Each morning after circle time, my students go to their tables for morning work. I believe making time for morning work each day is so important in kindergarten because it serves as routine, reinforces weekly learning and promotes independence.
Having a solid routine gives students the ability to be successful because they know what to expect. Every single day, students in my room know that we will begin at the carpet for our morning circle, then we’ll go to our tables and complete the morning work. Our morning work focuses on language arts and math skills that we have learned earlier in the week or in the prior week. Although the worksheets and skills change, the directions and activities stay the same. This creates routine in the worksheet and promotes independence.
Believe it or not, kindergarten students can be independent. By creating an expected routine and modeling the different activities on the morning work, students learn exactly what they need to do. Before you know it, they don’t need you to model or read the directions! Morning work can give students the confidence to feel independent in other subjects and in other areas of the classroom.
3. Reinforce Learning
The biggest and most important aspect of morning work is that it reinforces weekly learning. The morning work that my students complete follow along with the skills we learn in our language arts program as well as skills learned in math. In the beginning of the year, students work on finding and matching letters, sounding out words and counting. By the end of the year, they are circling nouns, correcting sentences and adding and subtracting. Morning work is a great opportunity to see how your students are retaining the skills learned in language arts and math.
Kindergarten Morning Work Bundle
Check out my Kindergarten Morning Work Bundle that you can use for your entire school year! This bundle comes with six units, which is broken down into six-weeks per unit, one sheet of morning work per day.
What benefits do you find in having students begin the day with morning work?
Each morning, the first thing we do is come to the rug for circle time. I find that starting with circle is a great way to start the day because it is a routine that students know well and sets our day up right away for the learning ahead.
Circle Time Routine:
As students come into the classroom and put their stuff away, I play a good morning song. Students know that once the song ends, they need to be at the carpet ready for circle.
To begin, we start with the months of the year song. We discuss what month we are currently in, which month it was before and what month it will be after.
Then, we sing the days of the week song. After the song ends, I choose a student to tell us what day it is today. Next, we discuss the date and I put the calendar piece on the calendar. Students repeat the full date (example: Today is January 25, 2017).
The calendar helper comes up and moves around the days of the week cards. The calendar helper is the leader during this part of circle and says what day it is, what yesterday was and what tomorrow will be. The rest of the class repeats after the calendar helper.
Calendar Helper: “Today is Wednesday”
Class Repeats: “Today is Wednesday”
Calendar Helper: “Yesterday was Tuesday”
Class Repeats: “Yesterday was Tuesday”
Calendar Helper: “Tomorrow will be Thursday”
Class Repeats: “Tomorrow will be Thursday”
After calendar is over, our place value helper comes up and adds one straw to our place value chart. This helper also changes the days in school card and announces what day we are on in kindergarten. I love this portion of circle because it reinforces place value and we discuss making bundles. Students love when we get to make a BIG bundle on the 100th day of school!
Once we’ve discussed what day of school it is, we sing a weather song. After the song is over, the weather monitor comes up and changes the weather and temperature cards. They announce to the class what the weather is today.
Letter of the Day (Beginning of the year)
In the beginning of the year, we have a letter of the day. During this time, I introduce the letter and we watch the Zoophonics video (just that letter and the previous letters we’ve learned). I like the Zoophonics program because it discusses the letter, sound and makes a movement for students to kinesthetically connect to the letter.
Circle Time Materials
In the above sections, I’ve linked the songs I play. I put these on a SmartBoard lesson with a picture and we sing them as we get to that part in our circle time.
Summer is not over yet! There’s still time to complete some of the DIY projects on your to-do list. For me, these crates have been on my list for quite some time because 1. they’re adorable 2. they’re comfy and 3. they provide hidden storage!
My dad always jokes each summer and asks what DIY project we’re doing. He is the handy one in my family so he gets pulled into everything DIY. He was very happy to hear that these crates were my focus this summer. (A one day project.) Last summer, we made cubbies for my classroom and they took three weeks to put together and install. On top of that project, I got married; so, as you can imagine we were very busy!
This project is very easy (if you or someone you know is good at cutting wood) and will only take you a couple hours to complete.
