Guided Reading

Guided Reading
Guided Reading



Kindergarten Step by Step: Those First Days of K!

It’s that time of the year for so many.... well should I even say those three little words...BACK TO SCHOOL!  We love it... it really is such a special time!  We are able to “work” in our classrooms, design our little hearts out, meet a whole new crew of kiddos, and start making an impression day one!   
We know how special this time of year is, but we can’t deny the fact that it is DANG HARD!  There is no easier way of saying... after the classroom setup then it’s time to gather all of your teaching material, print, label, print again some more, oh and label again because you just got three new kiddos! 

After the initial, “Okay, this is what I’ll teach” thought...then comes the okay how will I teach it.... how will I implement this procedure or routine so that my kiddos can pick up on it so quick that maybe I will only have to state it 3 times and not 13.  Or, how will I implement this skill that my kiddos will pick up on it, master it, and allow ourselves the opportunity to move onto the next set of skills.

It is all such a simply amazing, stressful, but REWARDING time of year! In this post I hope to help ease your nerves if you are a first year teacher... and breathe life into those awesome veteran teachers!

Let’s start first with what you’ll teach!  It’s easy to get that out of the way before we dig down into the nitty gritty of how we will teach it!  This summer in my Facebook group I had so many teacher requesting ideas or really just a “guide” to that first week.  We will have ideas on what we will want to teach... but if you were like me you were STILL scrambling come the first day!  That or you have always taught certain skills, pages, etc and you are just looking for some new and fresh ideas!  Well hence comes my littlest baby.... KinderSurvival!  The name really does say it all!

KinderSurvival is a week-long explicit program for the first week!  I wanted everything to be there for you so if anything you would only have to “add children.” LOL!  My units as you have noticed usually contain way more than you can bare to squeeze into a day, but I always want teachers to have the opportunity to eliminate and NOT go to find more!
KinderSurvival contains 5 days of lesson plans.  Wait right there... I only have 2, 3, or 4 days the first week, what should I do?  Well, if I was you I would pick and choose which from this unit you like best OR go ahead and do all five days and run into the next week! 

The lesson plans of KinderSurvival should be more than enough for the entire day!  If you have special activities, you have always done then feel free to stick those in too!  I have also opened it up enough where you can also add in your own read aloud twice a day!  No need to stop all those first week favorites!  The areas covered are: morning meeting, reader’s workshop, kindercamp, writing, math, and phonics!  I’m sure you recognize all of those areas, except kindercamp!  KinderCamp is simply a name I made up (I am getting really good at this) to describe a time of the day where you can really hammer down some of those first week basics (cutting, coloring, gluing, you know what I’m talking about lol). You can use kindercamp during your guided reading block or possibly even an intervention block!

I will be continuing on this post with specific areas we cover that first week, but will be referencing KinderSurvival as I go!  This will help you to have a better understanding of what’s included!

It’s that first day of school and you know that you’ll be going outside for recess!  What should be the game plan?  For me I have always thought kiddos learn best seeing something in action!  However, taking 60-100 kiddos out to the playground and dangling the playground before them, but only stating that they can place once they’ve learned all the rules... well yeah you get the picture!  They are there, and they MIGHT be listening, but most likely you’ll be getting a lot of bug eyed kiddos ready to play!  So, what’s a plan of action?

I always love to read to my kiddos a recess read aloud!  I used to go for Mean Jean (still love her), but it was a little harder because I felt like I was having to add in my own rules as I went on.  So, I decided to create a recess read aloud that would be perfect for the kiddos!  I would discuss each piece of playground equipment and we would learn the safe way to use it!  I’ve done this the past three years and it has worked wonders!  Now, we read the recess read aloud book and then walk out to the playground!  Once outside at the playground a couple of teachers will demonstrate the safe and unsafe way to play while the others keep the kiddos attentive!  Once all rules have been covered then we allow the kiddos to go play!

What about those other areas like the restroom and cafeteria?   We follow the same routine!  We first read the story and then go try it for ourselves!  If possibly you’ll want to ask for assistance at the restroom especially!  It’s nice that first restroom break of the day to have a teacher that stands in the girls’ restroom and boys’.  You can then focus on making sure students are being safe in the hallway!  For the cafeteria we follow the sale routine!  All students proceed through the cafeteria line as if we were getting our . lunches.  They grab their pretend milk, their pretend spork/napkin, tray, and then go to the buffet to grab their pretend sides.  They then walk down with their pretend tray.  We focus on all those little hiccups that can occur!  I’ve seen that it’s much easier with fake food the first day than real ;)

In KinderCamp students are introduced to skills such as coloring, scissors and glue!  After learning each skill the students also get “certified” and receive and adorable certificate!

