Hi friends! Welcome to day 1 of 31 Days of Kindergarten…a series of 31 amazing posts with ideas, tips, tricks, and FREEBIES!! Today is all about the First Day of Kindergarten!

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate as a mentor in our school district’s new teacher orientation and collaboration fair. And If I had a dollar for every time I was asked “What do I do on the First Day of Kindergarten?”, I could buy myself a nice lunch! 🙂 So here goes what I do on my first day with my new kindergarten babies. Of course, everyone has their own style and comfort zone, so always do what works for you and your class! 🙂

Upon the students arrival, I have playdough out on all of the tables. I used to put coloring out, but some students just scribble and then say they are finished and bored. Putting out play-doh or even blocks, keeps them more engaged and is an open-ended activity, with little room for boredom. This also allows me to meet the new students I did not meet at Meet the Teacher day, as well as talk to parents and answer any questions. I also make sure each student clips on their name tag, Check out my DIY No-Cook Playdough recipe here.

After the bell rings, I welcome everyone over to our classroom carpet and we ‘attempt’ to go through the motions of whole-school morning announcements and the pledge. I then teach them the song Criss Cross Applesauce.

I introduce myself and show some pictures of my family and pets. Then I go around the rug and give each student a chance to say their name and introduce themselves. Next, I introduce them to my friend ‘David’ and read No, David. Afterwards, I ask them questions about the book and if they know what rules or following directions means. Together we make an anchor chart about rules help us stay safe and help us know what is okay and not okay to do. We talk about how parents and adults sometimes give us directions and/or rules.

We watch and participate in the directions song, If you’re a Kid, from Harry Kindergarten. (Sometimes we sing it 2 or 3 times!!)

We sit back down and I introduce Rachel Rug, who is the overseer of the rug and ALWAYS follows the rules. You can print your own FREE Rug Rules chart HERE. We practice sitting criss cross applesauce, standing up, raising our hand, and ‘listening’. We sing the  head, shoulders, knees, and toes song. (I sing a LOT…and especially the first few weeks. Singing and movement is a great way to transition and break up the mini lessons and modeling that you will do over those first few weeks.)

I teach bathroom, water fountain and tissue rules and procedures.

Next, I introduce pencils and we make an anchor chart of the rules and procedures for using them. (I always make the anchor chart WITH the students, as that makes it much more meaningful.)

After introducing pencils, I do a real quick lesson on how to hold and use pencils. I show them how pencils can make straight lines, curvy lines, zig-zag lines and even do dot-to-dot! I model how to do a dot-to-dot with a simple anchor chart. (All of this takes a 6-7 minutes.Keep it short and simple.) 

Then it’s time for us to practice the rules and procedures for using pencils and erasers. I created this How to Use School Supplies pack and using pencils is included! 

The students go back to their tables and I pass out the pencils. Together we practice using our pencils the ‘right’ way. I read the sentence to them and each student traces the ‘key words’ and completes the dot-to-dot. I have found that this is the ‘perfect’ introduction to classroom tools, as it’s not too lengthy or in-depth. (Note: Of course there are many students who do not know how to use the proper grasp and have had limited exposure to writing utensils. I try and take note of who is struggling, who is left-handed, and who is proficient. This will help me determine who needs extra assistance over the next few weeks.) Another good tip for teaching kinders proper pencil grip is to provide them with golf size pencils. Because these pencils are so short, it forces the student to use a grasp, other than the closed hand grasp. Click here to go to Amazon for half pencils that are perfect for teaching proper pencil grasp at the beginning of the year.

Next, we have a read aloud. Here are some excellent “first day” books to read to your new students.

Click on above pictures to go to Amazon.

