It’s 8.00am and I’m on the commute to work. So far this morning, I have missed my alarm, snagged my tights, spilt my coffee and stubbed my toe - twice. It’s safe to say that I haven’t had the best start to my day. Thinking about the Wake Up blog that I need to write for work, I start jotting down my thoughts on my phone and begin to doubt whether I am the best person to be offering advice on how to wake up your brain right now.
So why is it that some mornings you’re up, dressed and ready for the day ahead within 15 minutes, but other mornings even the simplest of tasks seems like climbing Mount Everest? We have all experienced mornings that just don’t start as well as others and in a class of about 15-30 children, all experiencing different mornings, there are bound to be some who are having a much slower start to their day than others. With this in mind, I’ve compiled some top tips to help you make the most of your morning routine so that you and the whole class start the day on the same note - a musical one preferably.
So grab your glasses, if you need them, have a read, take some notes and start taking some steps towards better mornings with my very own How To Wake Up Guide.
Top Tips To Ready Your Brain For Learning
Starting your day with exercise is extremely important which is exactly why we wrote a song about it – funnily enough, it’s called Start The Day With Exercise. Although it can seem like a huge effort to exercise before the day really begins - and believe me, it’s the last thing I want to do right now – it is essential for waking up your brain. Studies have proven that morning exercise can improve learning by as much as 20%. As an added extra to the song Start The Day With Exercise I’ve choreographed a super-easy and super-fun exercise video for you to use with your class at the start of every day. It begins with some deep pliés to encourage deep breathing – the more oxygen you can get to your brain, the better – followed by a little bit of cardio to get hearts racing. This simple but energetic routine will increase your heart rate and direct blood flow to the brain leaving yourself and your children awake, alert and prepared for learning.
2. Listen To A Song And Sing Along!
Everyone loves a good sing-along, so why not start the day with one? It’s been proven that singing in the classroom can increase listening skills by 10%. You can take advantage of this by playing your class’ favourite song and encouraging them to sing along. To engage children’s listening skills even more, start with the volume turned down very low so that children need to listen carefully as they sing in time with the music. As soon as children are ready to listen, they’ll be ready to learn. If you fancy trying some listening and moving challenges, check out Coordination Funk from Sing™ A Joyful Assembly and Crazy Clapping from Sing™ Warm-ups. Coordination Funk encourages children to listen to the beat of the music and move in time with the suggested actions. Crazy Clapping requires some extremely good listening skills as children must clap on-beat and off-beat in this clapping frenzy!
3. A Quick Game To Engage The Brain!
As children take their place at their tables ready for the start of the day, have a brain teaser on the board. Depending on the age of your class, you could write out a riddle, start a game of 20 Questions or draw out a quick squiggle for children to copy and create an image from. If you’re struggling to think of a good thinking activity, you could use our thought-provoking song A Riddle from Sing™ Something Silly to engage children's minds. A quick brain teaser in the morning will begin to focus children's minds and prepare them for learning. Why not take advantage of some of our FREE downloadable activity sheets to get your children's brains working in the morning. You can download our I Spy In The Garden PDF here or have a go at our Bee Wordsearch here.
Extra Fun, Feel-Good Tips
1. It’s proven that a glass of water at the start of the day can make you feel more alert and energised. This is because cold water initiates a release of hormones like adrenaline which causes you to feel instantly more awake. Remind children to bring a water bottle to school every day. Encourage them to drink a good portion at the start of the day and to take regular sips as the day progresses.
2. Studies show that different smells can affect our ability to learn. For example, the smell of peppermint stimulates electrical impulses in your brain which can elevate your mood and improve your short-term memory. On the other hand, the smell of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are known to give you more energy. You can take advantage of these smelly stimulants by sprinkling a few drops of a scented essential oil on a small cushion on your desk, or by laying out a fresh tray of lemons in the morning.
3. There are many studies into the psychological effects of colour on the brain meaning that what you, as a teacher, choose to wear each day can affect your children’s ability to pay attention and take in new information. Cool colours tend to have a calming effect on one’s mood: try wearing these when you need a calmer teaching environment. On the other hand, warm colours can make you appear brighter and cause those around you to feel more energised and enthusiastic.
A Wonderful song about the essentials needed for growing!
Oh Dear, My Socks Are Smelly! from The Niki Davies Book Of Splendid Science Songs
Learn all about the senses with this silly, smelly song!
What's Your Favourite Colour? from My World: Colours & Patterns
Ask children to pick their favourite colour in the song and sing it aloud at the appropratiate time!
Learn More about Colours!
Learn the deeper meanings of colours in the classroom by setting children a task to write a report on their favourite colour. A great website for extra information is colormatters.com*. They have a whole section of their website for children to explore: Colour Matters For Kids.
*Bear in mind this is an American website so there is a slight difference in the spelling of colour/color – you could use this as another learning point.
Ready To Learn?
By adding these small activities into your classroom’s morning routine, you and your children will benefit from a more energised and engaged learning environment. Some tips may require a little bit more effort, but once the pattern is set, you and your children will struggle to remember a time when you weren’t starting the day with a song and a dance!
Whilst writing this blog, I came across so many ideas for how to kickstart my mornings better. I decided to put the blog into practice and I’ve started to take small steps towards brighter mornings. Wearing more colourful clothing has made me feel better in the morning – especially as I tend to receive more compliments on my daring shoe colours – whilst having a glass of water and a peppermint tea before I leave my house makes me feel fresh and alert. With the upbeat melodies of Shania Twain ringing in my headphones, I now start the day with an energetic buzz and a spring in my step. Really try to put this blog into practice because I can promise you it works and it will improve your classroom results.
Written by Florence Robjohn - Creative Marketing Assistant, Out of the Ark Music Team.
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Out of the Ark Music has been providing schools across the country – and world – with wonderful primary school musicals and primary school songs for nearly 30 years. Our Christmas musicals and nativity plays make children sparkle and shine, year after year, as they proudly perform their school Christmas play. Our extensive collection of fun and joyous Easter songs, harvest songs, school assembly songs, leavers songs and even space songs, fill schools with laughter and give students and teachers alike, a reason to sing every day of the week. We’re glad you’re supporting us in our dreams of creating the best music for schools around the globe. Read more about us here.