What I Do: First Day & Week of FDK

I've had lots of requests over the summer to share what I do for the first day and week of Kindergarten.  I'm always a little hesitant to do these kinds of posts.  Each school, team and community as well as the kids are so different.  And although this will be my fifth year teaching FDK, I am no means an expert.  I make mistakes, and I am tweaking and trying new things every year in hopes of making my program more meaningful and effective for the students I teach.

But I do understand how anxiety reducing it is, especially for new teachers to see exactly what another teacher who has taught the grade before does/has done.  So I have decided to share, but as you read this, please keep in mind that this is just one way of many many ways you could structure and run your first day and week.  

ONE MORE NOTE: I know there is some controversy over saying "my ECE".  I am going to use it in the same context as when I use "my principal" or "my SERT".  I know I do not own my ECE as some people feel that the wording implies and treat my ECE partner as an equal and a valued member of our classroom community.  But for clarity's sake (as "my teaching partner" can also mean a team member, EA etc.) I am going to use the wording "my ECE" in this post.


>> Arrival/Entry: 25 min. <<

Even if you don't have duty first thing in the morning, you'll probably want to be outside at duty time to meet and greet your new students and parents for at least the first day if not the first week of school.  Show them where they can put their backpacks as they enter the Kindergarten pen.  When the bell rings, show students how to line up with their backpacks and follow you into the classroom.  As you come into the classroom for the first time, introduce the entry routines.  Have students hang their coats and backpacks on their hooks, take their outdoor shoes off and put their indoor shoes on.  Some of our parents send extra clothes on the first day so we help the kids take them out and put them in their bins.  As students are done their entry routines they pick a learning centre to explore.

Here is a view from my teacher table before we went out to greet the kids on the first day of school.

>> Learning Centres #1: 20 min. <<

Always start with simple and self-explanatory or open-ended centres on the first day! You and your ECE partner will most likely be busy helping students with entry routines and even possibly helping a few upset friends calm down.  Don't make it even more stressful by putting out centres where they are going to require instruction or help!

Some examples of things I put out during this learning centre block:

Lego Centre:

Play Dough Centre:

These alphabet play dough mats can be found in my TPT store here.

Writing Centre & Creation Station:

My linking chart can be found in my Step by Step: Kindergarten Writing Plans unit here.

Some other centres I open on the first day are: blocks/building, puzzles, whiteboards & dry erase markers, dramatic play (with minimal furniture and props), bookshelf, iPads and sandbox.

If you want to see more centre examples from Learning Centres #1 you can check out my Classroom Reveal post from 2016 here.

>> Carpet Time #1 - Procedures & Routines: 25 min. <<

At the end of centres I say "Hands on top, that means stop" and have the students stop and put their hands on their heads.  Then I say "When I say go, please put centres away and come to the carpet, go!" We then go around and show students where to put items away.

Once most students have made their way to the carpet, I sing this song to reinforce carpet rules:

Carpet Song
(to the tune of Frère Jacques)

Are you criss-cross?
Are you criss-cross?
Eyes on me.
Eyes on me.
Hands in your lap.
Hands in your lap.

Then I add:

I like the way that ________ is sitting,
________ is sitting, ________ is sitting.
I like the way that ________ is sitting,
Oh so very quietly!

(fill in names of students who are modeling great carpet behaviour in the blanks)

Then, I introduce myself and my ECE and welcome the students to our classroom.  I also hand out name tags (usually just their name printed on sticker paper) to help me and my ECE remember their names.  Then I tell them that we are going to practice a name song to learn each other's names and also learn a few important rules about the classroom.

We start with the "Name Song".  I usually start by singing my ECE's name and have her demonstrate the actions.  If I have a big class, I start with 5-10 kids and then tell the students we will do the rest throughout the day.

Then we go over the bathroom procedures.  We have a bathroom that doesn't lock so we talk about only 1 person in the bathroom at a time, and turn the stop/go sign to "stop" when you enter the bathroom and change it to "go" when you come out.

You can grab the stop/go templates for FREE here.

