Here's what we've been doing the past two weeks... (sorry this will be a long post, we've been up to a lot!)
Getting to Know You
This always makes me think of the song from Mary Poppins. (In fact, this is usually our clean-up song for the first few weeks of school. It's a longer one which is good because they usually take longer to clean up while they're learning where everything goes!)
We spent the first week sharing these cute Me Bags (grab the cute freebie from Mrs. T's First Grade Class by clicking on the picture below).
Establishing Rules & Routines
I can already tell that our biggest challenge this year will be working collaboratively. We have been working A LOT on sharing, taking turns, and using words to solve our problems. My class is fabulous when it comes to independent work, but they have a long way to go when it comes to working in partners or as a team.
We read David Goes to School by David Shannon and talked about rules we think would be helpful for a good year. My class was pretty focused on negatives (Don't do this, don't do that) and it took awhile to get them thinking about positive behavior instead. Here's an example of some rules they came up with:
Um, I LOVE the rule of making things better (restorative justice anyone?) This is so important for boys (and all students) to really foster responsibility for their actions!
We have also been reading the Creation Story and learning about God's wonderful creation (and talking about how we think God wants us to treat each other). Hands down my favorite part of the day is the morning. I love getting to start the day with prayer with my kiddos!
Building Read to Self Stamina
Yes, you're reaidng that graph right... my class was able to read to themselves for 13 MINUTES by their fifth day of practice! They are doing fabulous with D5 so far. We have learned the 3 Ways to Read a Book, established a Read to Self anchor chart, and learned how to shop for Good Fit Books. (Unfortunately learning how to shop for good fit books that we can read was a flop because only one kid in my class is reading... whoops...)
I really attribute my class's success with Read to Self to the series of post by Sprinkes to Kindergarten, which really helped me envision how launching D5 should look with the young un's. Check out her great resources now!
Exploring Math Manipulatives
We have not been doing too much in terms of directed math activities, but rather we have been exploring math manipulatives like Debbie Diller suggests. We take out a different math manipulative each day and describe it. I let the kiddos freely explore them at their table groups, then we come back together and brainstorm as a whole-class what different ways we think they can be used.
Fine Motor Fun
It quickly became apparent to me that many of my kiddos need some big fine motor intervention. I've been sneaking in practice as much as I can, from Chicka Chicka tear art trees...
to magazine color hunts as we learn to read and spell color words!
Celebrating Our Successes
As I know I've said before, the first weeks are all about role-modelling and reinforcing. I've been trying to hit all the love languages with my kiddos- giving high fives, sending home notes, giving out stickers, spending quality time with them at centers and recess, so on and so forth. You only get one chance to make a first impression and it's so true! My biggest mission these weeks? Make the kiddos fall absolutely in love with kindergarten so that we have a GREAT year!
We celebrated our Read to Self progress with a Teddy Bear Tea Party. The kiddos got to bring their favorite stuffed animal to school the next day and taught their stuffies all about how kindergartners do school... then we took them outside for a fun lemonade and teddy bear graham treat!
Taking It Slow
To be honest, I'm kind of chomping at the bit to get things going, but I know that the time invested now will pay off tenfold in the future!
I was very strongly reminded of the necessity to take things slow during the first week. Although my teammate's class was able to complete this Number Book activity with no problems, my class was a different story...
Can I say YIKES? First of all, their listening skills were just not built up enough yet. Most kiddos didn't follow directions and some even flat out refused to do anything remotely work-related. So we scrapped the number books for the rest of the first week and returned to them the second week. I set up some new parameters (in the boxes they could only draw shapes) and made sure to model first with the active board.
The end result? SO MUCH BETTER! :)
The moral of the story is to take time to go slowly. You will be so glad that you did! :) I hope you're all having a great first few weeks of school and I've loved reading about all your adventures as well! I PROMISE I will see you on Monday with a fun Monday Made It freebie!