Welcome to Kindergarten! {Covid Style}

Well, this is a first - teaching kindergarten during a pandemic!  Things look a little different, that's for sure, but we are definitely trying to make our classroom feel warm and inviting.
I have shared lots of videos on my Instagram account (@mrsalbanesesclass) under "Covid Classroom" in my highlights if you'd like to actually tour my room!
We set up "friendship pods" for the students to sit and interact with (keeping social distancing in mind).  The idea came from our board and we loved it!
We used hexagon tables and butterflied them!  I got that idea from some amazing kindergarten teachers in my board!

Each student has an "X" so he/she knows where to sit at the table.  Each student also has a chair and a personal bin marked with his/her name.

Each bin has a whiteboard, marker and eraser (made from a cut up piece of felt), scissors (SK students only for now), glue stick, pencil, white paper to draw, Alphabet Chart (from my Just for Me! Alphabet pack) and name tracing sheet.  We also added a "doodle book" for students to draw freely.  It's just a small blank notebook.
I also added a Name Printing Book for each student which we worked on during the first week (see below for more!).
You can download this editable name printing sheet for FREE by clicking below.

I added these name tags to each student's individual bin as well as chair.
You can download these for FREE by clicking below.

Each "friendship pod" consists of 4 students.  These students will be able to use all the materials around them.  You will notice how we taped the floor to set boundaries.  Each pod has a large shelf with materials as well as "big ticket" items (which are our usual classroom centres - dramatic play, paint, light table, computers, etc.)  Since students are not able to freely flow through the classroom anymore due to Covid, we will be rotating the pods through the room - so the centres don't change, the pods do! They stay at their assigned table and play with everything on the shelf and big ticket items for one week.  Then on Monday we move their chairs and individual student bins to the next pod!

We placed a whole bunch of materials for students to use!  In the baskets and trays that sit on top of the shelves, we placed focused activities for language, math and fine motor (trays are from Ikea).
Here's a closer look:

I've been using ready-made activities from my Just for Me! Bundle if you'd like to see more!
The rest of the materials are things you would normally set out for students to explore in your classroom - Lego, play dough cutters, small toys, anything you have!

Our board gave us a disinfecting spray which we use ALL.THE.TIME!  It was so hard to constantly clean the first day that we came up with a system.  Each student chooses one bin/basket from the shelf or a big ticket item.  We ask that he/she stays with that activity for at least 10 minutes.  Then if they are done they can place it on the middle table or we can collect it to disinfect.  We leave the middle rectangle table as a cleaning hub.
We also turn off the lights and call out "What time is it?  SANI-TIME!" every 30-45 minutes.  Students shake their hands in the air and the DECE and I walk around with hand sanitizer for the students.  That's another way to keep everything as clean as we can!

We prepped a 1st day of school crown for the students to decorate.
You can download that for FREE from my blog post from last year.  
We offered a couple of different kinds!
Click HERE to download your copy!

Throughout the first week, we had students work on their name printing book.
You can find that HERE if you are interested.

We also made these beautiful name plates that we displayed on the wall!
Mrs. Caruso (the DECE I work with) showed the class how to design different lines and paint on top using watercolours.

You can download this editable name activity for FREE by clicking the link below.
***Be sure to download and save this PDF on a computer (will not work on tablet or phone) and open with Adobe Reader (free to download) in order to edit.

We are not allowed to sing this year due to Covid restrictions (unless we are outside and away from the students) BUT we did turn our favourite songs into chants!  Next best thing!
This was a fun song (chant) that we are using this month to get to know one another.
Just type your students' names into the class list and it generates these name cards!

I'm definitely going to do a blog post in the weeks to come outlining how my small group mini lessons work.  I set up this cozy corner of the classroom to use.  There are 4 "X's" marked on the floor.  The children in the friendship pod may come over, sanitize their hands and sit on the floor.  Our board has allowed students to use the floor as long as they all sanitize/wash hands before and after.
I have lots of materials stored in the teacher bench and on the shelf nearby.  Some activities I have started this week here include number bingo, dice games, dot plate flashing game and sorting pictures by beginning sounds on our pocket chart.

Since we are learning about different ways to sort, I gave each student a small bag and a placemat and asked them to show me all the ways they can sort!

I take notes and use these for the Communication of Learning (COL - otherwise known as report cards).  I also have formal assessments for both literacy and math that I use.
You can find everything you need in my Kindergarten Guide.
I'm assessing students this week on letters/sounds and sight words.

When I work with students who are learning beginning letters/sounds, this is my go-to resource - I've been singing this Alphabet Song Book for years!  My students have the whole thing memorized and when it's time to sounds out words they often sing part of the song to help them remember.
I also invite students to bring over their personal white board and marker (from their individual bin), I give them a picture magnet (these are from Wintergreen Learning) and ask them to sound out words.  This activity is mainly for SK students who know all their letters/sounds and need a challenge.  I also ask if they can write a simple sentence using that word!

Here is a look at our timetable and Week-at-a-Glance.
It's a little different this year because of Covid - there were certain restrictions such as now having to schedule "whole group snack" rather than self-regulated snack and centres/provocations are now set up per group rather than free/open-play.

You can click below to download and edit this template for FREE (you will need to download onto your computer and use Power Point if you'd like to keep the same font - complete instructions included in download).

