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My Full-Day Kindergarten Schedule... And How I Fit It ALL In!

So, you’ve been hired to teach full-day kindergarten and don’t know where to start?
This was me 8 years ago, so I thought I would break down what our day looked like, as it was, last school year.
This year, I will only change a few things, as I typically do when the district makes changes/additions,
as well as to meet the needs of my current students.

8:05-8:25 Morning Warm Up/Morning Message

This is a time I take to build routine into our school day immediately. Typically, my students check
in using their lunch cards under a picture in a pocket chart. Our district provides a “hot” or “cold”
option for students to choose from, and the pictures of each meal really help to make the
decision-making run smoothly. After choices have been made and backpacks are in cubbies,
we do our Morning Message, which helps us practice many skills.
(More on the Morning Message coming in next post!) I also quickly run through routines of our
morning workstations during this time and take attendance. 

8:30-9:20 Workstations

Workstations (centers) look different all year long as our class grows and changes.
Typically, we do four centers a day, rotating every 12-15 minutes or so. I have a teacher
iPad that I set timers on, which helps us run on schedule, and keeps me and my para (aide)
on schedule as well. I also use a doorbell for them to freeze with for each step.
(1st bell - listen for instructions, 2nd bell-clean up and stand behind chair, 3rd bell-
move to next station). After routines and procedures have been taught, I usually have
the same 4 types of centers:
*Word work (working on sight word(s) of the week)
*Letter sound practice (focus skill of the week)
*Writing (journals are free choice, or I provide a scaffolded sentence stem to help with ideas)
*iPad station (our ELA curriculum is connected to Clever, so I typically assign activities
related to the current or past units)
All of these workstations have the materials ready at a specific table, and each group rotates
one table clockwise at each rotation switch.

If they do not finish, I am not stressed, because my main goal is for them to be practicing skills.
If it is an activity I am going to collect, they put it in their group box, which rotates with each group. 
I will also explain the organization of the centers in a future post.

**It is also during this time that I am pulling students for Guided Reading groups.
They are coming out of different table groups, which is why I don’t give them “projects”
during this time,as they might miss this.**

We then go to recess for 18 minutes on the kindergarten playground. Our paraprofessionals/aides
supervise during this time, while teachers have a break/time to set up the next activity. 

9:40-10:30 ELA/Phonics Instruction

We then come in and go straight into ELA/Phonics instruction. One of the ways my team and I
have made our ELA/Phonics lessons more powerful over the years is by creating Google Slides
to go along with each lesson in our curriculum. It sure beats trying to pull out each picture card,
letter flashcards, etc. every day! All we have to do is load it on our screens, and teach from there! 

10:30-11:25 Math Instruction/Activities

The longer I teach kindergarten, the more I see the need for students to have math manipulatives
in their hands! Typically, before I use a specific tool for our math lessons, I will have a time of
exploration with the tool/manipulative with my class. This allows them time to understand the purpose
of the tool, but also provides them with more focused use of the manipulative when used for a
specific activity. We also do fluency activities, and a few math videos to practice counting and
other Core Standards math skills. We especially love Jack Hartmann and HeidiSongs. 

11:30-12:08 Lunch 

At our school, lunch is supervised by our paraprofessionals, and by yard duties,
making teacher lunches duty-free. 

12:10-1:00 Free Choice Play/ELD Groups

I am fortunate enough to work for a district that values the power of “play”
in our kindergarten classrooms. So, every day, we provide almost an hour of structured
play to our students, while also providing our ELD students with intentional ELD support
provided through our ELA curriculum.

What do I mean by “structured play?” I just mean that I pull out a few activities for
students to choose from and set group limits, so groups don’t get too big. A typical Free Choice
time includes:
*STEM bins
*Paint/art/coloring←-- one of our most popular, year after year
*Car rug/cars
*Wooden trains and tracks
*Lego Table

It is during this time that students really work on social skills, independence, problem solving,
and so much more. 

1:00-1:20 Recess
(Paraprofessionals are on duty, teachers can prep and/or take a quick break)

1:20-1:50 Social Skills, Social Studies, Art, Yoga, P.E., Science, or Writing

This is the one that rotates on a daily basis.

