Kindergarten Week One 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.
Kindergarten Week One Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Kindergarten Week One 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 bag of teacher tricks just to survive while I learned the ropes of a new city, new state, or new grade level. 

My first survivalist tip is find 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 One Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

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. Slap it between a folded piece of construction paper and you have your first classroom book. It's not much, but trust me, they will love to select it from your classroom library, because THEY are the author. 

Kindergarten Week One Easy Ways to Make Classroom Books, Two Pieces of Construction Pages and the Student Pages, Easy Peasy! #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
Two Pieces of Construction Paper and the Student Pages!
Easy Peasy! 
Kindergarten Week One Easy Ways to Make Classroom Books, One Piece of 18" x 24" Construction Paper and the Student Pages! Even Easier! #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas
One Piece of 18" x 24" Construction Paper and the Student Pages!
Even Easier! 

As you continue to read this post, further down is a FREE Kevin Henkes Chrysanthemum, How Many Letters in My Name? Activity. Once your students complete the page about their name, put them all together between a construction paper cover.... BOOM! ANOTHER new classroom book!

Moving on, 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! I like to give my students a wet wipe when they walk in the room after recess, it should be cold enough from being in your air conditioning, but if not, they are GREAT right out of your classroom fridge. Let the boys and girls wipe their face, their hands and the back of their necks to cool off. During this time I would start a read aloud in the dark and it was a nice, quiet time to get back into the routine of the classroom after PE or recess. You know how each year every group of children are completely different? One year I had a group that would then use the baby wipe to wipe off their table top and crayon box, as long as they did it quietly while I read, it was OK by me. Pride in their belongings and training for cleaning their family's dinning room table all rolled into one! :)

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 perfect to calm them down and bring them back to the classroom behavior you are expecting after they have become excited over something. {A student throwing up in your new purse, squirrels running in your classroom, fire truck outside your window, bumble bees on your light fixture, a Mom showing up with the family's pet pig named Fern <---- all true stories!}

Next, here are some SUGGESTIONS for themes for the first 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 Kinder 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! ♥  

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

Main Theme For the First Week of Kindergarten
Routines and Procedures

Recommend Books For Procedures During the First Week of Kindergarten
Kindergarten Week One Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

Recommend Books For Fun During the First Week of Kindergarten
{At the end of this blog post are more details about each book I recommend.}

Why Are Routine and Procedures Important During the First {and EVERY} Week of School?
Routines are a GREAT THING and procedures are necessary for many reasons. First, they are needed to effectively function in your classroom, for both you and your students. Second, they reduce classroom interruptions and discipline problems because they tell students how things will work. Kindergarten is usually a child's first all day school experience. It is not as flexible as home, and it is not all play like a day care, but with routines in place, it can become a loving, nurturing place to learn many things in one year.

How to Teach Procedures
There are three simple steps to follow when teaching a procedure. You must explain what you expect of the students, then practice it and role play both examples and non-example, and lastly, reinforce it until it becomes a routine. 

Beginning the first day of school, you must should have your procedures for the following routines:
  • Entering the classroom
  • Unpacking your backpack
  • Morning work
  • Sitting and working at your seat
  • Sitting and working at centers
  • Sitting and working in small group
  • Raising your hand and asking a question
  • Sitting and listening at rug time / calendar time / story time
  • Laying down on the carpet or flexible seating when reading
  • Transitioning from activities
  • When and/or how to sharpen your pencil
  • Bathroom and water routines
  • Turning in papers
  • Packing up to go home
  • Leaving the classroom
This does not have to be typed up in a beautiful document, bound in a fancy notebook and made into posters. To start with, just write your ideas down on paper, a "Brain Dump" of sorts with a few ideas for each thing.... ask other teachers, ask your friends what they remember working from when they were a child, think about your internships and observations, what worked? What did not work? You can learn just as much from what doesn't work as what does work. Make sure you also include all your school's expectations.

None of your procedures have to be set in stone, but they do have to be communicated and role played with your students over and over. Many misbehaviors in the classroom at not due to the children purposely being naughty, it is just because they haven't learned your routine and expectations. 

Don't worry if you go home and cry over a bad day, just say to yourself, "I'm the adult and I can make it better tomorrow." Many excellent teachers change their routines and expectations many times during the year, that's what makes them excellent. Every physical building and classroom, every group of children each year might be different and we need to be flexible with what works for our surroundings and each year's group of boys and girls. 

