5 Steps to Creating a Kindergarten Kick-Off Plan

Sunday, 15 July 2018


First Day Back to School Beginning of Year Kindergarten Plan


When back-to-school time rolls around, I always have at least one teacher dream that reveals the anxiety I'm having about my new class and new year.

In my dream, I'm not a teacher, but a lone waitress (former occupation!), with a full restaurant to serve. And if you know how those dreams go, I wake up exhausted, from some magical dreamlike force that keeps pulling me back and making it impossible for me to take orders, serve food, and clear tables.

So if you are like me and your anxiety levels begin to rise at the sight of school supplies in Target's dollar spot, you might just need a solid kick-off plan that will leave you feeling confident, prepared, and well-rested to enjoy the last weeks of summer.

Step 1: Breakdown Your Program

Start by thinking about the different elements that make up your kindergarten program and create a list.  You might include: 

Materials   

These are school tools your children need to know how to use, care for, and clean up.

Routines/Procedures 

This includes step-by-step tasks such as unpacking, washing hands, lining up etc. 

Class Rules 

Often called rules, agreements, or promises, these form the foundation of your behavior management program.

First Day Back to School Beginning of Year Kindergarten Plan

Centers 

Any centers children will use including physical spaces as well as bins of materials.

Learning Blocks 

This is your daily schedule and the different blocks of time that make up that schedule.

Getting to Know You 

Activities that help you get to know your children and build strong relationships from the beginning.

Step 2: Create Notecard Decks

For each element you have identified, create note cards for that category.  For example, with materials, you will make one card each for scissors, crayons, pencils, etc. and with learning blocks, you will make a card for math, reading, writing, etc.

On each card, record important information that you want to communicate to children.  Include clear, consistent language that includes step-by-step directions and systems/structures used.  Leave some blank space so you can add notes and reflections as you carry out your plan. 


First Day Back to School Beginning of Year Kindergarten Plan

Consider using a consistent launch routine so the children look forward to each new material, center, etc. Include songs, books, games, and activities that will keep children engaged as they learn about each new part of your program.

Color-code the cards for each element using different colored index cards, stickers, or markers.  This will help you put the decks back together, once you have used them to build your first day and beyond. 

Step 3: Build Your First Day

Choose cards from each deck to build your first day of school.  Go light on the first few days and keep your focus on creating an enjoyable first experience for your kiddos!  I use a grid to tentatively plan out what I will launch each day for the first two weeks. 

First Day Back to School Beginning of Year Kindergarten Plan

Step 4: Review and Reflect

At the end of the first day, reflect on how things went.  Remove cards that are no longer needed and add new ones to build your second day of school.  Continue in this manner until all systems are up and running! Take good notes as you go along of things you will want to remember next year!

Step 5: Reorder the Decks 

At the end of the kick-off period, sort the cards back into their original categories (i.e. materials, routines, etc.) and store them until next year! 

Creating these cards will take some time in the beginning, but you will find them invaluable in years to come. 

Not sure where to start, limited on time, or looking for a plan to work from? You can find my complete Kick-Off Plan HERE:


First Day Back to School Beginning of Year Kindergarten Plan

Wishing you a great start to your school year!

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The Last Day of Kindergarten

Saturday, 23 June 2018


the last day of kindergarten

My worst, last day ever was the first year I taught kindergarten.  It was half-day and my kiddos were taking a different bus home than usual because they were riding with the whole school.  We made tags for the children to wear to avoid any mix-ups.

At the very last minute, my assistant realized that we had listed the wrong numbers -eeeeeeek! Busses were starting to be called and we were frantically trying to get kids on the right busses.  I remember grabbing nearby adults from the hallway to help us through the chaos!

By some miracle they all found their way, but all the crazy that went down in those last minutes left me in tears about how things had ended.

I've since learned a few things about "last days," to make them run more smoothly and to provide the closure that a year together deserves.  Here's a few ideas to help you as you plan your last day:

Reflection

Provide some time for children to reflect on the past year. Try placing their name cards in a bag and as you choose one, invite them to share their favorite memory or part of the school day.  

the last day of kindergarten

Autographs

Yearbooks usually arrive during the last week of school so set aside time for children to mingle about and sign their names.  Be sure to copy an autograph page for those without yearbooks so all can participate.

You might also find former students at your door wanting you to sign their yearbooks.  If you don't schedule time for this, you might find kids showing up at times that are less than convenient.  

At a previous school,  the principal scheduled a 30-minute autograph session where all staff sat outside their classrooms.  Children were free to circulate throughout the building to get autographs from former teachers and/or special area staff.     

Read Alouds

All year long you've been reading to children and have bonded through shared stories they have come to know and love.  Here's a few ideas for last day read alouds:
  • Invite children to vote on their favorite book and enjoy it one last time.
  • Read the same book you read to them on the first day of school.
  • Choose a special book with a goodbye message that is just right for your kiddos.  Here's my favorite! 
the last day of kindergarten

Special Treat

Celebrate the last day with a special treat all children will enjoy. You may want to involve them in selecting the treat or surprise them with a favorite.  

the last day of kindergarten

Thank You Gifts

Teachers don't plan on receiving gifts, but it is quite common for children to arrive on the last day anxious for you to open the "special something" they brought for you.   Reserve a few minutes to call children over privately and open the gift in their presence.  Oftentimes, they have worked hard to make a card or a gift and they welcome that special moment with you.

the last day of kindergarten

Positive Thoughts

If your school has a character ed program or schoolwide motto, think about ways you might send students off with these positive messages.  Our school has adopted the Positivity Project, so our kinders went home with rocks displaying the motto and wearing their #1 character strength/super power around their neck. 

the last day of kindergarten

the last day of kindergarten

Class Picture

Take one last picture of your class that you can share with parents as a thank you and goodbye.  The silly one is always my favorite!

the last day of kindergarten

Parting Songs

If you end each school day with a goodbye chant or song, don't forget to include this on the last day as well.  My favorites include Tom Chapin's Together Tomorrow Again and So Long by Bill Harley.  

Bus Wave

Many schools have a tradition of staff gathering outside on the last day to wave goodbye to busses as they drive around the bus circle.  Some even play music, sing songs (na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, goodbye), and blow bubbles to send children off in style.  

the last day of kindergarten

Our retirees even joined in the procession for one last farewell. 

the last day of kindergarten

Treat Yourself

Don't forget to plan a special something for yourself on this last day once all is said and done! I usually meet friends for drinks and dinner at a favorite spot where we can be outdoors!  Maybe a pedicure or massage is more up your alley!  Whichever you choose, celebrate the hard work and commitment you've made to the children you teach!

Wishing you all the best summer ever!

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Dandelion Days

Saturday, 12 May 2018


Here in New York, it's dandelion season, which means dandelion bouquets for all the teachers!



This can be a problem if you are prone to seasonal allergies!

This was the case of two teachers on my K team, so rather than deny their kiddos this childhood pleasure, here's what they did.

They designated ONE day as, "Dandelion Day" and invited their Kinders to pick flowers for their whole team.



The kids LOVED it and look how cute the teachers look holding their bouquets!

Getting them to stop picking may not be easy, but you can always remind them that if they pick ALL the dandelions, there will be no "wish flowers."


If you are thinking of trying this, you might want to continue the dandelion fun indoors.

Here's a cute art project one of our K teachers did with her kiddos a few years ago.  The "white puffs" were made using fingerprints.



There are also some great dandelion books you might read alongside this:





And here's a couple FREEBIE printables for children to record their Dandelion Wishes!



Wishing you all a great end to your school year!



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