Tuesday, September 26, 2017

End of the Day in a Kindergarten Classroom


Are you stressed out with the end of the school day craziness in Kindergarten?

What's happening at the end of the day in Kindergarten? Why does it always end up a little chaotic?

Here are just a few of the reasons...
  • Last minute after-school transportation changes
  • Getting folders ready to go home
  • Someone needs to go to the bathroom....the milk they drank at lunch has finally caught up with them. :)
  • Someone is being picked up early from school (doctor, dentist, etc.)
  • Last minute notes need to be written to parents
  • Tired kids
  • Tired teacher
  • And, that's just a few!

So, is that enough to make a Kindergarten classroom a little CRAZY?  Absolutely! 

You are not ALONE!

Are you looking for a solution to help the end of the day run a little smoother?

Here are some suggestions!  No, these will not work for every teacher in every classroom.  The most critical rule when being a teacher is to be FLEXIBLE right? Nothing works all the time, every time.  If you are a first year teachers, remember FLEXIBILITY!! If you have been teaching for awhile, I'm sure you have already realized this, but a reminder always helps! :) You have to allow you, your classroom and your plans to be flexible to keep up with the ever changing needs of you kiddos.

So, although all of the details may not work for everyone, here are some ideas that have worked in my classroom and I hope they might work for you.  I hope they at least lead you on a path to find what works for you to create an end of the day atmosphere that allows each day to end on a happy note!

TOP THREE TIPS FOR THE END OF THE DAY IN KINDERGARTEN:

1.) HAVE A KINDERGARTEN PLAN:

It is so important to anticipate that things will most likely get a little chaotic at the end of the day.  Be ready for it and make a plan.

2.) CREATE AN END OF THE DAY ROUTINE:

Routine, routine routine...your five year olds  like to always know what is coming next. So, most importantly, by the end of the day, when their listening ears are a little worn out, it is important to have a routine that is the same EVERY day for the last thirty minutes.  This allows the expectations to already be in place and you are not having to give directions to a rowdy and energetic class of 24 Kindergarteners! AHHH!

If you already have a set routine in place, students know what to do without you having to tell them.  Will they need some reminders?  Sure, but a gentle reminder of the daily routine usually works and they are back on track.

3.) MAKE IT SIMPLE:

Do not plan a complicated craft, project or activity at the end of the day.  There have been years and days that I have saved my theme activities until the end of the day and we would end the day with a craft or project.  Some years, this works okay.  However, other years, this leaves things a little hectic!

Students have glue, paper, and scissors out, making it difficult to clean up quickly.  If there is a last minute problem or something comes up, then it is more difficult to handle it with all of the supplies out everywhere.  Also, students have to be on task to listen to step by step directions for the always changing activity.  For some students, this is TOO much at the end of the day, and it leads to frustration for the teacher and the student.  Completing complicated tasks at the end of the day also does not allow any time for uncompleted tasks to be finished.  For students that are working at a different level than their peers, they may need more time to finish.  Often it is hard to pick up where you left off when you have to start over the following day.  Instead, move these multi-step tasks and projects to an earlier time in the day.

So, how do you have a plan, create a routine and make it simple?  Well, here is what works for me.  It might work for you, or you might need to adjust it to fit your classroom needs.  This is just one suggestion to adapt to your classroom.

MY SCHEDULE:
  • 1:45 - 2:15 - My students have quiet time or rest time from 1:45 - 2:15 each day.  This is my time to prepare folders, complete individual assessments,  or work with a small group or an individual student.
  • 2:15 - By 2:15, I make sure that I have all of the take home folders, and all of the behavior calendars prepared for the day as well (behavior calendars go home each day with students in their take home folders).
  • 2:15 - 2:45 - Students use this last 30 minutes of the day to work in their LEARNING CENTER.  I have six centers that change throughout the year.  I change both the centers and what is in the centers based on the time of the year and what the students need to work on. While students are at centers, I call students to the prize box (Students receive a prize for every five green days they earn, so not every student earns a prize on the same day). Also, while students are at centers, I put all of their folders at their tables.  This way, when they return from centers, their folders are waiting for them.  It saves A LOT of time!
  • 2:45 - I signal the students to clean up.  Once their center is cleaned up, they know to return to their table and wait for everyone in the class to be cleaned up.  Once all students have returned to their tables, I do a quick center check.  As I check each center, the students that worked at that particular center for the day are dismissed from their table to get packed up (just putting their folder in their backpack) and have a seat in their carpet square.  
  • 2:50 - Carpet Time - By now, all centers are cleaned up, students are packed up and the class is sitting on the carpet in their assigned carpet square.  We wrap up the last five minutes of class with a Go Noodle activity.  I use the energy of the class to determine the GoNoodle activity that I select for the day.  For example, if the class has a lot of energy and is having a hard time using self-control, we complete a FLOW activity to try and calm down a little.  This really allows me to get the students back on track for the last 5 minutes of class. While students are engaged with GoNoodle, I quietly put up the chairs on the tables for the evening.
  • 2:55- Our first group of bus riders are dismissed at 2:55.  We say a quick good-bye using one of our rhyming good-bye phrases and they head to their bus. Next, my car riders line up, and the second group of bus riders.  The students are usually calmed down or have gotten some energy out during GoNoodle, so this really helps them wait in line patiently.  My car riders are dismissed after a quick good-bye, and then I walk my bus riders to their bus lines, give them a quick good-bye and the day is COMPLETE!
So, is this a FOOL PROOF, WORKS EVERY TIME method?  Well, no, not exactly.  If you're a teacher, you know that nothing ever is!  However, I hope this might help give you some ideas about how to rearrange your end of the day in Kindergarten to make it a little calmer, easier to manage and happier for you and your amazing Kinders!


