Do you have a morning message in your preschool or pre-k classroom? This literacy best practice is one that is often misunderstood in the early childhood classroom. Here’s a simple definition and some morning message tips and tricks you can use to get started with a successful morning message in your classroom right away.
What is Morning Message?
Morning Message is an interactive teaching method that introduces students to the writing process. Unfortunately, morning message is one of those practices that started in the older grades and was pushed down to preschool without much understanding or adaptation.
Morning Message is NOT
Morning message in preschool is NOT:
- A bunch of pre-scripted, printable words you cut and paste on chart paper to look pretty
- Pre-written in your best penmanship before the kids get to school
- Filling in blanks
- Finding mistakes in writing
These methods listed above don’t help young children learn how to write or become good writers.
I get asked often about the “finding mistakes” portion of this blog post in relation to editing. There is a big difference between asking young children to identify mistakes in pre-written text vs. correcting our own authentic mistakes during shared writing. Correcting our own mistakes when we write is authentic and meaningful for young children.
For example, if I am writing the word “lunch” in our message and I make a mistake and write “lnuch,” I might stop and say, “Wait, that doesn’t look right. I think I made a mistake right here. It’s okay to make mistakes, that’s something writers do. I’ll cover it with this tape and try again.”
I will model how to fix my mistake. This is an example of correcting a mistake authentically as opposed to finding mistakes in pre-written text.
What is Morning Message?
The truth about morning message in preschool is that it should be fun, meaningful, and interactive.
Young children aren’t motivated to write through the use of controlled prompts that match the seasons, themes, or holidays, they are motivated by the world around them, use this motivation to your advantage and make learning authentic.
There isn’t even a need to actually call this process “morning message” in preschool, you can just say “Let’s write about it!”
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Posted by Pre-K Pages on Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Why Morning Message?
When students actually see and hear an adult think-aloud as they go through the writing process they will begin to understand the connections between the written word and oral language more clearly. They are observing concepts about print first hand. When you compose a Morning Message with your students you are helping them become successful, independent writers by modeling the writing process.
Benefits of Morning Message
Even students who do not know how to read, write, or even speak English will benefit immensely from the Morning Message. Some of the basic concepts you can cover in a Morning Message are:
- Left to right progression of text
- Return sweep
- Proper letter formation
- Associating letters to sounds
- Difference between a letter and a word
- Print is spoken words written down (print carries a message)
- Punctuation, like period and question mark
- One to one correspondence
- Spaces between words
- Common sight words
When Do You Do Morning Message?
Your students will be more successful with morning message when it is done on a daily basis.
What does Morning Message look like in the beginning?
We have an easel in our circle area that holds chart paper. On a shelf nearby the easel I have all the “tools” I may need; markers, pointers, pom-pom’s, Wikki Stix, microphones, magnifying glasses, and correction tape. The leader of the day comes to the front of the class and sits in my chair with a microphone. The first sentence of our Morning Message is always the same; “_______ is the leader today.” This helps to make the message meaningful to the students because they can all relate to and eventually identify their friends name in the message. As I write the first sentence, I spell aloud and use my fingers to make spaces between the words. When I come to the end of the sentence I place a period and say the child’s name aloud. After a few days of the Morning Message in the beginning of the year everybody can “read” the first line successfully.
The second line of the message is an original sentence from the leader. In the beginning of the year we usually start with “I like” statements. For example;
Leyla is the leader today.
Leyla said, “I like to eat pizza”.
Because pizza is a popular food among the Pre-K crowd, the word will have more meaning to them and they will therefore be excited about being able to identify it. When we are finished with the message we read it together as a class while I use a pointer, then the leader comes to the easel and “reads” the message using a pointer of his or her choice. After the message has been read we then move on to one of our Morning Message activities.
Sharing the Pen
For the first few weeks I’m just trying to get the routine of the Morning Message going and to move it along as fast as I can because their attention spans are non-existent. Once we have the routine down, then I start inviting students to share the pen. I also start introducing letter sounds during this time. Here’s an example:
“Leyla is the leader today. Hmm, I wonder what letter Leyla starts with? I hear the “lll” sound, what letter makes that sound?”
Even if the students don’t know their letter sounds yet, some may know that Leyla starts with the letter “L”, so they begin making the connection. I invite a child to help me write the first letter of Leyla’s name. As the student holds the pen I will talk them through the letter formation.
“L is a straight line, start at the sky and go down to the ground, then over towards the door.”
We repeat the pen sharing a few more times during the creation of the Morning Message. If they become antsy, then you will know it’s time to move on. If a mistake is made when a student is holding the pen, the 2 inch correction tape takes care of it. I call it the “Magic Tape” and the kids love using it. If a child isn’t able to write a letter independently and asksfor help, then I will help by placing my hand over his or hers.
How do you keep the student’s attention?
This is the question I am asked most often, and the answer is to keep it fun and interactive for the children. I have actually had students who cried if something kept us from writing the Morning Message. Some of the Morning Message tools I use are:
- Wikki Stix: Colorful waxed strings
- Microphones: Pretend plastic microphones work well!
- Magnifying Glasses: Students use the magnifying glasses to help them find the mystery letter.
- Large Correction Tape: 1 inch wide, see resource section below
- Pointers: see resources section below
- Pom-Pom’s: I bought a dozen sets of colorful Pom-Pom’s from Oriental Trading.
- Glasses: I found a bag of Harry Potter glasses at the local Goodwill store for a dollar. We refer to these as “magic glasses” and the students can wear them when they search for specific letters.
- Magic Wand: The type that make noise are a HUGE hit with the kids 🙂 We use the magic wand to “read” the morning message when we’re finished writing.
Morning Message Activities
- Mystery Letter or Word: I cut the Wikki Stix in half and bend them into circles. After we have finished writing the Morning Message I will select one letter for the students to search for in the Morning Message (aka Mystery Letter). The Leader of the day will use the microphone to select a student to come up and search for the letter using the magnifying glass. When a letter is found, the student places the Wikki Stix circle around the letter. The number of helpers is determined by the number of mystery letters in the message. If it is the middle or end of the year and students are beginning to read or are just tired of the same old thing you can have them start searching for sight words.
- Rainbow Writing: We rainbow write the first letter of the leader’s name daily. If you do not have an ELMO, using a large piece of paper so the whole class can see is best. I write the leader’s first letter on the paper using a black marker, I talk through the writing so they can see and hear the correct letter formation. Then, the leader comes to the front and chooses a marker to trace over the first letter using correct letter formation. Next, the leader picks somebody and they come up and choose a different color and so forth until the letter has several different colors on it and looks sufficiently “rainbow like”. If you are using large chart paper these look great hanging on the wall around the classroom. If you use the ELMO I like to 3 hole punch them and put them in a binder for the children to read in the class library.
- Star Reader: We “read” the Morning Message together as a class after it is complete using one of our cool pointers. The Leader of the day then “reads” the Morning Message using a pointer of his or her choice. We will then say “Hooray, hooray, hooray for Star Reading!” using our Pom-Pom’s, leader’s choice of color. Depending on time, we may choose other star readers.
Morning Message Resources: