The switch from half day to full day Kindergarten can be quite intimidating for a teacher! If you are getting ready to move to full day Kindergarten, you might want to attend the I Teach K conference this summer in Las Vegas. There are always TONS of ideas to be had there! I know that when we went full day, my principal was willing to send me for more training to help me through the transition. I started presenting at the I Teach K! Conference in 2007, and have presented there many times since. I always enjoy both attending and presenting! And despite the fact that I have taught Kindergarten for almost twenty years, I always learn something new and exciting there.
My advice for anyone new to full day K is to plan for more activities that you think you will need or have time for. Get them all ready, and put your supplies in a place where you can get them easily during the day. Then try to plan your day by rotating through active, then passive, then active lessons as much as you can. Remember, just because your students will be there all day, their attention spans are still the same, and they will certainly not be able to just sit and listen the whole time. Typically, we would do a lesson, then sing some active songs, then do something with manipulatives (like patterning, counting, etc.), then read a book or do another lesson, then stand up and sing another active song, etc. Recess was in there, too, of course! If you have an aide, you should also be able to rotate through a variety of activities as well.
I ALWAYS have some active songs ready to sing. There is lots of music with movement available on my website, but if you don’t care for mine, I would recommend that you find some that you do like and plan on using it to help your kids get through a long day without having to sit all day long. For me, music is a part of nearly every lesson. And in the afternoons, I put out lots of creative art supplies and let them just create for a while! Those children that are not interested in doing more creative artwork can play while the others are creating.
The wonderful thing about full day K is that there is plenty of time to allow them to do things like this! If your school will allow you to let the children have a rest time, then definitely take advantage of that during the first few months of school for sure. My students really benefited from a chance to just rest with some soft music or books on tape playing. I remember that on one day, eight out of twenty kids fell asleep! I let the children that didn’t want to sleep read books or draw on clipboards with paper and crayons. Of course, let them know that they were not allowed to get up and do other things during this time.
I also used to plan our playtime for right after their rest time, just in case someone wanted to keep sleeping. That way, the child wouldn’t miss his or her instructional time. Later in the year, we just lay down on the carpet with our journals and write or draw. The children that are ready to write can write about anything that they want, and the others can just draw pictures and copy words from the wall. The students loved the restfulness of this time, and really enjoyed sharing their journal entries with me during their playtime.
—- Added on May 24, 2014
I know that the demands of of the Common Core have changed things since I first wrote this post. But I hope that you will be able to still find some relaxation in a longer day, and will be allowed to let your students play and rest a little! As I always said to anyone that asked, “I don’t know if the kids need it, but I sure do!”
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