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Kindergarten Fall Activties



Are You Looking For Kindergarten Fall Activities?

Happy Fall Y'all!

Here are some great ways to break up your day and have some fun with your Kinders and the new season.  Fall is finally here!!!  Fall is my favorite season and I absolutely love all of the fun we have in Kindergarten during this time of the year. So, what's happening in our Kindergarten classroom right now? Well...we have finally all settled in...I think! :)  The first month is so busy with just getting into the routine of everything.  I think that my sweet class has now all gotten to know each other and works well together! We do usually have new students throughout the year in our district, so we are always ready for a new friend and try to be flexible to ever changing schedules as well!  I have spent time over this last month figuring out what works for my students this year and what fits our schedule the best. Here are a few of the things that we will be busy doing over the next month.

Pumpkins! Pumpkins! Pumpkins! 

  • I love to incorporate pumpkins into our lessons this time of the year.  Students love to learn about pumpkins, weigh them, compare/contrast them, write about and draw pumpkins and make pumpkin crafts!

  • We research and  make a pumpkin anchor chart that hangs in our classroom for students to reference throughout the month during writing activities.
  • We use the information from our pumpkin chart to make these cute little pumpkins books!
  • Here is a close-up of their pumpkin books. I use this activity to teach labeling and sentence writing.
  • This pumpkin poem is great for all kinds of word activities during the season. Students mix up and sort out the words during center time.  I also have a worksheet that students, cut, paste and glue to make the poem. 

Number Games

We use our pumpkin numbers to practice number recognition. The little ghost "hides" behind a number and students take turns guessing a number and peeking behind the pumpkin to see if the ghost is hiding there.  They all write the guessed numbers on a recording sheet which helps to practice printing numbers as well.  The students get such a kick out of trying to find the hiding ghost! I adapt this game to all seasons with different items (ex. the present hides behind a tree in December, the turkey hides behind the pumpkin pie in November).




Kindergarten Owls

  • Making these owls is one of my favorite fall crafts.  I have displayed them on our bulletin board a couple of different ways in the past.  The owls are a template that I just copy of different colored paper so the students simply cut and glue for this activity. If you would like a copy of the template, I would be happy to send it to you! Just send me an e-mail!


Fall Family Projects

These are a few of our family pumpkins.  Each month, there is a different themed project that is sent home for families to create together and return to class.  When these projects come back to school, students use their "Superstar Speaking" and "Superstar Listening" skills to share the projects in class

Kindergarten Halloween Crafts

  • We always end the month of October with these cute ghosts!  I love how different and unique they all turn out. :)

  • These colorful candy corns decorate our classroom in the fall as well.  This is a simple torn paper craft that is great for building and strengthening those little finger muscles! Tear and glue, tear and glue!


These activities are in addition to our daily language arts lessons that follow "Journeys" and our daily math lessons from "My Math"! My Math and Journeys continues throughout the year in our classroom, but I like to incorporate some activities that also coordinate with the seasons and holidays too!

So, that's it in a nutshell...that's what will be happening in our classroom during the month of October. If you would like to check out my daily schedule, and more information about our language arts and math pacing, keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post!



Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Rainbows


Every month, my Kindergarten students take home a "Family Homework Project" to complete with their families. This activity encourages conversation and excitement about our theme for the month with parents and siblings at home.  When the students bring the completed project to class, we take time to share the creations.  We focus on speaking and listening standards when sharing these family projects.  Students practice being "Superstar Listeners" and Superstar Speakers" during our share time.  This is something we have worked on building and improving upon all year. This anchor chart helps us stay on track and remember the expectations for speaking and listening.
 For the month of March, our family project was Kindergarten Rainbows.  The students and families did a great job coming up with creative ways to decorate their rainbows.  These creations are a bright addition to our hallway bulletin board! Thank you to all of the families for their continued support of our monthly projects! The students love to share their creations with their friends!  How do you encourage family involvement in your Kindergarten classrooms?  I would love to hear new ways to increase the school-home connection!



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Catching Up!


Sorry it has been awhile since I had a chance to update our blog!  We have been busy in Kindergarten.  We finished up our letter of the day program at the end of October.  We spent time last week learning about fall and reviewing all that we learned in September!

It was so great to see all of the parents and families at Parent-Teacher Conferences last week and to talk about all of the progress our students are making in Kindergarten!

This week, we will continue our Fall them for the month of October.  We all began our letter of the week program this week.  We will be learning about the letter Aa and apples this week.  Since Aa is one of our vowels, we will be recognizing the two different sounds that Aa can make and be listening for that sound in words.


Last week, our first Pre-Decodable book (The Park) came home.  These books are from our Open Court reading series and will be coming home almost every week.  We use these books to learn our sight words and practice reading them in class.  This week, our book will be Lunch.  We will work with these books all week and then they will be sent home on Friday.  These books along with any other Emergent Reader books should be placed in your child's Reading Treasure Box at home and they can be read at home together.  Please let me know if you have any questions about these books as the year progresses. 





Friday, September 16, 2016

Happy Friday!!


Today, the students were very busy in the morning with letter work and working on writing.  They spent time writing in their journals and time putting various alphabet cards in order.  Here is a picture of a few in progress below!  They did a great job.  We are working on completing this task faster and faster each time to increase fluency.


Students have increased their stamina this week!  They are successfully completing "Read to Self" for 4 minutes!  Way to go!  Next week, our goal is to be able to read to self for a total of 10 minutes by the end of the week!

I know a lot of you are working on Reading Treasure Boxes at home with your child for the September Family Homework Project.  We will try and share these on the day they are brought into school.  However, sometimes we will have to keep them at school an extra day or so until we have time to share them.  This beautiful treasure box was brought in by a friend today.  We had planned on formally sharing it today, but were busy this afternoon and didn't have time. :(  It was so fun to see the excitement from the students when the box was brought to the classroom! We will share this box on Monday as well as any other boxes that are brought in.  I hope you are having fun with this project! Enjoy your weekend with your family and remember to fill in the September Reading Log each time you read to your child at home!



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday, September 13


Building Stamina

Today, one of our focus areas was learning how to "Read to Self".  This will be part of our small group rotations soon.  Right now, we are practicing doing this correctly.  Students learned they need to select an area quickly, read quietly, and get started right away.  Along with the expectations for read to self, we discussed that we want to build the amount of time that we "read to self" as the year progresses ~ build our stamina!  Since this is a new skill, I set the timer for 2 minutes and I monitored the students.  I know 2 minutes doesn't sound like a lot, but there can be so many distractions in a Kindergarten classroom, so doing this effectively for 2 minutes is a big deal and I was super proud of them! :) Each day, we will add a little bit of time as we work on this skill as a whole group.  Once the students have built a little stamina, then this will be used during small group.  This is part of the Daily 5 program and I  love incorporating this into our daily small groups. 

**MATH HOMEWORK: There is a math homework sheet in your child's folder today (writing 4 & 5).  Please help him/her complete and return to school.  Thanks!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Week 4 of Kindergarten


Monday, September 12

Today, our letter of the week was letter Jj. We listened to our letter Jj song, read our Jj sound box book, and practiced writing the letter Jj.  During small group time, students are often working with the letters of the alphabet. Here are a few of the acitivities they did today with the letters.


All of our students are readers!  We learned today that all of the students in our class can read.  A few of them told me, "No, I can't read yet" when I told them this. :)  However, we learned today that there are actually three ways to read a book!  Yes, three!  The three ways to read a book are to read the pictures, read the words, or retell the story.  Reading the pictures and retelling familiar stories are great ways to get beginning readers to build self-confidence and later move onto reading words.  We will be practicing a lot of picture reading and retelling in class.  

Finally, this afternoon, the class had fun using watercolors to paint jellyfish.  These will dry this evening and we will finish them tomorrow.  Have a great evening!