The First Week of TK: What’s Working?

 

Today I am going to tell you what we did on our very first week of school in TK, also known as Transitional Kindergarten!  These are a few things that worked well with my sweet little students, who are just WONDERFUL by the way!  I am totally in LOVE with my class and with my new grade level!  The children couldn’t be sweeter, and the class just couldn’t be better!  I am over the moon with happiness and ever so grateful to be back with the little ones!  It’s just so good to be “back where I belong,” considering that the lion’s share of my experience is in Kindergarten, which is a very close cousin to TK.  If you are unfamiliar with TK, click here for an explanation!

 

TK Week One: What’s Working?

Crafts and Bulletin Boards

Of course, we MUST decorate our room with student artwork, right?  AND the children need to learn how to use scissors, pencils, glue, crayons, follow directions, and improve their fine motor skills.  And so it’s always a great idea to do a few arts and crafts with the little ones, both in Kindergarten and TK!  These are actually the very same crafts I used to do in Kindergarten.

 

On the first day, we made self portraits.  All the children had to do was cut the corners off of the squares to make them (somewhat) circular, glue the face to a white piece of paper, and then draw a face.  I mounted them on colored paper and added the name stickers later.  Don’t they look cute?

 

 

On the second day, the children cut out apples on the lines, (click for a free download!) which was a CHALLENGE for many of them, who were unfamiliar with the scissors!  I think next year I will put that one off until the second or third week of school in TK!

 

On the third day, we made school busses, (click for another freebie!) and this was actually much easier, because the squares and rectangles were already cut out for them.  All they had to do was cut the corners off for the wheels, and cut the traced rectangle out for the front of the bus.

 

Then we made a stop sign on Friday.  That was hard to cut out again, but they got better at it each day!  (Click that link for another freebie, lol!)

 

I finally got everything up on the walls and took a little movie of my classroom, which I posted on Instagram!  I LOVE my classroom!  Just look how cute it is!

 

 

Wanna see my classroom??? I love it when the children’s projects are up!!! #tk #kindergarten

A post shared by HeidiSongs (Heidi Butkus) (@heidisongs) on

Jumpin’ Numbers, Zoo Phonics, and the Animated Alphabet

I  introduced all of the letter sounds via my trusty Zoo Phonics cards, which I have been using every year since 1992!  Can you believe it?  However this year, I started using their newly updated cards that are in color.  They are so much cuter than before!  Anyway, I had to get new ones because I had given my other ones away to a new teacher when I went on that two year leave of absence.  If you are not familiar, Zoo Phonics is a multi-sensory system of teaching the letter sounds.  It works very well, especially in conjunction with our Animated Alphabet DVD, which we have also been using!

 

In addition to the letter sounds, I introduced all of the numbers 0-10 and 10 shapes with our Jumpin’ Numbers and Shakin Shapes cards.  Just like Zoo Phonics, there is a motion for every number and shape, which helps the children remember them!  I mix up the numbers and shapes, and the children make a motion for each one.  So the drill is a brain break as well!  The video below was taken years ago in my kindergarten classroom, but it does show what we were doing this week as well.

 

After we practiced with the cards, then each day we do a few of the songs from the Jumpin’ Numbers DVD!  We have been having so much fun with it!

 

 

Fun in the Playhouse

As many of you know, I have always done a four station rotation in my classroom when I taught Kindergarten.  I am doing the same in Kindergarten.  One station is usually an independent, play-based center.  So the first week of school, I decided that it would be a great idea to let the children play in our playhouse that I set up in small groups.  That way, there would not be too many in there at a time.  Click here to find out how I pull small groups and do learning centers in both Kindergarten and TK!

 

I can’t show you any pictures of the faces of my adorable students until the year is over, and then only with parent permission.  However, I can show you what the playhouse looks like!  I basically created this area out of nearly nothing.  When I inherited this room, it had just the brown wooden sink and oven, and nothing else.  The rest of the toys and things that were left over from the previous teacher seemed like they were not in good enough shape to use.

