I hope this is the year I get to eat an entire lunch in more than ten minutes! I usually only get a snack. That’s just how the first day of school goes in kindergarten. Kids get lost. They don’t know where to go. It takes you longer to get to where you need to go. Johnny needs to go potty; Jackie needs her inhaler before recess and Jill needs her special seating arrangement for lunch due to allergies and so on. Yep. It gets easier, though. If you feel like the morning has flown by, but you’ve been hit by a train, it’s all normal. You’re likely doing the right things! There’s so much movement and transitions during and between activities.
I didn’t say it in the morning lesson plan blog, but I’m going to say it now. Don’t skip the morning routine that sets your day off right. The first day of kindergarten is not the day to quit bad habits, or cut back on caffeine. I get a coffee every morning. It’s usually half-caffeine. Even if I’m extra tired, I will resist going for the full caffeinated version to avoid a crash and any extra side effects it could bring on.
So, afternoon is here. You got to eat. Now is the wind down for day 1. Yay! I start to really break things up a little more in the afternoon and do classroom explorations or finish up anything from the morning that I think is necessary for the first day of school.
We complete a coloring sheet for the first day of kindergarten I post in the hallway using large brad clips. We continue to post their writing throughout the year and these clips are perfect for kids watching their learning grow and change throughout the year. I attach them to the top of laminated construction paper and staple to the wall.
We make first day of kindergarten crowns. I cut the out ahead of time and attach to the bands that go around the head (use strips of construction paper, sentence strips or extra classroom border). Kids color with crayons, we staple and wear. Inevitably you will have a kid color in circles and say they are done. Gently remind them nicely that in kindergarten we work the entire time the clock is on the board. I use a great countdown clock from Class123.ac. If they finish early, they can wait patiently and clean up their supplies until it is time to move on. It’s also a great time to teach them that making the crowns might take a bit, because there is one of you and twenty(ish) of them. Also, if they finish early, you could put on some songs on the board and have kids sit at the carpet and you can finish stapling. Backups are always a good idea.
Another Small Playground Recess (15 minutes)
We have our own playground for recess. So in the afternoon, we take a second recess, if there is time. There isn’t always time and not always a need for it. We are often moving from one place to another and the engagement is so high that we can do without it.
Another Bathroom Break (15 minutes)
We will go to the bathroom usually twice in the afternoon, if time permits. We will go after lunch and then again before the end of the day. We review the expectations again from the morning.
More Read Alouds or Math Manipulative Play (20 minutes)
Just make sure you leave yourself enough time to get everything done that needs to be finished before moving to additional read alouds or math manipulative play. Prepping ahead of time and slowing down in the afternoon will keep your mind calm for pickup. I usually go for the read aloud and don’t take out the manipulatives yet. It’s more procedures to teach and so I save it for a later time or date.
Get ready to go home (30 minutes)
I reserve the last half an hour of the school day to get ready to go home. That’s right. I show kids how to get their back pack, come to the carpet, sit down quietly and remind them my very clear expectations before they go home. They are not to leave until I personally hand them off. If they see mom and dad and they are signaling them over, they still need to wait, and I will explain that to parents that I just want to make sure they are all being handed off to the right people. Parents always understand when I explain this to them.