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New K Teacher-HELP!



Senior Member
I was recruited by my former principal to come out of retirement and fill a kindergarten position due to the teacher shortage. I haven’t taught anything below second, so I’m looking for help with setting up my classroom, classroom behavior strategies, first day/week ideas. I don’t even know how to do calendar or centers! It’s going to be a steep learning curve! They use Reading Street, Wordly Wise 3000, and enVision math. Any help you can give would be so appreciated! TPT products, blogs, Facebook groups… seriously I have some very basic questions, such as students work at tables so how do I handle materials such as books, pencils, crayons, scissors? Obviously I need a crash course but i’ll be grateful for any help you can give.

Never in my life did I consider teaching K or 1. I keep saying this is temporary, my prince says, “But you’ll love it!” We’ll see!LOL Seriously, I love this principal, he was a blessing when my husband was ill, and now I’d like to return the favor in a small way.

(Adding: Since I do view this as temporary I’d like to keep the expense down as much as possible.)

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Senior Member
Welcome to K! It's truly a unique and special place. I hope you love it!

Room - keep it simple. Be mindful of storage that is easy for kids to get out and put away. If you have the space it's wonderful to have a block area, housekeeping, etc. I don't, so those things just come out during play time.

The first weeks are routines and procedures. You need to teach them EVERYTHING. Seriously, everything. Like "this is how you open your glue stick. This is how you close it." Every. little. thing. LOL Everything takes 10 times longer than you think it will at first, and you will feel like you are talking and repeating yourself all day long. But it does get infinitely better! Really think through your procedures like coming in, passing out work, getting materials, etc. so that you are able to clearly teach and practice those routines. We really work on them for 4-6 weeks. Go slow to go fast is so true in K!

In the first few days I like to include a few projects to get a baseline of how they draw, color, cut, follow directions, etc. I also like to have them do something that they take home the first few days. Read lots of stories, sing songs, and include lots of time to play and get to know each other. Academics can wait - community building and learning how to be in school are paramount.

I don't know any of your curriculum, but I don't use much from TPT. I really only use it when I have an idea of something I want to make, and I go to see if someone has already done the work for me. :o

There are a lot of K facebook groups. I enjoy Simply Kinder and Kinder Teacher Talk. I get a lot of good ideas, but you have to be willing to sift through the overdone, fluffy stuff.

Play is critical. So is fine motor work. I hope your admin is on board with that. I start my day with half an hour of play and it's the best change I ever made to my schedule. It helps the reluctant kids want to come in, it gives time for the shy or not morning kids to warm up and transition, it lets me check in with everyone or answer a parent question if it comes up. By the time we clean up they are SO ready to learn! Get both play and fine motor practice in whenever you can.

Community vs individual supplies is always a hot topic for K. I give each of my kids a pencil box with pencil, crayons, and (eventually) scissors and glue sticks. Anything else is shared. It's a personal choice, but this has worked well for me. I have flexible seating with no assigned seats, so my kids keep their pencil box in their cubby and only get it out when it's needed.

One thing you have to remember is that you are training the parents as much as the child. K parents are needy. ;) If it's their first child they need a lot of hand holding. They are great, and eager, and love to help, but they can be a lot of work, too.

K is so hard in the beginning, and so worth it in the end. We always liken it to childbirth - if you remembered how horrible it is you'd never have another kid. So don't get discouraged if you are coming home exhausted and asleep before dinner every day - it's normal! But they are fun, and loving, and eager, and they make the most amazing growth in just a year. It's terrific!


Senior Member
You are an experienced teacher — you will be fine! But there are things to remember that will make your transition easier!

Here are my tips:

1. Assume that they don’t know anything. Some didn’t attend preschool last year — even if they did… Really — some may have never been to a ‘public/school’ restroom by themselves, may have not been without their parents for a while, don’t know how to open anything at lunch, walk in a line, wait for their turn (to do anything!), may not have heard the word, “No” very much.

