Inside: Morning meeting ideas, morning meeting activities, classroom morning meeting tips for clasroom teaching students with autism.
If you are looking for morning meeting ideas for students with autism, you are in the right place. Morning meeting, calendar time, circle time, whatever you like to call it, has always been a favorite for many students. It’s a simple way to incorporate a variety of skills into a daily routine that can be both fun and interactive. The morning meeting activity is also one area of the day that you can plan once and use each day with only small tweaks here and there. Which makes this an efficient spot in your planning efforts!
Here are 3 simple supports that can make sure your morning meeting is fun and easy:
1. Movement and Songs
Whether you make up the songs and sing them with your students or play songs from YouTube, most students love moving to the beat and singing or humming along. As educators, we know that anything that can incorporate multiple senses into the morning meeting activity, also increases the likelihood of knowledge retention--for example, singing the days of the week, months of the year, etc.
- Provide students with choice when figuring out which song to play or which dance to try. Using a choice board of songs can be a fun way for students to build communication and take turns. Here is a free download of a song choice board...you will need to add pictures of the specific songs you will use in your classroom.
- Another key aspect of using movement and songs in the benefit of possibly building imitation skills in students who are not yet imitating.
- Joint attention skills are not present for some children with autism and any chance to attend to the same activity at the same time is a great opportunity to build rapport. For some students, music will provide that chance.
Visuals are imperative for the success of your morning meetings. Morning meeting ideas around visual focus on communication. Students who have limited verbal skills can communicate with sign language, pointing, and even voice output devices. Binders, folders and notebooks can help to store items needed for morning meeting.
We know how much students with autism thrive using visuals during their day. Integrating visuals into morning meeting and calendar time activities is crucial to helping students understand and express communication. Visuals are so versatile that a separate blog could be written on how to incorporate them into morning meetings and calendar time alone! Other morning meeting ideas include using choice boards, picture cards of the weather, months of the year, days of the week, number cards, pictures of students' faces, emotion cards - (free download), which are all simple ways that visuals can be used during this time.
My all-time favorite visual tool for this activity is presenting a step-by-step schedule for morning meeting that the students can see and interact with. This allows you to:
- Provide a set of objectives in a visual format (show students what will happen during the morning meeting)
- provide literacy instruction as the students look at the word and picture image
- emphasize the sequence of activities
- ask students to predict what is next or tell/sign what is next
- teach reading skills for those students who are ready for the written word
- teach students how to read directions in order
For things like looking at the to-do list (schedule) for the opening activity, a good idea might be to have each concept “velcroed” to a board and to move the pieces from one column to another once they are completed. This will help with sequencing and anticipating what is next. Add a visual daily schedule to show what is happening in their day. It will need to be large enough for student to see from anywhere in the room and have clear, easy to read print. Use written words and a picture to show students what to expect during their school day. A good judgement for size would be about 4 cards on a page like this this set I created.
Here is what they look like printed out.
I also have a free version that is blank and you can use it to add your own images and words.
If you want to know more about visual supports for morning routines in the autism classroom, here are two related blog posts.
3. Open Communication and Interactive Activities
Open up communication by providing multiple ways for students to respond and interact. Don’t limit yourself to verbal communication only. Use sign language and pictures to make this work.
This can also be done by using some interactive activities. Interactive activities can be digital if you have access to an interactive whiteboard or they can be low-tech (laminated-velcro type activities). These activities allow students to apply the knowledge they gain during morning meetings or calendar time and they allow you a quick way to assess which skills students are mastering. Drag and drop activities on an interactive whiteboard are always a hit and can be incorporated during the routine and well as digital morning meeting resources like this one.
Low tech activities can be incorporated during the routine or each student can have a binder or file folder with these activities to complete during the calendar routine. I think a mixture of digital and low tech activities appeals to a variety of learning styles and abilities, but you will decide based on the needs of your students.
If you are looking for more ideas for getting your classroom started, join the mailing list to get a free daily schedule, student schedule and visual support.