After the read-aloud, I tell them we get to go to stations!! Yes…I do stations on the first day of school!! I explain that we will all get a chance to go to each station, but you have to stay at your station the entire time and cannot leave your area. Here is an idea of what stations look like on the first day of kindergarten. I have simple stations that do not need explanations or directions. I include playdoh and playdoh tools, pattern blocks and pictures, puzzles, and lincoln logs. Of course every year our class sizes are different, but I try and keep the groups semi-small, with my largest group being 5 students. This works well for me and my classroom, but do what works and feels best for you and your students. We spend about 8-10 minutes at this first station. I ring my chime and ask the students to come to the carpet and I review the rug rules quickly and we sing the criss-cross song.

It’s time for another round of stations. My students were given name tags at the beginning of the day and have a colored dot, designating which group they will stay with at stations. (This is my temporary groupings, until I can get to know my students and assess their skills.) Students will go to a different station for this round and stay 8-10 minutes.

We are getting close to lunch time now, but still have time to practice walking to lunch and learning how to walk through the lunch line. I ring the chime and welcome my students back to the carpet. I tell them it’s getting close to lunch time and we need to talk about rules and procedures for the lunchroom. I read this book. Click on picture to go to Amazon.

We then discuss the rules and procedures for walking to lunch, during lunch, and then lunch recess. Next we line up and practice walking to the lunch room, where the lunch lady teaches the students how to walk through the line and get their lunch. We practice this 2-3 times and walk back to the kindergarten playground. We quickly review the recess rules and they go to play for 10 minutes.

I blow the whistle and help the students line up for lunch. The students who have home lunch will get their lunch boxes and hug them as we walk to the lunch room. Students will have lunch and I will pick them up at lunch recess.

Upon picking them up, we review standing in line and bathroom rules and procedures. I take all the students for a quick bathroom and drink break. My students will go to specials for 50 minutes now for either Art, Music, Library, PE, or Science. This is also my prep time.

After picking them up from specials, we review again the procedure for standing in a line and walk back to our classroom. We come back to the carpet and do an alphabet action song from HeidiSongs.

We sit back down on the carpet and I read the book, The Kissing Hand.

We talk about our feelings from the first day of kindergarten and I write them down on an anchor chart. I tell the students that they are going to make a kissing hand for their grown-up and I will help them.  I have them stand up and then help them go to their next station. (Remember that there are 4 stations in total and they have visited 2 before lunch.) While the students are spending time at their station, I call students over, one at a time and ink their handprint and press it onto their paper. The student then adds a red heart sticker and I ask them how they felt on the first day of kindergarten and write it down. The student then does their best to write their name.

After 10-12 minutes, I ring the chime and bring all the students back to the rug. We quickly review the rug rules, sing the hands in lap song, and then do another Harry Kindergarten dance song. I may even introduce GoNoodle at this point and we do a fun KidzBop song.

We sit back down and talk about ‘stations’ and rules. I will read another book. Click picture to go to Amazon.

Students will go to their last station and I will finish up the last of the kissing hand handprints.

I ring the chime and students clean up and come back to carpet. We review recess/playground rules and lining up procedures. I choose someone to show us how to do it the ‘right’ way and then choose someone to show us the ‘not following rules way’. (The students LOVE this!)

We line up and head out to recess for 15-20 minutes.

We line back up and come inside for a final story and rules/procedures that we learned today.

Students collect their things and line up to go home.

Whew…that was a tiring First Day of Kindergarten day! 😉 Of course there will be interruptions and spontaneous situations, but I have left enough wiggle room in my day to address each unknown or unplanned situation. Try to remember not to plan too much. Be flexible. And practice, model and review ALL the rules and procedures you have taught for the day, over and over again. What does your first day look like? What would you add to this day or change? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment here or comment on Instagram or FB and don’t forget to share with your teacher friends and pin to your Pinterest boards or follow my teaching kindergarten boards!

Need routine paperwork in one easy download? This new product a must have for teachers to give out on first day of kindergarten or open house night.

74 Responses

  1. Excellent! Very thorough and oh so right about the constant practice and reminders about procedures and rules. Thanks for taking time to write this out and include photos and links for products!!!