2. There may be tears, melt downs, and soiling of clothing at any time during the school year.

3. Use at least the first week (or two!) to learn procedures — and have procedures for everything!

4. If your admin allows, do both a morning and afternoon recess and lots of brain breaks in between!

5. Since Covid — we don’t use community supplies. We give each kid a slider baggie or zipper pouch with a limited amount of supplies — because they will get all of them out all the time! :)

6. Scissors and glue — assume they don’t know how to use them. Go over how to use a glue stick — or many will have the glue all the way out.

7. Having them draw a picture of themselves on the first day of school along with their name. This will give you a lot of information — who has good fine motor skills, who might know their letters, etc.

8. I’ve been in early childhood and Kindergarten for over 18 years. There is no tired like first of the year Kindergarten tired! :)

9. Have a line order — so kids are in the same spots. If you have any repeaters —they can be good line leaders and cabooses!

10. Remember that this may be their parents first time to have a kiddo in school and explain things appropriately.

11. Be sure you know how each kid is supposed to get home every day. And don’t assume that you can send them out of your classroom to go anywhere by themselves! ;)

Have fun! Ask your team teachers for support! Do a lot of self-care! Kindergarten is very rewarding — most littles love to learn and want to please! You get to see them make such growth during the school year — and then watch them grow up in your school!


Senior Member
Hi Trasie,

Welcome to Kindergarten!!

If you scroll down a few posts on the Kindergarten Board, you will see another post from someone new to kindergarten. you might find that helpful.

This year is a little different from normal years due to safety protocols for Covid-wearing masks, washing hands/using hand sanitizer often, social distancing, no shared materials, using desk shields to separate students at tables... Check with your principal to see what is required, because it will determine how you do things.

The safety protocols keep changing. Last year, they removed our large carpets from our kindergarten classrooms. They rolled them up and stored them in the cafeteria. The cafeteria was not used since our in-person students went home before lunch. This year, we will have full classes in-person so they are putting the carpets back in our classrooms since they'll need the cafeteria for lunch. They told us that we can keep the carpets rolled up along the side of our classroom or have the carpets on the floor, but students can't sit on them. Our classrooms are already tiny. :confused:

The first thing that shocks most teachers new to kindergarten is how many simple things we have to teach the children that most people take for granted. (How to use a glue stick, how to use a tissue, how to get in line...) The first month you will spend forever teaching, modeling and practicing routines and procedures. Stick with it, even though you will get tired of doing it. It helps the students become independent. The time, that you invest in it at the beginning of the year, pays off big during the second half of the year.

This year, we cannot share materials so each student has a zippered pouch-2 pencils (Ticonderoga golf pencils are developmentally-appropriate. I also have triangular pencils for them to use.), 8 crayons (I have the triangular ones to start off the year. They are thicker, don't break as easily and don't roll off the table.), a glue stick, an eraser, a dry-erase marker/eraser and a small container of Play-Doh. Keep in mind that you will need to model and have them practice getting out/putting away the materials and how to use the different materials.

To avoid unwanted haircuts and/or cut clothing, I keep scissors at the art center and distribute them when needed for an activity and they return them as soon as they are done with the activity. (Let's just say I learned to do that from personal experience.<!--giggle-->)

Are you inheriting a classroom or building it from start? My students have chair pockets-dry erase board, colored folders, journal and math book are kept in the chair pockets. Those are pricey to go out and buy. They also have a small cubby to keep a spare set of clothing (bathroom accidents) and art shirt.

Since we couldn't share materials last year, I used my containers that I normally use for centers to give each student a "bin." I put things like puzzles, Play-Doh, ziploc bag with some tools (I bought several bags of Play-Doh tools at Dollar Tree and split them between my students), small bag of Lego blocks, mini-Tumbling Towers from Dollar Tree, a lacing card. As we went through the year, I added some items from my centers.

When my students first arrived, they pulled out their home/school folder for me to check for any notes and put their iPads on the cart to get charged. (Last year about half my class was in-person. They came to school in the morning and went home before lunch. They took their iPads home because we had to have assignments for them to do in the afternoon. In the afternoons, we did Google Meets with our all-virtual students. So far, we are not doing virtual this year so I am not sure if we will be required to send home iPads just in case our class has to quarantine.) Then students put backpacks on smpty chairs at their tables. This year we will be back to hanging them on hooks in the classroom. We have full classes so there won't be any empty chairs. Once students have done that, they get their bins for some free-choice time. (We weren't allowed to go to centers last year.)