For example, last year you might have been the classroom next to the cafeteria, so getting to lunch took 2 minutes! But this year you might be at a new school, or a new classroom, or moved to a new grade level and the walk now takes 10 minutes. You're class will need to know HOW to behave for this distances and HOW to behave for walking into the lunchroom compared to last years group.
 
You need to spend plenty of time during the first couple of weeks of school getting to know your students and their needs as well as introducing, modeling, and practicing procedures. When your students are not following a procedure, make sure they UNDERSTAND it by reteaching it, role playing again and again until you find it acceptable. Remind your Kinders of the procedure by saying, “Okay, boys and girls, I want to practice keeping our hands and feet to ourselves as we travel to the lunchroom.” Then walk them to the lunchroom again and have them experience it. Depending on your school's policy reward them with a smart treat, a sticker, or just praise after doing a good job three or four times.

If you didn't read it in college, I highly recommend Harry and Rosemary Wong's First Days of School. Yes, even on Day #105, open that bad boy up and try a new routine and/or procedure if things are getting rough. Their best-selling book is THE BEST SELLING BOOK ever on classroom management and it stands the test of time, trust me!  

In addition to routines and procedures, you can start on your Kindergarten skills. Starting with these basic skills/themes you can teach the routines and procedures expected during classwork and learning. The more time your students focus on learning and not redirection of behavior, the more academic success they will have this year. 

Additional Themes For the First Week of Kindergarten 
Names
Zero & One
Sticks and Circles
The Letter Oo

Names
Some years your entire class will be able to spell their name, write their name and recognize their name. Some years, not so much....
I have created a freebie for you based on one of my favorite books, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Click here to download it today. The best way for children to learn their name is to hear it, see it, practice it and write it every single day. It will be on of those light bulb moments you will always enjoy!

Handwriting and Art All In One!
Start by modeling circles and sticks on your digital camera or an anchor chart. Once you create circles, you can transition into the number zero and the letters "O" and "o". Teaching sticks can then become the number one and the letter "l" and with another small stick "laying down" the letter "L" for your students. These lessons will need to be extended further into what makes a letter, a letter, and what makes a number into a number, but for the first week, here are some activities to work on Sticks and Circles, Zero & One, and The Letters Oo and Ll.

First Week of Kindergarten Activities to Practice Writing Letters and Numbers
  • Crayons and construction paper
  • Paint in a sealed plastic bag and "write" with their finger on the bag
  • Making the letters and numbers out of Lego bricks or snap cubes
  • Writing with paint using a Q-Tip on paper
  • Sidewalk chalk outside
  • Pipe cleaners or wiki sticks
  • Zero & One
I have some free, printable numbers cards to help you during your first year too. Two different styles, enjoy!
Kindergarten Week One Themes and Ideas to Help Beginning Teachers in Their New Classrooms. #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas

Descriptions of My Recommend Books For Procedures During the First Week of Kindergarten

Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger wrote Me First as well as Tacky the Penguin which is my FAVORITE book in the ENTIRE WORLD. Pinkerton was pink, plump, and pushy. He would do anything to be first, even if it meant bouncing off bellies, stepping on  snouts, or tying tails. Your students will be dying over how funny and how NAUGHTY Pinkerton is and that's just on the first page. Pinkerton is soon taught a valuable lesson and learns that being first and being pushy is no way to live his life. 
After I read this to my boys and girls, for the rest of the year we will refer back to Pinkerton and not being so selfish.

David Goes to School David's teacher has her hands full. From running in the halls to chewing gum in class, David's high-energy antics fill each school day with trouble and are sure to bring a smile to even the best behaved reader. This book is perfect for teaching NON-EXAMPLES and then discussing the example of good behavior while still having some laughs and building some great relationships with your students!

Curious George's First Day of School It’s the first day of school, and Curious George has been invited to Mr. Apple’s class to be a special helper! George is just the right monkey for the job—until he starts to wreak his usual havoc, that is. Red and yellow paint makes orange, yellow and blue makes green . . . and a mixture of all the paint colors makes a big mess! My copy of Curious George and the First Day of School also has bonus activities inside, including an “Ants on a Log” recipe, a word search, and a “Color Your World” craft idea. The no cooking needed healthy recipe is perfect for the Letter A if you are allowed to cook, create & eat in your district.