Social Skills: Our district uses Second Step for our Social Skills curriculum. I will also tend
to supplement using books that are relevant to the topics we are discussing and learning about
during this time. We do a lot of problem solving activities for this, which pays off during
Structured Play time!

Social Studies:  Our district uses Studies Weekly for Social Studies, which we try to align to our
ELA curriculum.

Art: This is either a thematic or phonics-based activity that we didn’t have time for in the
morning (sometimes you CAN’T fit it in, and that’s ok!!).

Yoga: There are SO many benefits to doing yoga, and not just for adults! I have a few
“Yoga for kids” activities on DVD, but we really like Cosmic Kids Yoga on Youtube. We also
get to count this as P.E. time!

P.E.: I teach my students simple tasks, such as passing a ball, hopscotch, jump rope, and more. 

Science: Currently, we do a lot of our Science in a whole group setting, but this year, we will be
looking at different options for Science curriculum, so I’ll report back when the year is over.

Writing: Although we do Morning Message and journals in the morning, sometimes we work
on more advanced and rigorous writing skills in the afternoon. 

1:50-2:10 Wrap Up/Music/Story

We have a few bus riders and after school program participants in our class each year,
so I try to not do too many activities during the time they are not in our class. When they have left
our class, we typically will review what we have learned, read a short story, or sing songs and dance.
This is an easy way to review standards taught, but not exclude those who are missing from
any new learning. 

Here is a graphic for you to save if you want the bare-bones schedule without the gory details of what
our day looks like.
Just right-click and save!

Are you feeling less stressed? I hope I’ve helped you better understand what a full day
in kindergarten looks like in my classroom. As always, please feel free to email me if you have
any questions! Happy planning!

Top 10 MUST-HAVE items in your teacher desk or cabinet

Hey, friends! I am getting ready to go back to school, and am moving into a new classroom. As I am unpacking my teacher desk, I am finding my essential items that have carried me through my years of teaching. These are things you can find in my teacher desk, or in one of my "teacher" cabinets. Ready?
You never know when you'll need to fix something, put something together, or just need a darn level for that bulletin board you are hanging. I have found three tools to be the most useful: a screw driver (gotta change the batteries on my LeapFrog pens somehow!), a level, and a flashlight. (Is that a tool? I digress...)
This is one that has saved me on nights where I needed to stay for a meeting (I live 30 minutes from my school), on days I forget to put on makeup (it happens!), or on days when I felt I wanted to "touch up." I only have a "spare" eyeliner, lip gloss, and face powder, but it has definitely come in handy over the years.
You know those days where you enjoyed the HECK out of a burger that had an onion and garlic mayo on it? (Can I get a "what! what!" for "Fat Fridays?") No worries, if you have your dental care. :) Also good for after your second (or, cough, third) cup of coffee. I usually get a sweet bag from my dentist at my visit and store it in my desk. 
I have a bottle of body spray I bought during Bath & Body Works' Semi-Annual Sale, and it has come through in a pinch over the years. 
I use hand lotion like it's going out of style. During the winter, my eczema gets bad... AND using hand sanitizer dries my hands out. So hand lotion is a MUST. 
Anyone else have the world's WORST phone battery? When I drive home from work, I like to drive with a full battery, so I store a cheap phone charger (thanks, Amazon) in the cabinet. Once my kiddos have left, I charge while I am prepping my class for the next day, and I am ready to roll. 

I have fine hair that after a long day will make me look like a #hotmess teacher. I also have a brush on hand for the moments where I need to go somewhere right after school and don't have time to run home and refresh.

Ok, so obviously every school has a different policy on this. Make friends with your school nurse and see if you can store in her office if you need to. PLEASE check with your school's policy before storing any medication in your classroom.

I actually keep an alcohol-based hairspray in my desk for the days where I get ink stains on my clothes and for art projects. But you could also use it for your hair. :)

Ok, this is number one for a reason. I am a SNACKER. There are days where our lunch doesn't have enough. We get hungry. We didn't eat breakfast. We stayed late in our classroom. The reasons are endless. Some of my favorite "desk snacks?" Nuts, popcorn, powdered drink mix to add to water bottles, and, of course, CHOCOLATE. 

