Kindergarten Schedules for Full Day, Extended Day, and Half Day

 

Every now and then, people ask me to post my schedule for full day or half day Kindergarten.  I also get questions about our schedule for easing Kindergartners into the full day.  So for those that are interested, I have posted my schedules for half day, extended day, and full day Kindergarten.  Of course, there are interruptions here and there on certain days when we go to the library or the computer lab, but the basics are below.

And by the way, our new Classroom Management Songs DVD is DONE!  But more on that next week.  If you would like to see some video clips from it, please click here.  ***UPDATE SEPT 29*** Our Classroom Management DVD has been updated! The same great songs with NEW animation! The video below is from the new DVD! 😀

 

Easing Children Into the Full Day
Some of you may remember that my school district employs the wonderful practice of “easing” our little ones into the full day of school. This means that we transition the children gently from a half day schedule to a full day schedule.  This is how we do it:

*  During the first four weeks of school, the children attend for just half the day from 8:15 – 11:35.   In the afternoons after the kids leave, we meet with each family individually and test their children while they watch, and then talk about the results with them.  We let them know what they need to work on with their children in the coming months.  It really is time well spent!  I have been using the ESGI Software to test the children so that I can give the parents an instant set of customized flash cards.  This incredible software allows teachers to print out flashcards for ONLY the items that each child needs to work on.  I am hoping that this will make a real difference for my class this year.  (This is the first time I will have started out the year using it.)
By the time we finish our fourth week of school, we are all definitely ready to have the children stay a bit longer!  There really isn’t time to squeeze much of anything into the day in a half day schedule, and it starts to feel very rushed after a couple of weeks.  The 1:20 dismissal time seems to be just perfect for the little ones, especially at this time of year!

*  Beginning with the fifth week of school, the children stay for an extended day, from 8:15 – 1:20. However, each teacher is required to keep a small group of children for interventions after school from 1:20 – 2:15 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.  This little “tutoring group” usually has four to six children in it.  Thursdays are reserved for meetings, since this is our school wide Compact Day, (and so on this day we dismiss five minutes early at 1:15.)   Fridays are reserved for team planning and prep time.  🙂

*  At the start of the third trimester, the entire class stays from 8:15 – 2:15, except for our school wide Compact Day on Thursdays, on which we continue to dismiss at 1:15. At this point, there is no more after school tutoring, because the day is really long enough for them by 2:15, and they are very tired by that point.  And so am I!

 

 

Here is my half day schedule: (First four weeks of school)

8:00-8:15:  Before school recess.  (Children meet on the playground before school.)
8:15-8:25:  Opening activities:  Attendance, flag, patriotic song, calendar activities.
8:25-8:30:  Drill and practice of new concepts.
8:30-8:40:  Music (I use it to help teach sight words, language arts, and math.)
8:40-8:50:  Story and Morning Message
8:50-9:00:  Explain art project and centers:
9:00-11:00:  Academic Group Rotation  (Includes Language Arts, Math, Art, and Misc. Centers, including some science, social studies, and physical education activities.)
9:00-9:20:  1st Rotation
(9:20-9:25:  Music during five minute transition.)
9:25-9:45:  2nd Rotation
(9:45-9:50:  Music during five minute transition.)
9:50-10:10  Recess
(10:10-10:15:  Five minute transition to get lined up and get rotations restarted.)
10:15-10:35  3rd Rotation
(10:35-10:40:  Music during five minute transition.)
10:40-11:00:  4th Rotation
11:00 – 11:10: Story time
11:10-11:25:  Inside Playtime
11:25-11:30:  Pack up and get ready to go home.
11:30-11:35:  Short phonemic awareness activities (with backpacks in laps while we wait for dismissal time to come.)

