There’s something powerful about routines. When they are in place and practiced, everything just runs smoothly.
I’m going to discuss some of the procedures I have in my classroom. These may or may not work for you, but I hope that they give you some ideas on what you can put in place in your classroom.Calendar math
is a very important part of my day. It only lasts about 15 minutes, but it brings the class together and gets everyone ready for the challenges for the day.
My calendar routines consist of:
- Singing to 12
- 100 chart to count by 2's, 5's, and 10's
- Adding a straw for place value
- Tens frame for addition practice
- Days of the week
- Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
- Calendar date
This routine changes throughout the year. If the children master an item, I remove it and add another topic. Other items would be:
I use many little "sing-song" routines in the calendar time. I think it helps keep the children on track and brings back kids that might get lost along the way.
Music in a Kindergarten classroom is one of the most powerful tools available to a teacher. Through strategic planning and a few key CD's or cassettes, a Kindergarten teacher can open a world of phonemic awareness to her children.
I do at least 15 minutes a day of singing with my students. This does not mean I'm a good singer (because I'm terrible!), but with the help of a CD player, some song posters, fun pointers and well thought out music -- the ability to teach is endless.
Every day we sing at least one song that focuses on letter names and letter sounds. A great example is Jack Hartmann's "Learning Letter Sounds". I have the poster on the wall and students track along with the song. These are fun, fast and fabulous routines because they involve music, print skills, letter sounds and is interactive!
Sometimes I bring out some instruments for the children to play with songs. They love songs where they can tap out syllables, sounds, and patterns. Things as simple as dollar store bells on a string make great tools for music time!
Some of my favorite CD's to use are: TOTALLY MATH, DR. JEAN AND FRIENDS CD, Hip-Hop AlphaBop, and Math All Around Me. All of these CD’s are used almost daily in my classroom routines. I would be at a loss without them.
When looking into purchasing CD's for your classroom, consider a few things. First, will this CD help me teach my children? Second, what other things can I do with this music? Can I make a poster to go with it? Can it be used in a center? Third, how do the skills on the CD correlate with my expectations / State Standards? If you think about these things while making purchases, you will have confidence that any music that is in your classroom will be meaningful, educational and fun!
Shared Reading is the time where you "share" the print in books, poems, charts with your class.
I adore big books, large poem charts and pocket charts for these activities. You can also use overhead projectors, Elmo's and other means to display text for your whole class. The key is that every student can see the print.
During shared reading, the teacher should focus on reading skills, phonemic awareness and phonics skills and concepts of print. For example, if we were reading "Mrs. Wishy-Washy", the focus could be on rhyming words (ex. cow, bow, how, now), syllables (ex. duck - 1, cow - 1, pig - 1, wishy - 2), directionality of print (ex. track with pointers from left to right), or chunking words (ex. into = in to). Joy Cowley writes amazing Kindergarten friendly stories that allow for many skills. I use her books most frequently.
We also do Literature Panels during shared reading. We focus on one book for the week and have different skills each day. The skills we most often focus on in Literature Panels are vocabulary, story sequence, "I wonder?" and "I noticed...", and story elements.
Shared reading is an exciting time for Kindergarten students because it is when they receive the most support in reading - so they all succeed! Using exciting "tools", like pointers, wikki sticks, highlighter tape and other hooks makes reading that must more exciting!
As a review after Shared Reading, we do Daily Literacy Journals. They are quick routines to check comprehension. I love them.
During Phonemic Awareness instruction is when we help children begin to hear different sounds in language. It is only auditory. Unlike phonics where they children see pictures, letters, words - phonemic awareness is learned through listening and speaking.
Developing phonemic awareness in young children is a huge building block to having strong reading skills later in their school career. There are many ways to develop phonemic awareness including songs, chants, games, and listening to stories. In my classroom we use all of these routines to help build a strong base.
Some key skills that should be developed in the Kindergarten year are beginning sounds, ending sounds, rime, syllables, phoneme blending, and phoneme segmentation. All of these skills can be introduced through songs, chants or games. The best part of teaching phonemic awareness is that you do not need any materials - just some students and some words!
One of my students’ favorite games for phoneme blending and segmentation is "I Say, You Say". I made it up one day while waiting for their lunches to be made, and it went like this. "I say /cat/, you say /c/ /a/ /t/." Then we just go on with the teacher saying a word and the children segmenting the sounds. You can also play it in reverse, "I say /d/ /o/ /g/, you say /dog/." It is so simple, yet highly effective!
When we are learning rime in my classroom, we use a game like Concentration. We sit in a circle and I say a word, and we all pat our legs one time and repeat the word, then the next student says a word that rimes, then we pat and repeat again. It sounds basic, and it is, but it is using phonemic awareness skills and movement to strengthen the childrens' comprehension.
The most important thing to remember is that children need to learn to listen and speak sounds before they can read sounds. So... sing, chant, rime, blend, and build better readers!
is one of the most powerful teaching times during my day. It is also my favorite time. At guided reading I can work in small groups with children on their level, in books they enjoy, reading with them! Who wouldn't love that?
My guided reading time lasts about 1 hour. During that time I see three groups. I meet with my struggling students daily, and rotate in the other groups either two or three times a week. I have 5 guided reading groups at this time, but as students go throughout the year, the groups change.
The biggest thing to remember about guided reading is that you are "guiding" the children through books. You are not reading to them, and they are not "round robin" reading. The way I think about this is holding their hand through books - sometimes you hold tighter, sometimes you loosen up.
In my classroom I am blessed to have many resources available for Guided Reading. I use Literacy Tree books, Newbridge, Houghton-Mifflin, and more. The key is to know where your children are and to place them in books that they can find some challenges in, but not feel frustrated!
Some fun skills to build into your routines are:
- beginning sounds
- ending sounds
- phoneme segmentation
- phoneme blending
- writing favorite words or sentences
- letter ID
- letter sounds
- word counting
, quiet time, down time… whatever you call it I believe that children need a brain break in Kindergarten. We are a full-day class, and I give my students 20 - 25 minutes of quiet time daily.
During this time the children have a choice, they can sleep, they can read books quietly or they can watch an educational video. I give the children a choice because some children need sleep, some need quiet time by themselves and some don't want to "break" so I offer high-quality videos for them to watch. Either way we follow the same daily routines so the children know what to expect.
During quiet time is when I get most of my assessments completed, so I know that I have 20 minutes daily to assess children. This is important to be because I firmly believe that data-driven instruction is the key to a highly successful classroom. I have also found that doing assessments during quiet time is less distracting to the child being assessed because it is quiet!
is when you model writing skills, have the children go and write and then share the student's work. It is a fun, exciting, creative time during the day.
Typically, my modeling lesson lasts 5 - 10 minutes. This is when I teach specific skills like: finger spaces, punctuation (period, comma, question mark), styles of writing (narrative, persuasive, expository), and other skills that "good writer's" use.
After I model the lesson, the children go and work on their stories. I circulate the room and conference with a few children on their work. I try to tell the children good things about their work and something they can work on.
After the writing time is complete, we share our stories. This can be in an author's chair, knee-to-knee, or in a small group. Do whatever works for you and your students. This is the basic model I follow every day for writing. I have found it highly effective due to the quick lesson and the sharing of ideas at the end.
Science and Social Studies comes next. I normally try to tie in the lesson with the writing we just finished through a book or activity.
We do many hands-on explorations in Science. I find it is easier to do in the afternoon because then I can just clean up the mess once the students are dismissed.
Also, in the afternoon the children are ready for more movement and less sitting.
I really like to have a great science experiment that the children can replicate in centers, so they see it over and over and over again. This routine builds comprehension.
At the end of the day I teach Math. I like to have this routine at the end of the day because it is exciting and fun.
We always do our Daily Math Journals for a warm-up. It is fast, and gets the kids ready to think. This is when I teach new skills. Some skills we build into our routines are:
- position words
For review the children go to Math Tubs. This is when they can independently review hands-on math skills in small groups.
Reading a good book
is the best routine to end the day. One of my favorites is Junie B. Jones
. She’s too funny. The kids adore her and she is very relatable.
Overall, before the first day of school, stop and think about how you want your day to roll, and begin planning out routines. It will help in the long run!
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