Read Alouds For the First Day of Kindergarten

A new school year is almost here.  These are some of the books I will read on the first day of Kindergarten.  I selected these books because they are engaging and kindergarteners can easily identify with the characters.

I want my kindergarteners to know that they are readers; even on the first day of school. These engaging, short interactive books get students to actively participating.

Fairly Fairy Tales by Esme Raji Codell is my favorite choral reading book. Within the pages, we find a little girl and her mother reading a bedtime story. Along the way, we discover a story that combines a mixture of questioning and fairy tale characters with a modern twist.
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Press Here and Mix It Up by Harry Tullet have readers interact with the book. With each page turn students eagerly await what will happen next. This is a perfect book to use if you want to also teach carpet or rug expectations. Often, even my most squiggly of students, will sit up tall and raise their hand to have a turn.

The songs and videos of Pete the Cat books are just right when your students need a bit of movement and fun. It's all good when you have Pete the Cat by your side on the first day of kindergarten.

I want to acknowledge my students feelings about the first day of school.  For many of my kindergartners, this is the first time that they have been away from home for an extended period of time. These books help to ease and comfort them.

Dad's First Day is a great read if you have parents in the room with their child on the first day. They will be able to relate to the mix of emotions Oliver's dad is feeling.

In I Don't Want to Go To School, Simon says "No way!" to going to school. But as he discovers, school is a fun safe place to learn.

I also make sure to share a few "classic" reads that students may recognize from preschool if they attended.  No, David!, Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom are always within reach on the first few days of school. They are great for teaching many concepts and are timeless classics.

What are your must read books for the first day of kindergarten?


Wiggle and Learn

Flexible and alternative seating is one of the most talked about teacher topics.  Many teachers are changing the look and feel of their classrooms by incorporating more seating options for their students.

As a primary grade teacher, this has been the norm in my classroom.  I have spent all of my teaching career creating classrooms where students have a variety of places and spaces to work.

Yet, every year, I had one or two students who struggled to "sit" to work. They need to wiggle and learn.

Like most of you, I wanted these students to be successful.  I tried a variety of alternative choices like lying on the rug or using a stool but found limited success.

This year, I was blessed to win a wobble chair from Debbie Clement during her weekly #TeacherFriends Twitter chat.  
You do not know how this one chair changed how my student worked and learned. This little one had trouble sitting still anywhere! When I introduced the wobble chair to him, he beamed with pride. This was going to be his seat for learning. He was permitted to use it anytime he liked as long as he was working.  

Now, you may be thinking this was not fair to my other students. While it may not seem fair, in many ways, it gave him equal access to learning.  He had a place where he could move and learn. 

At first, he took the wobble chair everywhere. Over time, he began to choose the chair only when he needed it. In fact, sometimes, he'd start at his wobble chair and by the next activity, he was ready to sit in a regular chair.  

As a teacher, I noticed that with the seat, he was more focused and able to release that energy. 

Click image to watch video.

While I do have plans to purchase more wobble chairs, I know that this is a seating alternative. It may not work for all my students. Keeping seating options flexible gives me and my students choice.  

Would you want one for your classroom?  I am giving one away to a lucky follower (US residents only) of Learning with Mrs. Parker. All you have to do is follow me via Bloglovin', Instagram or Twitter.  

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Good luck!  


Self Portraits in Kindergarten

Self portraits are perfect projects for anytime of the year. I love how they reflect the personality of the child but also teaches different types of art mediums.

Here are three different ways to create self portraits in your classroom. 

For the past several years, I have been using this method for drawing self portraits.  Giving students a bit of a guide helps to create large portraits rather than small pieces of artwork. Once students learn this method, you can use them for other projects like this social studies lesson or this one.

We make Self Portraits Made Easy during the first week of school. Then, again at the end of the year.  Students are always astonished how different they look!

For this self portrait project, you will need newspaper and markers. First, I prep the newspaper for my students.  Each student will need an 8x11 sheet of newspaper. I suggest that you use "fun" print like the comic section rather than the headline page. Students will draw their self portrait in pencil. Then, they will use a black marker to trace their drawing. Lastly, they will color leaving their face in print. Mount on a bright colored paper like AstroBrights to add a pop of color.

For these Todd Parr Inspired Self Portraits, we read many of Todd Parr's books. We became familiar with his style of art. We noted that Parr used lots of bright colors. We also noticed that the faces were not the usually peach, tan and brown. Rather, people had faces of all different colors; even blue and pink! This got many students excited! Using AstroBright neon paper and construction paper from our scrap box, we made our Todd Parr Inspired Self Portraits. Adding them to a black construction paper gave them just the "pop" needed to stand out in the crowd.

These self portrait ideas are easy to prep and create any time of the year. 


A Work of Heart

This past school year has been exhausting; physically and emotionally.  
Teaching Has NO On/Off Switch

Only a teacher or the family of a teacher can understand this. 
There is no way to not think about the student who has come to school for weeks without socks. Nor to feel as you have failed because you have students who are not yet reading.
This is what teachers do.  
Teaching is a Work of Heart 
As a teacher, I teach with my whole heart. Every year I fall in love with a group of students. I strive to give them the best of me every day, all day. It is hard work. I fail at times but I don't give up on myself or them. 

I teach wholeheartedly because we deserve it.  I have learned that as teachers we are the glue that holds the classroom together. 

Teaching is My Passion
Little did I know that when I became a teacher, I would do so so passionately. You are not taught that teaching will be more than what you see in the classroom. Teaching takes place along the way. It's the conversations you have with a former student. The lessons you plan late into the night or the professional reading that you do willingly. It's the little things that really are BIG things. Although, I am here enjoying summer vacation, I am also reflecting about what I could do to improve, how I can make my classroom more joyous and how I can keep myself just as passionate. 

Teaching is a work of heart. 
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