Boo Hoo Breakfast, First Day Play Clay & Gingerbread Man on the Loose!

I am adding a little to the original blog post since I was invited to link up on the First Day of Kindergarten Linky Party at Teaching With Z. Click on the picture below to join!

On the day before school actually starts our school hosts a Boo Hoo Breakfast for our parents and kinders. Our cafeteria provides biscuits, fruit, juice and other breakfast foods that we set up on tables in the hallway outside of the kindergarten classes.

At 8:00, the parent and children get their breakfast and come into their own classroom to eat. During this time, the teachers are walking around greeting the parent and child and putting away the school supplies that they have been asked to bring with them that day. Parents can also use this time to begin filling out all of that crazy paperwork we have waiting on them.  At around 8:30 we begin a short parent meeting in which we go over the ABCs of Kindergarten.  See the Powerpoint version here or here or the ActivBoard version here or here.  After the meeting, the parents we have a time for questions and answers that we may not have covered and then the parent and child are free to look around the classroom and meet the teacher individually if they didn't have a chance before the meeting started. Any paperwork they didn't finish filling can be completed and we encourage them to leave as much of it with us before leaving so we can get it sorted and organized before the first day for students. 

We are also experienced enough to not put out all of the toys and manipulatives or else we will have blocks and housekeeping toys everywhere before we have a chance to teach cleaning up procedures but we do put out enough things for the kids to explore while they meet their new classmates without leaving us with a huge mess.   

I am fortunate that my county still "phases" kindergarten kids in small groups for the first three days of school. This gives the teachers a chance to get to know the students in a smaller group setting and help give those students that cry and cling to mommy that are more attached to mommythe attention they need to make a smooth transition into school. These days are spent going over rules and procedures for everything from learning to wash hands after using the restroom and only using 1 squirt of soap or hand sanitizer to learning how the discipline plan works. As a group we go to each center and talk about the proper way to play and clean up in each center and explore the classroom. We play a few music/movement songs, read some books, and have a time to learn about each other.  My favorite part of these staggerred enrollment days is when we cook Playdough. I have a small cooktop stove (1 burner) that I put on my reading table and the kids sit around the table. Each child gets a turn to pour one of the ingredients in and stir for just a few minutes before we actually put it on the stove.  We talk about other uses for the ingredients (salt on popcorn, flour in biscuits, etc). Their favorite part is when I show them the white mixture and then add the food coloring. They always go absolutely wild about this! The kids also love watching the ingredients become something they can play with! At the end of the day, students get to take their Play Clay home in a zip top baggie with this recipe attached. You can snag the recipe page for free right here  or click on the picture below.

On the day that all of the students return together (God help us all!), we read The Gingerbread Man and then I announce that we have gingerbread cookies waiting on us in the cafeteria oven. We all go to get them and of course, he has ran away. Surprisingly, he was kind enough to leave us clues as to his whereabouts and thus begins the Gingerbread Man Hunt and School tour! This is a great way to teach my little darlings about being quiet in the hallway and the correct way to walk in the hallway as we attempt to sneak up on Gingerbread boy. After an exciting tour, we finally catch up with him in our classroom where the little ones get to decorate and eat him up! If you would like the clue cards, visit my TPT store and grab them for $2.

At the end of the school year, a large majority still say Gingerbread Man day was their favorite kindergarten memory and so do many of my former students! The whole school gets involved pointing us in the right direction and showing us evidence that GBoy had been close by.

Stay tuned for first two weeks of school lesson plans in the next day or so!

Never Tie a Shoe Again!

Oh yeah! You read that correctly! If you have been in a kindergarten classroom for any length of time I'm sure you have a favorite chiropractor! Those blessed little tables and chairs that we bend over all day long can do a big number on our backs. Don't get me wrong, I never tire of stooping down to help a child or to receive a hug from one of my little darlings, but oh those shoes are a different story! I can't stand to see untied shoes. Not only is it unsafe, it just looks sloppy! I found the perfect solution! So go ahead and call me a genius! I found these adorable shoe notepads from Carson-Dellosa (item # 151010) and I title one Tying Teachers and hang it on the wall.

Once I find at least one or two children that can already tie their shoes, I add their name to their own shoe and place it underneath my Tying Teachers shoe. Now when a child needs their shoe tied they can no longer come to me....they have to go to a child who is listed as a tying teacher and that child will tie the shoe and often try to teach their friend how to do it themselves. The competition to become a Tying Teacher gets them motivated to learn how to tie whether at home or from a Tying Teacher in our class. The competition can get fierce and when it does, the entire class will be tying their own shoes by Christmas! No more shoe tying for me! Now I know you are convinced that I am a genius but rest assurred, I am not. Really! I am just lazy, have bad knees and an achey back! I hope this tip helps put your chiropractor out of business!

Color Word Practice on a Budget

As I was working in my classroom this afternoon, I came across this color word activity that I use quiet often and thought I would share. It is practically free to make which is great for all of you that are already broke from buying school things and are surviving on Ramen Noodles until the first paycheck after school starts! 

All you have to do is laminate construction paper and then have one of your new & excited kindergarten parents that are always so willing to help, die cut the letters of each color word from the corresponding colored paper and then put them in a ziplock bag.

Here are the letters stuffed in a bag...

 The kids then dump them out on a table or on the floor and sort the letters by color.

...and then they spell each color word using the correct colored letters. For example: use the red letters to spell red, blue letters to spell blue, yellow letters to spell yellow, etc. 

As an extension, my little ones love to then write the color words using the correct color of crayon. For example: use red crayon or marker to write the word red, blue marker/crayon to write blue, etc. 

Now wasn't that cheap AND easy?! 

How to Make a Crayon Cup

So I have been feeling really bad again about neglecting my blog. I evidently subscribe to way too many bloggers because my email inbox is overwhelmed with new blog posts every day! I will do much better when school starts (famous last words). I haven't had time to share much of anything since I am finishing up my master's classes. Then when I do think of something great I want to share I don't have a picture and haven't been able to get into my classroom until the floors get waxed.

So in honor of the new crayon smell that is arriving in stores near you, here is just a little quick project for you to do when you start buying those boxes of crayons for 25 cents...

The best part is you have to make a cake or just eat a tub of ready to eat cake icing. I've been known to eat a tub of icing by myself one spoonful (or two) at a time.

Take the label off and wash it out or run it through the dishwasher cycle and remove the lid.

Next, you just spread hot glue on a small area on the side of the tub in no particular pattern. (I just love hot glue!)

Now quickly begin to put the crayons on top of the glue. The rim of the tub works great for keeping them even and straight. I am usually picky & want them to all have them writing (Crayola or Crayon) facing up but as you can see I dropped yellow too soon so he is facing backwards and then red....well I don't know what happened to him! He looks like he is standing sideways talking to yellow.

Continue adding small sections of hot glue and crayons until you are finished! It takes about 1 and  1/2 boxes of the 24 count crayons to cover the entire tub.

And here is the finished product. It is really cute sitting on a primary colored shelf or on your desk. I also use these as my sharpened/not sharpened pencil cups.

Not bad for a 5 minute project that costs less than 50 cents!

I have also done this project using unsharpened yellow pencils and I believe it was a Pringles chip can. Perfect for holding rulers or all of those long pointers (just add a few rocks in the bottom to keep it from toppling over.