Then we start an "At Centres" anchor chart.  We put the title "At centres, super students..." and have students brainstorm what super students do during centre time.  Usually the SK's will already know some things super students do at centre time (e.g. try different centres, use materials gently, share items with others, put things away when you are done, work on something the whole time etc.) so ask them to share what they know and write them down.  Throughout the day after each centre block you can ask them if they have any other ideas to add until the anchor chart is full.

Now I know this sounds like a lot and if you can't fit it in I would do the "At Centres" anchor chart before the next centre block instead, because you do want to go over any snack procedures you want them to follow before snack!  

>> Snack: 15 min. <<

In our class, I pick a couple of students at a time to line up in a straight line and remind them to wash their hands in the sink and dry their hands on the towel.  Then we ask them to go and get their lunch bags and sit at a table.  I don't assign seats so they can sit wherever there is a chair at a table.  I remind them to eat their healthy choice first and remind them they can ask a SK friend for help if they are not sure which snack is healthy or they can raise their hand and I will come and help them as soon as I can.

I set a large timer for 10 minutes.  I love this timer because the kids can see the red part getting smaller as the time gets less and less.  If they are done snack and the timer hasn't gone yet they are asked to put their snacks away, make sure the spot they were sitting at is clean (I have 2 mini brooms and dust pans they can use to clean up their space if needed) and then pick a book from the bookshelf and read on the carpet until the timer goes.

When the timer goes I have students put their books and snacks away and come to the carpet.  

>> DPA: 10 min. <<

I introduce GoNoodle and I have a student who is sitting nicely come up and pick a song.  While that student is choosing a song, I remind all students to be looking at the screen and thinking of what song they might like to choose in case they are chosen next.  

We do 2-3 GoNoodle dances.  I review GoNoodle rules as needed after each song (stay in your space, hands to yourself etc).  My ECE usually supervises GoNoodle while I set up the next set of learning centres.

>> Carpet Time #2 : 20 min. <<

We get going on creating our co-created alphabet line from the first day!  This is what we did last year and what we are planning to do again this year.  

I start with talking about how we are missing some important things on the walls in our classroom.  What are some things we should put up on the walls that would help us with our learning at school?  I have the kids share what they think and we talk about the importance of an alphabet line and how it helps us with our learning (it helps us learn our letters/sounds, it helps us know the order of the letters etc.) Then I show them the plan I have in mind (the picture above).

Then I say "We need to brainstorm some things that start with each letter so we can take a picture for each letter with things/actions or people that start with that letter!" Then we start brainstorming for each letter.  First we add all of the students names under each corresponding letter. Then I have them tell me any item they want to see in our co-created alphabet line and what letter it begins with (if they can).

We continue this for a few more days until all of the letters have at least 3-4 things.

>> Learning Centres #2: 30 min. <<

We review our "At Centres" anchor chart quickly and students are invited to explore simple centres again.  We mix in literacy-based centres in the morning.  We circulate and talk to the students, help wanderers find centres and if I have time I pull kids and take head shots so that I have photos to use to make name cards for the word wall 

and to add to the cover of their writing portfolio's.

FREE name card templates can be downloaded here.

The templates for writing portfolio's can be found here.

>> Prep: 30 min <<

Last year I had a prep period every day at this time but if not I would continue centres until lunch.  Be sure to tidy up at least 5 minutes before lunch and review lunch time rules and routines (both for while they are eating and for playing outside)! 

>> Lunch & Lunch Recess: 60 min <<

Eat lunch! But also remember to do any important first day routines.  At my last school parents filled in dismissal forms after they dropped their child off and we had to pick them up from the division chair and go through them quickly to familiarize ourselves with dismissal permissions.  Touch base with your teammates if you have any too, they will remind you of any important first day procedures you may have forgotten!

>> Entry / Book Box / Carpet Time #3: 30 min. <<

As students come in, I remind them of entry routines and invite them to grab their book box.  This is a good way to see who can recognize their name.  Have them sit on the carpet and read/look at their books quietly until everyone is reading from their book box.  I keep this super short on the first day and have even done a story from Storylineonline.net instead (I highly recommend this site for indoor recesses too!) when we had staggered entry (the SK's came in the morning and JK's joined in the afternoon) so that the kids were engaged while we were helping the new friends that just joined.