 

 

Here is my extended day schedule: (Fifth week of school through end of second trimester)

8:00-8:15:  Before school recess. (Children meet on the playground before school.)
8:15-8:25:  Opening activities:  Attendance, flag, patriotic song, calendar activities.
8:25-8:30:  Drill and practice of new concepts.
8:30-8:40:  Music (Sometimes I use music to review classroom rules and procedures.)
8:40-8:50:  Story and Morning Message
8:50-9:00:  Explain art project and centers:
9:00-11:00:  Academic Group Rotation  (Includes Language Arts, Math, Art, and Misc. Centers, which include some science, social studies and physical education activities.)
9:00-9:20:  1st Rotation
(9:20-9:25:  Music during five minute transition; we review a lot of sight word songs during this time!)
9:25-9:45:  2nd Rotation
(9:45-9:50:  Music during five minute transition.)
9:50-10:10  Recess
(10:10-10:15:  Five minute transition to get lined up and get rotations restarted.)
10:15-10:35  3rd Rotation
(10:35-10:40:  Music during five minute transition.)
10:40-11:00:  4th Rotation
11:00 – 11:13: Phonemic Awareness  (We use Michael Heggerty’s Phonemic Awareness Book.)
11:13:  Get ready for lunch.
11:15-12:00: Lunch time!  (Includes a 15-20 minute recess for the kids.)
12:00-12:05:  Five minutes to transition inside, get drinks, and get settled.
12:05-12:15:  Story Time
12:15-12:20:  Academic Concept Review Through Music (And a chance to get our wiggles out!)
12:20-12:35:  Writing (Whole group instruction/ demonstration)
12:35-12:55:  Inside Playtime  (12:50:  Clean Up)
12:55-1:15:   Social Studies or Science
1:15-1:20:  Pack up and dismissal.

Here are the things that often happen, though:
Our academic rotation runs long in the morning, and we run out of time for our phonemic awareness activities before lunch.  So I push it back and do it immediately after lunch, and then have our story time after that.  Then comes my whole group writing lesson, which at this point in the year usually includes making a “T Chart” about a whatever non-fiction book we just read.  Our district also likes us to do a lot of categorization activities to help them with writing later on.  (We are supposed to be following the Step Up to Writing program, and these activities are part of this program.)  Then I will use the content to generate sentences and demonstrate the writing process for the children, given time.  If there is just no more time and the children are too restless, then I may use the T-Chart to help me generate content for our morning message sentences the next day.  All of this means that playtime will be shorter, of course.  And it also means that we may need to skip social studies and/or science.  At this time of year, since we are still establishing routines and procedures, this seems to happen more often than not, unfortunately!  But I console myself by reminding myself that in Kindergarten, much of social studies is learning how to be in school, get along, follow the rules and the procedures, share, etc., etc., etc.  And we do that ALL DAY LONG, so how bad can it really be?????

 

 

Here is my full day schedule: (Third trimester of school)

8:00-8:15:  Before school recess.  (Children meet on the playground before school.)
8:15-8:25:  Opening activities:  Attendance, flag, patriotic song, calendar activities.
8:25-8:30:  Drill and practice of new concepts.
8:30-8:40:  Music  (We never run out of sight word songs!)
8:40-8:50:  Story and Morning Message
8:50-9:00:  Explain art project and centers:
9:00-11:00:  Academic Group Rotation  (Includes Language Arts, Math, Art, and Misc. Centers)
9:05-9:25:  1st Rotation
(9:25-9:30:  Music during five minute transition.)
9:30-9:50:  2nd Rotation
(9:50-9:55:  Music during five minute transition.)
9:55-10:15  Recess
(10:15-10:20:  Five minute transition to get lined up and get rotations restarted.)
10:25-10:45  3rd Rotation
(10:45-10:50:  Music during five minute transition.)
10:50-11:10:  4th Rotation
11:10-11:15  Get ready for lunch.
11:15-12:00: Lunch time!
12:00-12:05:  Five minutes to transition inside, get drinks, and get settled.
12:05-12:15:  Phonemic Awareness  (We use Michael Heggerty’s Phonemic Awareness Book.)
12:15-12:30:  Story Time
12:30-12:40:  Academic Concept Review Through Music (And a chance to get our wiggles out!)
12:40-12:55:  Writing (Whole group instruction/ demonstration)
12:55-1:15:  Journal Writing (Whole Group)
1:15-1:20:  Clean up journals, make sure back packs are packed and ready to go BEFORE we dismiss anyone for inside playtime!
1:20-1:50:  Inside Playtime  (Clean up at 1:45)
1:50-2:10:  Social Studies/Science (We alternate units.)
2:10- 2:15  Get ready to go home, and dismissal.

