KINDERGARTEN WEEK TWO THEMES AND LESSONS

I started this series a couple of years ago so that I could remember what themes we were teaching each week in kindergarten. But teaching kindergarten with a crummy air conditioning unit and mold in this Florida heat about killed me, so I was way too tired at night to blog on this series. My personal goal for the 2020 - 2021 school year is to improve these blog posts and offer a little help for new teachers. There are so many little day to day things that you will not learn in college or your internship that can really make your year run a lot smoother and more enjoyable for both you and your students. Click here if you would like to start reading Kindergarten Week One first.

Kindergarten Week Two Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Kindergarten Week Two Themes

Please note that not all of these ideas may be practical during the 2020-2021 COVID-19 school year. But hopefully you can return year after year for some new ideas and think, "This would be wonderful for my boys and girls this year!"

Your school may have a very rigid curriculum you must follow, or you might be the complete opposite, no curriculum, no curriculum maps, no guidance what so ever! I've been at both ends of the spectrum. Being a Navy wife, I'm learned that I had to have my own BIG bag of teacher tricks just to survive while I learned the ropes of a new city, new state, or new grade level. 

Last week I talked about finding a great book that you adore for each week, one you are passionate about and love reading aloud. Each week I'll recommend plenty of books. If you are new and starting out, write yourself a list and them check them out of the public or school library each week as needed to save money. 

Kindergarten Week Two Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Kindergarten Week Two Themes

Once you have that great book, you will always be OK during the down times during the school day. You can read the book, discuss it with the boys and girls, {What was your favorite part? Why?} them let them have some copy paper or writing paper to draw their favorite part. Last week I showed you how to create a classroom book for FREE. Click here to see that post. It never looks like much, but trust me, your students will love to select it from your classroom library, because THEY are the author. 

Kindergarten Week Two Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Kindergarten Week Two Themes

This week I want to show you another quick way to create classroom books if your school has a book binder. One year I job shared with one of my friends. I taught Monday & Tuesday and she finished the week teaching Wednesday to Friday. It was a wonderful experience. She made so many classroom books to encourage our students to read and write. This book was written at the end of the school year when she had all the students interview the entire staff.

Different ways to make many classroom books to encourage your students to read and write. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

This is my actual copy that I've saved all these years of our publication, Memories Down Fairness Trail. We also had the Wee Deliver USPS schoolwide postal service in place. Our hallway's address was "Fairness Trail" and that was why the children voted on that title. This is an example of binding a student book with a book binder. You can click on the link to see one I love on Amazon, you put all your students papers in it, pull the handle to punch the wholes and then this binder also comes with 100 starter comb bindings. It is so easy to use, even better if you can have a volunteer come in once a week to bind all your books for the week. 

Different ways to make many classroom books to encourage your students to read and write. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

This is my page, from my interview, I know, I look AMAZING! :) But back to how easy this is to turn anything your kindergartners do into a class book. Many of my teacher friends have their own book binders, they are reasonably priced & PFA at a lot of school will buy you one when they see the books your class is making. I know sometimes the PFA used to give us a Visa card with money for our classroom and this is a perfect item that will last for your entire career. Here is one of my favorites on Amazon.


Kindergarten Week Two Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Kindergarten Week Two Themes

Back to talking about having a favorite book for each week, here is another one of my favorite tips ~ If you school has a very structured curriculum with very little wiggle room, you can use this favorite book as a read aloud after lunch, recess or PE. I have always taught in Florida or Texas, where it gets so hot some days you feel like your skin will peel right off! Click here to read last week's post about how I like to use wet wipes as a way for students to cool off after outdoor times.

ALSO, please note, like rereading YOUR favorite book or or watching your favorite movie again, there is nothing wrong with rereading this same book to your students. YES, there is so many children's literature books out there, but if you are new, it is not your job to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK in the World to them during the first year. By rereading a book, the students love knowing the story line already and it is a perfect way to calm them down.

Before we start with this week's themes and book, I want to share one of my very favorite tips for classroom management.

