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Engaging Morning Meeting Activities for Elementary Classrooms

Morning meetings are a cornerstone of many elementary classrooms, providing a structured yet flexible way to start the day positively. As a substitute teacher, leading a successful morning meeting can set the tone for the rest of your day, helping you build rapport and a sense of community with your temporary students.

Here are 8 easy-to-implement, engaging morning meeting activities that adapt to various elementary grade levels, especially grades 3-5.

Morning Meeting Activities for Elementary Students

Morning Meeting Message or Riddle

Write a brief morning message on the board before students arrive. Your message can include a fun fact, a riddle of the day, or a brief agenda of what to expect during the day. If you choose a riddle, ask students to respond or guess the answer to the riddle. This activity builds reading comprehension and anticipation for the day’s events.

Riddle Examples:

  • What has keys but can't open locks?

    • Answer: A piano.

  • What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?

    • Answer: The letter 'M'.

  • What has a face and two hands but no arms or legs?

    • Answer: A clock.

  • I’m tall when I’m young, and I’m short when I’m old. What am I?

    • Answer: A candle.

  • What has to be broken before you can use it?

    • Answer: An egg.

  • You can catch me but cannot throw me. What am I?

    • Answer: A cold.

  • What goes up but never comes down?

    • Answer: Your age.

  • I have cities, but no houses. I have mountains, but no trees. I have water, but no fish. What am I?

    • Answer: A map.

  • What is full of holes but still holds water?

    • Answer: A sponge.

Silent Line-Up

Engage students with a short group activity that fosters teamwork and class unity. One idea is the "Silent Line-Up," where students must organize themselves in order by birthday, height, or alphabetically by first name — all without talking. This activity encourages non-verbal communication and cooperation. It’s always a good idea to give them a certain time period to do this. Perhaps 4-5 minutes on a timer.

Greeting Circle

Start with a greeting circle, which is a fantastic way to ensure each child feels noticed and valued from the get-go. Encourage each student to greet the person next to them with a smile and a simple "Good morning, [name]!" To add variety, introduce different greetings from around the world.

Formal Greeting

Students will start out in a circle. Before you start the greeting, have the students look to their right and ask what the person’s last name is and how it is pronounced. Choose the first person and they will turn to the right, and Say “Good morning, Ms. Jones.” Continue to the right until all students are greeted.

Secret Sort

The teacher will call 3-5 students up to the front of the classroom.

The students will try to guess what each of the students have in common.

After one group is guessed, call another until all students have had a chance.

Examples: Students with glasses, students with red shirts, students with shorts,

students with blue jeans.


A student will act out a school event, and the rest of the students will be called

upon to guess. The person who guesses correctly, will go next. It’s a good idea to make up Charade cards in advance to save time.

Examples: Eating lunch, getting on the bus, taking a test, walking down the hallway, hanging your coat up, emptying your book bag.

Sparkle (Spelling Activity)

Students will stand in a circle. Teacher will give students a word from their weekly

spelling list. The first person begins spelling the word by saying the first letter. The

second person says the second letter and so on until the end of the word. If the

word is spelled correctly, the next person will say "SPARKLE" and sit down. If the

word was spelled correctly, the teacher will continue with the next word. If it was

not spelled correctly, give the students a chance to huddle and correct the word,

not singling any student out. Play continues until everyone is seated or you run out

of words.

Sharing Time

Sharing time gives students a moment in the spotlight and helps them develop listening and speaking skills. As a substitute, you can prompt sharing by asking a "Question of the Day." Keep questions light and engaging, such as "What is your favorite animal and why?" or "What book would you love to live inside for a day?" This not only stimulates conversation but also gives you valuable insights into each child's interests and personality.


Substitute teaching comes with its unique set of challenges, but by engaging students in productive, fun morning meetings, you can create a warm and inviting classroom atmosphere. These morning meeting activities don't require extensive preparation but offer significant benefits in terms of classroom management and student interaction. Remember, the key to a successful morning meeting is flexibility and enthusiasm, so embrace the opportunity to make a positive impact early in the day. Happy teaching!

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