There are my TOP 10 "must-haves" for my teacher desk.... I bought most of these things from the dollar store, the travel section at Target, or on Amazon. You don't need to break the bank to stay prepared. What do you keep on hand in your desk or cabinet? Share below!

Five for Friday, AKA I'm baaaaack!

Can you believe it? I'm finally back. Soon, I will be posting about just WHAT has kept me so busy these past several few months, but today is all about THIS WEEK!

I'm excited to be back in the game with one of my favorite linky parties! Let's jump in, shall we?

With the new year, and the thought of being Maid of Honor in my sister's wedding in June, I was ready to shed some of the stress weight I put on this school year. One of the best things I did so far was join Round One of the TPT Weight Loss Challenge. This week began Round Two, and though I haven't lost weight this week, the amount of exercise I've done has made me proud. I am honored to be a part of such an amazing group of motivating educators looking toward a healthy future. 

Not just this week, but recently, we have found Cosmic Kids Yoga and really gotten into our P.E. groove. My VERY active kiddos are enjoying the ways they can channel their energy into positivity. And I love how much my students enjoy it. 

Obviously, you've all heard of Lula Roe by now. I have to say that when we have such finicky weather, it has been a lifesaver to wear soft leggings and tunics and still look cute! The added bonus is possibly getting to match your favorite travel mug. ;)

Ever since I attended Get Your Teach On in Nashville last month, my students have been OB-SESSED with Margie Palatini books. (Thanks, Deanna Jump!) I happened to find this one in my library, and ordered Broom Mates from Amazon. Needless to say, my students were happy campers this week. 

Can we just say "T.G.I.F.!!!!" together? Sometimes, the shorter weeks seem longer than the regular ones! :) Here is a picture from today's College Appreciation Day (I borrowed the sweatshirt from a friend at work). 

I also had to stop yesterday and appreciate the weather. We prayed for rain, and we sure got it. One of my favorite things about this type of weather is the opportunity for rainbows and puffy "Toy Story Clouds!" I just love this kind of weather as a reminder that we often get what we ask for and then some! 

Well, there it is, friends! 
I hope you have a wonderful weekend and week, and I will catch up with you again soon! 

Thoughts on Thursday: January Edition

Hello, friends, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Today, I am linking up with my friends Kristi, from Pelicans and Pipsqueaks, and Jessica, from Tech and Teachability, to talk about Resolutions....
As you may have noticed, this little old blog has been mighty quiet for the past few months. There are reasons (cough, excuses, cough) for that, but the MAIN reason is that I moved homes (across town) and am now moving back to kindergarten from first grade following our Winter Break (we go back on the 9th). 
I don't know about you, but 2017 has been a motivational year already by way of resolutions. For one thing, I really put on a lot of stress weight in this school year alone. I'm not talking about 3-5 pounds of fluctuation weight. I'm talking about almost 20 pounds on my 5'4" frame since AUGUST. It's been a school year of change on campus AND at home, and, to be honest, I went home and "ate my feelings" a lot more than I exercised. SO, I have resolved to eat healthier and more CONSCIOUSLY. I'm not so much focused on counting calories and following a strict "plan" as much as I am trying to be more mindful of the WHAT and WHY I am eating. 

I have the advantage of starting 2017 at school with a clean slate. Without boring you with the details, our kindergarten classes were WAY too full, and our first grade classes weren't, so I am moving back down to kindergarten. My main resolution this year is to teach my new students that school can be fun, and that change can be good. It sounds simple, but how I handle change will directly affect how my students handle change. I am making it my resolution at school to show students that change can be good. I am also making it my goal to build a strong community in my classroom. One thing I prided myself on with my former students (some of whom I've had for 1.5 school years) is that they were a true community who knew how to work well together. I am going to work to really build that with my new students, and, hopefully, it will be an engaging and safe environment for all learners. 

Ok, so now I am curious. What will your resolutions be? Have you made any resolutions? Click through the linky below to participate! 
HAPPY 2017!

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