As exciting as it is to welcome brand new kindergartners to school, it can also be a bit overwhelming! There are so many important things to teach these young children that it can be hard to even know where to start! If you’re feeling a little bit stuck as you try to plan the first five days of school, you’re in luck! I’m sharing several tried-and-true tips for the first week of kindergarten, plus some helpful resources to give you a starting point in your planning!
Tips for the First Week of Kindergarten
1. Set Realistic Expectations
The most important thing to remember going into the first week of kindergarten is to keep things simple and manageable. Set two or three goals for each day of things that must be accomplished, then anything else is a bonus! By setting realistic expectations, you and your students are less likely to become flustered, stressed, or overwhelmed.
2. Use Open-Ended Morning Work
Between parents with questions, messages from the office, and students with big feelings, arrival time during the first week of school can take longer than usual. It’s helpful to have something open-ended for students to work on quietly at their desks as they arrive. Activities like pattern blocks, snap cubes and building bricks are great options! Try to avoid coloring pages during this time; kindergartners often finish coloring quickly and will start looking for something else to occupy their time.
3. Practice Routines
The first week of school is an important time to practice routines and procedures. Taking the time to help students practice classroom routines the correct way will save so much time in the long run! Some procedures, such as practicing hand washing, will also help you keep your classroom healthy. Since the first weeks of school are so important, it’s difficult when students begin sharing germs right off the bat and have to take sick days.
4. Take Every Student’s Picture
On the first or second day of school, try to take an individual picture of each student. These pictures can then be used for labels all around the classroom! They come in handy as students are still learning to read their names and the names of their classmates. Photo labels are also helpful for support staff and volunteers who help in the classroom. Check out this post if you’d like to see how I create student photo labels.
5. Do a “Time Capsule” Project
The first week of school is a great time to do a project that students can look back on at the end of the school year. For example, you could have students write their names and draw a self-portrait, then tuck the papers away until the end of the school year. Then, on the last week of school, students will complete the same task. Since kindergartners learn and grow so much during the school year, this is a fun project to add to the first and last weeks of school.
6. Read, Read, Read!
As kindergarten teachers, we know how important it is to read aloud to our students. Reading is especially helpful during the first week of school since it’s common to have odd pockets of time with a new schedule. Read-aloud time is also a perfect opportunity to practice carpet time procedures! Some of my favorite books for the first week of school are:
- Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
- On the First Day of Kindergarten
- The Pigeon Has to Go to School
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
- How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?
- The Kissing Hand
7. Practice Using School Supplies
Many of your students will be setting foot in a classroom for the very first time. Some students start kindergarten having never really used a writing utensil before. It’s important to take time to help students learn how to use their school supplies safely and effectively. (Just don’t try to have students use scissors on the first day of school!)
Crafts are a fun way to help students practice using school supplies. As an added bonus, you can use crafts that go along with your read-aloud books, like this coconut tree name craft.
If you’d like to read more about this topic, I have written a blog post about teaching students how to use school supplies. It’s full of tips that you can use to help students become more comfortable with using pencils, crayons, markers, glue, and scissors.
8. Start Using the Take-Home Folder
Start using take-home folders right away, so that families get in the habit of checking them each night and returning them the next day. Try to fit in at least one thing that students can take home each day. It can be something as simple as a coloring page. The goal is to build that habit! Check out this post about take-home folders to see why I use them daily, and how I avoid sending home empty folders on a “light news day.”
By the time your students have reached the end of the first week of school, they will likely be exhausted! Try to keep morale up by celebrating the fact that the students finished their first week! I have created these fun certificates to send home with students after the first week of school.
First Week of Kindergarten Lesson Plans and Resources
The first week of school can feel daunting since there is so much for students to learn before you’re ready to dive into the regular curriculum. I have created a set of resources that will help take the stress out of planning the first five days of the school year. It contains a variety of activities and resources that will help you start the year in a fun and productive way! If you’d like to take a closer look at everything included in this resource, you can find it in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Save These Ideas for the First Week of Kindergarten
I hope these tips and ideas will help your first week of kindergarten run more smoothly. If you’d like to refer to this post later, be sure to add this pin to your favorite classroom board on Pinterest.