Are you ready for the first week of kindergarten? It’s an exciting but exhausting time. Here are the top 5 must haves to start your Kindergarten year off on the right foot.
5. A zero calorie hot fudge sundae decorated with Girl Scout Do-si-do cookies crumbled on top.
4. A bottle of “start of the year teacher strength” Advil.
3. A winning fifty million dollar lottery ticket.
2. Adopting a litter of soft, furry and adorable Golden Retriever puppies.
1. A working time machine set back to June 1.
In case you can’t get ahold of the working time machine, here are my alternative, next best list of 5 must haves for a successful kindergarten year.
Oh yes! If you are teaching kindergarten you understand the importance of good old fashioned playdough. You can add it to your lesson plans or you can use it as a mini break. Playdough can also be a part of a center later in the year. During the first few weeks of school you will be able to lay the foundation for using playdough as a tool. But the best reason for using playdough is that it’s fun! It also builds fine motor and any time you can incorporate fine motor AND fun is a win in my teacher book.
Secret Tip: Have playdough balls put in ziplock baggies and ready to pass out at a moment’s notice. You won’t need as much Advil if you do this.
The use of puppets helps with student engagement. I have a class mascot puppet and he helps teach rules by role playing. He comes out as a class reward and also has fun with us during the holidays. During the Christmas season he brings wrapped books for us to open and read (one book a day for 12 days). I take pictures of my puppet to give to my kindergarteners before school starts and during the holidays. I also have a fun rewards system which incorporates puppets that I have used in kindergarten – check it out here:
Secret Tip: Puppets rarely eat much of your hot fudge sundae.
You can use music to calm the students as they walk in the door or to hype them up as they leave for the day. Music is great for transitions as well. Find a song that is 1 to 2 minutes long and play it while they are cleaning up. I love songs by Jack Hartman but Harry Kindergarten youtube music is my absolute favorite for songs that teach concepts. My kids also enjoy Heidi Songs to help them learn their sight words. I have also written some of my own songs. I have a blog post that explains how I use Poetry Journals and Music in my classroom to help make it engaging for students:
Secret Tip: You can use some of your lottery money to purchase additional music for your classroom.
2. How Will Your Students Will Get Home?
Before the first day of school I call and welcome all my families and ask the most important question: How will your child get home from school? Keep in mind that the first day will be different than the rest of the year so ask about that as well. The goal for the first day of kindergarten: Get them in, get them fed, get them home. Kindergarteners know how they THINK they are getting home and they know how they WANT to get home but they don’t always know HOW they will get home. Know this information before they walk into school on that first day. If you have a Meet and Greet that’s a great time to do it as well and then you can then follow up with parents that you did not personally talk to on the phone when you see them at Meet and Greet.
Secret Tip: Meet and Greet would be a good time to adopt out some of the litter of pups because they were a lot more work than you were anticipating – weren’t they?
1. Rules, Routines and Procedures
If there is anything that I would put at the top of the list for importance before school starts, that would be to have your rules (including rewards/ consequences), routines and procedures spelled out for yourself so that you know can teach the ins and outs of your classroom management system. You don’t have to have every bulletin board display ready but classroom management must be your top priority before school starts. There are many places on the web to go to help you answer some of the questions you may have and I also have a product in my TPT store that might be able to help you as well. This product has questions for you to answer about your routines and procedures and it gives you a snapshot into my school day as well. It’s called “Back To School Routines, Procedures and Forms.
Inside This Resource You Will Find The Following:
- List of actions you can do over the summer to be ready for the school year
- Substitute Binder Checklist
- Details on how I ran my kindergarten classroom (would work for first grade too)
- Routine and procedure questions
- Student and parent information forms
- Additional forms that will help you stay organized (transportation, allergy information, keeping track of passwords and birthdays and more)
- Binder covers to help you create binders to store the forms you collect
- Idea for having students share about themselves during the first week of school
- Signs to help with some of the routines (for example: bathroom and hall passes, animal pictures to help with voice levels, group numbers)
- School tour cards and directions
- Instructional Calendar templates that are editable
- Instructional Calendar Example (ideas to get you started)
- A welcome back to school class story that you can project and share with your students on PowerPoint (14 slides) or in video
- Questions and an alphabet class book to go with the story
- First day of school (how you felt about it) class book
- Friendship class book
- Play dough mats
- 2 songs – one morning song and one end of the day song in video format (mp4) and the audio tracks (m4a) along with typed out lyrics
Secret Tip: Get in the time machine before you hit the GO button because lost time machines trapped in the past are difficult to recover in the present. If you happen to come across MY lost time machine please return.
Well, there you have it, my top 5 must haves to start your kindergarten year off right. Are you ready? Have a wonderful new school year!