Free Printable First Day of Kindergarten signs I like to make and print a sign for my own kids at home as well as my class at school. They make for adorable first day pictures. This year I decided to change it up for a…
Month: August 2020
How to easily record growth and learning in Kindergarten I make a giant grid on google- I usually put an overall expectation at the top (I make one of these sheets for each overall expectation that we are planning on reporting on during the term)…
Class Lists for Kindergarten
You might be surprised that I do not have a super complicated organization system in Kindergarten- but there is a fantastic reason for that. My students need ALL my time. There are typically a LOT of them. Many of them have special needs- so when my students are in the room, I am focused on them. However, I need to record their learning, progress and observations. I do some of this by sharing an online portfolio with the parents. Over the years I have used Seesaw, FreshGrade, and ClassDojo, but this year I will be using BrightSpace. My teaching partner and I need our own place to quickly jot down, track, and record student progress and areas we need to work on. So I have the easiest system to share with you today. Enter the workhorse of Kindergarten…my class list. (And a link for the free templates at the bottom of this post!)
How I use my Class Lists in Kindergarten
At school I document in two ways- with my phone taking photos and anecdotal notes in an app like Brightspace portfolios, Google Keep, Seesaw, class Dojo, or my personal favourite, FreshGrade. But often, I use a clipboard and a class list. It is easy, fast, and really helpful especially at the beginning of the year when you can’t really take your eyes off some of your students that are still starting to develop their self control skills! For years I taught in a classroom with 7 exits- two of which led directly outside, and the rest leading to an open concept school with over 20 other external exits!!! There was no way I was able to track on a device while making sure one of my 30 friends didn’t suddenly bolt for a door. Each educator in our room has a clipboard, and we make ongoing observations on them. Some mornings as we pull down the chairs and prepare our classroom for student entry we decide what our focus might be for that day, and everyone puts that at the top of their clipboard to be the focal point of our observations that day.
My Class Lists
I make these in an ordinary Google Doc and make them alphabetical by first name. I make 4 types of class lists that get me through most of my year!
Basic classroom class list
I put my name and my teacher’s partner name at the top. I add the school year. Then I make a table with 5 columns and 30 rows. I leave the first row blank. The first column gets numbers. The second gets names- alphabetically listed by FIRST name. I also put an asterisk * beside any student with a life threatening situation so any staff or volunteer is aware as long as they have ANY copy of my class list.
The rest remain blank. (These are made up names for the purpose of sharing with you) It ends up looking like this:
I then copy that entire page and paste it below three times.
Multi-step project Class List
For the second Class list that I use more like a checklist I add four more columns. This works great for checking off tasks, or monitoring progress.
Anecdotal note class list
The third Checklist I actually get rid of most of the columns so I can write a whole sentence. This works really well for recording what students say about a task or while playing in a centre.
Name and school year class list
The fourth is actually something I use for art and STEM projects.
I replace the number column with our school years (for example, this year 2020-2021), I use only first names, and repeat this twice. When we do a fabulous project where we might paint over our names by accident, we slice up this list, fold the tags over, attach these name tags with tape. It makes a cute craft even more of a keepsake. I’ve done this with many of the wooden ornaments we have created in class.
Don’t print all your lists right away- I usually get 5-6 new names right before school starts up.
A couple days before school begins I print just a few of the updated ones with spots at the bottom for walk-in registrations (we have some every year!) and at the end of the first week of school I print an updated version.
Lists for the First day of school
HOW DO I GO HOME?
For the first day of school I print several lists. The first has the heading: HOW DO I GO HOME? As I meet each child, I ask the caregiver they arrive with if the child will be picked up by our in-school day care, take a school bus, or be picked up by a family member or caregiver. This list gets posted inside our exit door as soon as we walk in.
I also ask if there are any allergies, or any other urgent things I need to know immediately and I write them down on my second chart- the one with the long line for information- because of my goodness that first day is so busy I KNOW I WON’T REMEMBER who is deathly afraid of thunderstorms, and who carries an epi pen and three inhalers, and who is in a custody battle at risk for abduction, and who can’t use the classroom hand soap because their skin is too fragile. All absolutely vital and possibly life altering if I don’t know and keep it straight!!! Also a few parents like to let me know it is the FIRST TIME that their child is wearing underwear and not a pull-up so could I please sit them on the potty every 20 minutes…That first day drop off is no joke! And we want everyone to have a safe, positive and fun day!!! Ms. Flowers and I both read this URGENT list over as soon as possible and try to immediately safety the room depending on the information. (One year we had to confiscate all the apples from snack bags to prevent anaphylaxis that first day!)