 I’ll break down each of those here! For coloring I have found that it’s so important to include the word “write” as well. I know that sounds crazy as we don’t usually write with crayons, but I feel it’s important that they realize writing is a process that they can do so that when I say we will write a story today... they know that means day 1, “ I can color a story!” 

In KinderSurvival there is an awesome editable story that teaches the students about each of the writing utensils they’ll use in class!  We discuss pencils, crayons, and markers as well!  The do’s and do not’s are discussed as well! 

I’ve also always loved to take time and create a “This is how we color” chart!  Again, young kiddos often need to truly “see” things to believe or “get it.”  You can see above the simple color chart that we made!  I then send my kiddos off to color with their very best work!  You could choose crayons or markers,  but no doubt week one I am going with crayons, ha!

When it comes to scissor practice... it truly is one of those skills you feel should be right up there with learning how to ride a bike!  It takes so much practice and concentration I’m telling ya! I too again love to read to the kiddos about scissor safety and let them fall into the skill through a story!  In KinderSurvival I have included a scissor skills read aloud book!  This book teaches the kiddos a cute scissor chant and the do’s and do not’s of cutting and scissors!  On the first day of scissor practice I always like to invite them down to the carpet!  Insert your crazy face here!  Yes, after much research (Dear google, how do I teacher my kindergarten students to cut)

I ran across an article from an OT professional.  They discussed the importance of bringing the kiddos down to the carpet and on their tummies for scissor practice.  When on their tummies they are forces to keep those arms and elbows flat which in return requires them to rotate the paper with their other hand.  I give each student a plain white sheet of paper. 
They make small cuts around the edges creating a fringed place mat!  After this initial scissor work we then go back to our seats for some more traditional scissor practice! KinderSurvivalcontains scissor practice sheets for the kiddos to complete after their fringed place mat!

Along with scissors and crayons we cannot forgot about glue!  In KinderSurvival the kiddos also have a gluing skills book!  This book teaches about how to use both glue sticks and glue bottles.  All of the glue do’s and do not’s are included as well!  For glue practice follow-up I like to give my kiddos an opportunity to try out both!  For glue bottle practice I like to give the students an opportunity to practice “a little dot will do a lot.”  I have them use their fine motor skills and tear small sheets of paper and then glue it down!  This will require only one simple dot per sheet!  Again, hard stuff when you are 5!  For glue stick practice I like for them to combine their scissor practice in as well!  The kiddos cut and paste!  KinderSurvival also contains both kinds of glue practice follow-up sheets!

Well, we have covered KinderCamp... what about reader’s workshop that first week?  If you use my curriculum then you have most likely already seen my close reads in KinderLiteracy...or both seem them and fell in love with them!  That first “week” of school I wanted to take a different approach and not go straight into a close read week.

  I wanted to give my students an opportunity to get used to the close read model of one main text a week, but I knew that they most likely would have a difficult time!  I also wanted to find the perfect text that would lend itself to a theme for the first week of kindergarten!  I settled on The Little Engine that could... pairing with bravery and perseverance... PERFECT for the first week of kindergarten!  For reader’s workshop or close read time that first week I wanted to use that one text, but only read up to certain pages.  This would allow for more of a “mystery” to the kiddos and keep them excited to want to read more tomorrow!  It was also a time we could bring in some simple recall questions and end the week with a craft of course!  Craft first week?  Yes, in KinderSurvival I included a simple craft for the kiddos! 

Writing that first week can always leave you a little dazed and confused... you might venture to one of these: I’ll just let me kiddos color pictures, writing first week you have got to be kidding, or writing of course we will get out your pencils!  Well, you know we all have what works!  For me I am a jump in kind of gal! 

That first week I like to introduce my students to writing time, show them books and let them know about authors, and most of all allow them the opportunity to know that they are writers too or authors if you should choose!  We chant it and we believe in ourselves!  On that first day I like for them to know that they can “write” about something they know very well—themselves!  I have them all illustrate a picture of themselves!  As the week goes on we “write” about additional topics we know a lot about!  In KinderSurival I have all of those lined out for you!

Math that first week for me used to only be “explore” time paired with nap time!  Well, maybe the kids had some inkling that they knew they wouldn’t have nap time beyond the first week because there was NO napping happening! Lol  I always wondered if I didn’t “teach” nap time correct! Ha!  So, basically that first week’s math block was a lot of exploring!  Ok, let’s pass around these tubs and play with these snap cubes, “What is a snap cube?” “Yeah, I don’t know how to snap?”  Then, I would frantically have everyone stop so I could teach them about snap cubes! 

