paper, markers, pointer
What to Do: Write a morning message that is interactive and invites their visual, auditory, and tactile exploration. Written in large words, your message should contain a meaningful sentence or two—perhaps about what’s planned for the day. Here’s what to do:
• Choose literacy skills you want to emphasize, such as sight-word recognition or conventions of print.
• Write your message on a large sheet of paper using a black marker. Create a message that lends itself to the skill you have in mind. (For example, include multiple sight words for sight-word practice.)
• Read the message aloud, slowly but naturally, with a pointer trailing beneath the words. Next, invite students to read along with you.
• Ask students to read the message as a group without you. Have a volunteer guide them with the pointer.
• Discuss the message before reading it one last time. Ask: “What do you think this means for us?”
Then—for the fun part—interact with the message! Students can underline given letters or circle the word you say. The joy is in the discovery—truly interacting with a piece of writing.
A former kindergarten and first-grade teacher, Edgar McIntosh is principal of Ardsley Middle School in New York. He is coauthor of Multisensory Strategies: Lessons and Classroom Management Techniques to Reach and Teach All Learners.