The beginning of kindergarten is such a fun time. Ok, honestly, if I wrote this post at the end of May when our school year was just ending and my sweet kinders were 100% independent, that first sentence might have come out differently because while it is a fun time, it is also a challenging time. The beginning of kindergarten presents you with a new group of very young learners who may or may not have ever come to school. They are excited and worried and overly enthusiastic or shy and not quite sure how things run in our classrooms. But in all of that, we get a brand new group of sweet children who we get to pour into for an entire year. We get a new group of students who are going to make friends, learn how to read and problem solve, and forever leave an imprint on our hearts. While they come in not knowing our routines or what we expect, we get the great joy of teaching them, helping them, and bringing them from point A to point Z.
So…. how do we do that?
We offer them centers that they can complete independently starting on day 1. In doing this, we fill our students with an assurance that “they’ve got this” and we fill them with confidence and pride.
In my classroom, guided reading and guided math are cherished times in my classroom. It is the time that I get to meet with my students in small groups and provide the small group instruction that they need. Therefore, I try to get them independent as soon as possible. I do this with centers that they can easily and successfully manage on their own!
Let me show you some examples.
One of my first centers that I let my students explore is sorting animals to where they live. In many of these activities I make sure that I have a “control of error.” That basically means that it is hard for the students to be wrong. For this I make sure I include animals/figures that most of my students are familiar with.
They really enjoy this!
Another easy center is matching letters.
This is an easy and fun way to introduce center work and letter manipultives! (It also is a quick way for you to assess correspondence skills.)
If students already know their beginning sounds and letters, you can have them match animals to their correct beginning sound.
Another fun beginning sound (FSF – first sound fluency) center (that also works on fine motor skills) is having students clip the picture that has the same beginning sound!
(I pair it with a book so that if they finish early, they can look at the book with a buddy!)
Letter puzzles are also a tried and true favorite center.
The next picture was taken from the first day of school last year. My students are matching letter cards to letter manipulatives. Look at the teamwork, concentration, and thought that is going into this center!
As I think through what is going to be on my shelves the first few weeks of schools, these are the activities that I know have worked in the past and never let me down.
It’s these activities that set the stage for all that is to come. However, what about those sweet children who come to us reading already? For those children, I have centers made and ready for them. (I don’t want kids going home saying that they are “bored.”) Therefore, I prep these fun CVC word centers for those readers.
I use Cobbleworks‘ short vowel pockets, and let my readers sort CVC words into the pockets they belong in. I include my Ostheimer animals at this center to reinforce vowel sounds (and to add an element of fun).
I absolutely LOVE these pockets and so do my students! They love buttoning and unbuttoning them (while working on their fine motor skills) …
…and then inserting the cards into their correct pockets.
Finally, another fun center that works on both beginning sounds and handwriting is another “clip a sound.” My students love this and it really helps their handwriting skills! Simply show students how to clip the picture that has the same beginning sound and then write the letter on their dry erase board! (I got these at the Dollar Spot years ago!)
If you are interested in any of these centers they can be found in two of my back to school packs. I’ve left the links below for you to check out!
(these are the pictures with the white background)
(letter puzzles, letter matching, pink CVC cards, etc.)
I hope that you are enjoying your last few days of summer! I go back for teacher inservice in a few short days! What about you??