What do I do on the first day of kindergarten? I remember thinking that my first year. What do I do with these kiddos who have never been to school before? Where do I even start? If you are asking yourself any of these questions this back to school season, then this post is for you.
I wanted to walk you through our first day of K and show you how simple planning for it really can be!
Starting the First Day of Kindergarten
Everyone has different opinions of how they like to start the first day of kindergarten, but personally, I like to start with coloring. You know I love morning tubs, but I am a little bit of a control freak. I want to be able to teach expectations first.
Letting students color is an easy way to start the day and it allows me to observe fine motor and informally assess name writing.
You can grab this free first day of kindergarten coloring sheet here.
I don’t let students use their own crayons yet, though! Instead, I put out trays of used crayons from previous years. I don’t want students getting their personal set of crayons until I have taught them how to use that supply.
If students finish early, you can have them color a different page or put out baskets of books for them to look through. You could also give them mini playdoughs to play with.
What am I Doing the First Morning of Kindergarten?
While students are coloring, I am greeting students and their families. Since students are occupied, this allows me to answer questions or soothe any fears.
Tip – Keep inexpensive stuffed animals to give to students who are scared to start kindergarten. It may be enough just to let them hold one. However, I did have a student this year who would not come in the first day. I let him take “Sam” the penguin home and asked him to help Sam get ready for school the next day. He brought him back the next day with just a few tears and Sam came to visit our class every so often the rest of the year. 🙂
Coming to the Carpet
Teaching kindergartners to come to the carpet and sit is an art. When it is time to clean up from breakfast, I have students freeze and then I show them our attention getter. We practice a few times.
Then, I show them how to clean up. They clean up and then I have them sit at their seats again.
I model how to stand in push in their chairs. They practice with me.
Then I model how to walk to the carpet and sit. I have one table at a time go to the carpet to sit.
This may seem like overkill, but i’m telling you – model every. little. thing. Give specific directions for every. little. thing.
You can read a little more about how I teach students carpet expectations here.
Books for the First Day of Kindergarten
I start our time at the carpet by going through a very simple morning meeting routine with students – just a greeting, deep breathing exercise, reading the morning message, and then a brain break.
Then, we read our first back to school book. I don’t plan out which books I am going to read on the first day of school. I just choose from this shelf.
Books are a great way to break up a day full of learning routines and expectations! Our day pretty much goes like this: book, brain break, teach, recess, book, brain break, teach, recess.
Teaching Students How to Use Supplies on the First Day of Kindergarten
You won’t be able to teach every single supply on the first day of kindergarten, so I suggest starting with what is most important to you. To me, crayons are the most important supply.
I model how to use crayons and how not to use crayons. We talk about what crayons can color on and what they cannot color on.
Then, students practice by coloring! This page is from my Back to Kindergarten pack.
Teaching Students How to Line Up on the First Day of Kindergarten
Next, I know my students need recess. It is so important to me that they know how to line up and walk in the hallway quietly, so I make sure we learn that next.
You can read more about how I teach my students to line up here.
It’s important to me that my students are quiet and I explain to them that we don’t want to disturb other classes because that would be rude to them. They understand that!
We talk about being so quiet and sneaky in the hallway that we are like ninjas! They take that very seriously.
We practice walking in the hallway first with tons of whispered praise from me (Oh my gosh! You are the quietest class i’ve ever seen! No one knows you’re in the hall!).
Then, we come back and sit down… only to immediately line back up for recess!
Teaching Students How to Cut
When we learn how to use scissors, I again model how to use scissors safely and what would not be safe. I show students the “thumbs up!” rule for using scissors and how to open and shut them.
Then, I give my students strips of colorful paper and let them go to town! They cut as much as they can into baskets on their table. We will use these scraps for future crafts.
During this time, I am walking around and correcting scissor grip.
Usually, at this point, it is time for lunch and recess, but if not, we read another story and then I introduce the next supply.
Teaching Students How to Use Glue
Some years I have used glue sponges and some years I have used glue sticks. Either way, I again model for my students exactly how I want them to use the glue.
Then, they get to practice by filling in these hearts from my Back to Kindergarten pack! You can let students use the paper pieces they cut earlier, or let them tear paper.
First Day Feelings
PS – This writing is from the end of the year, not the beginning! I have my students repeat this when we talk about how they are feeling about 1st grade.
For our writing time, we read any book about first day feelings! Then, we discuss how students were feeling. I show them some examples of emotions on posters.
Then, students illustrate their first day feelings. You may even have some who surprise you and attempt to write a word here!
My students usually go to specials after this. That is when I check their backpacks for supplies and tag them with how they are getting home.
Ending With Play
By the afternoon, my students are DONE so it’s the perfect time to play! I fill these baskets with manipulatives, whiteboards, and building toys and let them choose a table to sit at and explore.
This is a great time to just sit and get to know your new class!
After this, we practice packing up and I model each step from getting their backpacks, to getting their folders, to putting it in the backpack, to zipping it up, to sitting at the carpet.
I suggest dedicating a LOT of time to pack up the first few days!
Then, we are ready to go home!
Do you have any questions or suggestions about the first day of kindergarten? Leave them below! And if you’re looking for a no prep pack with everything you need for the first day, check out my Back to Kindergarten pack.