It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s free.
When I was teaching Kindergarten and first grade, every morning during circle time the children would help me write a giant Morning Message on the white board. I would be the secretary, and the children would supply the ideas. Usually I would pick a “star of the day” to be the lead voice in this endeavor, but everyone participated.
Since our Morning Message each day followed a clear, predictable pattern, the children knew what to expect.
Helping children recognize words on sight, and anticipate what a sentence will say, draws from the Whole Language philosophy of teaching reading.
But I made sure that our daily Morning Message was also teaching phonics too. I frequently chose simple, consonant-vowel-consonant words that I knew the kids were already learning to sound out. While I wrote down each letter, I sounded it out, often exaggerating my speech. The ‘T-H” in Thursday, became “Thhhhhhhhhhhh-urs-day.” The “A-R” in party, became “Ar! Ar! Ar! The pirate sound Ar goes in party!” The combination of Whole Language and Phonics methodologies is what makes the Morning Message an example of Balanced Literacy Instruction.
In my classroom, some of the first words my students learned to read were from the Morning Message.
In my home, I used the Morning Message to teach my son Bruce(6.5) to read at a young age, and now I am using it to teach my daughter Jenna(2.5) too.
I have been writing a Morning Message with Jenna each day starting when she was 22 months old. I use to write our Morning Message on a mini white board that I kept on the refrigerator, but it has since fallen off and smashed. So until I can buy a new one, we are just using white paper and I am taping it up to the kitchen cabinet instead.
Since this is such a malleable activity, the complexity of our writing has changed a lot over the past year. Right now we are concentrating on patterned sentences, simple words she already knows phonetically or by sight, and new words that I want her to learn.
In today’s example, I put a box around Jenna and Mom because these are words that I know, that Jenna knows. I circled the word is, because this is the new sight word I am teaching. Today’s message did not include any new c-v-c words to learn, but that was just an accident. Jenna helps me think of what to write. Since we wrote our message over our bowls of cereal today while we watched a bird eat from our feeder outside, Jenna wanted to write about eating breakfast.
After the message is written, I read it to Jenna several times and encourage her to read it with me. I use my pen to point to each word as I read it, to model sound-to-word-correspondence. Eventually, Jenna will be able to read the Morning Message all by herself. My son Bruce could do this by age three.
Full disclaimer! Sometimes I give Jenna a few chocolate chips after we have read the Morning Message together. This really helps her “feel the love” for this activity.