I have always tried to keep my classroom's layout as open and unobstructed as possible. When the students are working in reading small group rotations, math rotations or even center time, I like to be able to see each and everyone of them in a blink. I would love to have more "areas" for centers, like blocking a corner off and use the side of a file cabinet for magnetic letters, but I don't want to position that file cabinet with my students on the other side and out of my line of sight.
Kindergarten Week Three Themes, Lessons, and Resources #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
This Was My Last Kindergarten Classroom

When I was done reading to my students on the rug, I would move this rocking chair and the easel to a space near the classroom library so that I could continue to see everyone and the students could use the chair and easel when they were in the library. In the past, when I was assigned to mentor teachers, or a friend asked me for help with classroom management, the first thing I usually noticed was the children misbehaving were the ones that were out of the line of sight of the teacher. 
Cute, cute, cute Pinterest-worthy areas for the Home Center, Library, Word Work, etc. that are tucked away from the teacher's view, most of the time those are the students doing anything and everything that the center was not designed to do! I love Pinterest, trust me, at the publication of this post, I am over 51,000 followers. I love how freely it now is for teachers to share ideas compared to when I first started teaching and how quickly we can search for new ideas. But what might work for the Pinner, might not work for you. What might work for a teacher who has taught kindergarten for 10, 15, 20 years might not work for a new teacher.

As you can see in my classroom picture, I loved having many books available to my students, but the two bookcases are flush against the wall. That way the students can lay on the rugs, sit in the "kitchen" dining room chairs or return to their seats to read. I am able to see each and every student no matter their choice. I believe in the Daily Five for every age group, even a modified version. Some years it was only the Daily Three, but when children make choices, they are happier and more likely to complete the assignments. By having my library area {and all areas open} I'm happy, students are behaving, and they can still make choices about where they want to read. Win - Win!

Students love Pete the Cat, so let me show you a favorite part about this previous classroom. My children are grown and my family helps me every year with my classroom set up. They have been a part of my classroom since before they were in Kindergarten and they truly enjoy coming into town and helping me get everything ready. Full disclosure ~ they also TRULY enjoy the free meals and they TRULY enjoy the extra spending cash I give them to help toooooooo, hahahaha! :)  No, seriously, I just had to tell you, no one's kids are perfect, but at back to school time, mine are a wonderful help, they know how stressful it can be for me! 

Of course it was not always like that, I was divorced and for many years they had to learn to play and do their homework in Mommy's classroom so I could get all that extra stuff done for back to school. That's why I really enjoyed back to school when they were adults and the freedom to go that extra mile for my students and their families. Speaking of that extra mile....
Need help with your kindergarten classroom layout? All schools and all classrooms are different, but hopefully some of these pictures, details and directions will help.
This was the Pete the Cat in my Classroom Library!

Pete took my husband two days to draw and paint, allowing each layer to dry etc. It was worth it, the students love him and and their parents loved using him as a background for pictures!

My husband also painted Pete the Cat on a large board my neighbor teacher had, so that we could use him over and over and move him around as needed! If you know someone who can draw, ask them to help you create your favorite book characters or use you digital camera to project and trace. It will be something you enjoy in your classroom year after year!

Kindergarten Week Two Themes, Lessons, and Resources #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

Kindergarten Week Two Themes, Lessons, and Resources #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

Kindergarten Week Two Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Kindergarten Week Two Themes

Next, here are some SUGGESTIONS for themes for the second week of Kindergarten. None of these are hard set in stone, but I'm writing this list and making suggestions for you JUST IN CASE...
  • you don't know where to start, 
  • or you're the one Kindergarten Teacher at your school, 
  • you are new and never taught Kindergarten, 
  • or you have been transferred from 2nd to Kindergarten after the second day due to low enrollment... 
I could continue to type all sorts of real world examples, but you get the picture, I'm here to help! ♥  

Main Themes For the Second Week of Kindergarten
Friends and Manners

Kindergarten Week Two Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Recommend Books For Making Friends at the Beginning of Kindergarten
Kindergarten Week Two Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Recommend Books For Teaching Manners During the 2nd Week of Kindergarten
{At the end of this blog post are more details about each book I recommend.}

Why Are Manners Important During the Second {and EVERY} Week of School?
Manners will help your classroom run smoothly all year. Not everyone is taught manners at home and what one family considers acceptable behavior might not be what another family considers acceptable behavior. Put another way, we have "home behavior" and we have "school behavior" and your students need to be taught what your expectations are for behavior and manners in your classroom. They can't act the way you want them to, if you don't teach them what you want. 

