Thursday, August 7, 2014

On The First Day of Pre-K....

Hi! I'm Ayn and I am a Ga. Pre-K teacher, serving 4 and 5 year olds in an inclusive setting. I share my classroom adventures on my blog, little illuminations

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.**

Yesterday was our first day of Pre-K. I know, I know, we go back EARLY!!!! Our new little batch of friends heads into our classroom for the first time. Some of the friends have been in our school since birth, some have come from other childcare settings and others are leaving their parents for the very first time. Where ever they are coming from, they are coming to me and my classroom for the first time. It's a new setting for everyone. My classroom is humongous! It is about the size of 3 regular classrooms. And, it is filled with centers and materials. There is just so much to do that it can be overwhelming. During the first few days, the main goal is to get to know each other, the environment and our expectations of each other. 

Because the room is so big I take a few baskets of materials in each center and leave them out and cover the rest. We learn how to take things out and put them away and add a little more daily until the room is fully revealed and all materials are accessible. 

At parent orientation (usually a night or two before the first day) I give the parents and children each a little gift. I wish I knew the source---it was shared with me many years ago from another teacher and can now be found all over the internet. My thanks and appreciation to whomever it is!

In the parent gift sack, I have a cottonball, a tissue and a teabag with the following poem:

Dearest Pre K Parents,
Here is a little "gift" for you as you leave your precious one with us on the first day of school. As you hold this cotton ball in your hand, the softness will help you to remember the gentle spirit of your child. After you've gone home and dried your tears, make yourself a hot cup of tea. Put up your feet and relax. Remember that we will work together to help your child to be the best they can be.
Thank you for entrusting your child to us for the coming school year. We will do our very best every day to be your child's guide in learning and exploring this bright, new world they've just stepped into.
Mrs. Ayn 

And for the children, I fill a gift sack with the following poem and the items listed.

Dear New Pre-K Friend:
These are some things you may need for our classroom this year. Each of the items in this bag has a special meaning:
* The cotton ball is to remind you that this room is full of kind words and warm feelings.
* The Hersey’s Hug is to comfort you when you are feeling sad and to remind you that friendship holds our hearts together.
* The bandage is to heal hurt feelings in your friends and in yourself.
* The tissue is to remind you to help dry someone's tears.
* The sticker is to remind you that we all stick together and help each other.
* The star is to remind you to shine and always try your best.
* The pencil is to help you “use your words”.
* The eraser is to remind you that we all make mistakes and that is okay.
* The penny is to remind you that you are valuable and special
*The puzzle piece is to remind you that without you our class wouldn’t be complete!

Mrs. Ayn 

On the first morning, I set out paper and crayons for children to use as they arrive. They can draw whatever they like, I label it with their dictation and I save it for the scrapbook I give them at the end of the year. This also gives them something to do as we help settle new parents and students as they arrive. 

Many of the kids have been in our school forever, and know that the Pre-K class takes field trips on the bus. It is one of the things they've been looking forward to as they've moved up from the youger classes that do not take trips. Several of them asked immediately upon arrival about taking field trips. "Mrs. Ayn, do we get to ride on the bus today?" "When are we going on our first field trip?" "Do we get to take a trip on the bus today?"I felt like such a Grinch telling them that we would go on a trip soon, but not today! 

After the parents have left, we headed over to the rug for a story before breakfast. I usually read Kevin Henke's "Wemberly Worried", but the stars aligned perfectly and our plan was changed. One of the kids saw "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg on our bookshelf and asked if we could read it that morning. I had planned on reading it at some point during the day, anyway. Just after that, our cook came in and said that one of the other teachers had planned on making "Jitter Juice", but there had been a mix up with getting the ingredients. Our sweet cook offered to whip up a special "Jitter Juice" of her own recipe for the other teacher and offered to make us some, as well! We read the story and finished just in time for our morning snack of muffins and "Jitter Juice". (And we still had time to read "Wemberly Worried" later in the day!)

After breakfast, we take a tour of the school and get to know our surroundings (kitchen, director's offices, other classrooms, etc.) and a tour of our classroom. After touring the learning centers they are pretty eager to play. It's time to explore centers! 

(The red is the part of the center that we will reveal later.)

While the children are busily exploring, I call them over for individual "First Day of Pre-K" pictures. These will be used in projects, name cards, as well as becoming a special memento in our end of the year scrapbook and slideshow. By the end of the year, it is always really surprising to see how much they've grown!

At some point during the first day or two, we set the expectations for the classroom behavior. And by "we", I mean the class, not me. The children suggest rules that they think are important to keep our classroom a safe and happy place to be. Later, I type up the list and post it at eye level.

Over the next several days, we will be introducing small groups, new materials and how to care for them, classroom jobs and many other things that will eventually become part of our school family life. And soon we'll take our first of many fun and exciting field trips. We'll take things slow and let the children guide us on how fast or slow we progress.

Here are some of my favorite "First Day of School" books. 

If you'd like to read more about getting ready for Pre-K, you might be interested in reading some of my other back to school posts on PreK+K Sharing : "Going To Preschool: Tips For An Almost Tearless Transition" and "The First Few Days of School: Getting To Know Each Other"  or "Signing In And Out in Preschool" on little illuminations.  


Do you have a favorite "First Day of School" memory? Or "First Day of School" book? I'd love for you to share it in the comments! 

Stop by and visit me anytime at or visit the little illuminations fanpage on facebook! And be sure to check out PreK+K Sharing EEE!


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