Do you struggle with creating a meaningful morning message routine in your kindergarten and first grade classrooms?
I first started using a morning message routine when I needed to find a way to transition my students to their first activity of the day after entering the classroom.
This scenario might sound familiar:
You see students positioning backpacks in cubbies, securing jackets and sweaters on hooks, and putting pencils and folders in desks. While this happens, children are asking, “Did you know that after school I have baseball practice? My team is called the Sharks.” “What do I do with this paper?” “I have a note for you.” “Do we have P.E. today? At the same time, the sound of the children’s chatter is heard louder and louder throughout the classroom.
Given more time, things could easily become disorderly in the classroom. Not an effective way to start off the classroom day.
I wanted a more meaningful way to start the day. A way for students to direct themselves to our first activity of the day. Creating a meaningful morning message routine was the perfect solution – the beginning of our daily morning meeting.
I’ll share how using a morning message with kindergarten and first grade students helped me with getting the school day started efficiently and meaningfully. And some fun tips to extend the activity!
What’s a morning message?
A morning message is a short note or message to students. It starts with a greeting. The message is about 3 or 4 sentences long (sometimes more depending on the level of the students). It tells students some of the events of the day. And can be used to review and practice literacy skills. The teacher and students can read it aloud together.
How to Write a Morning Message
I started with a morning greeting. I would add 3 or 4 sentences to the greeting that told about the events of the day. The last sentence of the message was a positive note of encouragement for the day. Here’s an example of the first day of school morning message I used for first grade.
The format of the morning message stayed the same throughout the year. I would change one or two words in the greeting, change the sentences to reflect what we would be doing during the day, and change one or two words in the last sentence.
I would write about a new book we would read, a fun song we would sing, and hint about something we would be learning that peaked the children’s excitement and curiosity about the day.
As the year progressed, students took a greater role with the morning message. They would lead the reading of the morning message, use a pointer to point to the words, and choose students to respond to questions.
How to Start Using a Morning Message
I started the first day of school by saying, “Let’s read the morning message.” Some students were surprised to hear me say the we were going to read it. I even had some children respond by saying, “But I can’t read!” I said that we would just read it together. Then I proceeded to read it out loud, and some of the children chimed in. I wanted my kindergarten and first grade students to think of themselves as readers from the first day of school.
It didn’t take long before most students were reading the morning messages with confidence. Some students even eagerly sat down at the carpet to begin reading the morning message on their own. I was amazed by their growth in reading the message and enthusiasm for reading it!
Most mornings the message was on the board before the students entered the room. Sometimes I wrote it as the students watched me. I gave them opportunities to see “how” a writer writes. I thought out loud as I wrote and talked about content, language conventions, spacing, the structure of sentences, and vocabulary.
How to Engage Students in Literacy Skills
For example, I said, “Help me spell the word ship. What two letters come together to make the “sh” sound?” They responded, and I wrote the letters sh. We went back to the beginning of the word and made the “sh” sound and added the short i sound. Then, the children told me the letter the makes that sound, and I added it. After, I continued in this manner until the entire word was spelled. Then, we continued reading the message.
Later in the year, I included specific spelling patterns, vocabulary, and sight words to help them build their skills. The students participated in identifying specific sound spellings, sight words, vocabulary words, and writing and spelling conventions. I used the morning message for a variety of writing mini-lessons.
I provided opportunities for students to choose their favorite pointers to point to the words as the class read the morning message.
What materials do I need to engage the students?
- large chart paper (lined or unlined)
- Wikki Stix®
- highlighting tape
- colored markers
- assortment of pointers
I preferred writing the morning messages on large chart paper, so children could use the charts for extension activities during our literacy block. I recommend using unlined chart paper for kindergarten and lined chart paper for first grade.
Children can circle and underline letters and words with Wikki Stix®. They easily bend, stick to paper, and peel off of paper. Best of all, they’re reusable!
Highlighting tape can be used to cover a specific letter, word, or mark. The students can see thru the tape, so it can be left on and used for extra practice. The tape can be reused.
Morning Message Extension Ideas
A few fun tips for extending the morning message:
✅ As your students’ abilities progress, have them take a clipboard, paper, and pencil to the carpet. They can read the morning message, write any sight words they recognize, and write words with given spelling patterns, nouns, endings, etc.
✅ Post the morning messages on the classroom walls to be read over and over again during the week by students as part of their word work or literacy block activities. My students loved reading these with a partner as they used the pointers to point to the words.
✅ Each Monday, we gathered all the morning messages from the prior week and raffled them off. It was a big deal to win one! If a child won, they got to take the chart home. I heard from several parents that their children put the charts up on their bedroom walls and played “school” with them. I loved that . . . especially knowing that they were getting extra reading practice with them.
Books for Kindergarten & First Grade
Some morning message books to get you started:
- Morning Message by Ann Marie Adams, Carol McQuillen, Donna Peabody, and Diane Farnham
- Morning Meeting Messages, K-6 by Rosalea Fisher, Eric Henry, Deborah Porter
- Getting the Most Out of Morning Message and Other Shared Writing Lessons by C.D. Payne, Mary Browning Schulman
Need some example morning messages? Sign up for my Free Resource Library that includes a free Morning Message Examples packet.
Using a morning message to start the day transformed the way our classroom day started. Students purposefully put their things away and headed for the carpet to begin reading the morning message. I could be more responsive to student questions, gather notes, etc. and then head over to the carpet area to start reading the morning message with the class.