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.
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. NOTE: THIS IS A FREE DOWNLOAD (FOR A LIMITED OF TIME), SO BE SURE TO GRAB IT NOW!
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.
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! Kids write and draw about their favorite place at school with our kindergarten craft and writing activity!
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 craft and writing bundle that includes our favorites! Enjoy!!
Hi, and welcome to Krazy for Kindyland, Kindergarten Arts and Crafts! I'm a mom of three and a primary teacher since 2006. We are on a mission to reach all little learners, providing them with engaging, hands-on learning opportunities to practice spatial awareness skills while learning across the curriculum. Here on the blog, we share differentiated lesson ideas that allow for teacher choice while incorporating crafting and writing into math activities, letter learning, science lessons, social studies topics, character education, and reading comprehension. Our crafts include consistent layouts and are easy for students to understand and follow directions. They are low prep, saving the precious time you need with your students! Fun fact: our customers often note that our products are GREAT for subs! They focus directly on learning content and are easy arts and crafts for kindergarten!
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