What if Everybody Did That? I found that this book would be perfect for COVID-19 and discussing masks, hand washing, etc. This book shows that if you drop just one soda can out the window, it’s no big deal ... right? But what if everybody did that? What if everybody broke the rules ... and spoke during story time, didn’t wash up, or splashed too much at the pool? Then the world would be a mess. But what if everybody obeyed the rules so that the world would become a better place? Using humorous illustrations rendered in mixed media, these questions are answered in a child-friendly way and show the consequences of thoughtless behavior.

Descriptions of My Recommend Books For Fun During the First Week of Kindergarten

First Day Jitters  Every year when I read this I start with, "If you know the ending, please zip it away and keep it a secret." The punch line at the end of this book is that it is the TEACHER who is scared about going to school and your students' faces will just light up on the last page! With a quick description for you, everyone knows that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach just before diving into a new situation. Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn't want to start over at a new school. She doesn't know anybody, and nobody knows her. But as you now know, she's the teacher! The pictures are GREAT and if you only pick out one new book this year, get this one, you will not be disappointed. 

If You Take a Mouse to School From the ever popular If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, you and your students will love this book!!! If you take a mouse to school, he'll ask you for your lunch box. When you give him your lunch box, he'll want a sandwich to go in it. Then he'll need a notebook and some pencils. He'll probably want to share your backpack, too. The famous mouse from If You Take a Mouse to the Movies and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is back for his first day of school. 
Once your read it to your boys and girls, they will want you to read it again since they can positively predict what is going to happen next! Plan on surprising them the next day by reading it again, you will love it, they will love it! ♥

Time for School, Mouse! This is a board book, so it is a very quick read, but it is perfect to Kinders as it teaches new school vocabulary. In this book, Mouse searches high and low for his homework, finding lots of other things in the process. Just perfect for the students to guess what he'll get next!

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten It's the first day of kindergarten and Miss Bindergarten is hard at work getting the classroom ready for her twenty-six new students. Meanwhile, Adam Krupp wakes up, Brenda Heath brushes her teeth, and Christopher Beaker finds his sneaker. Miss Bindergarten puts the finishing touches on the room just in time, and the students arrive. Now the fun can begin! A WONDERFUL feature of Miss Bindergarten books is that each of the 26 students' names start with the letters A to Z, each letter only assigned to one student and they also go in order in the book....cute, cute, cute! 

Miss Bindergarten Stays Home From Kindergarten A perfect book to prepare you students for any upcoming substitute teacher day. A wonderful book that all teachers can relate to, getting sick!  The ever lovable Miss Bindergarten is not feeling well.  The flu strikes on Sunday, so she has to stay home from kindergarten on Monday.  Mr. Tusky (who is a wee bit rusty) will be her substitute, but it just won't be the same.  The kindergartners miss Miss Bindergarten!  They pass the time by making get-well cards and singing songs, all the while counting out the days that Miss Bindergarten is away. Very sweet! 
Things are always a little rowdy in a class of twenty-six kindergartners, but there are some days when chaos reigns. Watch what happens in Miss Bindergarten's rambunctious class when water overflows, ants are on the loose, and oozy paint smudges. How will Miss Bindergarten and the kindergartners get everything back in order? This is one kindergarten adventure not to be missed, your students will love it! 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom When all the letters of the alphabet race one another up the coconut tree, will there be enough room? Of course there is always enough room for this rollicking alphabet chant that has been a children’s favorite for more than twenty years! If you go to YouTube, you will find MANY different ways to chant/sing this story and you will be a hit in your classroom! :)

Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 One hundred and one numbers climb the apple tree in this bright, rollicking, joyous book for young children. As the numerals pile up and bumblebees threaten, what's the number that saves the day? (Hint: It rhymes with "hero.") Read and count and play and laugh to learn the surprising answer.

Franklin Goes to School  With his new pencil case packed with a ruler, eraser and 12 colored pencils, Franklin is ready for his first day of school, until it's time to board the bus. In this book, Franklin faces the excitement and fear of starting school and your students will be able to relate!

Clifford Goes to Kindergarten Emily Elizabeth is starting Kindergarten and she's a little nervous. Good thing that the teacher sent a note home that says each child can bring something from home to make the transition a little easier. But the teacher didn't bet on a child bringing something, or someone, as big as Clifford! Oh my, you will love it! 

Visit Kindergarten Week One, Themes, Lessons, and Resources #FernSmithsClassroomIdeas


Well friends, it's a start and I hope you were able to gain a new idea or two. Follow my Pinterest Kindergarten board for more ideas.

     
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