A Kindergarten Pacing Guide for the Common Core- Freebie!

Pacing Out Your Kindergarten Year Through the Common Core

Do you have a Kindergarten Pacing Guide to help you plan out your school year?  If not, I have a free one for you right here!  You know, they say that if you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.  I think that this is more true of teaching than anything else!  Planning out the day, the week, the month, and the year is essential to success.  A good pacing guide can help you plan out your instruction, whether or not you are familiar with the curriculum or not.

The Pacing Guide tells you which concepts, numbers, words, or shapes to work on each week.

Becoming familiar with what is to be taught and planning for it is the biggest problem with being a new teacher.  It is also the hardest thing about getting moved from one grade level to another.  It is like trying to drive through a foreign country without a map, or trying to cook up some dinner without having any idea what you would like to serve!  It doesn’t work very well.  Of course, you can start reading your teachers manuals… if you are like most teachers, there may be a dozen volumes for language arts alone, never mind math, science, and social studies!  So start reading!

When I was a fairly new teacher, I worked as the afternoon Kindergarten teacher, following the lead of the more experienced morning kindergarten teacher.  We shared a classroom and team taught, with the same lesson plans in the morning as in the afternoon.  So in order to plan better, my team mate developed a pacing guide that we both followed.  It was extremely basic, and had only the most minimal curricular items on it.  However, we kept it pinned on the wall above our desk and referred back to it each year.

A pacing guide is essential because it can help you to remember which words, numbers, letters, colors, or concepts that you need to teach each week.  If you write your pacing guide carefully, it makes planning instruction very easy.  This is because if you just stick to the plan on the guide, you will not accidentally leave anything out or get behind on any vital skills.  On mine, I made sure that I left enough time to teach and practice all of the concepts that we were going to test on, and that we would do this well in advance of testing time.  So, my pacing guide is aligned to my district’s testing schedule.  Once I had this plan in place, I could allow myself to relax.

Fast forward many years later, and my wonderful mentor teacher tragically passed away due to a rare form of untreatable ovarian cancer, which spread quickly throughout her whole body and brain… and she was dead less than one year after diagnosis.  It was terribly sad and hard to go on working in the same room that we had shared for ten whole years, but somehow, I dragged myself through it and came through on the other side. But that’s another story for another day!

The lessons my dear friend taught me have stayed with me forever, and I have spent the last four or five years refining them and passing many of them on to you!  It makes me happy to think that she is proud of me and my accomplishments now!  And one of these lessons is how to pace out the year with a homemade Pacing Guide that I now create in Excel, but publish here in pdf form. You can easily make your own by using Microsoft Excel.  It really isn’t hard; just start typing in the boxes!  Take all of the things that your students must learn, and spread them out over the school year, leaving enough time for review and testing.  If you are not sure how long it takes to test, as a teacher at your school.  But I usually leave about (gasp!) SIX WEEKS of time available to do some testing at the end of the second trimester because there is so much to test at that time of year in my district in Kindergarten.  I only need about three weeks lead time for the November report card, and about four weeks of lead time for the end of the year report card.  I also try to (at least) introduce just about everything that I can by the end of the second trimester, because there are always lots of high kids that can master every single thing by then.  This gives them a chance to have an absolutely BEAUTIFUL report card!  And that makes me look great, too!  But if I don’t even introduce these harder concepts, then I can’t test anyone on them, and that’s that.

This is what the free downloadable Pacing Guide looks like.

My Pacing Guide has grown with the curricular requirements each year, and as I have added things to it, I have updated it and continued to post it on our website on the Free Downloads page.  The Pacing Guide that is attached was updated last August to reflect the Common Core State Standards.  I am writing this post now to let our new readers know that it is available.

You will find it by clicking on this link here and then scrolling down to the second section and then clicking on Pacing Guide.  I hope it is helpful to you!

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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. It's funny you posted this today because I was just looking at it yesterday. I am finally (8 years into teaching K) creating my own pacing guide this summer. I just had one question about yours, why did you decide to do phoneme segmentation and deletion before identification of ending sounds? I usually intro this before segmentation and then revisit it during/after that, but I would think it would need to be solid before we started deleting sounds. I might be missing something though, I was just trying to figure it out 🙂 I've been using your sight word songs and many other things for years so I more than trust your opinion on these topics!

  2. Hi, Kelly!
    That's a good question!
    I created this guide to match my district's TESTING schedule, not what I thought was the most logical order of what I thought the children would learn the skills in!
    However, I do think that pulling and I'm not sure which skill technically is supposed to come first, but I'm guessing it's the one that you emphasize the most. I would stick with the order in which you think your kids master them! I would bet that the two skills are mastered "neck and neck" anyway!

  3. So glad I saw this! This is a great starting point when you don’t have anything in your district!! (We don’t at all.)

  4. Thank you! I’m glad that it is useful to you! Our district doesn’t have anything like this either; I just made it for my own use. It helped me a lot to have it all planned out, and then I shared it with the other teachers there. Those that wanted it used it, and those that didn’t want it did not. It worked out!


  5. This comment came in from Zannell, but was inadvertently deleted when we moved from Blogger to WordPress:
    “Heidi you rock. I have never left a comment before, but I am one of your loyal followers. I read every blog post, I have some of your CDs and I am your biggest fan. You and I think so much alike it is crazy. Thanks for doing all that you do and for helping so many Kinder classes sing and dance. Zannell ”

    From Heidi:
    Thanks you so much, Zannell! It feels great to “hear” you say that! It sounds like we are kindred spirits, too! I would love to meet you in person someday!

  6. This comment came in from Shelley Rolston, but was inadvertently deleted when we moved from Blogger to WordPress:

    “Hi ladies,

    That’s actually sad when you have to plan around (and for) your testing. I teach in BC and that is not usually the case as much as we don’t have the testing that you guys have.

    Is there a pacing guide for all grades or do teachers create their own? In BC we create curriculum overviews (yearly) and previews, (per term).

    The Perks of Teaching Primary”

    From Heidi:
    Hi, Shelley! I agree with you; it’s a shame to have to have your curriculum revolve around the testing schedule! But it is a fact of life around here, unfortunately. Lucky you that you do not have as much testing as we have!
    As far as your other question, “Is there a pacing guide for all grades or do teachers create their own?” Well, there is not a Pacing Guide in the Common Core. Each district would have to create their own. Some language arts and math series will tell you what to teach on what week, though, which is of course the equivalent of a Pacing Guide. They call it a Scope and Sequence.
    The problem with a Scope and Sequence from a major publisher, (as I see it,) is that they are not “allowed” to leave ANYTHING out that is included in the Common Core, (or a particular state’s standards,) so their guides are typically very LONG and incredibly detailed and extensive. I find them overwhelming. If they would just cut it down to the MOST important topics, and make an abbreviated pacing guide to go with it, and a detailed guide for those that need it, it would be a lot easier to use.

  7. This comment came in from Janet, who also goes by “lovetoteachKinder2007.” It was inadvertently deleted when we switched from Blogger to WordPress.

    Hi Heidi!
    I noticed the date on these are 2009. Do these align with CA Common Core? Our district is just now talking about implementing CC but with no adopted curriculum. My colleagues & I have been searching on TPT and such trying to get ideas for teaching this year. Your site & materials have been instrumental in teaching our students the sight words, amongst other things. We can’t thank you enough for all your hard work and I love your blog!
    Thanks! 🙂

    My reply:
    Hi, Janet! Thanks for being my follower and fan, and thanks for a great question! Yes, the pacing guide has been updated to reflect the Common Core, but I forgot to change the copyright. So sorry!

