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Fall

Fall Themed Art: Whoooo’s ready for fall?

Who else loves teaching art? I don’t know what it is but kindergarten art is just so precious! They’re not worried about making things perfect, they’re just interested in getting it done and doing it their way. Even when I show them a model, they use their creativity to the max and I LOVE it!

Do you need a fall themed art project that looks awesome on your bulletin board? Read about the project I did with my class. Not only is it simple but it's super easy to prep!

Whoooo’s ready for fall?

I found this owl, fall themed art project on teacherspayteachers and I love how it turned out! This project is super easy to prep, has simple directions and the kids loved using feathers and googly eyes! If you’re in need of a fall themed art project, this one is for you!

Do you need a fall themed art project that looks awesome on your bulletin board? Read about the project I did with my class. Not only is it simple but it's super easy to prep!

Prep

Print out the master copies and pull the construction paper colors you need. I used brown, tan, yellow and orange.

Gather or purchase all materials. Here are some materials you may need.

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Directions

  1. Students cut out owl outline, tummy, beak and feet. I gave every piece to my students at once and displayed my model so they could see what piece goes where.
  2. Then, students glue their owl pieces together.
  3. I had students come to my table when they were finished gluing and choose 5 feathers. They had the choice to use different colors or all the same color.
  4. Students glue their feathers on and add googly eyes (use liquid glue).
  5. The owls are complete!

Bulletin Board

When your students are all finished with the project put their cute owls up on your bulletin board. Here is some inspiration!

Do you need a fall themed art project that looks awesome on your bulletin board? Read about the project I did with my class. Not only is it simple but it's super easy to prep!

You might like to read about another art project I do in the beginning of the school year: tissue art.

How to Make Back to School Night Successful

Back to School Night is an important night because it’s one of the only times you have all parents (or most) in one place. Although I dread talking in front of an adult crowd, I’m appreciative we have this night so we can give all information out at once and don’t have to repeat the info to each parent. Here’s how I set myself up for Back to School Night success!

Back to School Night

Look the Part (both you and the room)

  1. You – Wear something comfortable that makes you feel confident!

I like to dress up more than normal because Back to School Night is an important night where you get to give parents essential information about the upcoming year. It’s also one of the first times you’re meeting parents and dressing up will portray professionalism.

  1. Room – Make sure your classroom is tidy and presentable!

The day of Back to School Night, I have my students help me clean the room by ending our free play a little sooner than normal. I tell students that they’ve magically become vacuum cleaners and their job is to clean every speck from the carpet. Students love this idea (who knows why?) and crawl around on the carpet and sometimes even make a vacuum noise (tell them they’re quiet vacuums).

Back to School Night

Once the room is clean, get it ready with any information or work you want to display. I like to put a blank paper out for parents to write or draw something for their kids that I leave for the students to find the next day. This is nice to have out as parents walk in because it gives them something to do while you wait for all the other parents. I also put an information packet and birthday form on each child’s table spot. Parents can take this home for their reference and return the form once completed.

I also set out a “mint” treat. Check out my Back to School Night Mint Display Freebie!

Hit the Highlights

I prepare a Back to School Night powerpoint as a guide to what I want to cover with the parents. I start out by telling parents my background and schooling and then move into curriculum. Next, I discuss each subject and a brief overview of what students will learn in kindergarten. Other topics I include are homework, projects, field trips, star of the week and Nellie. Nellie is a stuffed cow that students will get to take home for a week during our school year.

After I give my spiel, my room parents talk about volunteer opportunities for our school and classroom.

Once this night is over, I take a big breathe of relief. It’s one of the most exhausting, long (12 hour) days but with these tips it’ll be amazing! Good luck!

Resources

Check out my Back to School Night resources by clicking the pictures below.

Back to School Night Flip Book    Back to School Night Mint Freebie

What makes your Back to School Night successful?