The third list I use to jot down any pressing questions that I want answers to as soon as possible about a child, for example, if a child didn’t come with a lunch is it because it was forgotten, or are they experiencing food scarcity, or do parents maybe not read in English so they didn’t know that one was required…? Of course in all the business my statement might look more like a quick all caps LUNCH WHY??? But that way at the end of the day I know that I would need to send a note or email the bus friend’s parents, chat with the daycare teachers, or ask the caregivers at the pick up door and get my answers so our next day is even better.
Free Google Doc Templates for Kindergarten Class Lists
If you are pressed for time- and what teacher isn’t? I have my Google Doc Templates available for you. Click on the link, and then make yourself your own copy! You can then edit all the lists quickly with your class list and be ready for the first day of school! You can’t edit on my copy- it won’t work- so make sure you make your own and name it something smart like Class Lists 2020-2021 so you can find it!
What to send with your child for their first full day of Kindergarten Going off to Kindergarten has always been one of the biggest milestones for both children and their parents. Your school may send out a supply list before school, or after, but these…
Don’t Panic- Here is What You Need to Do First. Whether you are excited or terrified- it’s going to be okay. Kindergarten is the most amazing place to teach. I know so many teachers that ended up there accidentally at first, and now they will…
How to make an alphabet garland for your classroom
I love having my students create most of the decor for my classroom. However, I don’t love the idea of them walking into a room that looks like it could really use some love. Now you can purchase some super cute garlands, I mean check out this one. Absolutely swoon worthy!
It is an excellent value for gorgeous craftsmanship- but it doesn’t fit in my classroom budget this year. I’m spending my budget on consumables that can be sent home in an emergency distance learning package. I’m putting it on my Christmas list. If it fits in your budget- snap it up! And how cute would it be in a playroom or nursery?
So instead, I’m making an easy alphabet garland on a budget-And you don’t need any fancy equipment! No Glowforge, Cricut or Silhouette machine is required!
What you need to DIY an easy alphabet garland
Card stock in your favourite colours I used 4 sheets 8.5 x11. (I buy mine at Michaels when it is on sale- plus they always give a teacher’s discount if you show your OCT card!)
Wooden alphabet letters (I bought mine for just $3.00 at Dollarama and it has 5 full sets which I will definitely throughout the year in my classroom)
A skein of Embroidery floss (whatever colour makes you happy- I generally try to make it coordinate with the garland or the wall it will be hanging on it.
A sewing needle ( make sure the eye of the needle is big enough you can thread your embroidery floss through)
Glue (regular white school glue will do, glue gun is better and faster!). My glue gun is awesome but has done so many projects with me it is no longer photo appropriate.
How to DIY
Cut your card stock sheets in half hot dog style!
Trim off a small triangle- I freehand this. Then I cut triangles like this. I end up with 10 good triangles from each sheet of cardstock and 4 wonky ones from the ends. The wonky ones go into my card stock scrap pile for my students to use at the maker centre.
I arrange my triangles into a happy pattern.
Then I thread my needle onto the embroidery thread. And I start sewing. I go down on the left corner, and come back up on the right corner so the thread runs along the back.
I follow my pattern and stop when I have enough strung on. For today’s garland I wanted 26 triangles.
If you have a cat, you might want them to leave the room before the stringing gets too far or you may end up in this situation:
Once they were strung together and I untangled the cat, I started gluing on letters!
And voila! A colour co-ordinated, calm, cute and affordable garland.
So fast and easy. Start to finish it took me about 30 minutes but I was also parenting my kids at the time so you might be faster. And the cat was helping me. I make garlands for almost every event and they totally bring a happy feel to a room.
These would also be adorable in a nursery or playroom (hung way up out of the way of tiny grabby baby hands!) Hope it brings joy to your classroom as it will in mine.
