The Learning Environment Part 2: The Meeting Area

The Meeting Area is where the teacher calls on the students to sit and listen to morning messages, sing class songs and listen to a book being read (usually called Circle or Big Group Time).

The children sit as a group in front of a blackboard or an easel. The blackboard or easel serve as the Message Board.

It is usually a big space where all the children can meet, greet and share experiences in a larger grouping. It is an area of discussions on interests or concepts, posing and answering questions, sharing outputs and experiences, and enjoying music and movement activities as a way of easing through transitions and routines (UP Family Life and Child Development ECE Seminar Handout, 2003).

Some schools use a whiteboard instead of a blackboard. Personally, I like blackboards more 🙂

In our school, this is how we set up the Meeting Area.

  • Aside from the blackboard, we have a meeting mat. In the past, we would use a large piece of plastic cover — enough space for all the kids to sit on comfortably on the floor. However, since our school became GREEN, we now use recycled tarpaulin banners for our mats. We tape on shapes, animals, or the children’s names on the mat so the children know where to sit during meeting time. How crucial is this mat? Very! Meeting Time usually comes after Free Play. The children need to “own” their space in this area after playing around the room during Free Play. The unrolling of the mat serves as their transition or cue that the next block of time is about to start. Seeing their shape, animal or name on the mat signals them to go to the area and take a seat. For older kids, lines of masking tape will suffice to demarcate where the children will sit. The goal is to have a visual sign to prompt the children where to sit.
  • For music to sing with the morning songs, we place speakers attached to the wall and placed at a high level so the children won’t be able to touch it. It is attached to a simple mp3 player to rid the teacher of cumbersome cassettes or CDs.
  • There is also a customized calendar. For younger kids, the numbers are printed on paper and the children take turns daily in putting each date. The older kids have a blank calendar wherein they write the date (the calendar alone strengthens fine motor and number identification).
  • A sample of the morning message written on the board is as follows

Today is ____________ (day of the week)

August ____, 2008 (date)

It is a ____________ day (weather)

We are ________________ today (activity for the day)

The words on the blank spaces are written by the children with the help of the teacher. There’s usually a song the precedes each line like for example, the class sings Days of the Week before putting the day on the blank space.

The Meeting Area is a great place for the children to settle down and interact with each other and with the teacher. It is a place where they can be spontaneous while telling a story of what happened to them at home and it can also be informative as the teacher reads a story and presents a concept.

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