Monday, August 5, 2013

Dear New Kindergarten Teacher, Please Read This

Dear New Kindergarten Teacher,
It is now August and school is just around the corner. Do not feel terrified. Don't. I am here to help you. If you are new to this grade level I have some suggestions for you that might make your first few weeks go a little easier. How do I know that? I am a well seasoned teacher who has been at this grade level for over 25 years. Follow along with me as I show you the way. 
 Click on each picture to go to my store to purchase the item.
First: Have a plan for the first few weeks. Even if the plan does not work have one. Over plan since it can never hurt. The first thing you need are name tags. If you are like me with 31 students this is not an option. Students might not have a clue what their last name is. You need to know and keep a current list. I have a great product for this:

These packets are only five dollars each and can be customized with your student's name. They will provide you with name badges, cubby labels photo tags, desk tags, journal labels, award tags, awards, etc. This is a lot of bang for your buck and each one has an icon that goes with your student's name. If they can't read their name they will recognize the icon. Trust me these work!

Kindergarten kids love, love, love to help their teacher and this will show you how to implement a management system for this without wanting to shoot yourself. I am a big fan of classroom jobs and this packet will do all the work for you. Wowsa. You pick the jobs you want to start out with (just a few of them) and build on to this as the year goes by and the kids mature. There are 21 choices for you and badges for the helpers to wear. They adore badges and feeling important. Trust me.

You are going to want to set aside one bulletin board in your room for just writing. I use fancy clothespin and keep all their writing stacked together with the current one on top. Here is the perfect packet for that:

This will provide you with a systematic monthly writing form for each month of the year. Click on the picture to take you there. My teachers love this product. One features an image of a boy or girl and the other has that famous blue cat. Let's move on.


You will be introducing the alphabet using your reading program but your students will need lots of opportunities to see those letters and manipulate them in centers. 
This is the perfect alphabet book for you to buy. Students trace each letter, color in a picture that begins with the sound of that letter, and cut and paste various fonts using that letter into a chart. Finally, it can be made into a student book or class books can be created. Take a deep breath... We have to give them scissors-right? 

Here are some other possibilities for you to use: You will want to do letter sorts during small group instruction and this version is ideal for young children. It is simple with nice, clean graphics. Students get further exposure to upper and lowercase letters. This is one of my favorites.

Are you still reading? Take a break and a few deep breaths. You can do this I promise.

These packets will guide you through teaching sight words to young children. The first packet will be full of manipulatives to use such as headbands and necklaces. It will not overwhelm you with a million words. The second packet is full of activities for your students to do such as tracing the word, cutting and pasting the letters, etc. Students have to find and color the words in simple word searches, etc. These are my top sellers and I have used all of these activities forever. They work.
Have you discovered the Target Dollar Spot? If you have you will know about the mini pocket charts that are available. This is a packet filled with activities for students to do in literacy stations with those charts. It's all provided for you and will make life so much easier for you while you figure this job out. Right? There is alphabet work, sounds, color matching, patterning and even some simple sentence building work. Grab it for $5.00 and you won't be sorry. The kids will love this product and I even give you labels for keeping it super organized. Organization has become your middle name.

Can you tolerate just a little more? I am assuming your have grabbed coffee and you have calmed down just a bit. Stay with me on this ride since I am almost done.

This is the first in an entire series of readers that provide you with support when teaching your students how to read.  They are perfect for additional sources to use during guided reading. This is what my district loves the most that I create for them. I put dots under individual words for the children to touch. In addition, you get the text for your pocket chart to practice with the kids over and over again to build their confidence. 

What about teaching the sounds of letters? You can start with this very simple packet and do these letters in the order that is provided in your reading program.

Here is another simple packet of cut and paste work for your students to do when practicing the sounds of the letters. In addition, they trace the upper and lowercase letter. Simple, clean, and easy.
These all align to the Common Core. In math for the first few weeks they need to explore the manipulatives you have in your tubs. Remember to click on the picture if you want to purchase something. If not, you can use the materials you have and integrate your own things.
I have tons of freebies on this blog. Follow me on Bloglovin' and my stores so you know when they become available. Everyone loves free!
Advice: Read to them often. Have snacks for the first few days. Do not let the parents in the room... you will have trouble getting them out. I am just being real with you! Hehe.
Keep in touch. You can do this. Get help from your grade level and read teacher blogs at this grade level. You can learn so much from them.
Who has other suggestions? 
So I am ending here and I am sending you a virtual hug for teaching our youngest learners. Your work is important and I hope you love it as much as I do. It continues to be the best grade in the world to teach. Be extraordinary. 


tari baldwin said...

I totally agree with what Fran has told you. The "Tag You're It" labels have saved my sanity! I just copied them onto full size sticker sheets and then put their matching labels on their cubbies, folders, notebooks...everything! Every child could identify his/her materials....easy peasy! Also, Fran's materials are appealing to the kids and easy to use! Most of all, just keep 'em moving!

Erin said...

Wow! You have this all wonderfully laid out for those first year teachers. Where were you my first year? :)

Love ya,
It's "OWL" Good in Kindergarten

Heather W said...

Oh how I wish this post would have existed when I taught Kinder for the first time! Great advice for new teachers and those who are new to Kindergarten this year!

Fran Kramer said...

Thanks for all these sweet comments. Kindergarten is such a wonderful grade to teach and I love all things kindergarten!

Susan Gorbe said...

The biggest thing by far is classroom management. I have many of Fran's items but I'm also going to recommend the book " the first days of school " by Harry Wong. This book made me change my perspective on classroom management. Secondly , if you teach in an area where things are not clear cut for transportation before school starts, make sure you have the parents give you those details as they drop their kids off. I'm sure my experiences are a bit different because I teach in a very urban school, but it's better to over plan these things :) and have a script for the first day and know that one kid just might cry the first two days, the ENTIRE time. Finally , enjoy your planning /specials time. We no longer have any in my district .

Meredith said...

I feel like you wrote that just for me! I'm sure any other first year kinder teachers will feel the same. I will be starting in about 3 weeks and the butterflies are already fluttering in my stomach, but it makes me feel a lot better knowing you are here to help! You are wonderful...we are lucky to have you as a mentor.

Fran Kramer said...

You bet I am here and will try to support you. Children who have never been to school will cry. Try to hold them because they are often scared and need support. ASK FOR HELP. I had my Assistant Principal stay for the first few hours because we had kids who would bolt out the door!
Susan, I agree with all your points. You are so right. That is a great book and a really valuable resource. I read so much I forget about those important references that are so useful. Thanks!

Susan Gorbe said...

Fran , I mentor seniors from Michigan State every year. I always recommend they read that book . :)

Susan Gorbe said...

Don't skimp in recess. They need the break and so will you! Don't forget they are just babies :)

Camille said...

Thank you so much Fran! I always learn so much from you! Love to you,

KinderKapers said...

Fran, your advice and products have helped me on my Kindergarten journey. I cannot thank you enough for all the help you have given. I think I was pretty cocky the first year I started back in K....after all I was a 25+ year veteran, had taught K years ago, I knew what I was doing. Surprise!! I wish I had reached out for help quicker...and you Fran gave me great help! I still use your advice and "stuff". I am loving K and don't think I will ever want to change.

Terri Izatt

Sakshi Pabbi said...

I was looking for the same from the past few years, but did not find any suitable for me. But my search ends here. Thanks for sharing.

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