I love to work in an organized, calm, and purposeful classroom and those first minutes walking in have sometimes stopped me in my tracks! I share the first 10 things I do in my classroom to take it from summer disaster to ready for September!
Setting up your classroom environment is one the most important ways to ensure an amazing year in Kindergarten. There is a reason that your classroom is known as the third teacher. Your classroom set up can either help you all year or make the whole year a struggle. I don’t want you to have to struggle your way through, when I already figured out the hard way what NOT to do- and what really works. Here are the first things you can do to get ready to set up your classroom
Go take a look!
See if you can get a peek into your classroom. It is so much easier to plan when you know the physical environment. Take note of the pieces of furniture and what resources and supplies you will have to work with. This year with Covid-19 I’m not sure how early they will let us in to set up our classrooms- but even if they let you in for a few minutes, it will help you to formulate your plan. Your plan should include where you and the students will do different activities and how to store the appropriate materials and loose parts so they can access them close to where they are needed.
Get a timeline
Find out when you can get into your classroom. I’ve taken over classrooms from hoarders, classrooms meant for other age groups, or completely empty new build classrooms- and all come with their share of problems. But it helps if you know if you are getting a day to set up or a week or even two! Because that will probably change your plan of attack.
Hopefully on your reconnaissance mission you were able to see what you need! If I need things, I order them now. You might be in a position to place an order through your board distribution centre. Check out what I order to be ready for Kindergarten in my post here. You also need to be a hunter-gather. Check out where I get most of my surprisingly affordable natural materials for my classroom!
Think about furniture set up
My number one goal with my environment is clear sight lines in every direction. I have a small crescent shaped table where I work with my small groups and I can still see the students at all the other activity centres. This makes small group teaching while activity centres are going on so much easier!
My other goals for my classroom is to have…
-a carpet area where we all can gather for sharing and learning
-enough table spots that everyone can be seated at once for lunch, etc.
-learning and discovery centres and materials that are organized and welcoming for exploration
-an extra quiet and calm zone
I also try to imagine where the students enter and how the day should flow from there. I try to designate a place for EVERYTHING.
Then I try to draw it out on paper. Nothing fancy- but a plan. I usually start with things that can’t be moved- in my case the hand washing stations and the only place my interactive white board fits and can be plugged in. I then form the rest of the classroom around it. This plan gets rolled up and added to my supply kit.
Make a supply kit
I pack a bin to bring in for my first day. I know I have a huge list of things to tackle and I don’t want to waste time searching for staples when I need to get those bulletin boards covered and all the other goals I have set for that day! Here is what I pack for the first day of set up.
Bulletin board covers (these ones are my favorites! I put them up and they stay up all year and on to the next one! They are self healing so they don’t show staple or pin holes, you can write directly on them with dry erase markers, and they are so neutral they let my student’s work shine!) You can click right on the image and they will bring you right to the Amazon Page!
I pick neutral ones that will go with everything I do all year! We are busy enough- our bulletin boards should show our students’ development- not my excellent ability to pair corkboard covers with increasingly elaborate border schemes. Set your boards up for the year and you only have to switch out the student work!
Stapler and staple refills
Glue gun and refills
Wooden Clothes pins
Scraper (I like the kind with the razor blade! Nothing gets labels off of tables, cubbies, bins and walls faster!)
Soap and hand towel for me to use
Snacks to prevent the hangrys
Water and Caffeine (I drink a LOT of tea!)
Labels (If I already have a class list then I make about 6 sets to put in my kit)
And for some bonus Kindergarten Classroom decorations…
If I have time, I also purchase and send decor items for printing such as my calendar and fancy name tags. That way when I have some downtime in the summer I can get it all prepped ahead of time and not during my small window when I can get into my classroom. I’m loving these sets I found on Teachers Pay Teachers!
This one is so gorgeous, reinforces the messaging about everyone being a different beautiful colour- I may need to get a new calendar and everything…
Looks like you are prepared to get into your classroom. For more of what to do next when you actually arrive see my next post.
How to set up a Kindergarten Classroom
Be good to yourself so you can be kind to your hive!
Many people who come into my classroom are pretty impressed with the wide array of natural materials that my students have to work with in their centres. It was not always that way. My classroom was filled with bright, shiny, plastic, manufactured manipulatives, loose parts…