How to make your own DIY crate seats:
1. Buy all materials.
Crates: I bought the crates at Target for $2.99. I chose blue because it goes with my theme but Target has many colors. (If you don’t find a color you like, buy the white and spray paint it!)
Wood: My dad bought particleboard from Home Depot. He bought a half sheet, 3/4 inch thick. A half sheet was enough for the 5 seats I made. (After I finished the project, I decided that I want to make 5 more for my assistant teacher’s guided reading table and I’ll need to buy more wood.)
Foam: I got 2 in thick foam from Joannes. One sheet was enough for 5 seats.
Fabric: At first, I was going to get just regular fabric, but my mom (yay mom!) found and suggested outdoor fabric. This fabric is more durable and will hopefully be easier to clean. I bought 4 yards of fabric and have enough to make 10 seats.
Extras: You’ll need something to cut the wood (my dad used a hand saw), a staple gun (with staples), screw gun (with screws), and scissors.
2. Put it all together.
Measure the top of the crate as well as inside lip of crate and cut wood to fit. (Each seat is made with two pieces of wood.) The foam and fabric go on the larger piece and the smaller piece goes on the bottom to fit into the crate.
Cut your foam and fabric. Warning: the foam is VERY difficult to cut. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, because the fabric covers it. Make sure you leave about 3 inches of extra fabric on all sides.
Take larger piece of wood and put the foam on top. Next, cover the foam and wood with the fabric. When you’re wrapping the fabric, make sure you pull tight. (It’s a good idea to have two people help with this job – thanks mom!) I wrapped my seats like I would a present, that way they are all consistent.
After you’ve stapled the fabric to the foam and wood, you’ve finished the top part of your seat! Next, take the smaller piece of wood and center it on the bottom of the seat and screw it in so it’s tight.
Put it on your crate and take a seat!
I made these crate seats to put around my guided reading table. I love how they look and they are the perfect size. If your table is not the right size, check and see if the legs are adjustable. The best part about these crates is the extra storage. I use the storage to hold all my guided reading books. This frees up some space in my classroom that I can use for something else. This was the perfect summer DIY project and I am so happy with how they turned out!
Check out my other classroom DIY projects here. Happy DIYing!
Guided reading is one of my favorite times of the day as I get to work with a small group of students. During this time, I focus on their strengths or weaknesses to continue to help them grow in their reading development.
I’m lucky to have a full-time assistant teacher who also works with a small group during our guided reading time. There have been many times where my assistant or I sit down with our groups and then realize we don’t have certain materials we need in order for our small group lessons. That is why I created Guided Reading Caddies! In our caddies, we have everything we could ever need during our reading lesson.
What’s in my guided reading caddie?
1. Hole Punch
– To begin our guided reading lesson, I start off with sight words that students are working on. If it is our first meeting for the week, I introduce these sight words. (Students also get their sight words in their homework so most likely they’ve seen them prior to our group meeting). Students have sight word flash cards that they cut out during word work. I use these flash cards to test if they know the word. If they do know it, the student hole punches the card and puts it on a binder ring. This ring holds all the sight words they know and as the year goes on, they get verrrry full. I recommend getting large binder rings like these. If the student does not know the sight word, it goes back into a ziplock in their book bag. Since I start with sight words each guided reading lesson, the sight word is continually shown and eventually the student gets to put their card on their ring.
2. Mini Whiteboards/Expo Pens/Expo Erasers
– Sometimes during a guided reading lesson, I need to write something down so these materials come in handy. For example, during a reading lesson, a student might be having a hard time sounding out a word. In this case, I grab my mini whiteboard, expo pen and eraser so I can help them by breaking the word apart on my whiteboard. — I also have the students use these boards sometimes. During the lesson, I might say the sounds slowly while they write the letters down and then read the word back to me. There’s a million possibilities of what you can do during a guided reading lesson with mini whiteboards, expo pens and expo erasers!
– I like to keep alphabet magnets in my caddie as an optional warm up activity before we start reading. Students can practice making their sight words with the magnets or I can say sounds while they put the word together. Again, many possibilities and always a good idea to have them just in case!