I was an only child, a first born American, and my Mother was English through and through. There was no fighting with siblings, since I had none, but my Mom made sure I knew to share, because one day I would be in school, and everything in that classroom would not be mine, the way everything was in my bedroom. So I used that as an example for my boys and girls about sharing and how we can make new friends by being kind, by having manners, and by sharing with each other during the school day. 

Teaching how to make friends and teaching certain expected classroom manners go hand in hand and are perfect for the first few weeks of school. If you don't know where to start, Ron Clark's book, The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child, is an excellent investment. I read this book BEFORE Ron Clark became know for his famous school. Pick your favorite 5 and start from there. Once you feel comfortable with those 5, pick 5 more. Should you be able to cram all 55 into one lesson, one class? No, pick and chose what works for you. 

My favorite place to start is please and thank you. I let the boys and girls know that Mr. Smith and I spend our personal money on treats and rewards for them because I love them, etc. Candy, treasure box, reward pencils, stickers, no matter what it was, I would let them know I bought the items for the students. It helps to build a sense of gratitude. I am happy to do it, I only ask that they say thank you. Ron Clark's suggestion was to take the item away if they don't say thank you, I can't do that to a child, but I would HOLD the item in my hand and not release it, until they remembered to say thank you. You can do that with a smile and a laugh, but still get your point across. 

Now, why please and thank you as the first one I select to teach? Because it rubs off as they deal with each other, at centers, the playground, lunch... it is very sweet when you see them interact with each other using please and thank you. This is a perfect example that maybe many families don't teach this to use at home, but in making friends and being kind at school, this skill goes a very long way in life. 
 
To read more about teaching routines and procedures in your new classroom, click here for Kindergarten Week One.  

Kindergarten Week Two Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

Additional Themes For the Second Week of Kindergarten 
Friends
Pairs
The Number Two
Nursery Rhymes
The Alphabet

Pairs, the Number Two, and Friends
Teaching pairs and the number two go hand in hand. Give your students a lot of practice tracing and writing the number 2 and have lots of time discussing and listing as many items as they can think of that comes in pairs. 
Eyes, ears, hands, feet, arms, legs, socks, shoes, is a list to get you started.

Books for Pairs and the Number Two
You can also tie in FRIENDS by using the example of making one friend, makes the two children a Pair of Friends. They love this theme and will be putting everything into groups of two that second week!

Nursery Rhymes
There are a lot of benefits of teaching nursery rhymes, the first one being cognitive development. The repetition found in the rhymes are good for your students and teaches them how language works while also building on their memory skills. Nursery rhymes are something you and your students can enjoy all year. Mary Had a Little Lamb, the lamb was her friend and they were a hot mess of a PAIR going off to school together! :) Jack and Jill, another great famous PAIR!

The Alphabet
There are three ways to approach the alphabet and the way you teach it will depend on your district's curriculum.

1. A to Z in order, BAM, no decisions about what you will teach tomorrow, or the next day, Aa, Bb, Cc, etc.

2. What your district's curriculum or curriculum map tells you to teach.

3. High frequency letters first. My favorite, vowels first, Aa, Ee, Ii, Oo, Uu, because you can't even have the simplest word without an vowel (usually.) Then, Mm, Nn, Hh, Ss, Tt. That can be your first two weeks. This way, you can take your higher children, your children that came to kindergarten with excellent readiness skills and a love of learning, and already start them with small words. By teaching them and exposing the rest of your students to these starter words, you will notice your students writing and labeling their pictures right from the start.

Some high frequency common words with just these letters.
A, I, an, as, at, am, in, is, on, him, his, not, Mom, the, to, too, no, that, see, he, she, me, so, some, one, I'm... and quite a few more! 

