Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Tips for a Fabulous First Day - Linky Party

Hi all! Today I am linking up with Juile over at OzCurriculum HQ for a very special Linky Party. We are sharing tips and tricks to having a fabulous first day!

Setting the Scene

Before your kiddies walk in your front door there is so much to do! Aside from decorating, it is really all about organisation. Having somewhere for your kiddies to put their belongings when they arrive. A few things to think about might be:
- lunch boxes
- drink bottles
- books and stationary

If you are in Prep/Foundation like me and have communal resources, sometimes some large buckets or tubs can work well. Just add a label to each bucket so parents know where to place each item and viola!

Having a set place for little ones to put their lunch boxes (unless they stay in their bags) and drink bottles is also a must :) A spare table or a bookshelf is perfect!

It is also a good idea to have name tags ready for day 1 to help you with learning names and faces -Sticky labels, laminated cards with pins - anything that works.

When They Arrive

Be prepared - Have AT LEAST 2 water bottles ready because trust me, you will need them. The first 20 minutes of the day when you have parents and caregivers in the room along with your new cherubs can be very overwhelming the first time. Your room will be full and you will probably have some anxious parents asking lots of questions (especially first-timers). Remember, they are entrusting their baby to your care - someone they have only just met. That is a pretty scary thought!

Having something set up for your kiddies to work on when they walk in while Mum and Dad sort their belongings is a good idea. Jigsaw puzzles and colouring in pages are great  for this :)

In Prep I strongly recommend to have a poster outside the room for parents to read with your instructions laid out clearly. Don't be afraid to speak up after the bell goes and let parents know that it is time to start the day and for them to leave. Be prepared for tears!


After your parents have sorted all the kiddies equipment into your buckets or tubs, quite honestly I highly recommend to just leave it be! Move the tubs to the side of the room so they are out of the way and deal with it later (or you can enlist the help of your wonderful, fabulous, amazing aide!) Believe me - you will be way too busy during the day settling your kiddies to deal with it.

Activity Ideas

On the first day I would be suggesting to start off setting the expectations for your classroom for the year to come. Talk about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and give reasons for both. E.g. We walk inside the classroom. If we run, we might trip over something and hurt ourselves.

Reading a picture book is a good way to settle your new kiddies into the day. This year I will be starting with 'The Kissing Hand'. We will talk about first day jitters, what makes us feel better, how we can make friends and map out our feelings. After we read the story the children will do a craft to go with the book. In my case, we will colour and make a crown with 'Chester' the baby raccoon and main character, to wear for the day and take home.

Another favourite text for me is 'The Rainbow Fish'. In week 2 we will read this story, discuss friendship, and complete a collage fish.

I like to get straight into work as usual on the first day, but opinions on this will vary from teacher to teacher. When I say 'work', my day will consist of:

Phonics - Look at a letter of the week. Brainstorm words starting with the letter 's'. Do a picture sort altogether on the carpet.

Reading Rotations x3 - Letter formation of the letter s, basic sight words (here, is, I), sound activities for the letter s, handwriting the letter s and Entrance checklist.

Fruit Break

English - Read 'The Kissing Hand', discuss first day feelings, complete Chester hat.

First Break

Maths - Work on numbers 1-3. Place Value warm up, Guided lesson looking at numbers 1-3, follow up pair activity - showing numbers 1-3

Maths Rotations - Fine motor (geoboards, threading etc.), visual (patterns, pattern block puzzles etc.), Number - building, reading, counting number 1-5, Entrance checklist.

Second Break

Gross Motor - Playground - discuss safe/unsafe behaviour. (Short session)

School Tour - Tuckshop, playground, office

Class Pet - Delivery, Predict, Story 'The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious Box'. Naming the pets.

Name Craft - Students paste small coloured squares to an A3 (cut lengthways) black card to form their name (written in white pencil).

Play Break


Obviously everyone's days will look different, but this is what mine looks like :) Throughout the day I also like to take a photo of each child for their Memory folder. This year it will be each child holding a photo frame with a first day message.

