Ready, Set, Kindergarten!

Ready, Set, Kindergarten! — Winter

Wednesday was my first Ready, Set, Kindergarten! program and it was a blast! I’m so excited to get this program underway this year. This is quite a long post but I wanted to include all of the details!

I started off introducing our theme and explaining a bit about the program. I had also gathered some books that went with our theme this week and encouraged the kids and parents to take them home.

Then I went over our classroom rules:

I made this slide in Canva. I thought some classroom rules would keep everything from getting too crazy. The kids that were there had clearly been in a classroom environment before because they were very good about raising their hands.

I also wanted to emphasize using kind words with each other. The kids at the library are pretty good but I didn’t want any name calling or laughing at wrong answers or silly questions.

Then we started circle time. I opened our mobile classroom and we started with our Days of the Week song:

Song: Days of the Week (to the tune of The Addams Family)
Days of the week, (clap, clap)
Days of the week, (clap, clap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week. (clap, clap)
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday,
There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday,
There’s Thursday and there’s Friday,
And then there’s Saturday.
Days of the week, (clap, clap)
Days of the week, (clap, clap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week. (clap, clap)
Source: Ms. Brown’s Classroom

We looked at our calendar and discussed what day of the week it was, what month we were in, and what day of the month it was. I think next time I’ll indicate what day it is with a yellow number so it stands out more.

Then we moved on to the weather:

Song: What’s the Weather? (to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine)
What’s the weather? What’s the weather?
What’s the weather like today?
Is it sunny? Is it windy?
Is it rainy? Is it cold?

What’s the weather? What’s the weather?
What’s the weather like today?
Is it snowy? Is it cloudy?
Is it stormy? Is it hot?
Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/460563499387764713/

Then it was time for our theme discussion. I had them raise their hands and tell me some of the ways we can tell it’s winter. We talked about what we wear, what we see, and what we feel. We also talked about some other seasons. Then I held up clip art pictures of different activities (surfing, swimming, skiing, sledding) and had them shout out if it was a winter or summer activity.

Then it was time for our books. The first book we read was Winter by Lauren Diemer.

I didn’t read every word on each page but this book was great at summarizing winter weather, why the earth is cold in winter, the holidays we celebrate, etc.

Next we read The Mitten by Jan Brett.

I love this book. I had them pay close attention because we were going to do an activity about the book afterwards.

When we finished the book we tried to do a story retelling. After the first couple of animals, I could see that it wasn’t going to happen. Even I had a cheat sheet written telling me which animal came next! So instead I focused on what feature of each animal made the other animals already in the mitten allow that animal to join them. So for example the rabbit had big kickers so the mole moved over and let him in. The fox had shiny teeth, etc. It gave us a great opportunity to talk about what “kickers” and “diggers” and “talons” were.

Then I introduced the letter of the week. For this program I’m going to do the letters in order even if they don’t really have anything to do with our theme. That way I make sure we get every letter in during the year.

We talked about the different sounds A makes and some words that start with A. I was delighted when I had two kids with names that started with A and also that the kids were shouting out A words. They were really engaged and listening!

The I read our letter A book: There’s an Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Meyer. I made sure to emphasize the A sound in alligator. I was hoping any anxiety about creatures under the bed was gone by age 4 or 5 … They didn’t seem to have any problems with it. 🙂

After we read the book we did our letter A craft. I did the exact same craft I did for our Annual ABC craft a couple years ago. Of course, it matched up very well with our letter A book! I might try to theme the craft with our alphabet book if I can.

Before we began I set up two tables at the front of the room. I put all of the supplies for our letter craft on them and when it was time for our craft I simply rolled the tables over, locked them, and had the kids stand around. It worked out perfectly.

Some of the younger siblings were a little short but they made do without complaint. The parents were also a great help at this stage of the program! I had a lot of regulars at this program who were very willing to jump right in and help.

Then it was time for centers. I had six at this session which seemed to be the perfect amount.

I made the center instruction signs in Canva.

I laminated a winter scene I found in Canva and taped it onto the bottom of a plastic tray I found at Dollar Tree. (If we had just used the clear tray it was hard to see what the kids were writing.) Then I filled the tray with a thin layer of sugar and the kids used their fingers to write our letter and number of the week. I had a little girl who was able to write her whole name! I got the instructions for the letter here and the number here.

