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Second grade teacher Meredith Jierski uses games and art to start students’ mornings

Jierski Everyday, students begin arriving at Northside Elementary at 7:00 A.M.


In order to stimulate student’s young minds so early in the morning, second grade teacher Meredith Jierski and her fellow teachers have employed what they call Morning Choice.


“Morning Choice gives them the opportunity to explore their different strengths that’s more tailored towards certain learning styles,” she said.


Jierski said Morning Choice offers an alternative to academic tools like the traditional work sheet, allowing for students to start their day on a positive note.


Starting at 7:00 A.M., students have the option to play board games, build with blocks, create with art supplies, read a book or take an Accelerated Reader test.


Jierski said a second grader isn’t directly responsible for getting to school on time, but by providing Morning Choice, there is certainly an incentive for arriving on time or even early.


“I did notice a couple of years ago that it really cut down on tardies,” Jierski said. “Kids were way more excited to come into the building to play a board game with their friends.”


Aside from providing a welcoming environment where students feel safe, Jierski said Morning Choice allows for a unique chance to teach her second graders.


“From a pedagogical standpoint, we’re teaching 21st century skills—rigor, problem solving, collaboration,” she said. “I’m applying all of those things that I’m trying to grow within them just through a much more enjoyable activity for both them and me.”


She did acknowledge that COVID-19 has required her to change her approach to Morning Choice.


“With some activities and board games, we’ve cut it down from four to six students to just two,” she said, “and they’re free to move from activity to activity, but they must remember that we have strict guidelines when it comes to masks, sanitizing within activities, as you go to activities and sanitizing the activities themselves.”


Jierski said the opportunities for collaboration Morning Choice provides is very important during times of COVID protocol. She said by having small groups in the morning, they can work on problem solving skills together in a collaborative method since those chances are on hold for a full class.


“Morning Choice has creative a real positive energy not just for my class but for other classes as well,” Jierski said.