    1. Thank you for sharing! Lots of great ideas not just for K teachers but also for other grades as well. maria

    2. Thank you for sharing your kindergarten day.

      Who is the composer for the Hands in lap song and Criss-Cross Apple Sauce

  2. How do you determine line order, if you use it. Who leads? Who is the caboose? One line? Two lines?

    1. For a line leader, I will try and choose a student that has had schooling experience and would make a good leader. And the same for a caboose. For the first few days, I will call them up in boy/girl order, until they fully understand what a line is and how to get in line quickly and quietly. I only have one line. On the 3rd week of school, I start classroom jobs and choose a line leader and caboose. Thanks for your questions.

    2. My kids always line-up in alphabetical order. They learn very quickly who lines up before them, and I LOVE doing this especially for those days when getting in line quickly is so important.
      Whoever is the line leader starts and everyone else follows.
      It changed my life when I started doing this 4 years ago.

      1. I love lining up in alphabetical order! It helps when you’re in a hurry making sure you have everyone!

  3. Thank you so much! very helpful! What a fun day, I bet the kids can’t wait to come back tomorrow!

  4. Thank you for this! I am teaching K for the first time this upcoming year and the more specific the advice, the better!!

  5. Great ideas! I love your thoughts on teaching how to use school supplies. Is there anyway I can get a copy?

      1. I would like a copy of your school supply. I saw that it is on Teachers Pay Teachers. It is not opening for me:( Your ideas and plans are terrific!

  6. This was extremely helpful! I will be teaching Kindergarten for the first time this school year. I’m coming from being a Pre-k assistant teacher. 🙂

  7. It is SO interesting to read the detailed plan of another teacher’s first day. This will be my third year of teaching K and I learn and adjust things every year. I will use this to reevaluate my own first day plans. Thank you for this!

    1. Thank you! And I totally agree…adjusting and learning every year to meet the needs of students!! 🙂

    2. This was the most helpful post EVER!!!!! THANK YOU!!! I’ll be a first year K teacher and I am so nervous and don’t know where to start!!! A couple questions:
      1. What stations do you do in your class regularly? Do you follow a daily 4/5?
      2. Where can I find more lesson plans from you?
      3. What did you do on a meet and greet day? We have an hour with the kids for a meet and greet and then they come
      Back on Friday for their first full day!

      1. Hello and thank you for the sweet comment! (1.)I have a whole series about stations and what I used in my Kindergarten classroom. You can view them here. (2.) Lesson plans are hit or miss, as I didn’t always get a chance to share them, but if you search lesson plan in the search box, you should be able to find some. (3.) Our Meet and Greet included parents, so I was usually busy talking to parents, but I did give my students little treats and then gave parents packets. You can get more ideas here.

  8. This will be my first year teaching and your page has made me feel at ease. I have an idea of how my first day is going to go now thanks to you! You have such great ideas. I keep clicking on all of the links that take me to different pages all of which continue to give me great information and tips. Thank you so much!!

  9. Thank you!! This is great for the 1st day. I have taught 5-6 and this is my first year teaching K.!!

    1. I am so happy to know that my posts and pictures will be helping a new kinder teacher! Have a great school year!

  10. Thank you SO much. I am a pretty new teacher and this helps SO MUCH! Please keep blogging…we need you! 🙂 Thanks!

  11. Thank you so much! This is my second year in Kdg. I was at a loss last year and really didn’t know what to expect. I’m more prepared and determined! Your detailed day just made everything so clear I can’t thank you enough for being so giving. I’m also learning that kindergarten teachers are one special group of people. ??

    1. Yay! I love to help teachers! So glad you found my blog and found some tips to help you have a successful year!

  12. i HAve taught Kinder for 35 years, you nailed the first day! Good job and I picked up a few great ideas, thanks!

  13. Hi…I just stumbled across your 31 days of Kindergarten and I would love to have the whole 31 days.

    Please explain to me how I may access this since you blogged about this in July. I have went to the archives in July and don’t find it

    I absolutely love your ideas!!!.


