While there are teachers out there who can thrive without a whole lot of additional organization, half day kindergarten teachers would have a more difficult time. In fact, I would say that organization is essential for survival in the half day kindergarten setting. If you find yourself overwhelmed at the thought of juggling two different groups of young children every day, you’re in the right place! I’m going to share five of my favorite organization tips for half day kindergarten!
Is Half Day Kindergarten Still an Option?
Before we get started with the tips, I wanted to address the elephant in the room: Is half-day kindergarten still a thing?
The short answer is: Yes, half-day kindergarten still exists!
From what I have seen, the majority of elementary schools around the country have switched to full-day kindergarten programs. However, there are still plenty of school districts that opt for a half-day program.
There are many benefits to having young kindergarten students attend school for half of the school day (that’s a topic for another post). However, one challenge with half-day kindergarten is keeping everything organized!
Organization Tips for Half Day Kindergarten
During my time as a half-day kindergarten teacher, I learned many tricks for keeping myself organized as I worked with 40 students each day. Some of these things were shared with me by veteran teachers while others were learned through trial and error. I wanted to pass along these tips to you in case you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the idea of organizing your classroom for two groups of kindergarteners.
1. Assign a Color to Each Class
If you only use one tip from this post, choose this one!
The most important tip for staying organized in half day kindergarten is to assign one color to your AM class and a different color to your PM class. Choose common colors that you can typically find when multiple colors are offered in a product. (Yellow and blue were always my go-to colors!)
Try to use colors that contrast with each other. You want to be able to identify your class colors at a glance! Avoid using shades of the same color, like light blue for one class and dark blue for another. It will get confusing for both you and your students!
My last tip for choosing class colors is to select your “deal breaker” items first. These will be the folders, bins, or labels that MUST come in the correct color because it would be difficult to find a workaround. Once you choose from the available colors, you can then find the rest of your items in the same color.
2. Color Code EVERYTHING
Once you’ve decided on the color you’d like to use for each class, it’s time to color code EVERYTHING! Here are the things that are most important to color code for each half-day kindergarten class.
- Writing journals
- Take-home folders
- Tool Kits (pencil boxes)
- Math notebooks
- Cubby labels
- Name tags
- Coat hook labels
- Birthday charts
- Classroom helpers
- Sticker charts and token boards
- Pocket charts
- Turn-in baskets
- Daily worksheets
- Small group folders and totes
If you can’t find a particular folder or bin in the color you need, or if it’s an item that only comes in a particular color (like workbooks), you can improvise! For example, you could add colored labels or tape to the binding of workbooks to quickly identify whether they belong to AM or PM students. I also used to print covers for writing journals on colored paper, then glue them to the front of the notebooks.
3. Decide When to Share and When to Double Up
There will be times when you can use the same supplies for morning and afternoon classes, but there are other times when it makes more sense to double up. Turn-in baskets are the perfect example! While some half-day teachers like to have just one turn-in basket and then pull out the morning papers before the afternoon class, I prefer to have a turn-in basket in each color!
This takes one task off my list of things to switch out between classes. The papers can just stay in the colored bin until I’m ready to look at them.
No matter what you decide to share between your classes, be sure to have a consistent reset system in place. This way you can easily and consistently have things ready to go for each class.
4. Save Space with Stacking
Doubling up on everything might seem like a storage challenge, but I’ve found that it really doesn’t have to be! For example, you can stack turn-in baskets so that the bin for the current class is on top. When that class is over simply switch the bin to the bottom, papers and all, to prepare for the next class. The bins and papers for both classes will take up the same amount of space as one turn-in basket, but the papers will stay sorted by class!
5. Color Code by Table
This tip can be used in any kindergarten classroom, but it is especially helpful when two students share the same desk space. In a half day kindergarten classroom, time is excetionally hard to come by. So anyway to save time is helpful. Color-coding table materials makes it easier to pass out materials quickly.
Each student has their own tool kit (in their class color) with pencils, crayons, and glue sticks. But for supplies like scissors, math manipulatives, and markers, I assigned each table group a color. Each table had its own supplies in its assigned color. These supplies were stored on a shelf where students could grab the correct basket when needed throughout the day. This saved us lots of time by eliminating fighting over who got what supply and searching the room for the materials they needed.
More Organization Tips for Half Day Kindergarten
If you would prefer to see some of these tips in action, you’re in luck! I have recorded a video where I share my tried-and-true favorites for organizing a half day kindergarten classroom.
Save These Half Day Kindergarten Organization Tips
I hope these tips come in handy as you make plans for your own half day kindergarten program! If you would like to quickly find these tips later, be sure to add this pin to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest!