Preparing for THE Day
Since I won’t launch Work on Writing for several weeks, I do lay out all of my materials for the few first weeks until our schedule normalizes. I love being able to grab whatever I need and easily trade something out if it’s not working or we need something else (i.e. brain breaks).
Starting Our Day
With school-start times being pushed back this year, we had a 45 minute window when students would be arriving with families. 45 minutes?!?! It’s a huge chunk of time and we definitely couldn’t color/write/read/anything for that long. So, I pulled out Crayon and Whimsy’s Ocean Animal Pattern Block mats and they were perfect! My friends loved creating ocean animals, and my new friends would trade mats when they finished. I had a few friends who weren’t interested in ocean animals, so they played with the blocks on their table. It was a *simple* and perfect way to start our day. Plus, everyone could feel successful at the activity!
After our families left (note – I had 0 criers this year!!!!!!), we learned how to clean up/push in our chairs/come to the carpet. This took one million minutes and dozens of tries. Then, I introduced our day’s “Game Plan” and taught our friends the Good-Morning song.
Our 1st Read-Aloud
Now that we were all on the carpet, we read How Will I Get to School this Year? It is a very silly book and a great way to level the playing ground. At this point in the morning, I don’t want to talk about going home because it will stress everyone out (myself included). But this simple, short book is a great way to talk about the ways we are the same. We then graphed how our friends get to school!
Practicing Common Area Procedures
Then, as an entire 1st grade, we have dinning room procedures practice with our Assistant Principals and staff that help in the dining room (Yes, I do have duty-free lunch and it’s amazing.) Do you see our imaginary trays?
Building our Reading Stamina
Coming back from the Dinning Room, it was time to launch Read to Self and practice our reading stamina. I introduced stamina as being able to do something tough for a long time without giving up. I talked about training for a marathon and needing to practice. Just like athletes, runners need to practice, too. We made our ‘Read to Self’ t-chart and decided reading was awesome because it is (1) fun and (2) makes us better readers and writers. We also briefly introduced 2 ways to read (1) with pictures and (2) with words. At this point, I read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, so we could practice reading the pictures!
I turn on our class timer and say, “Go!” This year we made it 1 minute and 58 seconds before stamina broke… a solid start! This graph is actually after the second day of school, but it works! You can download your own stamina graph here. (To learn more about how reading stamina works in our classroom, you can read this blog post.)
Brain Break – Math Style!
At this point, we were definitely ready for a brain break. We picked spots in the classroom where we had room to move and counted to 100 with Jack Hartman!
1st Day Pictures
Are you tired yet? At this point in the day, it was time for lunch and recess. During recess, I snagged pictures of my friends with this sign (I picked up the chalkboard at Hobby Lobby and wrote on it with paint pen…low maintenance is the way to go). The photos will go in the hallway where students hang their awesome work!
After recess, 85% percent of our time was spent preparing for dismissal and practicing dismissal. I’m really not kidding. We reviewed how all our friends were getting home, practiced lining up, and practiced walking to our dismissal spots around the school. Then, after doing this, we did a whole-school dismissal practice. Friends, dismissing is NO JOKE! Thankfully, all of the practice must have worked because ALL of my friends made it home safely (#sweetvictory).
First Day Self Portraits
We did slip in a first-day self portrait that will be the front page of our Writing Portfolios this year. I love the idea of having a year-long writing progress to show parents and Cara Carroll offered a simple way to manage them, so I’m game this year! (You may grab this page free here.)
Reflecting About Our Day
After a whole-school dismissal practice, we brainstormed what happened on our first day of 1st grade. (Note – I take a picture of this board and sent it via Remind Text to my families, so they have some talking points when their students arrive!)
Students wrote about their favorite part of the 1st day. I know it is a stretch to write sentences on the first day, but friends – I was AMAZED! All 22 of my students could write a sentence without crying. Our Kinder teachers must have rocked-it last year. Most of my friends didn’t know how to use ‘because’ (i.e. – the word ‘because’ is randomly stuck in this sentence…hehe, but everyone had a basic sentence. 🙂 Before having students put these into their home folders, I had a Speech Pathologist (who hasn’t started pulling kids yet) make a copy for me. This will be a great writing reassessment for me and a great addition to our writing portfolios. (You may grab this page here.)
Friends, the first day is definitely a whirlwind with two main goals – (1) have the children leave smiling and (2) getting the children home safely. If you think I’m kidding, I’m really not. Those two jobs alone are hard enough – ha! 🙂
With 4 days under our belts, my friends are starting to become ‘mine’ and this is a great feeling. The first few days, I always worry if I will love this group enough or as much as the last one. Every day, with every new moment, the feeling dissipates and my excitement for a new year grows.