You can grab my FREE editable book box labels here or by clicking on the image below:

>> Learning Centres: 75 min. <<

Especially if you have any new students joining in the afternoon, review the "At Centres" anchor chart.  Quickly introduce the afternoon centres.  I mix in numeracy based centres in the afternoon.  Then we choose a few friends at a time to pick a centre until everyone has picked somewhere to start. 

Here are some centres I put out in the afternoon on the first day:

A Number Provocation:

Number Locks:

Sorting & Shapes Sensory Bin:

Some other centres I put out/have open in the afternoon on the first day are: blocks/building, dramatic play, creation station, puzzles, iPads, snack, a simple shape provocation, a simple patterning provocation, bookshelf and sandbox. 

Once everyone has picked a space to start in and are playing at centres, I pull any kids that I didn't get a picture of in the morning and small groups to do their September writing piece.

You can download this first guided writing sheet by clicking on the link below (August/September to 2020 is included in the file.)

This will be going up on our writing wall as our first piece of writing and it helps me see who can write their name independently.  I make note on my clipboard who can recognize their name, who can copy their name, who can recognize letters in their name etc. so that I can make name bags for students who need more practice with their name.  These name bags will be our first guided literacy groups eventually.

You can grab name bag printables from my TPT store for FREE here.

We have a snack table in the afternoon so students are invited to eat at that table when they feel hungry.  For the first week or so I stop and ask students who have not yet eaten to go to the snack table about 15 minutes before centre time is over, to make sure that they eat what their parents sent with them and to remind the kids to eat.

>> Carpet Time #3: 30 min. <<

Have students practice clean-up routines and come to the carpet.  If you have time, have students share what their favourite thing from the day was.  Then talk about dismissal routines and outdoor play rules.  Make sure you are specific and clear about what is and isn't allowed so the students know the expectations before you get outside!

>> Outdoor Play & Dismissal: 30 min. <<

Get ready to pack up and go outside. I have a bin with their agendas/zippys so I pull them out one at a time and call the student to get ready.  Remind them to show their agenda/zippy to their parents when they get home and bring it back to school every day.  Be sure also to tell students where you want them to line up after they are ready too!

Once all students are ready, review the outdoor rules one last time.  Tell students where to put their backpacks when they get outside.  Also review what to do when the bell rings.  I have students put their backpack in a line by our gate and then come to their backpack and get back in line when the bell rings.  I remind students that it will take a little longer on the first day because I am still learning their parents and to wait until I call them to come to the front to be released.  Remind them that they must wait wait until you call them so that I know they have been picked up by a safe adult and how important that is.  I show them my dismissal clipboard and tell them I check each student off as they leave to make sure everyone left safely and if they leave out another gate without letting me or my ECE know I would think they are missing! The kids seem to get it when we tell them why we don't want them leaving through another gate, especially without telling us first, when you tell them why it's so important.

Also, make sure you check what the dismissal rules are at your school is as well.  Can you let them go 5 minutes early if the parents want to take them early? Some schools are very strict about not letting anyone out before the bell unless they are signed out at the office.  Check these things before the first day so you know what the rules are and can explain to parents that it is a school wide rule!

We have all walkers so we get out early and let the kids play.  As the parents arrive we make sure to go and greet them so that we can learn who the parents/pick-up people are for each child.  When the bell rings, students line up at their backpacks and I call one student at a time to meet their pick-up person.  Once everyone is picked up you can go back into the classroom!

Phew! That was a lot.  There is so much to remember to do on the first day.  People often said if the kids all come, have fun and leave safely at the end of the day it is a first day win and it is so true.  Don't stress too much about your centres or any guided work you wanted to do.  Always focus on the rules, routines and procedures and only get to the the guided work (like the September writing page I mentioned) if you have time!

The rest of the week is much of the same so I'm just going to post my week plans from last year, in case you want to take a look.  You can download it by clicking here or on the image below.  If I had previously written a blog post about an activity I have linked it in the PDF.  If you open the PDF and hover your mouse over the page you will see the clicker change into a little hand where there are links on the page.

Kelso's Choices is a social-problem solving program that the school's I have been at have used since my first year of teaching.  It introduces a lot of Kindergarten friendly ways to solve social problems independently.  You can learn more by going to their website: http://kelsoschoice.com

I hope you find this helpful and it gives you some ideas on what to do on the first day of school/week.

