Read lots and lots of books! Use it as a way to settle students in the morning, after break and just before hometime. Students love hearing stories and as numerous studies have shown, exposure to literature is vital for students' literacy and language development.
I also like to use stories as a way of teaching students how to listen to and engage with a book. I know this might seem obvious and that students should already come to school knowing how to listen, but it's important that we set up our expectations on what listening to a story looks like. I like to do this in a simple manner by telling students that when I read a story, I have a job and they have a job too. My job is to read the story and the students' job is to listen. I then read the story with no additional commentary and any hand raises or interruptions are stopped. BUT WAIT?! What about the questioning and discussion? That all comes later once the listening and engagement has been taught explicitly.
Nursery Rhymes are another great way to start literacy in the classroom. They help students develop their ability to hear rhyme, syllables and sounds. I like to do a variety of activities which come in my Nursery Rhyme packs. These activities include sequencing, listening for rhyming words, looking for letters and making mini books. YouTube is a great source for video versions of the Rhyme.
Lining Up Game
The Lining Up Game is a fun way to teach students how to line up in two lines after break times. I take my students out to our lining up area to play this to make it as authentic as possible. How does it work? I get the kids to start by sitting in two perfect lines and explain that this is how they need to be sitting at the end of each break. For the game they just need to know two commands "play" and "bell's gone!". Play means they run around as if it's break time. "Bell's gone!" means they need to find a partner and make two lines. We play this over and over again until they consistently make two, straight lines with no pushing in/dramas. Positive feedback is a must and the more cheesy the better! e.g "YOU are the CHAMPIONS of lining up!", "You're going to make all the other teachers jealous!". Play this before each break for two days and you WILL have the best class at making two lines!
I love doing craft activities, even during the first week of school! It's a great way to build a sense of fun and get students to start developing all the important fine motor skills they will need for the rest of the school year. These Number Crafts focus on numbers and colours. They're super cute and are perfect for decorating your classroom during the first few weeks.
Not every student in your class will come to school knowing how to write, spell or recognise their name so it's important to get ontop of that during the first term. I have name activities as part of rotations and students work on their names every day. I have two hands-on activities which can be found here and here. I also use magnetic letters and cut and paste activities. Changing it up keeps it interesting and engaging for students.
Pre-Number skills are essential in building the foundations for a deep understanding of numbers and how they work. I start off with Pre-Number activities from day one by incorporating these into rotations. Pre-Number skills include sorting, matching, ordering and comparing. I use a range of resources from math manipulatives in the classroom to games and activities that I've cut and laminated.
Rules and Expectations
Explicit teaching of rules and expectations is a must. Get these sorted in the first few weeks and your year will run smoothly. I have an in-depth post about that which you can read here.
During the first week, the afternoon sessions are dedicated to Developmental Play. This is a great way for students to make friends with their classmates and to relax - remember they're probably just as tired as you! A new scene, routine, and people can be quite exhausting for the little ones. Play allows for social skills to be tested and developed while using imagination. I like to have unstructured play during the first week, so I can sit back and watch students interact with each other while making notes on what social skills need to be explicitly taught and which students might need some extra support socially.
These ideas will keep you going for the first week and help students settle into the routine of school. I hope you have found these ideas inspiring and have helped you plan for your first week of Kindergarten. Keep up with my teaching adventures by following my Social Media accounts: Facebook and Instagram.