The First Day can be scary, but with these routines and
procedures you can conquer the first day!
I would place a name tag on each child either as they enter or as they introduce themselves later. On their name tag I write their line up order(see below) and how they are getting home (the most important thing of the day).
I have a beautiful carpet with squares and each child is assigned a square on the carpet from the first day. On the first day and throughout the week I tape the names of the students on the carpet to help them find their spot. I typically start out girl, boy and make adjustments when I need to.
They sit on the tape so they don’t play with it
If you don’t have a carpet with squares you can do the same thing with a regular carpet. Tape their names on any fun cutout you want and they will stay down for the most part, even through vacuuming!
Before I jump in I set the expectation for getting their attention. I love some of the techniques found in the Whole Brain Teaching method. I teach them class, yes. The teacher says class and the students say yes. If you say class, class, they say yes, yes. We add on to this all year with Easter Bunny Class, Rocking Roll Class, Pete the Cat class. You can do it with anything! How about First Day Class? Practice this!
If they complete the call back to your satisfaction give an alligator cheer.
Stretch your arms out and chomp like an alligator.
I use many cheers throughout the year as well.
It keeps them engaged!
I modified Whole Brain Teaching rules to fit my classroom. I wanted to be a little more specific for my kinders. First I teach them mirrors.
I hold up both my hands and say mirrors. I expect the students to do it with me.
Now, if you need some added incentives for those little guys who just sit and stare at you or who are rolling around the floor (it happens), here are some ideas:
I have several behavior management tricks to help motivate your students.
I do many fun movements with mirrors and get all the kids involved. Hands on our head, scratch like a monkey, clapping, waving, whatever you can think off.
Once they are all with me. I say the rules with motions!
Rule #1: Follow directions quickly (just wave your hands like they are winding down a path back and forth)
Rule #2: Raise your hand for permission to speak (Raise you hand, then make your hand pretend to open and close its mouth)
Rule #3: Keep your hands and your feet and your objects to yourself (point to your hands, point to your feet, hands out for objects then bring them to yourself)
Rule #4 : Make smart choices (point to your head)
Rule #5: Listen when your teacher is talking (Cup hand over ear, hand pretends to talk again)
We go over these many times with motions and I repeat them throughout the day to remind the students of the rules. I have pictures here to help them visualize the rules as well. Eventually I want to be able to say “Class, what is Rule #4?” and the class says “Make Smart Choices.”
I explain our behavior system, which is a clip chart. Our whole school uses a clip chart and I really like it. I explain how you move up and down depending on how you follow the rules. I move a couple of student’s clips up based on how they are behaving.
Bathroom and lining up!
We are a PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) school so we have school wide expectations for every part of the school.
I explain the rules of the bathroom and make sure they know their job is to go the bathroom quickly and cleanly. It is not play time!
I like to show a video of bathroom behavior. There are several on Youtube, but this one is quite generic.
Video of Bathroom Expectations
We talk about privacy and being respectful. We discuss our rules on soap, towels and trash.
Now to get to the bathroom we need a line. In my class we line up on spots on the floor. They are just stickers that I write on, but they stay all year for the most part. Another teacher is going to do alphabet stickers and another one just does tape on the floor. Whatever works for you. Each stickers has a number on it and I call the students to stand on their number in order.
Remember those numbers on the name tag, they should match where you want your students to stand in line.
I demonstrate how to stand in a line and what is not appropriate. We do bubbles in our mouth and hands behind our back (Ducktails).
You can try a variety of place for their hands
1. Give themselves a hug
2. Spider fingers (interlaced fingers)
3. Duck Tails (Hands behind their back)
4. Robot arms (Arms real stiff)
5. Shark (Hand on top of their head)
Again, use motivators to get students to come and get in line quickly and quietly and practice. Take a picture or video to see if this helps motivate great behavior. Often it does!
Take your class to the bathroom and hold on! This is the first time they will be out of your sight. I remind my students if they do not follow directions quickly they will be moving their clip down, if they can remember the bathroom rules I will move their clip up. Great motivation to keep those silly giggles at bay. When they come out they get in line. I use those numbers to get them in their assigned spot.
If they need extra practice walking, we may walk around the school a little bit. Hopefully they are working to impress you and doing a fantastic job. If not, use one of the motivators.
Transition back to the classroom. This can be tricky without outlining the expectations first. Stop them before they come in the classroom. Get their attention and tell them we are coming back in and quietly going to the carpet or their seats. We are going to tip toe and see how quietly we can get to our spots.
