Whether you are a new kindergarten teacher or a seasoned teacher in need of fresh ideas, here are some helpful Tips for the First Day of Kindergarten.
On the first day of kindergarten, it is critical to teach, demonstrate, and reinforce school and classroom policies and procedures. All activities should revolve around these essential guidelines, as they are the cornerstone of a successful academic year. By ensuring that your little learners have a thorough understanding of the policies and procedures, the rest of the school year will be much smoother and more manageable.
Here are some activities that I loved to do with my students the first day of kindergarten. Feel free to incorporate or adjust them according to your preferences and needs. Remember, these are just ideas – there’s no one right way to kick off the school year!
- After the bell rings, gather on the classroom carpet to go through the whole-school morning announcements and “try” to recite the pledge. Then introduce the song Criss Cross Applesauce to your little learners.
- To help your students get to know you better, show them pictures of your family and/or pets. Afterward, each student takes a turn to introduce themselves and say their name.
- Read the book “No, David.” This begins the introduction to school and classroom rules. Discuss the importance of following rules and directions. Together, create an anchor chart that highlights how rules help everyone stay safe and guide behavior.
- Next, introduce Rachel Rug – the enforcer of the rug rules. (Download **FREEBIE** here.) Spend some time practicing proper sitting and standing techniques, raising hands, and listening. Perfect opportunity to sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” (Keep in mind that children enjoy singing and dancing regardless of your personal abilities in those areas.)
- Explicitly teach the rules and procedures concerning bathrooms, water fountains, and tissues.
- Explicitly teach school supplies. Never assume your new kindergarteners know how to use any of the supplies they will use throughout the school year. It’s crucial to be clear, concise, and explicit when explaining each item’s proper use. Here is the perfect resource for teaching how to use school supplies. This comes is English and Spanish and can be found both in my TPT store and KC Store.
- Next, have a read aloud. Here are some top picks for “First Day” books. (If you need more book ideas, check out my Amazon list of First Day of Kindergarten books.)
- After completing a read-aloud, it’s time to introduce stations. Believe it or not, this can be done on the first day of school! Explicitly explain that each student will have an opportunity to visit every station, but must remain at their assigned station the entire time. Stations that don’t require any directions or explanations are the easiest to start off with. This could include playdoh and playdoh tools, pattern blocks, puzzles, and Lincoln Logs. Spend about 8-10 minutes at each station before ringing a chime to gather everyone together on the carpet. Quickly review the rug rules and sing the crisscross song again to help ease into the rest of the school day.
- Get ready for another round of stations! During this round, students will rotate to a different station every 8-10 minutes for a fresh learning experience.
- As lunchtime approaches, it’s important to cover proper walking, dining, and lunchroom rules and procedures. Read “Manners in the Lunchroom” to help illustrate these points.
- Explicitly go over the rules and procedures for walking to lunch, during lunch, and lunch recess. Practice lining up and walk to the lunchroom.
- After lunch, have a brief review of the recess rules. Now RECESS!!!
- After recess, review standing in line and bathroom rules, followed by a quick bathroom and drink break for all students.
- Most kindergarten classes will have “Specials” in the afternoon. (This was my PREP time.) Once students are back in the classroom, return to the carpet for a fun alphabet action song from HeidiSongs.
- Next, read “The Kissing Hand“. This book is a great conversation starter for little learners to express their emotions. Write down their feelings on an anchor chart. To help each student create a “kissing hand” for their loved ones, direct them to stand up and move to the next station. Bear in mind that there are four stations in total and they will have visited two before lunch. As they work on their “kissing hand,” call students over one by one to create a handprint on their paper. Once complete, they can add a red heart sticker and share their feelings about their first day of kindergarten. Encourage each student to write their name on their artwork.
- After 10-12 minutes, ring the chime and bring all the students back to the rug. Review the rug rules. (See the pattern-teach, demonstrate, and reinforce.) Now may be the time to sing, dance, or watch GoNoodle or do a fun KidzBop song.
- Students will go to their last station and I will finish up the last of the kissing hand handprints.
- Ring chime, doorbell or however you choose to get your students attention. Have them clean up and gather on the carpet. Here is a carpet song I loved to sing.
- Review the rules for the playground and proper lining up procedures. To make it more engaging, I select a student to demonstrate the “right” way and another to show us the “not following rules” way, which the students always find enjoyable.
- Now recess time!!!
- Recap the day’s rules and procedures.
- The students gather their belongings and form a line, ready to head home.
Wow!!! What a busy first day of Kindergarten! It can be challenging for both you as the teacher and your little learners. To ensure a smooth day, don’t forget to leave time to handle unexpected situations and interruptions, and avoid over-planning. Flexibility is key!
The most important teaching tip for the first day: consistently teach, model, and review rules and procedures!! This will set you and your little learners up for a successful kindergarten school year.