First grade mornings

Day 11 SOLSC #sol17

Our mornings begin like this:  morning jobs and then choice time.  Yes, 30 minutes of social, play time: puzzles, legos, games, blocks, arts and crafts.  Some gather together to discuss what they want to do together.  Some just make their choice and get started – they don’t waste a minute.   And me, I just sit and watch.  It’s in this time where I get to see their personalities;  see how they work together in a different way;  see how they deal with disagreements.  It’s a time where I get to see them be who they are (Thanks Todd Parr).

I have a group of girls that I call my little coffee club; without the coffee.  They sit around the table, drawing paper in front of them, chatting, laughing, enjoying their time together.  Then, there’s my Lego crew.  This bunch of boys quickly do their jobs (well most of them), get the Lego container, and off they go.  They build, make up scenarios, and go on adventures with their Lego creations.  Some days,  I have a little book club gathered in the library.  No matter what they choose to do during this time, one thing is for sure – they are learning, growing, and easing into the day.  It’s like the warm up time.  We warm up our muscles by stretching before we exercise so we don’t get hurt, right?  This morning social play time lets my kiddos stretch and warm up their minds, so their brains more ready for the busy day ahead.  We end this play time with a short meditation and morning meeting.

There are times where I think to myself “Should I be starting the day off like this?  Is it wasting too much time?” (even though I already know the answers).  My decision to make time for this in my day is affirmed when I think about one of my little girls  who is not a morning person.  I learned quickly not to greet her with my usually enthusiastic “Good morning!” – I just greet her with a smile.  Each day, she enters my room, with her head hanging low, no smile, folder in hand.    She does her jobs in silence, chooses what she wants to play, goes to her seat, and begins – alone.  I watch as others try to engage her in conversation – no luck at first.  But slowly, I watch her “wake up” – her frown turns upside down and she starts to interact.  Once she’s awake, we get to see her personality.  She’s bright, hilarious, creative, confident, and kind.  Yesterday, after “waking up,” she was pretending to be a duck and was marching around my room quacking.  It brought a huge smile to my face and made me giggle along with her.  Imagine if she had to jump right into academic learning?  Would I ever get to see her personality come alive?  Would she ever smile and laugh?  Would she be available to learn as much as she does?  And, how many other kids are in the same boat even if they don’t show it like she does?

Yes, there is no doubt about it – these 30 minutes are definitely not a waste of time.  They are filled with joy and learning.  They’re the warm up before the big game.  Think about it – How do we ease into our days as adults (or try to)?  Don’t we like to “play” rather than dive, head first, into our hectic days? (Our play just looks different).  To have a successful day, we have to let ourselves warm up – especially if our day is going to be full of learning.  And what’s better than playing and laughing to start the day?  I really can’t think of anything better than laughing.  I just love to laugh – and so do my kiddos.  How do you warm up yourself and kiddos for the day?


3 thoughts on “First grade mornings

  1. I love the feeling of your classroom I get from reading this. And while I loved teaching first grade, and I protected choice time as much as possible, I would have found it very difficult in my school’s climate to start the day with 30 minutes of choice time.
    I hope others will reply and share their routines, as you asked. Could be a very interesting discussion.


  2. I teach third grade and we start our day with a sort of morning meeting. We check in with any events that are coming up and share news. Sadly our meeting time is only a short 15 minutes. I’ve been debating whether or not I should replace it with a chapter book read aloud to help motivate my kids who are always tardy (and because I never have time to read a chapter book with them!). I’m not sure I can give up this non-academic social-warm-up.

    -Amanda at


  3. Your classroom sounds like a lovely place to learn and grow! I can so relate to your student who is not a morning person. I need my quiet time in the morning, before everyone else gets up, to sip my coffee and gather my thoughts. Thanks for this slice of your classroom!


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