In my school district in California, we don’t have “specials” the way many of you do in other places, where they take the children from you during the day and pull them out for music, library, and computer lab, etc.  If my children learn music, they learn it from me.  If they go the computer lab, then I take them or they go with a volunteer.  When they go to the library, I go with them and manage my group of kids while they are there.  My prep time comes at the end of the day, once the children have gone home, from 2:15-3:15.  The teachers of the children in fourth and fifth grades do get their prep time during those pull out “specials,” which in our district are usually PE and music, as I recall.  So, their prep time will come some time during the day while their kids are doing these activities.
Personally, I really like the uninterrupted blocks of time with my students, and I don’t mind at all taking them to the library, etc.

If you have any questions, please let me know!
Heidi

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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of HeidiSongs.com. Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. Heidi, I'm curious. With the emphasis nowadays on rigor and testing, how has your district handled that? In a perfect world, I think ALL of us would LOVE to have the schedule that you have!! It makes perfect sense for the children. Do the children have any time in PreK before they come to you? Do you have to do any standardized testing with your kids? Running records? What are their end of year scores like? I guess what I'm trying to figure out is whether having a schedule like yours is more beneficial to the kids test wise. I know it is more DAP!!

  2. Heidi,
    I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to Michael Heggerty's Phonemic Awareness Book. It is the BEST phonemic awareness resource I have ever used! I purchased it myself and it is money well spent. My students love it and it works for all level of learners.
    Thanks again for sharing!

  3. Heidi, THANK you for posting your extended day schedule. That is the amount of time I have with my kinders all year, and it was refreshing to hear I'm not the only one who tends to "get behind" in the daily schedule. Would you elaborate some on your daily centers? Do the art centers meet any particular standards? What kind of language arts activities–from a specific program, or from all over? Are you working with students at one center consistently, do you rotate from one center to another on a schedule, or do you float between them?

  4. Hi, Karen!
    It's a fair question. We actually do very well! We don't give standardized tests in my district until the end of second grade, thankfully. But I teach in a high performing district, and my school's API score was 862 (out of 1000) in 2011. The website greatschools.org gives my district an 8 out of 10. It also gives my school at 8 out of 10.
    We have to do Accelerated Reader with our Kinders, and most of them can read at a 1.0 level by the end of the year. Some can read higher. My high group usually can read books that are rated 1.7 – 2.0 on the AR rating scale. That's a Guided Reading level of F-I for the high kids. Not bad for a Title One school, I think! The 1.0 AR level is equivalent to Guided Reading D. Usually, about a third of them never went to preschool, and they are far behind when they arrive, so we have to also teach them the alphabet. About half of the remaining kids usually attended the local Head Start, and the rest usually went to a local Preschool.
    About 20-25% of our K students come in with a second language and have to learn English right along with the rest of the curriculum.
    Heidi

  5. To Unknown,
    You are welcome!
    We do get behind, and the deeper we get into the standards, the farther behind we get! We are usually ready to stay a bit longer when we finally reach the third trimester, but the little ones that need the tutoring after school suffer because they really need that extra boost, unfortunately. The extra time in a small group doesn't seem to be as beneficial as the extra time with the whole class.
    Of course the centers meet the Common Core standards. The almost always stay at the Language Arts Center. My aide runs the math center. I have a volunteer at the art center, and I almost always have a volunteer at the "extra" center as well, but sometimes it is independent.
    We have to follow a specific language arts program, so we do "SIPPS" three times a week, and Step Up to Writing once in a small group per week, and then daily whole group. SIPPS stands for Systematic Instruction in Phonics and Phonemic Awareness. It's deadly boring and dry, and I would rather not do it, but I have to. The content is solid, but it needs something more in it to make it more appealing to the children.
    I like to try out other things there when I can.
    I have other blog posts on what types of things I do during centers. I'll see if I can update the blog post with some links for you.
    Heidi

  6. Oh my goodness. These are kindergarten children!! When do you ever let them PLAY at a centre of their choice??? Not impressed this goes against all research on how children Lear best.