Good luck on the first day!

- Yukari

My 10 Favourite FREE Literacy Apps for Kindergarten

Hi friends!

Do you have iPads in your classroom? I have had them in my classroom for the last 3 years! I'm often asked which apps I recommend, so I decided to compile my 10 favourite free literacy apps in this blog post!

** Click on the name of the app or on the corresponding image to see the apps in the app store **

This is definetly my favourite printing app.  It's simple to navigate.  It has options for uppercase letters, lowercase letters and words.  Each letter starts with the letter name, letter sound and a word with that letter as a beginning sound.

For example for D it says D, /d/, dinosaur.

Then Ollie the owl will show the kids the path of motion.  After the kids watch Ollie they can trace the letter with their finger.  The star is there to show them where to start.  One of the things I love about this app is that it won't let you go the wrong way or start anywhere other than the star.  This definitely helps them learn correct letter formation and not get into any bad habits!

There is even a words section that includes CVC words and sight words!

The draw back is that the letters are only free until M and only 2 cvc words and sight words are available in the free version.  But at only $3.99 for the full version I think the full version is still a good deal! 

If you want a free app with all of the letters and numbers 1-9 this is the one for you!  The interface is simple to navigate, there are no ads for the kids to accidentally click on, the app says the letter or number name before it starts showing the path of motion and the trains/worms show the kids the path of motion before they start practicing.

The cons are there isn't really any instructions on what to do (although it's pretty self-explanatory) and the biggest drawback is that it doesn't correct you when you don't follow the correct path of motion.  You also can't pick which letter or number to practice, it will always start at the first letter or number and go through chronologically.  But for a fully free app it has a lot of great features!

This is a good one for reinforcing letter identification! It starts with identifying a letter and they give you three choices.  For example they say "Touch the F".  If you click on any other letter then F it will give you a "ba-dum" sound.  If you click on F it will say "awesome!" and move you to the next question.

It progressively gets harder with more and more letters on the screen.  If you didn't hear the instructions the first time you can click on the little green button at the top right corner and it will say it for you again.  The only con I could think of is that the letters only come in uppercase!

Here is another great one for letter identification and beginning reading! There are 3 options.  "Read to me" will read the words to the students as it highlights each word.  "Read myself" will allow the kids to read it by themselves, but if they get stuck they can tap on the word and the app will read it to them.  "Autoplay" runs through the whole alphabet without having to click on the arrow each time.

The app also allows you to tap on the large coloured letters on the left and it will say the letter name for you.  It also allows you to tap on the picture and the app will say the word for you and the word will pop up beside the picture!

The only cons are the letters are only lowercase and it is a little difficult to navigate back to the menu (you kind of have to swipe down diagonally to get the home button to pop up at the top).  Other than that it is a great app for beginning readers!

Here is another very comprehensive app!  This one is great because it practices a variety of skills.  For your pre-readers you can start them on the "Big Reading Show" option where they practice letter identification and letter-sound correspondance.

Each step goes through a routine.  First they watch letter videos of letters that make up the word family they will be working on.  Then they start by adding a letter to the word family and learning each word.  Then they work on pulling the letter to the word family and blending each word.  Then the app reads them a word from the word family and they need to tap on the correct word (3 choices are given).  After the word work portion is done, the final step is to read a book with the word family words in it.  They can read it themselves or click on the yellow speech bubble and have the app read it for them as it highlights the words being read.

The drawback is that only Step 1 is free and after playing it you may want to purchase it.. but the paid app is a yearly  or lifetime subscription and it is quite pricey at  $39.99/$49.99 USD.  The free portion of the app though is still good enough to warrant a download!

This is another good one for exposing students to a variety of literacy skills.  Students choose a word (in the pictures below the word is "all"), are read the sight word by the app and then the app scrambles the letters.  When you tap and drag the letter to put them on the word the letter will say the sound it makes and when it is placed on the word it will say the letter name.

After you build the focus word, it will ask you to put a couple sight words in the correct place in a sentence.  The app will read the sight word when you drag it to the correct place and when you place it on the outline.  Once you drag all of the sight words to the correct place the app will read the sentence for you and give you a short animation to go with it!