 

So, I actually posted on the website Nextdoor La Verne and asked people if they had any playhouse furniture, dolls, or toys they could donate to our local school to help stock a new TK classroom.  WOW- did people really respond! I got enough donations to create TWO playhouses, and was able to help stock up the TK classroom in my teammate’s room as well!  I found the little colorful table in an antique store for $50, and I purchased the little rocking chair for $35 from someone that posted it on a Facebook ad.  I added the fabric for “wallpaper,” and border to form the roof.  The other decorations came from the Target Dollar Spot!

 

 

Learning to Sort

We started learning to sort, and according to our Benchmark Ready to Advance curriculum, we were supposed to start with sorting by size.  It was supposed to be sorting by just big and little, but the children immediately pointed out that we needed a basket for MEDIUM, too!  So I got out another basket and we did that, too!  I guess they really are ready to advance!  🙂

 

 

Introducing Sight Words… On the First Week of TK?

Okay, I would NEVER have thought to do this on the first week of TK- EVER!  But the Benchmark Ready to Advance Curriculum said that we were supposed to introduce three words:  “I,” “the,” and “like,” even though it says not to introduce any letters for another couple of weeks. (We’ve been working on them anyway, of course!)  That does seem a bit odd, but… I knew that the kids would probably enjoy the songs, even if they might not really learn the words.  So I went ahead and introduced the words via the songs.  And indeed, the first day or two it seemed like an exercise in futility.  And then on the third day, they started to respond correctly when I asked them what the words were!  Will wonders never cease?

 

Now I know that there will be those out there that will be thinking, “You should not do this; it’s inappropriate.”  However… they did not pick up a pencil to trace or write a word.  All they did was sing and dance.  At the end of each song, I asked them what the word was, and then to spell it, and then to read it.  This is easy because before and after each song, the word is spelled and read aloud.  I just have the kids say it along with the movie.  Easy peasy!  I figure that they are also getting a good review of the letters in that word as well.  So as Pete the Cat would say, “It’s all good!”

 

 

Alphabet Pattern Blocks

I gave the kids our Alphabet Pattern Blocks for one of their independent centers, and I loved it because they could do it TOTALLY INDEPENDENTLY (whoop!) and they loved it because they were successful right off the bat!

 

My TKs were just SO proud of themselves when they finish making “their” letter!  They kept getting up to come get me to see how they had finished up the whole thing!  I was excited for them, too!  Oh, how I wish I could show you some photos of their incredibly proud and pleased faces!

 

Name Practice and Portfolio Sheets

If you have been reading my blog for several years, you may remember that I posted some portfolio sheets back in 2011!  I used them every year in Kindergarten to collect portfolio samples from each child so that I could show parents how their fine motor and visual perception skills had developed over the course of the year.  (They are free at the link!)

 

Well, I got those out and had the children do one per day.  We did not do all of them, because some of them were just too hard, but we did some of them.  I REALLY like having a record of what the children could do at the very beginning of the year, because when you compare it to their work just a couple of months later, you usually see a HUGE amount of growth!  It’s very exciting for parents (and me) to see!

 

I also printed all of the children’s names with a dotted line font so that they could practice tracing their names printed correctly.  I’ve been attaching this sheet to their weekly homework, along with the Read Aloud Chart, too.  You can read about the homework that I give here, and download a free editable cover sheet.

 

 

See you next week!

– 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. I am the grandmother (Mimi) of one of your pre-K students and I love that I can follow your blog! I am very excited to be able to see what she’s doing in your class. Thank you for being her first teacher. By the way, I was an educator too but for high school students so I say the end of the spectrum.

    • How wonderful! I’m glad that you are able to follow along as well! Nice to “meet” you online! See you next week! I hope your grandchild is happy and loving school! I love teaching them! This is, without a doubt, the best teaching assignment I have ever had. I am soooo happy!
      🙂
      Heidi

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