  14. As a first year teacher, your very detailed plans are exactly what I need. I have never spent time in kindergarten, so I was feeling in over my head. I am feeling much more confident now.

  15. Thank you for sharing this! I”ve been reading as much as I can about the first day/weeks of K. I’m a second year teacher but this will be my first year in K, so planning how to keep the structure and what types of activities are super helpful!

  16. I was wondering if you could give me some ideas for the 1st day of school. This will be my 20th year of teaching, but I still dread the 1st day!! Our parents bring all of the school supplies on the 1st day (if we don’t get them then, we’ll never get them!) So luckily the past 5 years or so I’ve been lucky to have my now 23 year old daughter help me on the 1st day. She goes around to each student and gets out their supplies and puts their name on the items I need names on. While she’s doing that, I’m meeting parents and students, getting them to their assigned seats and getting parents to fill out a survey with questions I need for various reasons. Even when the parents leave, we’re stuck with supplies all over!!! My goal is to get all of their supplies out of backpacks and get them hung up. Depending on how many students I have, this could take most of the morning! Kids get bored, I don’t get to do anything fun!! Does anyone have any suggestions on how I could do all of this differently? Thank you!

    1. I have large bins with pictures of the supplies on them. Parents and students sort their own supplies, as they come in on the first day. This frees me up to talk to parents and meet with the students that I did not get to meet on meet-the-teacher day. If you want certain items labeled, leave out the markers or labels, so parents can do the work for you! And you can always give a special sticker to those students who helped their parents with this fete! Hope that helps! I also leave playdough out on each table for the students to play with while I am rushing around on that first morning! Playdough is open-ended and doesn’t have a ‘finished’ product, which is better than a coloring or dot-to-dot sheet.

  17. This is my first year teaching kindergarten, I have taught 5th, 3rd, and 1st so I have been super nervous about what to do on the first day of school. Your blog has been SUPER helpful and looks like lots of fun for the kids! I was curious if you created more posts about the beginning of the school year. I noticed the blog said “31 days of kindergarten.” I would love to read about what you do. I just purchased the “How to use School Supplies” on your TPT, which is an awesome, simple resource. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my post.

    1. Hi Nicole and welcome to Kindergarten! The 31 days of Kindergarten was a series I did last year on my blog, where I shared different ideas each day, during the month of July. So 1 idea a day. I realize now that others probably think that it probably a post about the first 31 days, which it is not. I do have a post about the 1st day of kindergarten and then the first week. Have you read those posts? Here is a link: http://kindergartenchaos.com/first-day-of-kindergarten/ or this one: http://kindergartenchaos.com/first-week-of-kindergarten/ And please reach out to me via email or here, should you have any further questions or concerns! 😉

      1. Thank you for explaining. I was looking for 31 days as well. I am a TA turning teacher. I am SUPER EXCITED!

        I have found some really rich ideas and look forward to future post. Your schedule breakdown on your LPs helps me in the break down since our time schedule is possibly changing to 9 am-3 pm. We use to be 8 am to 3 pm. Is it possible to get the link to a blank copy of the plan?

        Thank you for your time and expertise in this area.

  18. I can tell you are an awesome teacher! I am a PreK teacher and love your classroom management ideas for breaking down the first day! Thank you for your creativity and time involved in your blog it is greatly appreciated!
    I am curious about your “chime.” What specifically are you using, where did you get it and does it help you with the children’s loud volume of their sweet voices? This is my biggest challenge in my PreK class. Any ideas or solutions please advise!
    Looking forward to your next day’s blog!

    1. Awww…thank you so much!I just have a regular small chime that I would jingle for transitions or as an attention-getter. You can get chimes at any multi-purpose store, such as WalMart, Target, Family Dollar, etc. But I started using a wireless doorbell for transitions recently and it really works too. I just purchased it off of Amazon for around $13. As for the noise level, explicit expectations, many activity choices and keeping each station with 2 students each, also helps to reduce and keep the noise level down. I hope that helps!

