Whenever you are absent and a substitute comes to fill in for you, do you ever get a note or memo saying something like this "your students know their routines so well! They know where to go, what to do and how to do it. They corrected me if I didn't do something exactly the way you do it!" I usually do! I find that young kids thrive on routine and structure (and so do I!). I'd like to share some of my routines, you know, those daily happenings that just make the day run smoother, let students know exactly what they should be doing at various parts of the day, and keep them busy and engaged and therefore reduce opportunities for certain behaviours to arise.
1. Thematic Name Cards
In the morning we gather for our morning circle on our carpet. The problem is that some students are super quick and get to the circle with plenty of time to spare before announcements, anthem, etc. To keep the kids busy and engaged I have thematic name cards that I change every month. This idea is also from my retired Kindergarten teacher mom. Thanks mom! The name cards have skills that we are focusing on for the month, for example, letters, numbers, sight-words, or other mathematical skills such as shapes, patterns, clocks for telling time, etc. At first the cards have first names only, then we progress to first and last. The kids can quickly review our key concepts each morning. They love coming in at the beginning of each new month to see what new name card awaits them at the circle!
2. Flow of the Day
Do you ever hear..."what are we doing next?" I used to. A lot. This is a visual aide that I just incorporated into the classroom this year, and it's working very well. I call it Flow of the Day, but many people simply call it a Daily Schedule. It lets the kids know what's happening sequentially throughout the day. We talk about our day plan in the morning, then throughout the day as we complete an activity, I turn over the picture card so that the students can visually see that it is done. It really helps at the beginning of the year, when the kids are missing mommy and are eager for home time, but it's also a great tool for all students in knowing what to anticipate and prepare for. I got this template free from TPT and made my own additional cards for routines specific to my classroom (Child of the Day, Show and Tell, etc.)
3. Center Board
In the morning we have literacy centers open. I designate these centers with star stickers around the center sign. The students all know that when I say 'star centers' open, the literacy centers are available to them. In the afternoon, we do rotations through centers. This large visual helps the students visually see what centers are open and by now all the students are very good at
3. Snack Table
I have always had the kids break for snack, that is, stop what they are doing, clean-up, wash hands and eat all together at the same time at the tables. However, there is a move in our School Board with the introduction of Full day Kindergarten (every day/all day), that Kindergarten should be a seamless day. The activites should flow one into the other, and disruptions or transitions should be minimized. A 'snack table' is the new idea that has been proposed to maximize your time available with your students. This means snack is, essentially, a center to go to. Students must self-regulate and go when they are hungry, not at a specific time. I have so many worries...what if someone forgets to go to the center to eat, what if they eat their lunch instead of snack (since I am not directly overseeing it), where will we do our center work if that table is being occupied for food? There are so many things to figure out, but I am willing to try it. Here is a little system that was suggested by a resource personnel: put the students names on a card and display them on a magnetic surface (I am using the side of my filing cabinet). Students will move their name to the other side of a marked line (I've used colored tape), to indicate they have eaten their snack. Have a student in charge of reminding those who may forget to go to the snack table. We'll see how it goes! Wish me luck...we start tomorrow! How do you implement snack? Is it whole group? In a center? I would love to hear your ideas!
Have a great week everyone!