I love Morning Meetings with my sixth graders. Our typical Morning Meetings follow the structure from Responsive Classroom, but there are some days that we spend a lot longer on activities than others. Sprinkled throughout the year, I love to teach my students mind games. These mind games are ones that can only be done with a group of students once, so use cautiously! Most of these I learned while I was a camp counselor, and they are so fun to do with kids!
This is a little chant that you play with your fingers. Starting with your left pinky, tap your right index finger to each left hand finger and say “Johnny” for each finger. When you get to the space between your index finger and your thumb, say, “Whoop” and swing your index finger along the skin there. Then hit your thumb and go backwards. So your whole chant will go, “ Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, whoop, Johnny, whoop, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny.” After you finish, you can either fold your hands into your lap or cross your arms (easier because it’s more obvious). Then, let students try to mimic you. If students cross their arms at the end, they did it right, so tell them, “Yes, you can do it.” If students do not cross their arms at the end, tell them, “You can try again. Watch me.” This is a great little time filler and can last a couple weeks while students are still interested in trying to get the trick!
The Green Glass Door
This actually has an academic bent to it.
- You will always use the sentence frame, “_______ can go through the green glass door, but ______ can’t.” Any word that has double letters can go through the green glass door because green, glass, and door all have double letters. For example, “Grass can go through the green glass door, but a field can’t.”
- Give a few examples, then let kids try. Examples might include: A pool can go through the green glass door, but water can’t. Trees can go through the green glass door, but a forest can’t. Timmy can go through the green glass door, but Sarah can’t. Feet can go through the green glass door, but shoes can’t. I like to give similar examples to start, but then you can do random things such as, “A pillow can go through the green glass door, but a cake can’t.” Give them feedback on if they’re right or wrong, then move on.
- This can last over a week or two. Remind them to think about the words “green glass door.” Eventually, they’ll pick up on it!
- You need to select a student to teach this game to prior to playing with the class. Someone might already know how to play, so you can capitalize on that.
- Tell the class that you and this selected student have a special brain connection and can read one another’s mind! (They’ll laugh at first, but then they’ll be really thrown off when you actually play.)
- Have the selected student leave the room.
- Someone in the class or the class as a whole needs to pick an object in the room. This can be anything. For example, the easel.
- Once an object is chosen, ask the selected student back inside the room.
- Ask the special student to identify the secret object by asking, “Is it the whiteboard?” “Is it this red backpack?” “Is it this pen?” “Is it this rug?” etc. It is easier if you add colors and harder if you leave them off. Make sure all of these are NOT black/mostly black objects.The selected student will answer “No.”
- The question before you ask if it is the hidden object, ask, “Is it ____’s black hair” or “Is it the black chalkboard?” or “Is it the black ______”? You don’t have to say black, but make sure that it is a mostly black object.
- After you ask if it is the black object, ask if it is the secret item; for example, “Is it my easel?” At this point, your selected student who can read your mind will say, “Yes.”
- This is very difficult to get, but students will love to play even while they struggle through it! This can last a couple weeks.
Note: That’s just the name I know; I recognize it’s totally not racially appropriate and I tell kids that it’s just a nonsense name; If you come up with a good name, let me know!
- Tell kids that you are going to create a sculpture of a student. Their job is to guess who you’re representing in your sculpture.
- Use markers or pens or whatever you have and create a sculpture out of them (rows of pens with one laying on top or make them into a letter shape, whatever). It doesn’t matter what shape they’re in, but kids will think there’s a reason, so just change it up.
- When you stop making your sculpture, look at the kid you are intending to “sculpt”. Whatever they are doing with their body, make sure that you copy it. For instance, if they are sitting criss-cross apple sauce leaning one elbow on their knee and their chin in their hand, do exactly that.
- Ask kids who you sculpted. Stay in the position and keep copying the student you’re “sculpting.” They will make all sorts of guesses. Give them the correct answer after several guesses.
- Kids will likely try to guess that the red marker always points to the person or that the last marker you place indicates who it is. My favorite is when a student will say, “I can see that. It does look like [Allison].” Haha! Some might notice you looking at a kid to copy them (but not the actual copying body language) so be careful you’re not giving it away that way. It’s easiest to pick kids with obvious body language (only one person is standing so do that, for example). Eventually, someone will pick up on it. They will stay with this activity a long time.
- Kids are good at keeping the secret since it’s so hard to get, so you can play this for a couple weeks until they get it. Let kids who think they know the trick be the teacher and make the sculptures. Tell them if they got it right or wrong.
- One a lot of kids have it, it will be easy to help the others along. Take turns “sculpting” with kids who already understand the trick and encourage them to be obvious with their picks. For those students who still don’t seem to get it, tell them that the sculptures are a distraction and to look for other clues.
The Right Party
- Everyone needs to sit in a circle.
- Tell kids that you are going to a party, and everyone needs to say what they will wear. Based on what they wear, they will be allowed to come or not.
- Start by saying, “I’m going to the right party, and I’m going to wear…[state something that the kid on your RIGHT is wearing].” Start with something less specific, just pants or a shirt, etc.
- Go around the circle and prompt kids to repeat your sentence frame. If they say something that the kid on their right is wearing, say, “Yes, you can come.” If they say something the kid on their right is not wearing, say, “I’m sorry, you can’t come this time.”
- As a few kids get it, they’ll want to know if they’re right, so you can stop going exactly one person after another and jump around. This helps the kids that are really not getting it not feel so stupid for not getting it.
- Go around the circle again and tell kids to be more obvious (I’m going to wear white Nike sneakers; I’m going to wear a headband). This is hilarious when boys and girls are mixed up well, because that really starts to get them to understand it.
- Once it gets down to a few, remind them that this is the RIGHT party, and they’ll get it eventually. Because it’s hard for everyone, I never have a problem with people teasing one another, but you can always monitor to prevent that.
- This is another one that you can let stew over a couple days.
The Umbrella Party
*Note: This is very similar to the right party.
- Everyone needs to sit in a circle. Tell kids that you are going to a party, and everyone needs to say what they will bring. Based on what they bring, they will be allowed to come or not.
- Start by saying, “I’m going to the umbrella party, and, UM, I’m going to bring [insert anything such as pasta salad or Scrabble or ice cream].”
- Go around the circle and kids repeat your sentence. If they say um at any point while it’s their turn, say, “Yes, you can come.” If they don’t, say, “I’m sorry, you can’t come this time.”
- With this one, most kids will not actually know how they’re getting it right, so they will try all sorts of weird things to try to get the trick. As a few kids catch on, they’ll want to know if they’re right, so you can stop going exactly one person after another and jump around. This helps the kids that are really not getting it not feel so stupid for not getting it.
- Go around the circle again and tell kids to be more obvious (say um a couple times when you demonstrate).
- Once it gets down to a few, remind them that this is the UMbrella party, and they’ll get it eventually. Because it’s hard for everyone, I never have a problem with people teasing one another, but you can always monitor to prevent that.
- This is another one that you can let stew over a couple days.