  8. This comment came from Jaime, but was inadvertently deleted when we switched from Blogger to WordPress:

    Hello Heidi, Thanks SO much for all your free downloads and blog posts, and amazing products! I am new to K/1 and am learning ALOT from them! I was just wondering about your ‘pace’ with letters and numbers…it seems fast to me. I don’t have the same curriculum standards in Canada, are the American standards/testing what sets your pace? Do you find a letter a day for kindergarten works and they get it, or should I slow down when first introducing them? I am most anxious about pacing this year as I have not worked with this age group before only grade 2/3 students that struggled to read through Learning Assistance. Thanks for you help. -Jaime

    My reply to Jaime:
    Jaime, you are correct in assuming that our testing schedule dictates the pace of the pacing guide. If you can go slower than this and your students are comfortable with the pace, then go for it! Now if your students seem bored, or are begging for more, you can pick up the pace or differentiate for those that are ready.
    I always figured that just because I introduced a concept didn’t mean that they were all going to master it! My top students would master it, and then some of my medium achievers (and occasionally a low achiever!) always surprise me! You just can’t second guess who will get new concepts and who won’t; that’s why kids all need to be exposed to the core curriculum. Then once you have introduced everyone to the concepts, you can go back and reteach it to the kids that need more instruction.
    At that point, I just give my higher kids something more fun and challenging for both them and myself. 🙂

  9. I realize this is an old post but I just now ran across it. I absolutely love this pacing guide and would love to develop my own for the next school year. I have moved out of kindergarten into pre-k. Have you ever developed a pacing guide for pre-k? I think I can use the kindergarten one as a “springboard” to get started but just thought I would ask. Thanks for everything that you do. I love your blog and have several of your products. You’ve made me a better teacher 🙂

    • Hi, Renee!
      I would love to develop a Pacing Guide for Pre-K! But I guess I would really need to see a complete PK curriculum in order to do that! We don’t have Common Core standards for Pre-K, and so I would be giving it a stab in the dark about what would be covered. But if you want to send me your districts’ tests- or what your Pre-Kinders have to master by the end of the year, I would be more than happy to develop a Pacing Guide for your curriculum, and then share it here on a blog. It’s just a matter of spreading everything out throughout the year in a logical fashion, with enough room for review and testing at the end of the year. At least that’s what I do in K!

  10. I know this is an older post but I just found it. I went to download the pacing chart and it gave me an error message. Could this get updated because I would LOVE to to see your work. I truly appreciate it.

  11. Do you have any cute songs for kids to introduce themselves and to transition from one activity to another? I teach kindergarten want some fun songs for them to learn. Thank you for your help.


    • Hi,
      I don’t have a song for introducing yourself, but that’s a good idea! I always used the academic songs as we transitioned from one station to another because it gave us a chance to review those concepts. But I’ll think about making up a specific song for transitions!
      Thank you for your suggestions!

  12. I love your pacing guide!!! I have modified it to teach TK. I have a couple of questions. My students and I love your singable books. We are making all of them!!! But, looking at the pacing guide, your blog, TPT, and all your materials to purchase I have not found either of these books-
    Very Hungry Caterpillar Book and Tops and Bottoms Book. Is there a similar format to your books out there, have you made a version of either like your “Little Red Hen” Book?
    I love everything I have gotten from you!!! Please let me know where I can easily find both of these projects.
    Thank you,

    • Hi,
      The Very Hungry Caterpillar Book was a book I purchased from Kinderlit.com. They have now changed it to the book you can find here. It is not a singable book, though!
      The other one was also a book from Kinderlit- I THINK- and it was really called “Where does it grow, above or below?” It was based on the book, “Tops and Bottoms.” You can email them and ask them if they still have the book. If not, then let me know, and I’ll figure it out!

  13. Pingback: How I Taught My Kids to SPELL the FIRST 100 SIGHT WORDS! | Heidi Songs

  14. Oh my goodness! As a first year teacher who is nervous as ever…this pacing guide is helping me to feel a little more confident! I’m so glad I found this page!!!

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