Half-Day Kindergarten. Is there really such a thing anymore? Even with Common Core standards being implemented across the country and talks of rigor in the classroom I can assure you, it still happens. I live it every day and I am here today to help you organize your half-day schedule!
Guest Post by Heather Langley from Learning with Mrs. Langley
SO MANY KIDS!
How do you keep them all straight? Or know who belongs where at what time? We have a unique program in our district that allows students to stay all day but they are only with me half of the day. This means I see 48 students on campus all day but knowing if they are in the morning group or the afternoon group can get confusing.
My first tip for easy organization is to color code your groups. We named our groups by our school colors (gold and blue) but you can do whatever suits you best. Another school in my district uses all the colors of the rainbow so every class has their unique color. Using colored nametags or bracelets is a good way to keep them straight. This also helps students learn their color in those first few weeks of school.
One of the first problems I ran into when setting up my classroom for half-day kindergarten was seating. I have always had children’s names at their seats for a number of reasons. It helps me learn their names quickly, it helps manage behavior in the classroom, and it just makes me happy to see nametags at their seats! How on earth could I have 2 nametags at every seat or switch them out in the middle of the day? There just isn’t time for that!
I created this nametag with 2 name slots so I could keep their names at their seats and not have to switch out any nametags during the day. The names are color coded so students know which name is theirs! Simply write the names in with a colored Sharpie and you are good to go. I print mine on cardstock and laminate them so they can survive in a Kindergarten classroom.
The nametags are attached to the tables with Velcro dots so I can move them around if needed or take them off if we are painting and getting messy at the table. (Yes….I learned that the hard way!) Students can also take them to their centers with them to use as a resource.
When I taught first grade I always had students keep a pencil box with all of their own materials. In Kindergarten I feel that we need to do community supplies (at least in the beginning) to learn about taking care of materials, sharing, and being part of a classroom community. I keep crayon cups and a caddie with supplies on the middle of each table. They belong to the table so no matter which group is in the classroom we are ready with what we need. The caddies have scissors and glue sticks in them. I keep enough glue sticks on hand in case a lid gets lost or we run out. No time to manage glue!
The ONE supply that they need to keep on their own is a pencil. Yes, one pencil. I did shared pencils for a little while and I found it to be a source of frustration in the classroom. Not only was I frustrated with the pencil situation but some of my students were too. Let’s face it, not every 5 year old has learned to use a pencil without eating some of it in the process!
Solution? Labeled pencils. Bonus? I use them to take attendance. I hand them out first thing at the beginning of each session and it helps me get a handle on who is there and who is missing. Getting a whole new group of students half way through the day can throw you for a loop, this helps a lot! I also use high quality pencils so I don’t have to replace them often or sharpen them very often either. One set of pencils will last the entire quarter (that’s 9 weeks!). Unless a student loses their pencil or breaks it often their pencil should last and last. If they eat their eraser….they are just out of luck!
JOURNALS, NOTEBOOKS, and HOMEWORK FOLDERS:
Just like everything else in the classroom I color code these as well. Our journals for writing and math are in color coded bins. Our homework folders match the color of class we are in. This helps me keep them organized and if there is a random journal or homework folder floating around the room I know where to put it!
Those are a few of the things I had to learn the hard way when starting a half-day kindergarten program. Some of these tips are helpful in any type of a program! The most important thing is to stay organized. It will honestly save your sanity!