4. Guided Reading Strategy Cards
– Before we dive into reading, I like to introduce or reinforce a reading strategy. I introduce these one at a time until students know and use them all. I keep the cards in my caddy and pull the one we are working on during that lesson. Students also have a reading strategy bookmark in their book bags to refer to. Get this freebie here!
5. Stickers to End the Lesson
– And, what is a kindergarten guided reading lesson without a sticker at the end to celebrate all our hard work!? On the first day we do guided reading groups, students get to pick a colored construction paper and we fold it in half (nothing fancy). These “books” are where they keep their stickers throughout the year. Students love filling up these sticker books and taking them home at the end of the year.
6. Guided Reading Binder
– This item doesn’t exactly fit inside my caddie but it is probably the most important because it holds all my guided reading lessons! In my binder, I have my literacy center schedule of what group goes where on what day, my individual group guided reading lessons, student sight word progress data forms and student reading assessments. Find all these resources here.
How to Make Your Own Guided Reading Caddie
1. Pick any Storage Box – I chose mine from the dollar store but you can get them from Target, Walmart, the Container Store.. etc.
2. Jazz It Up – I recently bought myself a Cricut and I’ve been having a blast playing around with it so I used my Cricut to cut out vinyl and fancied my storage box that way. If you have a Cricut like me, it is super easy to just use Design Space, pick your favorite font and cut your vinyl. If you do not have a Cricut, you can jazz your caddie up with a laminated label! Find some freebie labels here.
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on or buy something from one of the links, I may receive a small income at no additional cost to you.
Recently, I asked teachers what their favorite school supplies are for the classroom. As you can imagine, many teachers had a hard time mentioning just one! I compiled a list of the top 10 teacher must haves. Does your favorite make the list?
1. Flair Pens
Teachers are ALWAYS talking and obsessing over the magical wonder of flair pens and I completely agree. These pens will actually change your life. They come in many different colors including pastels and tropical colors [major heart eyes!!] I love the way the pens write. It makes correcting (or for me, drawing stars) a much more enjoyable task!
2. Sharpies/Chart Paper Markers
Is one of your guilty pleasures creating beautiful anchor charts? Well, sharpies and chart paper markers make the list of top teacher must haves. I really like the thin tip markers by Crayola. These pens have a pointy tip for making writing and detail easy but if you hold the marker at an angle it goes on thicker. Easy to draw with! And of course what would we do without sharpies!
3. Chart Paper
Again with the guilty pleasure! Chart paper is really an essential but not just any chart paper.. my favorite is the post-it sticky kind because it is SO easy to pick up and move ANYWHERE! Sometimes I’ll teach from one of my anchor charts at the carpet and then peel it off the chart and stick it on my whiteboard so students can use it at their tables. AMAZING! This one comes in plain white, dry erase or primary lines.
4. HP Printer and Instant Ink
I am a newbie here myself but I’ve heard great things about using an HP printer so you can get instant ink. If you’re tired of buying loads and loads of ink like me, you must sign up for Instant Ink. The printer knows when you are running low on ink and ships you more BEFORE you run out! I just bought myself a new printer and signed up and already I know it’s worth it. Click here to get a month of ink free!
5. Laminator and Laminating Sheets
Laminating all the things is not only one of my favorite things but is also so worth the time it takes! I have laminated pretty much everything that I prep and it has lasted three years so far and looks like it will continue to last a long time. I like to laminate decor, games, word work, puzzles.. everything! Especially if students are going to be using it because we all know kindergarteners are not the most gentle.
Post-its made the list because duh, teachers write lists about lists! I love using the larger post its that have lines on them because my lists usually don’t fit all on the standard size. And, these bright colors make every teacher heart happy!
7. Expo markers
I recently got the multicolored large pack of expo markers on super discount on Amazon Prime Day and am obsessed! Now, these are sacred so I never let my students use them.. however the thin tip black expos are what I give students to use on their mini whiteboards. These are good for informal assessments or during word work. Tip: expo markers work on anything laminated. I laminate my word work and students use their markers to complete the work depending on what sight or spelling words we have.
Holy brightness! This pack of Astrobrights paper is aaaamazing! I like to print important flyers on this type of paper because it gets parents attention. How many times do you send home Friday Folders and you never hear back? Well, using bright colors get noticed way more and parents will respond.
9. Lesson Planner
Have you tried an Erin Condren planner? If you have, I’m sure you’re hooked. These teacher planners come with everything you could ever want and they are ADORABLE! I seriously love planning for my kinders and I think most of the enjoyment is because I get to write in my Erin Condren planner. You can even customize!! This is what my planner looks like for this upcoming year!
If you want $10 off your next Erin Condren planner, use my referral code here.
10. Teacher Toolbox
I’m new to teacher toolboxes as of this year but I am SO excited to use it for all the things and stay super organized. I purchased a couple like this off of amazon and made my own labels to fit with my jungle theme. There are also a ton of other label designs on TpT!
Often times, birthdays in the classroom are a day where students get to bring in a treat for the class and wear a fancy outfit (or free dress at my school since my students wear uniforms). I try to make birthdays more than just a day where students eat sugary snacks at recess, bounce off the walls until lunch, and then crash before dismissal.
I like to incorporate a celebration about important events that have happened in student’s lives up until this point and something they look forward to now that they have turned a year older.
Birthday Celebration Form
At back to school night, I send many forms home with parents, one of them being my birthday celebration form. On this form, parents fill out an important event or memory that has happened each year that the child has been alive. They also fill out something that they are looking forward to now that they are a year older. Find that and other components for a birthday celebration here.
Parents fill out this form and send it back to me as soon as possible so that when it’s their child’s birthday, I can use it for our class celebration.
Birthday Celebration Procedure
I set aside about five minutes before recess when we celebrate a student’s birthday.
I call students to the rug and they sit on the outside of the carpet. Then, the student whose birthday it is, gets cards that have each month of the year on them. (Each morning during morning circle we sing a months of the year song like this). We sing that song again during this celebration and as we sing each month, the birthday boy or girl puts the month cards down in a circle in the middle.
Once the song is over, I ask the student to find his or her birth month and to stand by it. Then, as I start reading a special moment or event that happened in their first year of life, they walk around the circle as if a year is passing and stop when they reach their birth month once again. I continue to read each event that has happened in the child’s years of living. Then, as I read something they look forward to, they walk around the circle one last time.
From there, the birthday student collects the month of the year cards as we sing the months of the year song. Once the student is finished picking them up, we sing happy birthday to him or her. Do any of your students like to sing the “cha cha cha, high-ya” version of the birthday song?
I like to finish this celebration with the student choosing quiet friends to go line up for snack. They love having the responsibility and take it very seriously when choosing the students who are sitting the nicest. And, of course everyone is trying to get out to snack ASAP to get their hands on the sugar!
More Than Just Treats
I like this way of celebrating a student’s birthday because it’s a way for students to get to know important events and memories that have happened in each other’s lives. It’s also a way for me to get to know students better.
Many times, as I’m reading what parents have written about their child’s life, other students will make connections out loud. I often read “Student name went to Disneyland for the first time” and I’ll hear.. “I’ve been to Disneyland!” from one of the other students. I love that this celebration brings students together and connects them in a way that they might not connect out on the playground pretending to be zombies or playing tag.
If you want to try this celebration out in your own classroom, you can purchase my birthday set in my TpT store here.
How do you like to celebrate birthdays in your classrooms? Do you have any special celebrations?
I love teaching kindergarten because students are at a magical age where they’re curious about everything, constantly soaking up the world around them and they love you unconditionally. I love that I provide their first experience to what school is about. However, teaching kindergarten is an exhausting career and the first day and even first week tends to be extra exhausting. Over my few years of teaching, I’ve figured out some tips to making the first day of kindergarten run smoothly.
1. Go on a classroom and school tour.
At some point in your day (I do this toward the beginning of the day), take your new bunch of babies on a school AND classroom tour. I’m lucky because I have an assistant teacher so we split students in half and while I’m giving a classroom tour, she gives a school tour. Then, we switch kids so all students get to tour both the school and the classroom. If you do not have an assistant you’ll just have to give both tours. You may even want to split your tours into two days.
What to do during your school tour:
1. Make sure you stop by the bathrooms. I have my assistant show students where the bathroom is and she lets students use the bathroom so they can get familiarized. Go over bathroom rules while you’re there.
2. Stop by the office and introduce your kiddos to the secretary AND principal. This is a nice treat for the secretary and principal as kindergarteners really are the cutest at school! (Shh, don’t tell the other grades.)
3. Show students where they will be eating snack and lunch. Go over snack and lunch rules during this time but also remind students of the rules right before snack and right before lunch. I found a TpT freebie about lunchtime manners that I like to read the first week before lunch.
4. Let students explore where they’ll be playing. My assistant walks students by the school play structure and also where our outside toys are at the back door of our classroom.
What to do during your classroom tour:
1. Show students where their seats are. In my classroom, I have spots for them to sit at our carpet and seats at a table. They already know their rug spots because I give the classroom tour after we’ve done circle time. It’s a good idea to practice transitioning from their rug square to their tables.
2. Point out where your daily schedule is and how you’ll tell them what the schedule is each day. Also tell them what subjects you’ll be covering in kindergarten.
3. Explain any behavior management systems. I like to only briefly discuss my whole class and table point systems because they’ll catch on as you use them. What I focus on during this part of the tour is our clip chart. I have students sit around the clip chart and explain how it works. I point out where their clips are and that each student has their own clip. Then, I give examples and have students practice moving their clips up and down. Important: when you pick a volunteer to ask to move their clip down for an example reason, make sure you preface the scenario with… “this is pretend” or “I know this would never happen..” so the student who is moving their clip down does not feel bad and is not traumatized on their first day of school. And, of course give an example of clip up behavior and have them move their clip back up.
4. Show different sections in your room. I like to show the different center stations and what types of things they might find there. I also show where our free play toys are and show them the options there. Last, I show them our library. I show this last because I have them practice taking a book from the library and find a spot to sit. We read in the library until the second group comes back from their school tour.
2. Start routines right away.
It’s important to get into your routines right away so students begin to learn the schedule and your expectations from the get go. I do circle time as the very first thing in the morning on the first day of school because that’s what we do every single morning of kindergarten. During the first week, I model all the jobs and then as the second week begins, I start having volunteers come up to practice the circle jobs.
I also start my behavior management systems right away and show them my expectations through positive reinforcement of students who are showing behavior that I am looking for. We do an activity about bucket fillers and we practice writing bucket fillers to a new friend in our class. All these routines start day one so students can get used to them and be successful right away.
3. Take a first day of kindergarten picture.
Your students are coming to you as tiny little peanuts and by the time the end of the year rolls around.. they will have blossomed into these humans who have grown and changed so much. I made a “First Day of Kindergarten” frame and a “Last Day of Kindergarten” frame in order to capture this growth. Tip: At the end of the year, I put together a memory book for my students as a keepsake and use these two pictures as the cover. Don’t forget to take a picture of yourself in the frame, this is your first day of kindergarten too!
Create your own frame with these supplies! (Affiliate Link)
4. Plan enough but not too much.
Every year, I forget just how long it takes kindergarteners at the beginning of the year than at the end to do things. Make sure you give yourself extra time for transitions especially. Kindergarteners are a little bit like lost sheep and it will take double the time for everything you ask them to do. If you find that you’ve given yourself too much transition time (highly unlikely) ask a get to know you question. Or you could play a game like Simon Says or go over school and classroom rules.
5. Repeat, repeat, repeat. (And repeat right before.)
I remember my second year teaching, I went over dismissal rules and how we need to give a high five so that I know who is leaving and can watch who they are leaving with. Well, despite tip number 4, I did not give myself enough time before dismissal to repeat dismissal rules. And, as we walked out in our best line that first day of kinders could do, I turned to look as we reached outside and saw all students start running in different directions toward their parents. This gave my teacher heart the biggest scare ever as I tried to see who went with who. It was a huge disaster! Now, I make sure I repeat the rules and procedures right before they happen. I also tell parents to stand at our kindergarten tables so this does not happen again. This is just one instance where I wish I took the extra time to repeat, repeat, repeat. Don’t make the same mistake I did! Kindergarteners need extra repetition to get things stuck in their brains. Make sure you repeat everything: rules, procedures, directions, expectations, etc!
These five tips will help you have a successful first day of kindergarten. What tips would you add to this list?
I don’t know about you, but during the summer I love finding new DIY projects and ways to better my classroom or organization for the next school year. As the summer nears, my to do list grows and grows as I find tons of amazing ideas through Pinterest and Instagram.
Last year, my dad and I made cubbies for my students. This was a HUGE project and on top of that, I got married, so needless to say, I was busy and was only able to complete one DIY job last summer.
This summer, I’ve already started creating what I view as very valuable DIY projects for my classroom. I’ve put together a list of DIY projects that I’ve seen come up over and over again on Pinterest and Instagram so you can also create these awesome tools and resources!
The Teacher Toolbox – This project was at the top of my list to complete this summer. It is a great way to keep all your teacher supplies organized which makes teacher hearts very happy. I originally found this idea here but it is ALL over Pinterest and Instagram. I even created jungle theme labels to go along with my classroom theme. Find those along with the rest of my jungle decor bundle here.
Seat Crate – These seat crates are going to add so much storage to my classroom. My plan is to use these around my guided reading table and I’ll use the storage for my guided reading books. This awesome tutorial breaks down exactly what you need and will be so useful when making my own seat crates.
Anchor Chart Storage – This is such a smart way to organize your anchor charts! I find that over the years, my anchor charts get so wrinkled because I don’t have a storage system. This DIY project uses PVC pipes and hangers to store your anchor charts. Find out how to make this easy storage system here.
Bucket filler – I love using bucket fillers in my classroom because of the kind and caring community they create. Read about the way I store my bucket fillers from this blog post here. (Tip – I use a hanging shoe organizer!)
Pencil Equity Sticks – This DIY project is a great way to give your equity sticks a makeover. I love using sticks in the classroom because it’s a great way to make sure you’re calling on all students and not just the ones who raise their hand all the time. Get inspiration here for your new upscale equity sticks.
Library letters – This tutorial shows you how to use old book pages to decorate letters for your classroom library (and other ways to decorate letters). I cannot wait to make these for my library!
“Today is” on Whiteboard – I just purchased a cricut machine this summer and I cannot wait to use it for everything decoration in my classroom, starting with this “Today is” inspiration for my whiteboard.
Printing Big Posters – Ever wish you could print something to be bigger than just an 8.5 by 11? This tutorial is AMAZING and shows you exactly how easy it is to make your poster dreams come true! Such a great tip when creating your classroom environment.
Felt Board – Turn an old cork board into a felt board that your students can play and create stories with! This 15 minute project is a great addition to your free play choices!
Toy Stove – Is your kitchen the most popular toy to play with in your classroom? Mine is and often ends with students fighting over who gets to play in it. This tutorial shows you how to turn a plastic container into a stove. What makes this even better is the container serves as storage for your toy food!
Sidewalk Foam Paint – This fun outdoor activity is so easy to make and has a ton of possibilities! It is an upscale version of chalk. This could be a great reward or outdoor free play activity. Find out how to make this sidewalk foam paint here. (Tip – it can also be used on paper!)
In my opinion, behavior management is the MOST important aspect of a classroom. If students don’t know expectations or are in an environment that is not structured, it will be very difficult to facilitate any learning. In my classroom, I use three different behavior management systems: whole class, table groups and individual. I think it is important to have multiple behavior systems as different situations call for use of different systems.
Whole Class: “Eye Like What I See”
For this system, two large eyeballs sit at the top of my whiteboard. I draw a T-chart with a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other. Whenever students are showing good behavior as a whole class, I give students a “happy face point”. On the other hand, when students are not listening, they receive a “sad face point” as a class. At the end of the day, we count up how many happy vs. how many sad face points and if they earned more happy face than sad face points, they receive a pair of eyes that I draw on the white board next to our big eyeballs. I set a number of eyes to aim for and once they get that many pairs, they earn a reward as a class. Usually in the beginning of the year, I set the number of pairs at 10 in order to get a reward and then later on in the year, students have to earn 15 or 20 eyeball pairs in order to receive a class reward.