At the beginning of school, we start out with name activities. We want students to recognize their names, be able to identify the letters in their names...
Here are some name activities:
  • Name Puzzles- It doesn't have to be fancy. You can write the name on an index card and cut it into pieces.
  • Match the Letters in Name-You can use magnetic letters to make the student's name and then use the copy machine to make a copy it on paper. (You have to put it in reverse order for it to print out correctly. Then have the child find the magnetic letters and match them to the letters on the paper to make their name.
  • Unscramble Your Name- I make letter cards for each student with just the letters in their name. I put the letters inside envelopes with a name card. The student unscrambles the letters and builds his/her name. Then uses the name card to check.
  • Decorate Your Name-You can write their names on white paper and have them glue torn paper onto the letters or use Dilly Dot markers to make dots on the letters.
  • Trace Your Name-You can write their names with highlighter and have them trace their names or rainbow write their names.
  • Stamp Your Name- They can use letter stamps to stamp their names on paper or use alphabet stamps/cookie cutters to stamp their names in Play-Doh.

You could have students "sign in" when they come into the classroom in the morning. It could be something where they move their name from one spot to another-magnetic name cards on a chalkboard or move a textbox with their name from one section on the Smartboard to another. If you want them to write their name, observe them writing their names the first day. Then you can differentiate the activity for students who don't know how to write their name by having them trace their name to sign in.

Make class books where students write their names. (You can check out the Kindergarten Board for some posts for class books to get ideas.)

The first day I read Owen by Kevin Henkes. We talk about how we feel. I share about how I am nervous the first day because I don't know them. We talk about Owen's favorite blanket and having it made him feel better. I give them each a small piece of a fleece baby blanket so they each can have their own "fuzzy" to rub between their fingers. They keep it in their zippered pouch.

You will want to read books with fun, predictable text at the beginnning of the year. Some examples are Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes! by Eric Litwin. These books are designed to be read more than one time. As you reread the books, encourage students to join in.

I am not familiar with your curriculum. We use Go Math, Benchmark Literacy and Reading Horizons Phonics. Play is so important for kindergarten students. It is how they learn best. We have had to fight to keep play centers in kindergarten. Common Core pushed first grade expectations into kindergarten. You will hear "more rigor"; however, our students are still 5 years old and we need to do what is developmentally-appropriate for them. We figure out how to do the expectations in developmentally-appropriate ways.

Singing songs, finger plays and rhymes are part of kindergarten. It helps with language development. I don't sing very well, but my students don't care.

Fine motor skills are important! There are lots of simple activities to work on fine and visual motor skills-lacing activities, tongs/pom-poms, pegs/pegboards, mazes, sorting, using small manipulatives... I get ideas from Marsha McGuire, A Differentiated Kindergarten and using Google. If you have an OT (Occupational Therapist) in your school, he/she can give you suggestions, too.

Like PPs mentioned, for many parents, this is their first experience with school so you will be teaching them, too.

The first month is exhausting. I think Zia, PT Poster, described it best-"It is like trying to herd cats." LOL Be kind to yourself. You do not need everything ready the first day. Their attention spans are shorter. They need breaks and movement. You will slowly introduce things the first month. This year we are expecting some more challenges so we are going to have more breaks and do more SEL type activities.

At the end of the year, you will be amazed by how much they grew.

Again, welcome to kindergarten! This will be my 39th year teaching. You can do this!!!
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Senior Member
They told us that we can keep the carpets rolled up along the side of our classroom or have the carpets on the floor, but students can't sit on them. Our classrooms are already tiny.
We hear a lot of crazy things that come down from admin. This one is definitely at the top of the list! :rolleyes:<!--eyebrow-->


Senior Member
You are all amazing! There is so much help in this thread! It ‘s 4am and I can’t sleep, so I’m reading through these yet again. Meetings begin today-kids come Wednesday!
There is only one of each grade level, and many new teachers, so you can bet I’ll be back with more questions.