Back to School Night

Beginning of the year Tissue Art

Tissue Art
This name tissue art project is hands down my absolute FAVORITE! It is a perfect beginning of the year art project and looks fantastic all year long. Each year, during our first art period, I show my students how to complete this tissue art and it hangs in my windows until the end of the year.

                   Materials for Tissue Art     Materials for Tissue Art

Materials

– 11 x 18 white or nude construction paper
– various colors of tissue paper
– glue
– dixie cups (or something to hold the glue) I like these because you can just throw them away when finished
– Q-tip

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Prep

This project is pretty low prep which is nice because sometimes art projects take longer to set up than for students to actually do. All you need to prep for this project is the papers with their names and tissue squares. I write the students’ names in sharpie but you could use anything because it gets covered up by the tissue in the end. You also need to cut squares of tissue about 1 inch by 1 inch. This prep could be done days before so you’re ready the day of. The day of, you’ll need to pour glue into dixie cups and put a Q-tip in each of the cups for students to use to spread the glue.
Tissue Art

Directions

I write my own name on one of these papers so I can model the art to my students. I start by showing them how to spread a section of glue on one of the letters in their name. Since I teach kindergarten, I mention that if you put too much glue on, it might dry before you can stick the tissue paper on. I tell them that they should only glue a little section, not the whole letter. Then, I show students how to crumple the paper and stick it on the letter. I really emphasize that the smaller they squish the tissue paper, the better it will look. I also tell my kids that they need to use the same color on the whole letter. Then, they must use a different color on the next letter. In the past, I’ve let students do multi-colored letters but it ends up looking a little bit jumbled and less like a name.

Back to School Tissue Art

After my students are finished, I trim the outside of the paper and glue a colored piece of construction paper as a background. I hang them in the window all year-long! Look at how beautiful this art is!

What is your favorite back to school art project?

Guided Reading Groups: How to Set up Your Groups in the Beginning of the Year

Guided reading is one of my favorite subjects to teach because I love that I can differentiate for each student to truly give them what they need to succeed. In order to have a smoothly run guided reading time, you must set up your guided reading groups for success. Groups are set up so that students with similar needs are put together.

Guided Reading

Assess What They Know

Before you can put students in groups, you need to assess what they know and what they struggle with. In kindergarten, it can be hard to assess students on reading because most likely, they do not read yet.

I like to assess my students on the following to get a good understanding of their overall reading and letter skills:

  • Letter recognition
  • Letter sound
  • Sight Word recognition
  • Reading and Reading Comprehension

I assess students in this order and move them on according to how they do in the previous assessment.

Letter Recognition

For example, I assess all students on letter recognition. If they miss only a few, I move on to letter sounds. If they miss half or more than half, I stop there and make a note that these students need to work on letter recognition.

Letter and Sound Recognition Freebie

Letter Sound

Next, I assess if students know their letter sounds. Again, if they know most, I move them on to sight word recognition and if they know half or less, I make a note that the focus for this group should be letter sounds.

Sight Word Recognition and Reading Comprehension

For my sight word recognition and reading/reading comprehension assessments, I use a program called Fountas and Pinnel. This program sets it all up for you which makes it easy on me. I have a set of 5 sight word lists and I start by asking the student if they know any of the words on the list. If a student knows most of the words on a list, they move on to the next list. When we reach a point where they no longer know majority of the words, I stop them and make a note. The program then tells me which guided reading level they should begin at according to how many sight words they know.

If a student makes it to the point where they should begin reading at a certain level in the program, I assess them with a running record. Most kindergarteners in the beginning of the year do not make it to this point because they are pre-readers but I do usually have a handful that are ready.

After all my assessments are finished, I look over my notes of which students need support in certain areas and I group them by similar needs. I try to keep my groups to 5 students or less so they’re getting a lot of individualized attention during our guided reading groups.

Click the picture to check out some of my Guided Reading Resources.

Guided Reading Resource Bundle

How do you group your students?

Read how to set up your DIY Guided Reading Caddie here.

