Handprint Craft for the First Day of School
This year I tried something game changing. You see, we always do a Classroom Scavenger Hunt at our Meet the Teacher event. We have families sign up for different 1/2 hour time slots so there's no more than 5 children at a time. The children and their parents complete the scavenger hunt, finding different things in the classroom. This is to familiarize the child with the classroom and teacher and hopefully make them more comfortable when the first day of school rolls around. What I realized though, was that by having the parents guide the students through the activity, I was missing out on precious time where I could be instructing them on basic routines, while assessing their processing speed, their ability to follow directions, their attention span and their basic socialization skills! So this year, I treated the Scavenger Hunt like a mini-lesson in Kindergarten for my students.
I started by introducing myself to them and then introducing them to each other. I built camaraderie by telling them that this was their Scavenger Hunt team and if they worked together they would complete the Scavenger Hunt and earn a prize. I then lined them up and had them walk to the entrance of the classroom where we do our Morning Greeting each day. I talked to them about picking a greeting and had each one choose a greeting and respond to me. After they greeted me they moved to a table in the room with the Scavenger Hunt sheets laid out. I asked them to write their names at the top. This was a quick assessment of pencil grip and name writing. I then walked them through the steps of the Scavenger Hunt, which coincidentally taught them: where the bathroom is, that the toilet automatically flushes, where the sink is, how to get the automatic taps to turn on, how to get the soap and where to put the paper towels when they're finished, where their drawer is with their supplies, how to get their pencil box out of their drawer and close it behind them, how to bring their pencil box to the table, how to put their pencil box away when done and close their drawer again, how to choose a spot at the carpet and turn to face the speaker (further lesson on crisscross, mountain or mermaid sitting will be covered the first week), they know where our reading center is and how to sit and look at books, they know where our math games are and how to get a bin out and then return it when done, they know how to line up at the door in a straight line when its time to leave the classroom, they know how to clean up their center when the chime rings, they know where their cubby is and where to put their backpacks and folder each day.
In just 11 steps, we covered some of the most important routines in the classroom. Of course I'll have to reteach and refine on the first day of school, but they're coming in with a baseline knowledge of how to function in the classroom. More importantly, they feel more comfortable with me and with following my instructions. I'm more aware of who is impulsive, who needs time to warm up, who is a natural leader, who is easily distracted. They're also more comfortable with each other, and have started the beginning of friendships with at least the students who were in their Scavenger Hunt group. On Monday I can group them together in those same groups, to give them a bit more familiarity and comfort.
Since I have all of those building blocks in place now, I feel like Monday won't be AS chaotic and stressful as previous years' first day of school. That means that I can add this handprint poem into the plans for Monday, and feel confident that our day will go smoothly: