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July 15, 2016

Surviving The First Week Of Kindergarten

Now, before we get started I have a disclaimer. I am by no means the guru of all things kinder. However, I have gained a lot of self taught experience through trial and error. I have taught Kindergarten for 5 years and would love to share with you what it has taught me!

**All images for resources are clickable. They will take your directly to the free product.


As a student teacher I fell in LOVE with teaching 5th grade. Loved the age range, the content and the possibilities. After student teaching I wanted nothing more than to be teaching in a 3rd-5th grade classroom. Well, that is not what God had planned for me! 2-3 weeks before the start of the school year, I was hired to teach Kindergarten in a Catholic school! WHAT!?! I know NOTHING about this age range! I was so nervous! To make matters less appealing, I also did not have a grade partner to bounce ideas off of. The previous teacher was not much help (she changed grades).  Nor, did I know about the magic Facebook groups. More or less, I was on my own. 

The First Year

Nope. Not going there. Long story short - it was rough. I had an extremely difficult class and my lack of understanding of strong behavior management did not add to the issues. It was a long year with a lot tears. So many times I wanted to quit. Yet, some how I managed to survive. 

Transition Years

So I stayed teaching Kindergarten. Mostly because I did not get offered an other positions. But, I also wanted some stability. The next few years I grew so much as an educator. Starting in year 3 I had an aide and she was a Godsend. It was nice to have another adult in the room to bounce ideas off of. And quite frankly, Kindergarten should have an aide! 

During years 3-5 this was the time I was finally getting into my stride. I by no means want to worry any new teacher. But, become confident and exceptional at what you do takes time. There is failure and success. Each year is a new class which means you might need to change how your room is structured. It doesn't mean I wasn't a good teacher as I began my career. But I was learning. Sure we got all the content covered, but that does not make a good teacher.

As I completed my 5th year of Kindergarten I felt amazing. I was on my way to being one of those great teachers! I still have hopes of teaching older grades. But I fully believe in giving everything I have. And that is what I did for my kinders, because our students deserve it.

Learn From Me!

Okay, So my first year - no good. But that doesn't mean yours can't be!! I feel that the most important time of the school year is the first few days/weeks. This is when you will set the foundation for your classroom. Listen to your professors from college. Be tough those first weeks. Seriously, you need to set the expectations for your students behavior or they will walk all over you. 

Now don't laugh - but it took me 4 years to finally put together a structured binder of first week activities. Yes, the first week is so important that it needs it's own binder.

Get Up and Move!

Kindergarteners love to sing and dance! Yes Gonoodle is awesome but so are Jack Hartman and Harry Kindergarten!  The Learning Station is another one of my favorites. Your class will learn so much from singing and moving. Use that! Especially during the first week they are going to struggle with sitting for "long" periods of time. Be prepared by having fun songs they can interact with. My aide was awesome at making up her own songs to use. I, unfortunately, lack that particular skill. 

First Week Activities 

Can we just quickly pause to appreciate how awesome Educlips is?!

So what exactly should you do for the first week? There are a few things that are super important. The most important is transportation! You will probably have a meet the teacher night before school starts. This is where you will have the parents fill out how their child will be going home. But guess what, it changes. Some parents will take off of work just so they can pick up their child from school. Check this and double check this! BUT even with all of that checking you may still send a child home the wrong way. (hand raise!) I have! It's hard especially when there are grandparents involved in picking up a child or the parents do not live together. Remember that it is okay! Mistakes happen. If you send them on the bus - the bus will bring them back. Put them in the car rider line by mistake? A parent can be called. It will be okay.

Bathroom breaks - take many of these. And dancing breaks, those are awesome too. They are kids! And just like you, they are nervous. Have fun!

I plan my first week of school around read alouds. I do this because There are some great books to talk about first day feelings and expectations. You can incorporate so much with a read aloud! So let me break it down for you what I did and where I got the resources. Plus, my aide for the past two years was a retired kindergarten teacher and read most of the same books. There is a pattern here people!

First Day - Read The Kissing Hand

**The day of tears

Brace yourself: your students will cry. Their parents will cry. You will probably want to cry. (It's okay if you actually do cry). This is real life lol. But remember - it will all be okay! You will be awesome! Just have fun!

I have a coloring page waiting for my class when they come in. Some will color it, some will just sit and cry. Could be a good opportunity to introduce book buddies (stuffed animals) that they can hold if they didn’t bring something with them.
I have changed my page every year but here are some I’ve used: 
Click on the images to go to the free resources!
Free Back to School Assessment for Prek/ Kindergarten/ FirFirst Day of School {FREEBIE}

I love doing the tour of the school with my kiddos as a little scavenger hunt - they get so excited. The clues lead them around the school and they get to meet a few other grownups they will see frequently. During the hunt they are trying to find Chester. At the end they are back in the classroom were Chester leaves them some goodies. This might be good to do after AM snack when they have opened up a bit (if you are full day).
I used this format to help me:  

The Kissing Hand- 1st Day of School Hunt
I would suggest purchasing little heart stickers to use with this book as well.

Drawing/writing to go with the book:
First Day Feelings: A Kissing Hand Book for Back to SchoolThe Kissing Hand Activity Freebie!
These stations are something that I had prepared but did not get to finish. Which is fine! I would much rather have too much to do than not enough.
Kissing Hand Stations

**There are more books about Chester that would be great to read to your students as well.

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

Miss Bindergarten is another fun character to bring into your classroom. There are a series of books that star her and her kindergarten class. How fun for your students to compare themselves.
I like this book for the first week because they can learn about their teacher too!

Miss Bindergarten -Connect to Text

Day Two - Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

Obviously you have to read this in Kindergarten. It's an ABC book! You kids most likely know this one as well so have them help you read! Be sure to check out Pinterest or search for more blogs like Mrs. Lee's Kinders.

I made this cute craft with them. You can make it easier on yourself and print the pieces on colored paper or have your students color!

Chicka Chicka Boom Freebie
My first year I had my students make these. Now, I made the mistake of having them find the letters. Learn from my mistake. Sort your letter stickers by students and have them ready to go in a plastic bag. We can't all get it right the first time. ;)
Personal Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Trees:
How cute is this directed drawing!?

Day Three - Brown Bear Brown Bear

This will be another book your students are familiar with. Have a blast retelling this story throughout the day! Then have your students go home and retell it with their parents!
Brown Bear Brown Bear~ A Take Home ActivityBrown Bear Centers {Back to School}

I also made a retelling bag with my students. Spend the day working with colors!
Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten: Color Days (Part 2):

Day Four - Chrysanthemum 

By now your students are probably feeling more comfortable. Now is the time, if you didn't start year, that I would begin building those expectations. To me, the most important part of my job is prodcing kind and caring students that will help others. The academics will come. But you are the start of it all! This is the time to truly teach them right from wrong and how to treat each other. Social skills are something you will work all year in Kindergarten. 

I read this story to my class and later in the day we also watch the animated version of it from 

I shrunk these puppets down to have them fit on a Popsicle stick. Let your students retell the story with a friend!
Chrysanthemum Stick Puppet Craftivity- FREEBIE!!
Nancy has some great ideas for the first week of school and how to expand on your student's understanding of how Chrysanthemum felt. 

First Grade Blue Skies
AND First Grade Blue Skies has an adorable freebie for you! This book is just seriously amazing and needs to be read! Find Jennifer's ideas here.

Splat the Cat

I love splat! He is another of my favorite book characters for Kindergarten
FREE Splat the Cat Booktivity

Fill A Bucket

In my class we discussed a lot about filling buckets. The kind things we do fill a bucket. But also some actions can dip into a friend's bucket and make them feel bad.

Free Bucket Filler and Bucket Dipper Sort {Perfect for Bac Be A "Bucket Filler" kind of friend!

If You Take A Mouse To School

Again - a great character to bring into your classroom. Along with his friends! Smitten in First has a free template to make this cute guy! I would have your students tell you their answer and write it on a post it for them to copy. 

School Behavior/ Expectations

No, David is a fun book to read to your class. Have them talk about the choices that they should make in school.
No, David!  Back to School Behavior Sort

Recess Manners Freebie

The lunchroom is definitely important to discuss with your class as well. I would suggest a craft similar to this, perhaps where they draw the way they should behave in the lunchroom.

Cafeteria Expectations Craftivity FREEBIE!

Building A Positive Classroom Community

This is so crucial to me! As a teacher my goal is to foster a community where my students are will to take risks and try new things. Where they respect their classmates for who they are. Where they respect adults and authority. 
I also want my students to realize how unique and special they are. I read a book such as the one below and then we create self-portraits! I personally think it should be required for every school to purchase multicultural crayons and paints. Because let's face it, the 24 crayola box of crayons does not include all of the skin tones that represent our students. I strongly suggest that your purchase a few packs of the crayons to keep in your classroom! The cost about $1 a pack, but add so much to your room!

More Ideas

How cute would this lap book be?! I think it would be fun to work on during the first week with your students. 
FREEBIE First Day of School Interactive Notebook Lapbook

Practice identifying their name! This is a cute activity and how fun would it be to complete it with rainbow writing!?
Name Activities EDITABLE

PHEW! That was a jam packed post! I truly hope that these ideas can be of some use for you and your students. That's the whole reason I blog and create for TPT, to help your students. If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know!

Remember, you go this! 

July 5, 2016

Research Projects for Google Drive

I am so excited about all I am learning to do with Google Drive! Thanks to Danielle Knight, I have a whole new vision for assignments with my students. Using 21st century skills, my students will be focusing on a digital project rather than bringing in a poster board project.

With my new line of Google Drive products students will meet common core research standards by using their tech skills. Now, I believe even our youngest learners could complete these assignments. It is just a matter of differentiating and timing. I believe research and note-taking are important skills to provide our students for their academic future. Especially giving credit to their sources.



Suggestions for Use K-1

I taught Kindergarten for 5 years and these kiddos can do A LOT! I would introduce this type of project around March when the magic begins to happen as those kinders transform! I would not give this as an assignment to an individual student but rather a class research project. Many primary teachers have taught about the rain forest and owls and done some awesome activities. 

So if we are already teaching out little ones and creating awesome activities, crafts, math and writing projects....let's kick it up a bit by going digital! Your students can bring information they have gathered at home and then work together or in small groups. There are so many great possibilities.
Note: When I use these types of projects with my students, there is a lot of scaffolding. I do not just jump right into it - it is a process of building knowledge and abilities. 

Why Google Drive?

SO MANY REASONS! The first being that the work saves automatically. Isn't that going to be a lifesaver for your sanity?! Schools are beginning transition to 1:1, and this can be a little nerve wracking. You may not be quite sure where to begin or how to use all of this wonderful technology. Don't worry - I got you covered ;). There are a wonderful group of educators who are taking the leap and creating wonderful digital resources.

Even if you are not 1:1 (I'm not!) But there are plenty of other ways to take advantage of the new technology that we are finding ourselves with.

Check us out on Pinterest!

How Do I Share With My Students?

So you purchased one of my Google Drive products, now what?

Easy! When you purchase my product you will get a pdf download. Your first page will look like this.

I provide instructions for how to access the product. The link will direct you to make a copy of the product which will be saved right into your google slides. Make a copy of this and share it with your students! If you use Google Classroom you can easily receive the project back from your students if you assign it. If you do not have Google Classroom have your students send their direct link back to you!

A Sneak Peek Inside

Get excited! I am taking you into my latest Google Drive product. I am super excited for this one! PLUS - it can be used to help your students gain a better understanding of life in the Amazon. Pair it with learning about the Summer Games and it is a fantastic compliment!

First, your students will pick one of the provided animals to research about. 

 To activate their thinking they will complete this KWL chart! Everything is interactive as they can type right into the documents.

 This might be my favorite slide! They provide notes about facts they have collected. Then they can insert images into the film strip. So cool!

 Another great graphic organizer to showcase what they have learned in their research.

 Finally, compare and contrast with another rain forest animal.

 For this particular research project, students will expand their learning into the rain forest itself. They are asked to write an opinion paragraph about why we should take care of the rain forest. The provided graphic organizers are designed to expand their writing from notes to a full paragraph.

 And as always, students will be asked to include the location of the references they used.

I don't know about you. But I am getting excited for the upcoming school year!! I truly hope that these products help your writes grow throughout the school year!

Looking for more ways to use technology in your classroom? Check out this awesome link up below!