The first weeks of kindergarten means learning new routines and school rules. Building relationships and setting boundaries right away is key to a successful year of learning, so today I'm sharing some helpful hints and tricks for getting the year off to a great start! What students should know first and foremost is that when they enter their classroom, their teacher sees them as a friend, smart, amazing, special, adorable, sweet, and LOVABLE!
The idea that we are a class family is largely emphasized in our classroom. To start our year, students bring in family pictures to place on our cupboards for the school year. This allows for them to "meet" each other's families and share things about the members of their families with one another. The display is used frequently, as we oftentimes make connections to the people we love most throughout our learning!
At our school, we implement Ron Clark's house system. On the first day of school, students spin the wheel of Titan PRIDE to reveal their house! Students earn points for their house and are rewarded for having the most points. This system encourages making new friends, teamwork, and inclusion.
Before you speak, think and be smart. It's hard to fix a wrinkled heart. We often refer to having happy hearts in our classroom. For example I say, "Oh, that makes my heart so happy!" when I see students sharing or using great teamwork. I also let them know when things do not make my heart happy, such as when students aren't kind to each other. We use this simple activity to demonstrate yucky parts of our day that wrinkle our hearts. When people apologize, it's like putting a bandaid on an ouchy. It still hurts, but an apology makes it feel a little better.
I also use this sequin heart pillow to demonstrate how things can make my heart both sad and happy. I flip it to gray to demonstrate broken rules and how it makes my heart feel sad.
Our rules are simple. I tell the students that when they are at school, I am their mama bear, and I have two jobs. My jobs are to keep them safe and to help them learn. We relate breaking rules to the Grinch. The Grinch does things that make others' hearts sad. If we are not following the two classroom rules of learning or staying safe, names are written on the Grinch board, which means 5 minutes off of recess. The kids erase their names when their 5 minutes of recess are served. We use the Grinch board quite a bit at the beginning of the school year, but I find that we rarely need it beyond the first quarter. The kids typically understand the concept and the rules by October.
Using picture books and visual cues are my favorite ways to teach rules and character education overall. Raising hands and not interrupting is something that needs to be established within the first week of school. I LOVE to read Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra to get my message across to the kids. After the lesson, I keep the little chick near the front of the classroom. If students shout out answers, I just point to the chicken. They quickly remember to raise hands.
We use the correlating kindergarten arts and crafts Interrupting Chicken writing pack to demonstrate how we are respectful listeners in the classroom. (Click the photo below to access the download.)
If students do not do their work, I remind them that one of my jobs is to help them learn. If they aren't doing work, the rule has been broken. I show them Daisy. Daisy is bright and sunshiny and loves to learn and play with friends. Sometimes, though, she gets wilted and lazy. She just needs a reminder that there are no lazy daisies in kindergarten, though, and she stands right back up to get to work.
We read the entire No, David! series at the beginning of the school year, too! David has some trouble with following rules, and the kids just LOVE him, especially when he escapes the bathtub and runs down the street!!
Since they love him so much, they love creating him, too! We use this craft and writing pack to draw one of the rules he breaks. (Click the photo below to access the download.)
We tie the series in with the five senses during a kindergarten science lesson, and we go over the pages of No, David! to share what parts of his body he is using when he is breaking rules. (Click the photo below to access the download.)
We love, love, love Pete the Cat in our classroom! We begin our year with Pete the Cat: Rocking In My School Shoes by James Dean. The kids love the SONG that goes with it, too! Our takeaway from this book, is "It's allllllll good!" Pete doesn't worry, and we don't have to worry either. We just try our best, learn from our mistakes, and it's all good!
Guidance and Character Education Crafts, Writing Prompts
Kids write and draw about their favorite place at school with our kindergarten craft and writing activity! (Click the photo below to access the download.)
And that's a wrap! Come to school to learn and be safe, and it's alllllll good in kindergarten! Of course, going over rules doesn't stop all year! There are soooo many great picture books to teach character education, and we've created a DEEPLY discounted craft and writing bundle that includes our favorites! Enjoy!!
Print and Go!
Lessons are sold in individual craft packs and discounted bundles as well!
Character Education Book Companions and Kindergarten Arts and Crafts: Giraffes Can’t Dance, The Koala Who Could, The Good Egg, You Get What You Get, Too Tall Houses
Character Education Arts and Crafts Writing Lesson Activity Pack for Kindergarten: You’re Finally Here, My Mouth is a Volcano, Spaghetti in a Hotdog Bun, Lacey Walker Nonstop Talker
Back to School Character Education Arts and Crafts Writing Lesson Activity Pack for Kindergarten: Milk Goes to School, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, Click Quack School, After the Fall, The Bad Seed
Book Companion Crafts and Activity Pack for Preschool and Kindergarten Kids: Interrupting Chicken, Llama Destroys the World, Caps for Sale, Wordy Birdy, Dragons Love Tacos
The Kissing Hand Brown Paper Bag Chester the Raccoon Puppet Kindergarten Arts and Crafts Activity
More Back to School fun with Books!
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Krazy for Kindyland has LOTS of ideas to share with you to make learning MAGICAL in your classroom!