Getting Started in Kindergarten: Launching Learning Blocks

Saturday, 20 August 2016

"Mrs. Clarke, What’s math?" 

I’ve just told the children we are going to “do math” and this is what I hear.

I’m surrounded by socks and sorting circles and wondering how I am going to answer this. 

I realize that in my efforts to get this train rolling, I may have forgotten something.  

children matching socks

It never occurred to me that maybe their first lesson should have been about the "big idea" of math (leave it to Kinders to always let you know what you need to do).  

So now I do a two-day launch for each learning block. 

kindergarten kick off deck to launch subject area learning blocks

Here are my launch suggestions to avoid your own “derailment!”

What's the Goal?

Let children know where the train is headed before they get on board. 

Talk about the goal/purpose for each part of your day in terms of What good readers do, writers do, mathematicians, etc. 

I use children’s books such as Max’s Math by Kate Banks or How Rocket Learns to Read by Tad Hills to illustrate children taking on these roles.

Create charts of these goals to keep you on track all year long.  
What good readers do poster

What Does it Look Like?  

Just as a train is made up of many cars, your learning block is probably broken down into smaller segments (i.e. mini-lesson, worktime, sharing).  

Since these are not visible in the daily plan/schedule that you post, help children "picture it" using a graphic, such as a pie chart, to show how it is broken down.  

What reading and writing workshop look like poster

What Does it Sound Like?  

You wouldn’t use the same voice in the sleeping car as you would in the snack bar! 

Each segment of your learning block requires different voice levels. I use "The Three Bears" to help my Kinders hear the difference between soft, loud, and "just right" voices.

kindergarten voice level posters

You’ve Got This! 

Once your Kinders have some idea of the goals behind each learning block and a picture of what it looks and sounds like, it’s time for you to embark on a trial run.

Keep the content light in order to keep the focus on the structure.  Introductions and explorations of materials are great for this!

Continue to use this same structure from here on out to keep things consistent.

kindergarten child during math workshop stacking blocks

Resist the urge to move too fast and you'll be "chugging along" in no time!
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. You have some great practical ideas here. All the best for your teaching year!

  2. I love how you broke the workshop down into the different parts. We're starting guided math this year in third grade. That's kind of what our schedule is going to look like - a minilesson, small group lessons with the teacher and centers, and reflection at the end. Hoping it works well!