  19. Thanks so much for sharing a very detailed first day! I am feeling a little better about the first day now. ?

  20. Wow, it is always a big thing for me to check what new things I can implement in the first week of school for my students. I truly love the details of your experience. Thank you so much for sharing.

  21. Thank you for explaining. I was looking for 31 days as well. I am a TA turning teacher. I am SUPER EXCITED!

    I have found some really rich ideas and look forward to future post. Your schedule breakdown on your LPs helps me in the break down since our time schedule is possibly changing to 9 am-3 pm. We use to be 8 am to 3 pm. Is it possible to get the link to a blank copy of the plan?

    Thank you for your time and expertise in this area.

  22. Where do you keep your materials? Are they shared? Do you keep pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, and glue in a community tub or do you put scissors, glue, and markers somewhere else until they are needed? What are your feelings about markers? When do you let your kids use them? Thanks so much for your posts. I love the details!

  23. I found it interesting that you state that it’s important to learn how to use and hold writing utensils first. My brother has a little boy that is starting kindergarten this year and he wants to know what to expect. I will send him this information so he can make sure to learn as much about the first days as he can.

  24. Great post! I do things very similar which is very reassuring. I’m starting my 3rd year of teaching kinder this year so this is a great refresher! Thanks for the tips!

  25. This was great! I am a 14 year teacher but I will be starting my new adventure in Kindergarten this year. I’m a little nervous about the first day and I loved how you really broke the day down and included links! It was Awesome! Thank you!

  26. It’s a great idea to teach your kids bathroom rules beforehand so they understand what to expect when they start going to school. I’ll try to use your article to get them ready for kindergarten so that it can be a positive experience. They are starting this month and I think they will have a great time learning and playing.

  27. Children taught at an early age usually benefit in the following ways: improved social skills, less or no need for special education instruction during subsequent school years, better grades, and enhanced attention spans.

  28. Can you talk a bit more about what your No, David anchor chart looks like? Do you happen to have a picture?


  29. Yup, you were right – keeping our kids occupied with fun activities could alleviate their nervousness and lessen their chance of throwing a tantrum as well. Why I didn’t think of that, huh? Anyway, thanks for the info. My sister could really use it as she’s been helping her boss finding the right place to send his son while he’s at work. I’ll make sure she doesn’t forget the things stated here when confirming her selection later on.

  30. Hi! I appreciate you taking the time to share your first day of kindergarten ideas. I will try this on the first day of kindergarten with my little Chickadees. I do have a question, since this is my first time as a kindergarten teacher I noticed the children only went to the restroom once. When should I give them a bathroom break. I thought about when transition from the outside and also before and after lunch. What you think?
    Thank you again for helping us grow as kindergarten teachers.

    1. Hi Tina and thank you for your questions. I had a bathroom in my classroom, so we did not need to take whole-class bathroom breaks. I include one, so we could visit and see the outside bathrooms. You will need to implement bathroom procedures for your students, according to your school and schedule. You will also need to figure out what your procedure will be for students who need to ‘go’ outside of your scheduled breaks.

  31. Abbie, do you have any tips for dealing with students who are crying or trying to run out of the room the first day, please?

    1. Hi Laura! There is no perfect solution or answer, but her are some suggestions. If you have a para or aide, have that adult focus in on that student as soon as they come in. But if you are like me and have ZERO help, I would ask the principal to recommend someone to come and help. You cannot chase a student and be present for the other students. I also had a variety of small stuffed animals and would offer a crying student the option to choose one and take it back to their table. This worked 75% of the time. If nothing seems to work. I recommend having the student be dropped off in the front office and having someone from the school walk him/her down to your classroom, so the connection with the adult that dropped them off is limited. Again, no exact answer to this struggle. Sorry.

    1. This was posted in 2017. If you go to blogs on home page, scroll to page 29, you will find the rest of the series. Thank you for your comment and inquiry.

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