    • To Lee,
      Yes, we have playtime, Lee! And they can choose anything they want to do, and play at those centers during that time. Most of the activities that we do during our rotation are available during that time. If you read through each schedule, each one includes playtime.
      The one thing that I do not do, is let them choose which center that they are going to do first, etc. during our rotation. This is because we are pulling all of the children through our small group instruction. So they are always with either me, my aide, a volunteer, or on their own at our independent center. If I let them choose where they wanted to be during that time, I would sacrifice all of our small group instruction in both reading and math. So, I let them have their choice time after the rotation with the guided reading and math instruction is finished.
      However, I do respect your opinion, if you believe things should be done differently. 🙂
      Heidi

  7. Heidi,
    As always, I love the way you think and how you run your classroom! I’m very much the same way in liking order in teaching. Wandering students drive me crazy!
    I’m trying to plan out my daily schedule and am looking at a number of different ones from teachers (like you:) that I greatly respect. As you do, I HAVE to teach a certain curriculum. It’s very dry and I have to add a lot to it. Add to that, the chances are very good I will have 15-20 Kinders by myself, no aides or volunteers, for a full day (8:15-3:30…longest day ever!) Also, no specials.
    I’m trying really hard to figure this all in my head and am getting overwhelmed! I know the kids seem to be at their best in the morning, but I don’t want to overload their mornings with all curriculum and afternoons all play (which is what the last teacher did.) I’ve taught half-day PreK for the last nine years.
    Any suggestions?? Thoughts?? How much would a Skype session with you cost me?? I need direction in the worst way.

  8. Just wondering….do you have any recess? I know you do some movement when you have music/transitions and learn through music/movement, but I think it’s important for children to get outside and get some playground time.

  9. I run a kindergarten program for two hours each morning in a treatment center for 5 boys with significant behavioral disorders. I am a special education teacher and have only been teaching kindergarten for four months. I am realizing that my schedule is not working right now, keeping their attention. They sit too long for reading time. I need to get at least some math and writing and reading in each day, following a curriculum. I only have two hours. Do you have advice on how to make a schedule work for them? Ideas for a daily schedule? thanks!

  10. Hi. I’m am hoping to convince my school to implement the trasition into a long day. We currently are in class from 8:15-3:15 from day one. I want to implement rotations but have a question. During rotations who teaches the math group and the language arts group? Are these groups centers or direct instruction? If they are centers when/how do you introduce new concepts?

    • Hi,
      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you! Busy weekend!
      During rotations, I teach the language arts group and my aide does a follow up lesson in math. (I introduce the concept whole group first.) These groups are centers but with a teacher at two of them. The kids are divided up into four groups total. We usually have a volunteer at the art center, and a bank of iPads at the fourth center.
      For more information, click here: There are many ways to do a group rotation, though! I have several different blog posts on different ways to do them. If you search my blog for “centers,” “rotations,” or “groups,” you’ll find a lot more.
      Good luck!
      Heidi

  11. What does your schedule look like for the after school groups in the 2nd trimester? Do you only keep students who need extra support? How many do you keep a day and what do you do with them?

    • That’s a great question! We were required to keep at least two and could also work with parents. We usually kept four-six kids. We ONLY kept the kids that needed extra support. I set a goal, such as that they would learn all of the letter names, and once each child in the group learned them, I dismissed him or her from the group so that I could focus on the others that needed me more. This worked very well! The group got smaller and smaller until everyone had mastered the skill… hopefully!
      The time went by quickly! Those intervention kids were supposed to wait quietly while the others were dismissed, but that usually took a good ten minutes for all of their parents to come. I would give them puzzles or a learning manipulative to do while they waited. Then I gave them a snack to help them refocus for the rest of the afternoon.
      Then I usually had only about 35 minutes of time to work with them, and their attention spans were already mostly spent. I generally worked with the group of them on flashcards first, asking them to give me physical responses (as in Zoo-Phonics or HeidiSongs Sounds Fun Flashcards.)
      Then I would use many of the ideas from the blog posts here to either teach them the alphabet or to get them sounding out words, which was usually the hardest thing for these kids:


      http://blog.heidisongs.com/2012/02/teaching-cvc-words-what-to-do-when-they.html
      Hope this helps! I’ll do a blog post on this as soon as I can.
      Heidi

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