If they do not do it quietly, practice again. Keep practicing until they come in quietly and respectfully. Use the motivators to help you. Turn off the lights to help them to remember to be quiet. If it is only a few have them practice by themselves. Sometimes having an audience motivates those few children.
Try this trick “Don’t wake the ______” Choose a stuffed animal and play don’t wake the bear for example. The bear is sleeping and we don’t want to wake it up.
Our Listening Lesson focuses on Mr. Potato Head. We talk about all the different ways we listen with our whole body. I use my Mr. Potato Head lesson to talk about all the different ways our body can listen.
The visual reminders throughout the day help the students to listen with their whole body!
We sit at tables in Kindergarten. For the first day I have no distractions on the table. Eventually I will add their pencil cups, baskets and books. We have to learn procedures at our tables first. We model how to sit in our seats with four legs of the chair on the floor and how this is a safe way to sit. I say “4 on the floor” and the students say “Ask no more.” I also do a “Seat Check” and I inspect everyone sitting and give a reward or praise to those doing a great job. I just say “Seat Check” and they say “Seat Check” back while they straighten up. We practice this many times until they have it.
Stand Up, Sit Down
When I want my students to stand they stand behind their chairs with their chairs pushed in. I say “Stand Up” and they say “Up, Up, Up.” We practice this several times and I praise those students who are doing a great job.
I have each student write their name and draw a picture the first day of school. Find my First Day Freebie here.
I show them their pencil and tell them it is a tool for working. They all have a job at school and that job is to learn and their pencil is their tool.
They each get their pencil. I have them put their pencil in the air to show me they are ready.
I sing this song to “If you’re happy and you know it”
Put your pencil in the air, in the air
Put your pencil in the air, in the air
Put your pencil in the air, draw a circle right there.
Put your pencil in the air, in the air
Change “circle” to anything you may be working on.
When the class is ready I call their attention with a rehearsed attention grabber and show them what to do with their papers. In my class we our work in our mailbox. So I show them how to correctly put their work in their mailbox, quietly and quickly.
Another song for this procedure sung to “Farmer and the
Put your work away
Put your work away
Heigh-ho the derry-o
Put your work away
If it takes longer you can add a second verse “Quickly right away.”
A big challenge in Kindergarten at first is the transition to following a schedule and not getting to do things when you want to do them. You have to wait! I love reading the book Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems. Students must learn to wait to go to the bathroom or use a tissue or play outside. It can be hard, but they must learn your procedures. When I am teaching I make them wait to use the bathroom. We have a bathroom in the classroom and I have specific times when it is okay to go without asking. Otherwise the bathroom is closed and the students must wait. I also schedule multiple bathroom breaks the first week. You don’t want any accidents!
We prepare ourselves in our classroom before we go to the cafeteria. Our first rule is to raise your hand if you need help. We do not get out of our seat in the cafeteria. We sit with our knees and feet under our table, facing our friends. I like to say “Park your car” which means put your feet under the table. Our job is to eat in the cafeteria, quickly and neatly. We talk about showing proper manners at the table and how to eat neatly. At our school we play music and when the music is on we are quiet. If you don’t have music I suggest using a red and yellow cup to indicate no talking (red) and quiet talking (yellow).
Now in the past I have lined up my students in order of their lunch choices to make the line go faster in the cafeteria. I didn’t do this last year and it worked out okay, but you may want to change your line up for lunch. You can use pictures to help you. Look here for some lunch choices photos:.
I have assigned seats at lunch, which helps monitor behavior as well. We clear our trays and I show them how to walk to the trashcan and gently put the tray in. I have been splashed with everything from applesauce to gravy. Then we get in our assigned line up. I promise they will start figuring the line up on their own.
Since this was our first day, I did not expect the students to follow my morning procedure, but I do go over it before the next day. I have a folder for each student. The student is expected to take out their folder and put it in their mailbox. They need to get their snack out. I arrange their snack by tables in a bucket. When it is snack time, I give each table their bucket. I show students how to hang their book bag up and then they sit down at their table to begin the school day. Whatever your morning routine is, practice and model it with your students. You will have to remind some of them several times what to do each day.
Pack Up Procedures
To pack up I have students get their folder and I have them color in their behavior chart. This correlates to the color their clip is on. The first few days I have all the blues color in at one time, then the greens, etc.. so I can check it is done correctly. Students then go get their bookbag and return to their seat. Notice they only have their folder first. This is so I check everyone’s folder off first before they pack up. They get their folder and color in and wait for me to check it, then they get their bookbag and pack up. I like bookbags on the floor or the backs of the chairs. I say “Clear the decks” and they say “Aye, Aye, Captain.”
Hopefully this will help you have some procedures in place for the first day and give you a great start to your year!