The most important thing I will bring to school next week is effective classroom management. Kindergarten is a blast and we definitely have our share of fun, but without order and focus, learning cannot happen.
In addition to raising their hands if they have a question or a comment, I expect three things from my class at circle time; 1- that they sit with their bottoms flat on the floor, 2- that they sit with their feet in front of their bodies (either straight out, “criss-cross apple sauce”, or knees hugged to chest), and 3- that they keep their hands in their laps (or around their knees if they choose the third “feet in front” option). This minimizes squirming, fidgeting, twisting, getting in other people’s line of sight, and getting in other people’s space. It helps keep them grounded, which keeps me relaxed! I remind students of these three things by holding up three fingers to the person who needs the reminder. I can easily do it even if I’m in the middle of a sentence. It’s a way to reinforce the rule without interrupting the lesson. I might also refer to these three things before a lesson (“I’ll start reading the story when everyone is showing me three things.”).
While we’re on the topic of three things, I also expect three things from my students whenever someone “has the floor”; 1- that they look at the person talking, 2- that they are silent, and 3- that their hands are down so they can focus on what the speaker is saying rather than thinking about what they want to say when it’s their turn to talk! For this reminder I simply point to the sign (below) featuring an eye (look at the speaker), lips crossed out (be silent), and a hand with a down arrow on it (keep your hands down). Small efforts. Big difference!
To help familiarize your students with their new classmates at the beginning of the year, create a BINGO game using their pictures. I use the program “Pages” for a Mac. Put one student’s picture in each square, and label the middle space “FREE”. If you have extra spaces you can use a picture of yourself, a co-teacher, or other important campus faces. Print one sheet at a time, until you have enough copies for each student, making sure to mix the pictures into a slightly different arrangement for each sheet you print. Write each name on a small piece of paper. Use these cards to draw and call out each name. Forget the BINGO letters. Instead of having a card that says “B-Sarah”, just keep it simple and call out “Sarah”.
Here’s a sample. I’d make it for you but I don’t have pictures of your kids!
If you’re looking for a way to keep track of missing teeth in your class (and you’re not too creeped out by my teeth), you can download this graph for free. Print it on thick paper, cut along the outer oval (it’s a light dashed line), laminate, then use a dry erase pen to keep a running total of missing teeth throughout the year (example below). I have never formally kept track of missing teeth, so I am very excited to do so this year, and I think my kids will get a kick out of the way I’ll be doing it!
This year I’ll be posting classroom birthdays on this yummy looking cupcake. You, too, can join me! Download my cupcake, print it on thick paper, laminate it, then list your students’ birthdays for the current month with a dry erase pen (see example below). Repeat monthly. One year of birthdays, one cupcake!
With all the buzz about common core standards, I thought I should state the following. The Monaco Method for Early Literacy meets the K/1 English Language Arts Common Core Standards for Reading: Foundational Skills and includes a thorough handwriting program. If you are using my curriculum, click here for more information on the CCSS.