Table Groups: “Quit Monkeyin’ Around”
I use the table group system when I notice certain tables showing a desired behavior. I like to use positive reinforcement and compliment one table to encourage other tables to then want that reinforcement also. For this system, I give “table points” by hanging a monkey on the corresponding table’s hanging sign. Whichever table has the most points at the end of the day (before free play) gets to start free play first. This system is important as it encourages students to work together at their tables.
Individual: “Roarin’ to Learn” Clip Chart
For individual behavior, I use a popular system, a clip chart. Every student has a clip and begins each day on green. As individual students are following rules, trying their best, etc, I ask them to move their clip up. They can move up three times on my chart. At the top of my chart I have a ribbon and when students move their clip up to the ribbon, they have reached the top of the clip chart and had the very best behavior for the day. Students get to the ribbon when they go above and beyond normal good behavior. On the flip side, when students need reminders and warnings, they are asked the move their clips down. The first time they move it down, it serves as just a warning and no consequence is given. When they get to orange, they miss five minutes of free play and red is when I contact their parent. What I love about this system is that students are never stuck on one color of the chart. If they’ve needed a couple warnings but turned their behavior around, they are asked to move their clips back up and can end the day on a good behavior color. I consider green and above a good behavior color. At the end of the day, we record our color and at the end of the week, I send the slip home for parents to see. Students really respond to this system and are proud when they work hard to get to a top chart color.
What behavior management systems work best in your classrooms?
Do you use bucket fillers in your classroom? The bucket filler system comes from the books How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer and Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud and David Messing. These books reinforce kind behavior and thinking of other people’s feelings.
Bucket Filling in the Classroom
I use the bucket filling system in my kindergarten classroom from the first day they walk into my room. We read one of these books on the first day of school and I show students where their bucket is. (I use these buckets that I purchased off amazon.) Students each have their own bucket and practice writing a bucket filler to one of their new friends. Because I have really young kiddos, I print their picture next to their name and leave these cards in a pocket chart near the buckets, so students can grab their friends picture and know how to write their name. As the year goes on, students remember how to spell their friends names and don’t use these as much.
Students have the option to do bucket fillers once they’re finished with an assignment or during free play time. In the beginning of the year, I only put out the bucket filler slips that have no lines so students can draw pictures for their friends. Once students can write, I slowly incorporate the slips with lines and space for pictures and the slips with only lines. Students then have the option of what slip they would like to use. Find these slips on my TpT store for free!
While I’m setting this system up in my classroom, I like to tell students that it is nice to fill people’s buckets who aren’t your best friend. I promote that we are a kindergarten family and that we are all good friends and can all fill everyone’s buckets. This way, all students get bucket fillers and not only a select few.
I try to send these slips home every couple of weeks in their Friday Folders or when I notice the buckets are getting very full.
Setting up Your Bucket Filler Station
I set my buckets up in over the door shoe organizers. This one from amazon fits the buckets perfectly! It can hold 24 buckets but depending on the age and height of your class, you may want to cut it in half so the students at the top of the organizer can be reached as well. When I did this with my class, I only had 15 students so I put all the buckets toward the bottom and hung the organizer on one of my storage closets but this year I have 18 students so my plan is to cut the shoe organizer in half and find a new spot where all student’s buckets can be reached.
On the first day, I have students color a picture of a bucket that I found on TpT in another freebie. Students get to decorate what they’d like their bucket to look like for the year. TIP: I recommend either laminating these before slipping them in to the organizer or taping them directly on the bucket. When I put these buckets on regular paper, they got crumpled and beat up throughout the year.
Last, I put the pocket chart with student’s picture and name cards next to the bucket organizer so they are easily accessible when students are choosing a friend to write a bucket filler to. I also put the bucket filler slips in one of the chart pockets or in an extra bucket for them to grab.
My students really enjoy this system as it is a way to both make others feel good and also they feel good when they get their bucket filled. How do you use bucket fillers in your room?