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!
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