2nd Week of Kindergarten Activities to Practice Writing Letters and Numbers
  • Use painters tape on your tile or an area of your wall, create the letters of the week and let your students trace them with their fingers, a sponge, a pompom, or a race car. 
  • Copy the numbers and the letters of the week on colored paper and let your students glue different items on them, ripped paper, stickers, pompoms, cut pieces of pipe cleaners, wiggly eyes! Anything you have on hand!
  • Rainbow tracing, using different colors with crayons or markers to trace over the numbers and letters repeatedly. 
  • Shaving cream on the tables.
  • Cool whip on a paper plates.


Descriptions of My Recommend Books For Teaching Friendship During the Second Week of Kindergarten #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Descriptions of My Recommend Books For Teaching Friendship During the Second Week of Kindergarten

Just My Friend and Me - By Mercer Mayer - Little Critter is inviting his best friend over to play in this classic, funny, and heartwarming book. Whether these buddies are climbing trees, playing basketball, or riding bikes, children will relate to this beloved story. A perfect way to teach children about being a good friend! 

Be Kind, Be Brave, Be You! - Celebrate everyday acts of kindness and bravery with the Peanuts gang in this uplifting book! "Give a gift from the heart and then you will see... being kind may take time but the cost is free." 

My Friend is Sad - By Mo Willems - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In My Friend is Sad, elephant Gerald is down in the dumps. Piggie is determined to cheer him up by dressing as a cowboy, a clown, and even a robot! But what does it take to make a sad elephant happy? 

Do You Want to Be My Friend? - By Eric Carle - This is a simple and nearly wordless picture book for children to explore in a variety of ways. Shared with little ones, the bright pictures showing a small gray mouse's search for the perfect pal help introduce colors, animals, and sounds. Many students will also be drawn to the idea of looking for a friend. 

Poppleton and Friends - By Cynthia Ryland and Mark Teague - Poppleton has the best friends! When he's feeling landlocked, Hudson goes to the shore with him. When he has dry, flaky skin, Cherry Sue helps him treat it. And when Poppleton grows tired of eating grapefruit, his friends help him find an even better way to live a long and healthy life. 

Hunter's Best Friend at School - By Laura Malone Elliott and my favorite illustrator, Lynn Munsinger - Hunter and Stripe are best friends. This young raccoon pair loves to do everything together, like dress in striped sweaters, read the same stories, and even eat the same lunch — a crawfish sandwich, huckleberries, and milk. But when Stripe arrives one day at school in a mischief-making mood and starts stirring up trouble in Mr. Ringtail's class, should Hunter follow along? 

Best Friends for Frances - By Russell Hoban - This sweet friendship story starring America’s favorite badger, Frances, is a classic that continues to be loved by children, siblings, and parents everywhere. Frances doesn't think her little sister can be her friend, but when Frances finds herself left out because of a "no-girls" rule, she decides to show those boys what girls can do. In the process, she discovers that sisters can indeed be friends . . . maybe even best friends! 

Frog and Toad are Friends - By Arnold Lobel - From writing letters to going swimming, telling stories to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are always there for each other - just as best friends should be. The give-and-take of a fast friendship between Frog and Toad is gently affectionate. 

Yo! Yes? - By Chris Raschka - Two kids meet on a street. "Yo!" says one. "Yes?" says the other. And so begins a conversation that turns strangers into friends. With vibrant illustrations, Chris Raschka's rhythmic read-aloud is a celebration of differences -- and how it just takes a few words to overcome them. 

How to Be a Friend - By Marc Brown and Laurie Brown - A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them! Fun dinosaur characters teach young children all about friendship - the value of friends, how to make friends, and how to be a good friend. With playful full-color illustrations, the Browns help kids cope with everyday social situations and learn:
  • Who can be your friend.
  • How to show someone you would like to be friends.
  • How to handle bosses and bullies.
  • The best ways to be a friend and ways not to be a friend.
  • Ways to settle an argument with a friend.
Descriptions of My Recommend Books For Teaching Manners During the Second Week of Kindergarten #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Descriptions of My Recommend Books For Teaching Manners During the Second Week of Kindergarten

Clark the Shark Dares to Share - By Bruce Hale - Join Clark the Shark as he discovers the true meaning of sharing and caring in this colorful read-aloud picture book. In Clark the Shark Dares to Share, our favorite boisterous shark learns that sharing is caring—but sometimes the lesson is a little confusing. Clark shares his funky shark dance with the class, but Mrs. Inkydink tells him he has to wait his turn. Clark shares his reef-hockey skills, but his teammates would rather Clark share the puck. With help from his friends and with his trademark lively rhythms and rhymes, Clark learns how to share in this follow-up to Clark the Shark.

