I find this morning warm up time to be one of the most essential elements of our day. It allows us to orient ourselves, arrive at school (mentally, as well as physically) and remember how to be at school and with our classmates. It also helps everyone to wake up a little bit! But even this little part of our main lesson has its own structure.
First, we start with the handshake. Children have been arriving in the room for 20 minutes or so before school actually starts. When it is time I ring a little bell at the front of the room and everyone goes out and lines up in the hallway so we can begin with a proper hello. I shake everyone’s hand and greet them “Good Morning” and they do the same for me. This time allows me to check in with each student individually. I can see if someone seems particularly tired, grumpy, or energetic. I sometimes ask about their weekend, what they had for dinner or check-in about homework. I try to make this a time to say a lighthearted hello.
Next, I have a little song that we sing while the children race around the desks, then a centering moment when we speak an E-A-O verse.
Tall as a tree I stand.
Far reach my roots in the earth.
Warmth fills my heart with love.
We have little movements that go with these and we sometimes mix it up and do the movements in miniature with our fingers, with one side of our body. One time I even had a request that we do it with our tongue.
After this, the children are finally present and ready to speak the morning verse. We speak the Upper Grades morning verse (which you can find under the Verses link above.)
Next we sing a song to come into a circle and then the students do a series of exercises that I bring in different ways. My primary objective with these exercises is to increase social harmony. I require that the children begin the series of modified jumping jacks in complete unison. We usually do them in a round, starting in different places, facing each other, facing outwards, turning between each set — we’re constantly coming up with new ways of doing them together and making them more challenging. I’m constantly astounded at how harmonious this class is socially and how they can start together, in complete unison, even when they’re not looking at each other.
After these exercises we have a little bit of time to do some different artistic, physical work. We sing songs that fit the part of the curriculum we are currently working on; we do folk dances; we juggle; and most recently we worked at building a human pyramid. The key to making this time successful is to bring something a little bit new each day. We can always sing the song in a different way, add a new movement, add the harmony part to a song, or speak a poem with individual parts.
Finally, we sing a song to put the desks back in their places and we stand and speak a verse called Look To This Day (again, under the verses tab above.)
Tomorrow, I’ll move on to the next part of our main lesson — the recall.