I hope this has given you a few ideas ready for your first day of Prep! Don't forget to click on the link below to check out more posts with tips and tricks for your first day :)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

First days of Prep

This time three years ago I was in complete freak out mode. I was stressed out over moving to Prep and had absolutely no idea where to begin. After spending a gazillion hours searching Pinterest and several conversations with my new mentor teacher, I had my first week all planned out. Did it all go to plan? ABSOLUTELY NOT! You know the phrase 'The best laid plans..."? well that pretty much sums up my first week experience.

BUT, I learned from it! And the first week of my second year teaching went a little smoother ^happy dance!^

And then this time last year I was in the same boat again, freaking out over my move to Prep. Anyone else in this kinda position? Anyway, again I spent another million hours on Pinterest and chatting with my new mentor teacher and was finally ready. Still things didn't go exactly to plan, but I was so much more confident!

I know that a lot of new teachers are in this same exact boat so I would like to share my own tried and tested ways of beginning your year in Prep :)

Firstly, I should explain that at my school, the first time I meet my kids, see their faces, get an idea of where their are academically is the first day of term. We don't have a 'Meet the Teacher' day until about Week 3 once the kiddies are settled in and teachers are officially finalised (the whole Day 8 thing can cause havoc). So my first day is hectic. Kids bringing in all their books and belongings, 2 or 3 adults for each child in the room - day 1 is very overwhelming! I swear I drank a whole water bottle in the first 10 minutes from sheer nerves!

I will break this post down into the key things I try to prepare for and if you have any questions about anything else, please feel free to comment below and I will try my best to answer :)

P.S. I do apologise for the ton of words as I do not have photos of my first day (things were way too hectic! I will do my best to take some this year and add them in for next year)

Classroom Environment

One core belief I have is that if you create a warm and welcoming classroom environment, your students will feel much happier to be there. I love to make my classroom bright and colourful (Last year I had a Disney theme and they loved it! This year I am going for a 'Jungle' theme and can't wait to share photos once it is complete :) I have searched and searched and searched online for different classroom images and you would be amazed at the creativity of some teachers! Really simple things like an inviting pinboard, colourful posters, bright buckets - and books on display! I have also seen some amazing uses of coloured paper pompoms and streamers.

These are some images I used as inspiration when I started prepping my first classroom :) All the images are hyperlinked. I know these are American sites and I swear their classroom are about 10 times as big as Aussie rooms, but there are so many cute little things you can get ideas for.

bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour



Get organised! If you have hexagon tables then you will need a place to store your kiddies books. Same goes for supplies. If you are having shared supplies then you will need an organisation strategy.

Personally last year I used buckets, baskets and plastic drawers, which I will be using again this year, but there are so many different options out there! Bookshelves, drawers, pigeon holes for books, and buckets, caddies, trays, bins for supplies.

Again, I have put together some images for inspiration with links to their host site :)

Fun and colorful way to organize supplies for your class and add an extra bin for "trash". This keeps students from going to the recycle bin.:

No matter what grade I teach next year I am thinking of doing this! Classroom Organization:

Organizing the kindergarten classroom.  I really like the idea of each table color having their own color supply containers.:

Ok. So it is 7am, day 1, and your classroom is all set-up ready for your new little cherubs to come in...with all their books and pencils and library bags and hats and folders... What next?

Last year I set up a little table and as the kiddies brought in their things we just piled them up on top. Throughout the afternoon I checked off the materials they had brought in and put everything away where it belonged. Honestly, it took me forever, and some parents DID NOT LABEL! I was left to sort it all out.

This year I am making a change. I will instead be buying 30 large paper bags - 1 per child and sheets of white labels and textas for parents to stick to all their child's books, folders, pencils etc. This way I can keep everything together, know exactly who's is who's and it will look much neater!

Wen my kids come in I like to have a colouring page and baskets of pencils set out ready for them. Keeps them happy and busy while you run around answering the million and one questions parents will throw at you, plus it is something easy they can keep as a memento of their first day.

