Finding and managing appropriate “morning work” in Kindergarten is often a somewhat tricky classroom management problem to solve. Since children at this age typically can not yet read independently, a Kindergarten and first grade teacher’s choices to keep children busy first thing in the morning are really quite limited! Yet there is no denying that teachers really DO need a few minutes to do things such as take attendance, collect notes, talk to parents at the door, answer the phone, or even check a quick email! So what is a busy teacher to do? Here are a few suggestions for morning work (and routines for using them) that definitely work in both Kindergarten and first grade classrooms.
By the way, don’t forget to check out the HUGE giveaway that we are doing with my buddies at ESGI! The information is at the end of the post!
This topic happened to come up one day on my HeidiSongs Facebook Page, when I posted a video of my first grade students practicing their spelling words by writing the words along with one of my Sing and Spell the Sight Words videos. One of my friends and fans, Krista Sanders, mentioned that she does the very same thing in her first grade class first thing in the morning! I thought that was really a GENIUS idea, since my students have always LOVED this activity in both Kindergarten and first grade.
This is what Krista says about her morning routine:
“Once the children come inside, they have a couple of jobs to do. First, put their backpacks and coats away, and place their plastic book bags and supply box at the top of their table.
Next, they are supposed to show me that they are in class by putting either a blue or a red card in front of their number in the pocket chart on the wall. Each child is assigned a number (ABC order by last name). The blue card indicates that they are here but brought their own lunch. The red card shows me that they are present but eating hot lunch. If there is no card-they are absent. This is a quick way to take attendance in the morning. If there is a white card, it represents a child who has moved away. I do not change numbers after they have been assigned once.”
Krista says that after doing those jobs, the kids have a choice of activities. They can:
1. Do their entry task on their table. (More on that below.)
2. Read and/or take an AR test.
3. Write words on their KleenSlate paddles (dry erase boards) to Heidisongs that is playing in the background (we use either a CD or a DVD, depending on the day). She has the children write the word twice, and then stand up and sing and dance the rest of the song with the DVD! (The “Go Song” below is from Sing and Spell the Sight Words, Volume One.)
Krista keeps the dry erase paddles on the children’s desks, so that they are always within easy reach.
Krista’s school is a Spanish/English dual immersion class, so her “entry tasks” are in Spanish. However, I know LOADS of teachers that SWEAR by using our Hidden Worksheets as morning work! We have Hidden Alphabet, Hidden Numbers, Hidden CVC Words, Hidden Sight Words, and we are now even almost done with a new set- Hidden Parts of Speech! The great thing about using this type of worksheet is that the instructions are ALWAYS the same, and they are self checking. If the child finds all of the words correctly and colors them correctly, then the word itself will appear! It’s the same for the numbers and letters, etc.
The other good thing about them is that you can make it a rule that the children start by finding and coloring the target word or letter in the middle of the worksheet, such as the letter D below. They would have to do that first. Then AFTER that, they may color the rest of the items any color that they like. BUT… they do not have to finish coloring the outside of it! Only the target word, letter, or number has to be colored. That allows the teacher some flexibility to “call it done” when one child has done just a little bit and another child really went to town and colored the whole thing.
Krista also says:
“I use the Heidisongs Sounds Fun vowel patterns daily in class. They (Sounds Fun Flashcards!) are posted on the wall with the picture side showing. When I am teaching math or social studies, the students will have a minute to look through the page we are working on and look for any patterns. I then draw number sticks and they get to tell me the pattern and word they found. If it is a sight word, then we sing the sight word song, with me and my lovely voice. (ha!) and sing the Sounds Fun Phonics song to the pattern found. They will highlight the word with yellow or circle the vowel pattern with their red pen included in their supply box.
If they see a sight word, I will have them show me, but then also show me where the sight word is on the word wall. I have all of the Heidisongs copied on blue paper under each letter.
If it is testing time or if I need a minute to conference with a parent or student, I can put Heidisongs in the DVD player. Each child has their Kleenslate Paddle at their table and they will write the words twice and then stand up and dance the rest of the song. Not only do the Heidisongs DVDs keep them entertained, but they also teach letter name fluency, correct spelling of the word, cross body movement and they are engaging! The kids love to sing and dance. If I get a child who chooses not to dance, I may reward another child standing next to them with class dojos and amazingly I get 100% participation! ;)”
I hope that you enjoyed these ideas from me and my friend, Krista Sanders! Enjoy your winter! We are sure having a WET one here in California! YIKES!
PS. My friends on ESGI are doing a MEGA giveaway!!
HeidiSongs and some other GREAT early childhood education bloggers are giving away prizes!! Each day you could win a FREE YEAR of ESGI and $50 worth of products from the blogger of the day! Then one lucky teacher will receive the MEGA prize which is 1 iPad Kiosk from Aridan Books + 4 iPads + 4 chairs + 1 license of ESGI! How awesome is that?? Click here for more details, a list of all the bloggers, and how to enter!!