Mapping Out the 1st Few Days,
I know there is a lot of pressure to get kids right into the academics. Aside from my opinion regarding academics in kindergarten, we CAN afford a solid week of routines, play, and practice! Those beginning routines will benefit student time with academics! Play is definitely related to learning, since you will use the first sound of their name or other cues to move students into play areas. Students are above all, learning to listen to instructions. I also use the 1st week as assessment time since students are very engaged in play.
Design the 1st Days for Play, Stuctures and Observation
In kindergarten, structures are EVERYTHING! Kids come to you not having background in listening to stories, sitting in a group, making a line or walking down the hall. They need many practice periods to get it to stick! Here are a few ideas for making the first day’s arrival time go smoothly. These are only a few suggested activities among what you will decide to include in your plan.
*Have rubbermaid tubs (or other) labeled with CRAYONS, Glue, Tissues, Scissors, Other (the Other tub is for odd supplies that were not on the school supply list, but kids just HAD to have!) Instruct parents to help their child sort the contents of their backpacks into the appropriate tubs (if parents bring their child the first day). If not, you can do an “open your backpack and listen” activity, and call out the object. Students bring their scissors, etc., and deposit in the scissor tub, etc. The biggest plus in doing this sort is to get distractors out of reach while you orient students to their school routines. Students will be able to put their items into personalized supply tubs when you, and they are ready.
*Have students to hang their backpacks on chairs, then play with objects placed on their tables. This keeps them at table areas until you have taught routines for all the centers in your room.
*Put seating markers such as velcro dots or other labels in your group area for students to be seated apart with hands in their laps, criss-cross applesauce. This is an EASY way to get kids seated for the first day. I use a special sound to signal movement to the group area. Once you have them there, offer stickers to students who picked up toys and put them back in the tub on the table they played at. Allow students to pick up if they forgot. Remember: You have time this first day. Call back to group to begin your routines discussion.
*Start your Calendar Routines on DAY 1: Make counting an integral part of this time.
*Label your floor with dots (or better yet, the alphabet). This provides a quick review of letters and sounds when lining up, as well as an opportunity to identify the letter Val is standing on, etc.
*Stick to day one’s arrival format-tubs of toys on tables again
*Observe and make notes after you take attendance and check for notes from home
*Introduce a very simple name activity where students are only required to make their names using the example you have placed on their table space and letter tiles. They need to make their name in the correct order three times. No cutting or pasting on day two.
*Introduce Interactive Phonics Activities like Heggerty, Science of Reading, and other routines.
*Kids are getting arrival time figured out, so allow play and cleanup time, but shorten the duration.
*Introduce Name Activities at each of their seating spots (If you have flexible seating, add name activities to their reading tub as a kit to grab and take to an area to work.
*Use Name Activity time to observe and assist. Depending on your group, you may wish to teach scissor skills with your anchor chart, then give students a cut and paste sheet. (I recommend cutting the name strip off the paper, then students will only have straight cuts to cut letters apart).
Find the first week name activity HERE.
This is an example of a name activity that involves putting little puzzles together. Grab them for free!
*Signal a cleanup and gather in group area.
This day is a big one!
*Follow the same arrival routines
*This is the day you add name necklaces or other crafts for students to take home.
My FAVORITE beads for names…
*Following Direction anchor charts are a great way to teach the crafting skills!
This is the day you begin to discuss academics covered during each day’s schedule.
*ALL rules and procedures for group times, work times and classroom atmosphere should be discussed. If you use a Noise Meter or other method to monitor noise/distraction level, now is the time to practice!
*Introduce your Pocket Chart Schedule–I move a clip or marker to highlight what part of the schedule we are on.
*Practice Routines using Anchor Charts for use of School Tools (scissors, glue, crayons) SEE THIS for School Tools Lessons
How I do School Tools
*Finish your fifth day with EXCITEMENT about tomorrow’s lessons!
Remember THIS for every 1st!
Whether it be a first time with scissors, with crayons, with glue or numerous other lessons…be patient. During the past few years, very few students come in with scissor or crayon skills. It is still shocking each new year to see such little background with these tools. Kids are in the era of electronics, and we must focus on these developmental skills wholeheartedly. Don’t get me wrong, I love electronics! However, kindergarten is a hands-on year. Limit use of electronics to online journal photos or activities for centers. Our kids are that important!