Exciting times are approaching! Planning for the first day of kindergarten is exciting and daunting but it is – EXCITING! I wanted to share some tips and strategies that works to keep your day manageable and exciting. When teaching kindergarten it is expected to see tears, tears from your students and tears from your parents! When students arrive make sure that you are ready with some fun activities that they cannot wait to jump into! The more novel the activity the more excited your students will be to leave their parents and work on the activity. Planning a fun day filled with music and movement, stories and fun activities that move at a quick pace will keep your kinders happy and will make a great first day of school.
Write each students name on a sheet of paper in large letters. Have students peel back stickers and stick them on their name to fill the sheet. The students love picking stickers to use. Some students may even make a pattern as they decorate their name. Show them where to hand in their sheet when finished. –For students that finish before your official morning meeting – keep a couple blank pages and crayons at the table so they can decorate a page with stickers and drawings.
It is important to jump into your regular routine as soon as possible. Make sure you have a visual schedule for students to follow along throughout the day. This will help relieve anxiety and make for smooth transitions. Morning meeting is a great time to build classroom community. After the arrival activity, tell the students that they will meet you at the carpet for your morning meeting. Tell them when you call their name, they will push in their chairs and come to the carpet and sit on the spot. Model it and then start calling each student to come up and take their spot on the carpet. A well put together morning meeting has the following components. Sometimes creating a template, like I have, will help you stick to a circle time routine that will set your class up for a successful day.
Kinders will need to learn the locations around your school. After morning meeting, how about reading a book where the main character misses home but is excited about the first day of school! This character will then plan a school tour – this is a great way to start off the year! Here is a link to the blog post and how to plan it and recommended books. THIS PRINTABLE IS INCLUDED!!!
You really want to jump into routines and procedures right away. During your first literacy block take the time to talk about what good listeners look like and act like. Explain that during literacy block that they will learn how to become good readers. A book that I think is a good book to start with is Mr. Wiggle’s Book. This book is about how to treat books and I think a great way to start a discussion. Watch it on youtube – it is hard to find online but maybe you will have it at the library. Then your students will go back to their desk to do the following activity that goes well with this book – it is an interactive book of rules called How Not to Treat a Book. Students will use their markers, crayons and stickers at their desk then they will go to a watercolor station to paint on one of the pages. Then they will assemble their book which they can read to their parents – you can “assign” the last page which prompts the student to think of other rules that apply to taking care of and handling books.
Finish up literacy block with some music and movement – continue using this song for the week. It is by Jack Hartmann.
The first day of kindergarten really is a time of adjustment. You will have some kids that come to your class ready to go and some that are just learning to separate from their parent. When you move your clip to the the writing block, let students know that during writing block they will learn how to write stories on paper. During this week they will learn how to properly use materials that authors and illustrators use to make books. Teach procedures on how to use pencils, pens, markers, crayons, tape, staplers, etc. Again, if you need help introducing materials you might be interested in the guided discovery method of teaching how to use tools.
This is also a good time to introduce proper pencil grasp and other procedures such as getting teachers attention, listening, bathroom, wiping nose, etc.
Interactive Read Aloud
Can you guess what kind of book I am going to choose? Of course one that reinforces school tools – I think the most important focus for the first day is teaching how to use school tools – it is always best to assume they have never been taught how to use glue, pencils, markers, books, etc. If you take the time to reinforce taking good care of materials the first week – you will have less waste throughout the year and teach students to be responsible. A fun book and project to do this with is – TOO MUCH GLUE! Take a look at the blog post to learn more about this free lesson!
We are so lucky to have so many books that help us to teach and learn. To introduce numbers and counting I like to use the book “Bear Counts by Karma Wilson” you can buy it using the link from amazon (affiliate link) and/or watch it on Youtube. You can create an anchor chart to brainstorm all of the things you can count around you or where you can find numbers in the environment.
Inquiry (Science / Social Studies)
I think one of the key steps of becoming a good learner is by becoming a good observer. Introducing observation skills to your kinders is a great start to any inquiry unit. It is also a good segue into talking about the 5 senses.
I know you are going to have a great FIRST DAY of kindergarten back!! I just know it!!! One piece of advice is you can never be over prepared – especially for your first week!! Make sure you include lots of music and movement, lots of great books that help you teach rules and procedures, lots of fun games and activities and you will be ok!!