Well, fret no more because with the combination of KinderSurvival math plans and KinderMath Getting started freebie your kiddos will be SET when it comes to knowing math expectations and the skills and how to’s for each math manipulative!  Between those two programs I listed above the kiddos will get certified in snap cubes, dot cubes, teddy bears, and even play dough!  There is a reader for each skill and an adorable certification for each as well!  It totally makes sense (now looking back) the importance of taking the time from the get-go and teaching those skills of ‘how do I roll a dot cube’ and ‘why shouldn’t I mix the two play dough colors.’  It’s all in there in a nice neat package for you!  So, that first week of math IS exploring, but exploring with a purpose!

Again, if you use my curriculum I’m positive you know or heard all about KinderPhonics!  I love KinderPhonics to the moon and back, but don’t feel it’s quite appropriate for week one of kindergarten!  Week two?  Yes, go for it!  For week one I like to take time again to teach my students again those skills they will need to be successful later on (later one being week 2).  When we go to introduce a letter we most likely will say.  “This is a letter A.  A says /a/.  We make an A by going slant down, slant down, across!  The kiddos might look at you with the biggest blank stare and someone undoubtedly will say, “What’s a slant?”  There I would be again ...oh boys and girls, a slant is....  So, a couple years ago I started taking that initial week and teaching those strokes and what do you know... come letter Aa they knew what a slant was and how to make it!

That first week I take one day for lines, circles, slants, connected slants, and then a day for review!  We like to practice the skills in hands-on and engaging ways!  All of these are described in KinderSurvival but you can also see below!  We practice the skills standing up and then will take it down to the table level!  This of course is so good for their understanding!

That really wraps up the “what will I teach the first week” question!  Next I would like to go into more specific areas that you will be experiencing that first week!  

Well, what about meet the teacher night and first day gifts for parents?  In KinderSurvival I have left you with the “hook-up” for all of these areas too!  I noticed it really depends on your district, but generally students are able to meet their teacher prior to the first day!  I enjoy sending out a letter to my students and introducing myself!  This allows them the chance to “see” me so that they can not only get to know me, but also know who to look for! 

For meet the teacher night I have several items I want to make sure and give to parents!  I also want to make sure I’ve given the kiddos some small “gift and if possible retrieved my students’ supplies so that I can start to organize them!  You can see below all of those items! 

Below is a look at my room all ready for Open House night!

I mentioned that I encourage students to bring their supplies to open house!  I like to do this so I can go ahead and start to sort supplies!

So you know what you’ll teach and you have meet the teacher down so... let’s go back and discuss your classroom and some additional items as well!  What items are necessary in a kindergarten classroom?  Well, stop ya right there because that is up to you!  Below I will share a few items that I feel are necessary in my classroom!

Up first?  My classroom rug!  So a couple years ago I had a great idea ... bought a chevron rug because it was “cute” and no there weren’t my usual “squares” but it was cute so I just knew it would work!  Well needless to say after day three (a weekend fell in between) you found me dragging out that “cute’ chevron rug and replacing it with the rug you see below!  A rug with squares!  For me it was always so easy to say “find your square” or “are you in your square or someone else’s?”  The students enjoyed having ownership in the rug spot and it just worked!  Several teachers have mastered rugs without squares, but if you just can’t get your rug to “click” then try something with squares!

We all know that a library in a kindergarten classroom is also a must!  I’ve always considered myself an organized person, but it wasn’t until I stumbled across Maria’s library labels did I realize how I was totally missing out!  I always felt like I taught the kids explicitly how to use the library and place the books back where they go, but none the less... I still found unorganized books!  I loved how Maria’s system had the matching labels to go each book!  There was no more guessing if Clifford went into cartoon or dog books, because they are now all labeled!

Another area of my classroom that I will also discuss in just a bit is my literacy center “hub.”  This one shelf holds nearly everything my kiddos will need during literacy center times!  On top I have my four listening to read baskets, my two blue writing folder baskets (boys and girls), and my four pink and green literacy center word work baskets!  I like having two colors because I can place above material in one set and below material in the other.  All of my literacy center material are there except my 8 explore tubs which are a different shelf!

 The last area I wanted to visit on was the placement of items in the classroom that allows easy student movement! You can see from the photo below that I have placed all larger items in my classroom to the left wall or placed in bulk towards the right wall.  This allows plenty of movement space and ample room to line up!  We know that lining up in general is tough work for kiddos ha... so leaving them plenty of space really cuts down on issues!

 Speaking of routines... let’s talk routines!  In my classroom I have merged a lot of Whole Brain Teaching routines with a Teach Like a Champion Strategy called, Tight Transitions.  The basic idea behind this would be that students are able to do a transition or routine with little or no effort once the routine has been put in place.  What does this mean?  Well, for example let’s think about a simple line up routine from the carpet.  It might be that you call students by row, boys/girls, shirt color, table number, etc.  With that way YOU are responsible for continuing the routine.  Without you, no one lines up!  With a tight transition the students learn the routine and only need one trigger phrase to put it into action!  Let me explain more... in whole brain teaching the teacher says this phrase, “Lines, lines, lines!”  The students then repeat that phrase.  Once that trigger phrase has been said then the student sitting in the front left or right corner stands and so does their row, they follow that leader to the door, walking in a straight line.  Row two then stands and does the same.  Rows 3-5 stand one at a time and follow.  Basically all you had to do was say the trigger phrase and then they were responsible for following through! 

This routine takes a lot of practice that’s for sure!  However, once the students have mastered it, the routine becomes their responsibility!  You are able to state, “Lines, lines, lines” and possibly walk away to grab something for the hallway, put something away, etc!  You are not the one standing them instructing each person to line up!  This is a way for students to gain responsibility!

Along those same lines with whole brain teaching you can also use “carpet, carpet, carpet” and “tables, tables tables.”  You can guess where they kiddos are going for those!  Again, you will have built up this routine and the students will know it and the expectations for each!  I will walk to my table, get out my box, etc.  I also recommend using a voice which you want to reflect in their actions.  For example, if you shout tables, tables, tables really loud and fast they will most likely shout it back and start rushing.  Try to say it in a calm and slow voice, they will then repeat it the same way and show actions with the same calmness.

Sticking with the same topic of setting classroom routines... another routine I teach from the very beginning is turn and talks!  I use turn and talks constantly in my classroom!  Turn and talks allow ALL children to answer a given question!  I use turn and talks during calendar, read-alouds aka close reads, and even in math!  For turn and talks I use the Whole Brain Teaching... Teach! Okay!  model!  I say Teach *clap*clap* and the students respond with *clap*clap* okay!  They then turn and talk with their partner!  The expectation is that they fully turn and face their partner.  Both partners also have an opportunity to visit and share!  I then get their attention and have them face back to the front by saying, Class?  and they respond with Yes! 

When it comes to the first week one of the biggest things we can do is work on "buy-in!"  What does that mean?  Students buy in to the classroom and the excitement of school!  One of the struggles I feel students have with school is the fear that they won't succeed or be successful at something!  I love to teach my students about perseverance that very first week!  You can watch the video of my perseverance lesson HERE!

Along with the perseverance lesson I also display the word on our wall all year long!  It stands as a great reminder to all!  You can grab these letters HERE.  I also have another style of letters HERE.

 Up last I will be discussing the nuts and bolts of these first few days!  I would like to discuss which of my programs would be beneficial to use!

A lot of you have my awesome packets/curriculum.... but sometimes so much awesome-ness can still leave you dazed and confused! For these first few days... remember this could be 2-5 days I would suggest these packets!

KinderSurvival - this will cover your morning meeting, reader's workshop, guided reading block, writing, math, and phonics!
KinderMath Getting Started- this unit too is perfect for those first few days!  You can easily combine those lessons alongside the KinderSurvival math plans!

I wish you the very BEST first few days of school!  You are awesome and I am positive you will ROCK it!  If you have questions about your first few days... please feel free to comment them below or always be welcomed to email me at

Please join me next weekend for the next set of Kindergarten Step by Step Week 1!


  1. I love all of the products I bought this summer and in the past. This post helped me with flow and what I'm going to use right away. I think after next weekend's post I'll have a better grasp on the flow after the first week! Thank you for taking the time to really explain it all so we get a better grasp on "how it all goes together". I don't know where you get the time since you are moving but we all appreciate it.... a LOT!! Thank you! Andrea :)

  2. You're amazing. And that's all. :)

  3. This summer I decided I am only buying your packets this year. I end up buying so much stuff and don't always use it or have it organized. I am excited to focus on one resource! Thank you for all your hard work!

  4. I'm a veteran teacher and every year I stress about the first week of school, I can't wait to get your survival packet and start with a stress free week

  5. Blog post of the year! :) Thank you!

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