My kids find the animation in this app engaging and it's often pretty popular! The only problem is the free version only includes 6 words so they can run out of options pretty fast.

Here is a good app for practicing CVC words! The kids will get a picture of a CVC word above the whale.  They have to spell the word on the whale by dragging the right seal to the correct blowhole.

The great thing about this app is that they tell you clear directions throughout.  You can tap on the picture and it will tell you what it is. If you tap on the letters on the whale it will tell you the sound it makes.  If you tap on the seals it will tell you the sound the letter on the seal makes.  It is also self-correcting so if you drag the seal on to the wrong blowhole it won't let you and it will make a soft sound indicating that that isn't the right sound.

Once you have the correct letters in place the app will read you each letter sound again and say the word again.  Great modelling for segmenting and blending sounds!

The other great things about this app is that although they have a portion where you can play with things they have earned after every few questions, it is timed! That way they won't spend forever dressing up the alien or making him bounce around the field! Once the time runs out it automatically moves them to the next question.

Endless word play is another good one for CVC words and word families! Each level consists of 3 words from the same word family.  The first one has a faint outline to support students in placing the correct letter in the correct place.  Then the second and third do not have the outline.  However, the app will give you clues if they are noticing you are making mistakes or you are taking a long time!

After building the three words the app will take you to a short animated video where they show you the word used in a sentence with a corresponding video! The drawback is that there are only 3 levels included in the free version so the students will go through this one pretty fast.  They can always go back and play the levels they already played though!


This is a great app with lots of options for games! Unfortunately the free version only comes with uppercase letters and the first 6 letters of the alphabet... but it is a good app none the less!

The tracing portion has the students practice printing each letter three times and it gets progressively harder (thick outline with dotted lines, only dotted lines, no dotted lines).  

The 6 mini games all focus on letter identification.

This app is good for your students who can copy letters and are working on learning simple sight words.  The app has 25 sight words (which is pretty generous for a free app!).  The app will read the word to you if you tap on it.  Then the kids are prompted to write the word on the line below.  After every 5 words they get a mini game to practice the words they have learned.

There are a few drawbacks to this app though.  First, it doesn't force the kids to practice every sight words.  You can easily skip through each word and just play the mini games.  Also there is a voice recording option which can be good if you're students use it appropriately (you can have the students record themselves saying the sight word on each page, for example) but often times in my class they just end up saying whatever they want into the microphone, listening it back repeatedly and get distracted from practicing the sight words.  However there is an option to turn the voice recording option off completely as well.

This app isn't free but I wanted to include it because my kids absolutely were OBSESSED with it this past year and the desktop version is free!

The great thing about this app is that you can create a log-in for each student and the app will track each student's progress, so that they are working on a skill that is just right for them all of the time.  The app will also repeat skills that they have not mastered until it is mastered before they move them to the next level.

As a teacher you can also go online and see how much they have played (time), which grapheme they are currently playing for, which ones they have practiced and their competence level for each!

I grabbed this app for my school iPads when they were offering it for free for a day in the spring.  If you don't want to pay for the app, the game is always free on a desktop computer too! Just got to https://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com to learn more!


I hope this is helpful, especially if it's your first time having iPads in the classroom and need some apps to put on the iPads for your kiddos to use at centres!

What are your favourite free literacy apps for Kindergarten?

- Yukari

Monday Made It: July 3

Hi guys!

Happy summer! I am soooo excited for summer to finally be here! The weather is beautiful and I have so many things I want to check off my to do list! I'm sharing a couple things I made today to either check things off my to-do list or to help me keep me on track and focused with my to-do list!

Here we go!


Last year I shared my 2016 Summer Life Planner (you can see it by clicking here) and it really helped me map out, prioritize and stay on track with my summer goals and to-do lists so I knew I had to make an updated version! 

Here is the cover:

My first page is where I'm going to brainstorm all of my summer goals...

And then I'm going to break them up in to July and August goals to pace myself out.  I also have a July and August/beginning of September calendar to write down important dates I need to remember.