I found the mats for letters (about $10) and numbers (about $12) at Oriental Trading. The mats are a bit expensive but if you break down what it cost per mat or per session, it’s not so bad. 🙂 The kids rolled and shaped the play-doh to make the letter A and then rolled six “worms” for each crayon. Great sensory play. I taped the mats on the table so they wouldn’t move around.

And I made the play-doh myself! Store bought play-doh is for the birds. It’s super expensive and it dries out SO QUICKLY. This took me about 10 minutes, made a huge portion, and it will last forever if we keep it wrapped well. I made blue so it matched our color of the week.

My mother was a teacher for 30+ years so I used her recipe. It made a TON. The container in the picture above is only holding half of what I made. I’m going to half it next time.

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp oil (I used canola)
2 c water
food coloring

At mom’s recommendation, I added the food coloring to the water before adding it to the rest of the mix so it spread the color evenly. I used 10 drops of food coloring. Dump everything in a saucepan. Turn burner on medium-medium high heat and keep stirring until it gets to play-doh consistency. It took some big arm muscles at the end!

I wrote to the head of Children’s Services for our county and asked if they had anything that would be helpful for this program and she gifted me a set of alphabet sensory beanbags! She said they’d sat there for years and I was welcome to them. (They’re from Lakeshore Learning but are no longer sold.) We’re missing B, C and M but we’re set for the rest of the weeks!

I also supplemented the beanbag with my letter A tub:

I gathered things for these tubs from so many different places! The ape at the top came in a Wild Animal TOOB I got from AC Moore. With a 50% off coupon it cost $5 and came with 12 animals. The alligator was part of a pack of animals I got at the dollar store. The ant I ahem, “borrowed” from my kid. 🙂 I found the angel when I was sifting through a huge bag of teeny tiny erasers at work. The apple came in a pack of food I got from the dollar store. And the airplane I bought at the craft store for about 30 cents. I painted it with acrylic paint the library already owned. The letters came from foam puzzles I found at the dollar store.

These alphabet tubs took a lot of time and effort to put together but the kids loved the letter A one so I’m happy I took the time to do it.

I got this game from totschooling.net! I believe I had to become a subscriber to access it but it was so worth it! The freebies you can find online are incredible. I taped down the mat so it wouldn’t shift around.

Initially I was going to make “snow” with the kids using baking powder and shaving cream. Then I realized I was insane. I was SO LUCKY to find Instant Snow on sale at Target for $1.50! I bought both boxes that were on the shelf. You add water to these teeny tiny beads and they puff up and actually feel cold somehow!

You can reuse the snow if you want (just let the water evaporate) but I figured there were so many little fingers in it that day that it wasn’t worth saving. And we have a ton left. I only used three little teaspoons of snow and each package has two gallons worth! The shovels and other toys were mine from home.

This stuff was a hit! The kids loved digging their hands in it. And it was really easy to vacuum up afterwards. Which was fortunate because it was EVERYWHERE.

I thought this would be our most boring station but to my surprise the kids loved it! They didn’t do much tracing but coloring with markers is always popular with our littlest patrons … I got our tracing worksheets here.

The kids had an amazing time with our centers! I allocated 20 minutes for them to make their way around but we had kids there for about 30-40 minutes!

I knew I wanted to provide the kids with a summary of our session, a take home activity, and some “homework.” I created this session summary:

Inside left and right pages of booklet

It was printed back and front on one page of paper and then folded like a booklet so the order is a bit odd online but you get the idea! As you can see there is a learning activity for when they get home to reinforce our theme. I also handed out a letter/number of the week worksheet for them to color at home and practice their writing. I got the letter worksheet here and the number worksheet here. And lastly I sent home a tracing worksheet as homework.

During centers I played music off of my Spotify account. We played on loop:
Frosty the Snowman by Raffi
Winter by Vivaldi
I’m a Little Snowman by The Kiboomers
Do You Want to Build a Snowman off of the Frozen soundtrack
Five Little Snowmen by The Kiboomers
Waltz of the Snowflakes from The Nutcracker

The program went so well and had such positive feedback from the kids AND their parents. Hopefully I can continue for the whole year. Last week my hours (and all of our part-timers hours) were drastically cut so I’m hoping I still have the time to plan. It’s a lot of work but I think it will be worth it!

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