Here's how we set up our Weekly-Wrap-Up from last week:

This year we are trying something a little different.  We have 2 full FDK classes at our school, as well as an ASD kindergarten centre and a SK/1 split class.  We all came together and decided to offer each student a journal, printing book, poetry journal and writer's notebook that we will use throughout the week.  This also helps my colleague teaching the SK/1 split.

MONDAY - My Journal
Each Monday, our students are so eager to talk about what they did over the weekend with their families that we offer them a journal to draw and practice writing about it!  We find students will write about what they want to discuss rather than a set topic so this is a hit!  We even have a few children share to the whole class - we say to do their "personal best".

If you'd like to download the cover page for the journal (small and large sizes), click the picture below.

TUESDAY - Letter of the Week
So I haven't actually done a letter of the week in ages!  Here's why I brought it back for this year.  Our students are sitting in their chairs/friendship pods for a huge chunk of the day.  This activity takes about 10 minutes to complete and it's focused.  I also like that if a student is away, this is something I can easily put up on my Google Classroom and assign for them to work on (or even if we end up going remote learning again, yikes let's hope not!)
We use these printing books for both JK and SK students.
Both JK and SK students print the letter and complete the activities on the front page.
On the reverse, the SK students cut and paste the picture cards of things that start with the letter "Aa" and sounds out and write the words.
Our JK students have a different back page, where they draw 4 things that start with that letter (and educator wrote in the words).
You can find my Alphabet Printing Book HERE if you're interested.

One of the most challenging things I'm finding this year is how to teach whole-group lessons.  I'm used to having students join me on the carpet and listen to stories or interact as a whole class.  Because of Covid, we don't have a carpet and students stay at their seats for whole group lessons.  So I created some digital interactive activities to help me teach!

This is my new Fun with the Alphabet DIGITAL pack.  It includes all letter of the alphabet.  I use it each Tuesday morning (well, I just started this past week with letter A).  It's very interactive too so it keeps my students interested.  I have an interactive white board (Bright Links) in my classroom so I can easily project this for all to see.  I read the AlphaTales Letter book first, discuss the sound the letter makes, and then use this digital pack.  I have students come up and drag a picture of something that starts with the letter A and then I can either type directly in to the box or use my interactive pen to show students how to stretch and sound out words.  We call this "kid writing".
You can find this digital activity in my Fun with the Alphabet DIGITAL pack.

I also made these individual letter packs this week.  In our board, it is the teacher's responsibility to post to Google Classroom daily.  If a student is absent, he/she can find things to work on easily at home without having to print.  This pack has BOTH print and digital activities so you can have students complete paper/pencil work in class and post the digital activities for students who are absent or remote learning.

WEDNESDAY - Writer's Workshop "I Can Write!"
I think it's so important to teach students writing concepts formally (such as drawing, labelling pictures, list writing, etc.). 
(Sorry - forgot to take picture!)

THURSDAY - Poetry Journal
I've always introduced our "poem of the week" on Monday morning (before students write in their journals) and reviewed it later on in the week.  We take Thursday morning to review the poem by reading it in different voices (oh my students get such a kick out of this!) - for instance, "Pirate voice", "Mama Bear voice", "No Voice", "Scuba Diver" etc.
These are the cards we use - they are from my Fluency Cards for Choral Reading pack.

Students also have an opportunity to find letters/sight words, draw or interact with the poem in other ways!
Here is the poem we used this week.  It's from my new Poetry Journal.

This was the activity we had our JK students complete.

This was the activity we had our SK students complete.
Each week we focus on a different poem (coming up tomorrow is "All of Me") and new activities are introduced.  The poem itself is also uploaded to my Google Classroom for students to practice at home.

FRIDAY - Child of the Day
This is another activity I've been doing for years!  Mrs. Caruso loves it just as much as I do so she will be running it as a whole group activity each week.
You can read all about it HERE.

What does your math block look like?
I got asked this questions several times this week on my Instagram account.  I slot math in every day after lunch.  My whole group lessons are also challenging - I used to be able to spread out materials in the middle of the carpet and have students come up and move them.  Since that's not possible with Covid, I tried to be like a Vanna White and walk around and hold up my math materials - but OH BOY that did NOT work!
So I've been reverting back to my interactive white board.  
Here's an example of some activities we did this week for sorting.

I have a spray bottle and paper towels near the board so during my whole group lesson, after the student is finished with the pen, I wipe it for the next.  I also leave this up as a "big ticket" item for one student in the friendship pod to use it during centre time.
I plan for my math lessons using my Kindergarten Math Centres
This is an example of my Sorting in Kindergarten pack.

We created these math bins this year - one for each pod, each day.  After my whole group lesson, students have a chance to interact with various math materials.  They don't all focus on the task at hand (i.e. sorting).  I used to have a dedicated Math Centre in my class for students to visit.  Again, due to Covid, this isn't possible so we set these up instead.  These are just activities you would normally put out at a Math Centre.  And this way, students get a chance to try them all by the end of the week.  They loved them so much that we are thinking of just repeating these baskets again this week rather than changing them each week.
All materials are individually bagged per student with the exception of the dominoes and Geoboards (they didn't fit in our small bags, LOL) so we just hand each student a bunch to use.

You can download this game for FREE by clicking the picture below.

Do you have any other questions about how we run our new "Kindergarten Covid-style program"?  
Let me know and I'll try and answer them as soon as I can!

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