Then I have a page for each day from July 3 - September 3. This year I made it hourly from 9AM-9PM.  Last year I made it 7AM-7PM but after I started using it I thought to myself, why am I making plans to get up at 7AM in the morning? It's SUMMER! So I changed it to a more manageable time this year :)

At the end I added a couple of extra lined and blank pages for miscellaneous notes.

I printed the pages at home (the front and back covers on cardstock & laminated, the inside pages on regular copy paper) and had it coil bound at Staples.

I've had lots of requests to share the updated version of the summer life planner so here it is! You can download it from Google Drive by clicking here or on the image below:


I'm determined to finish up some of the projects I started during the year but didn't get a chance to finish and post because I was so busy.  Here is one of them! I loved my sight word play dough mats I made earlier this year and knew I wanted to make them for colour words too.  So I finally sat down and got them done this morning!

You can use these mats with play dough or loose parts! It's perfect for the beginning of the year in Kindergarten.  You can check it out by clicking here or on the image below:


I make these memory books every year as a keepsake for both myself and my students.  It's a great way to remember your students and to keep your kiddos reading over the summer! Parents often tell me it is the most read book of the summer when they come back in September :)

The pictures below are of this year's memory book.  You can see last year's memory book here.

We add a class picture on the cover...

Then a page to introduce the book on the inside cover and a page for each child.  I model how to read the book before sending it home with them.

I've had lots of requests to share the template for these so I have uploaded an FREE editable file for you to my TPT store.  Click here or on the image below to grab your copy!

That's it from me this week!

You can read more "Monday Made It" posts by visiting Tara's link up over at 4th Grade Frolics! Click on the image below if you are interested in seeing more!

I hope you are able to use the freebies in this post!

- Yukari

Classroom Update: June 25

Hi guys! Can you believe we're entering the last week of school? June has flown by!

Here are some ideas I'm hoping you can use this week or next June :)


I adapted this from an idea I saw on Planning Playtime's Facebook page.  Students are invited to find the popsicle sticks that match to make a sight word and record 5 words they made on the recording sheet.

You can grab the recording sheet for free by clicking here or on the image below:


Popsicle sticks are a bit of a theme this week! For this activity, I had the kids make a tower using popsicle sticks and wooden cubes.  Then the students were encouraged to measure how tall their structure is with unifix cubes (not pictured, but they were also on the table).

I also set out the recording sheet above to encourage the kids to draw their tower and record how many unifix cubes tall their tower was.

You can grab the recording sheet for FREE by clicking here or on the image below:


I always compile my students' guided writing from the year and make it into a writing portfolio for the kids to take home during the Celebration of Learning (this is what we do instead of a Kindergarten graduation).

For the cover, I get the kids to write their name and I add their picture from September and June.  

The first page is their name/portraits that I had them complete in September.

Then their guided writing piece from October to June.

At the end I add the name/portrait page I have them complete again in June, to show their growth from September!


I posted about this last year but it's always a hit so I wanted to share it again.  We set this up for our "Celebration of Learning" when the parents come to visit our classroom at the end of the year.  At the end (we do a slideshow and a short presentation about our learning from the year) we invite the parents to write something they are proud of about their child's learning from the year and stick it on the board.

We are excited to read these as a class tomorrow! It is a great way to start the last week off on a positive note!


We made these charts as part of our "Celebration of Learning" and also to reflect on the year.  It is a great way to learn and reflect as an educator what they enjoyed the most and what I can do differently next year.

On Instagram, someone asked how I do Close Reading in Kinder.  I basically follow this guideline:

Monday: Cold Read + Predictions
Tuesday: Vocabulary
Wednesday: Text-to-Self Connection
Thursday: Retell
Friday: Opinion / Inferencing / Character Analysis

When I first started teaching Close Reading, I followed the lessons in Guiding Readers by Deanna Jump and Deedee Wills.  They were so helpful when I first started and now I adapt bits and pieces of it to fit my schedule.  Now that I'm comfortable with the model I am also able to pick my own books and create lessons on my own using their model.  They are a little pricey, but I highly recommend their guiding readers units if you are just getting started with close reading!

That's it from me this week! For those of you who are still in school like me, I hope you have a great last 4 days with your kiddos!

- Yukari