Classroom Reveal

Welcome to my classroom reveal! I am currently going into my 4th year teaching so I’ve had a few years to figure out exactly how I want my classroom. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t and I’ve arranged and rearranged countless times. I’m at the point where I am so happy with how my room is set up and organized and I cannot wait to share it with you!

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Welcome to the Jungle

When you walk in my room, I want it to feel welcoming with bright colors and obvious organization. I want my students to feel invited, like their classroom is their second home and structured so they can be successful. I chose a jungle theme because I personally love animals and it’s a very gender neutral theme. Plus, there’s a lot you can do creatively with this theme.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Student Tables

My students work mainly in two spots: their tables and the carpet. At their tables, they have everything they need in their chair pouch. I recommend the chair pouch because students can keep their supplies separate and they look a lot neater than the communal table caddies (personal preference).

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Rug Area – Circle Time

Our rug area is where students sit for circle time, whole group lessons or introductions and read alouds. We also use this area to use the SmartBoard and Elmo. I love that my carpet has individual squares because if I notice students spreading out or getting too close to their neighbor, I tell them to “tuck into their square” and everyone can check their bodies.

     Kindergarten Classroom RevealKindergarten Classroom Reveal

Library

My library is one of my favorite spots in my classroom! I made it a little bigger this year because as years go on I accumulate books upon books. Everyone wants to donate their old books to the kindergarten class and I can never say no to books! Doesn’t this area look so comfy?! I love the miniature couches and book buddies to read with.

Listening Center

The listening center is where my students take their iPads during Listen to Reading of our literacy centers. Here, students find their headphones, any passwords they might need and the listen to reading response sheet. This year, I’m organizing my students headphones in over the door shoe organizers! I just cut one in half and taped it on the wall – no more tangled mess!

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Writing Center

My writing center holds everything students may need during writing time. They have their pencils, colored pencils, crayons and writing folders in their chair pouch but this area holds all the extras. Behind this center I display my writing posters. I got these freebie posters here! As we work on a step in the writing process, I put up the poster.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Whiteboard

My main whiteboard displays our daily schedule, guided reading and math schedules and one of our behavior management systems, “Eye Like What I See”.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Guided Reading Tables

I am so fortunate to have a full time assistant teacher so when we do guided reading, two groups of students get to meet with a teacher while the rest are doing independent stations. My students meet at either my guided reading table or my assistant teachers. This summer, I DIYed some crate seats for my table! I also put together some guided reading caddies for maximum organization for our guided reading time.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Free Play

The free play area is the space that I just can’t seem to get right. It is always a mess! This year, I bought new containers that fit better in the bookcase and labeled each lid. No matter what I do, students just don’t clean up the way I want… I guess that’s what I get for teaching kindergarteners! Any kindergarten teachers have a fabulous way to organize free play things?

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Storage

My room used to be the library in our school so my room is the only room that does not have a full wall of amazing storage. I do have three cabinets but I’ve had to be creative with this storage space as it is pretty small. One thing I’ve changed this year is making use of the space above my cabinets. I’ve used this space in the past, but usually I just shove things above it and it looks like a hot mess. This year, I decided the organize materials by season and cleaning supplies. I love how organized it looks (at least right now)!

Teacher Desk

This is my little home in the classroom to keep all my teacher things!

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Thank you for stopping by my jungle theme classroom! What’s your favorite part about your classroom?

The Benefits of Morning Work

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.

Benefits of Morning Work

1. Routine

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.

2. 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.

Benefits of Morning Work

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.

Morning Work Bundle

What benefits do you find in having students begin the day with morning work?

Circle Time: What does it look like in kindergarten?

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.

Calendar

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.

Example:

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”

    

Place Value

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!

Weather

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

Songs

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.

Circle Time Set

I’ve created a circle time set of the posters and all the cards you’ll need to set up your own circle time. There are three versions: a bright colors theme, jungle theme and a black and white ink saver.

What circle time routines do you have in your classroom?

Tips for the First Day of Kindergarten

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?