Clark the Shark - By Bruce Hale - Clark is a shark with zing, bang, and BOOM. Clark zooms into school, crashes through the classroom, and is rowdy at recess. Clark loves life—but when his enthusiasm is too much for his friends, Clark's teacher, Mrs. Inkydink, helps him figure out a way to tone it down. Clark the Shark celebrates boisterous enthusiasm—and knowing when it's time for indoor voices!

Me Fir
st - By Laura Malone Elliott and my favorite illustrator, Lynn Munsinger - Being first isn't always best, as Pinkerton Pig finds out after an encounter with a mean Sand Witch. As always, Helen Lester's wonderfully offbeat humor and Lynn Munsinger's whimsical illustrations result in a hilarious lesson about piggishness.

Perfect Pigs - By Marc Brown - A simple introduction to good manners to use with family, friends, at school, during meals, with pets, on the phone, during games, at parties, and in public places.

My Mouth is a Volcano - By Julia Cook - Louis always interrupts! All of his thoughts are very important to him, and when he has something to say, his words rumble and grumble in his tummy, they wiggle and jiggle on his tongue and then they push on his teeth, right before he ERUPTS (or interrupts). His mouth is a volcano! But when others begin to interrupt Louis, he learns how to respectfully wait for his turn to talk. My Mouth Is A Volcano takes an empathetic approach to the habit of interrupting and teaches children a witty technique to help them manage their rambunctious thoughts and words. Told from Louis' perspective, this story provides parents, teachers, and counselors with an entertaining way to teach children the value of respecting others by listening and waiting for their turn to speak.  

You Go First - By Mercer Mayer - Litter Critter loves being first―even if it hurts his family and friends. After several missteps, Little Critter learns that the secret to getting along is treating others the way he wants to be treated―which, in Little Critter’s case, means letting someone else be first.  

It's My Turn - By David Bedford - Oscar and Tilly are great friends. But at the playground, they just can’t seem to manage to play nicely together. First Tilly won’t let Oscar have a turn on the slide or the jungle gym, and then Oscar won’t let Tilly have a turn on the swing. But when they each want to play on the seesaw, they learn how much fun it is to play together.

FERN'S FREEBIE FRIDAY ~ CLARK THE SHARK IS PERFECT FOR A BACK TO SCHOOL BEHAVIOR LESSON! #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

This is a FREE whole class writing activity to accompany the story, Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale. Perfect for the beginning of school to bind into a book or an emergency sub tub! My students loved to read class created books and I'm sure your class does too! Do you do a shark or ocean unit? Your students will love this activity! 

Descriptions of My Recommend Books For Teaching Pairs and the Number Two During the Second Week of Kindergarten #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Descriptions of My Recommend Books For Teaching Pairs and the Number Two During the Second Week of Kindergarten

A Pair of Socks - By Stuart Murphy - Does a polka-dotted sock match a striped sock? Young children will learn about matching, an important early math skill, as a lonely striped sock searches the house for its mate. They will may even be inspired to practice this skill in their own sock drawers!  This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share with children ages 4 to 6. It’s a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity books for children.

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe - Children will enjoy this classic Mother Goose nursery rhyme as they sing along and count to ten. Includes paperback book, music CD and online music access.

Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes - By James Dean - Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes! But no matter what color his shoes are, Pete keeps movin' and groovin' and singing his song...because it's all good. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes asks the reader questions about the colors of different foods and objects—kids love to interact with the story. The fun never stops, it includes a download for the free groovin’ song too!


     
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