Once all your kids have arrived, and their materials have been sorted take a moment and STOP, BREATHE, and have a DRINK. Your first day will fly - trust me. You will forget all about drinking water because you will be so run off your feet and worrying but it is so important to keep yourself hydrated - especially if you are a Queensland teacher like me and your first day is 30+ degrees outside! Remember, your kiddies will feel it too so remind them to drink from their water bottles, and add in little toilet breaks and brain breaks for them.

After you stop and take a breath, start your morning routine. I highly recommend spending the very first 20 minutes or so of your day reading a book about school and creating or introducing your classroom rules. Below are a few of my favourites - I am still waiting to receive my new copy of 'The Kissing Hand' which I will use this year but it is also a beautiful story to begin the day with.

This year we started every day with Circle Time. We sang songs, did the calendar, counted, played games and recited nursery rhymes and I thrived on it! Crazy right? If I was sick for a day I really missed my morning dose of 'The Wiggles.'

Oh yeah, and the kids enjoyed it too! Haha!

Honestly, over the first week I try to add in heaps of hands of activities for English and Maths groups and supervise. Remember, you will need to very clearly explain and model every activity, every movement, every action you wish your students to do - including how to move from the carpet to their tables! If in doubt, model! They catch on pretty quick if you are consistent :)

I do like to get straight into work after the rules are set. We read our English text, do literacy rotations, learn a letter, and by that time it is lunch! Told you - the days fly!

Same goes for maths. We play a number sense warm-up which my kids still at the end of the year did not consider maths!! We have a number lesson. We do our Maths rotations...and it is lunch again!

After lunch we go out to play..ahem...sorry...complete gross motor and social skill development activities. When we come back in we do a teeny bit of Science. When I say Science, we are learning about Australian animals in Term 1 so it is super fun! Animal crafts, looking at pictures, hypothesising (Ha! Snuck in a big word!!) and just exploring in any way we can.

On day 1 I do not expect my kiddies to do book work - mainly because their books are still in bags on the floor where they were left that morning! - but also because this is their first day in a classroom. I want it to be fun! I want them to be excited to come back!

Now, over the first few days my job is to OBSERVE. Yep! OBSERVE. Obviously I teach as well, but when the kiddies are doing their thing working together, playing together, it is my job to observe them and make mental notes about their social skills. What are they lacking? What are they great at?

Also - CHECKLISTS! Over the first few weeks I try to do a letter-sound checklist for all my kiddies, and a maths checklist (recognising numerals, 1:1 correspondence, building numbers etc). This will help to guide my teaching. The earlier you do it, the earlier you can start targeting exactly what your kiddies need.

Woah this is a long post! Still with me? Good on ya!

Basically the best piece of advice I could share with a beginning teacher is have fun. Honestly, if you are having fun, your kids will too. If you get to the first day and realise you forgot something, don't stress over it. There is nothing you can do. Just make a note and sort it out after school or another day. You have 40 weeks of teaching these little minds ahead of you. If something is missing for a day it will not hurt them. Trust me, I have done it every year! It is not the end of the world.

And use the resources available to you! You will most likely have a kick-ass aid to work with who will be there for you when you are lost and have no idea what to do. Ask questions of other teachers. If you are unsure of something don't be afraid to ask. Someone will help you.

Finally, even if you have a terrible day every now and then, remember, tomorrow is always a new day with new opportunities.

Teaching is such a special profession. Enjoy it. Smile. Have fun. And treasure every minute of it :)

Until next time my friends...

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A Cute Number Freebie!

Hi all! Just a really quick post today with a cute FREEBIE! So this year I am creating a Jungle themed classroom and have been very busy creating resources to decorate my room with.

I have made these number posters and after having quite a few fellow teachers request, I have uploaded the file for you to access :) Each poster included a collection of animals, the number word, counting fingers, tally marks, blocks and a tens frame for a variety of different representations. I have included instructions on how to make them to match mine here if you are interested :) Click on the picture below to download your own copy!

That's it for now, but I do have a post in the works for the first few days of Prep so keep an eye out!