Cramming It All In & a FREEBIE {w/Tickled Pink in Primary}

Trying to squeeze as much learning into your day as possible and keep your students engaged can be hard. I think that we are putting so much pressure on students and increasing the expectations, that sometimes we forget that they are kids. 
I try to balance my schedule throughout the day, so we have some whole group learning, then small group or independent work, then back to whole group, and small group. This breaks up the learning a bit and gives students some time to interact with their friends. My schedule is the same every day so students know what to expect. They know when they'll get a chance to talk/share with their friends, and when it's time to listen to me.  I see my students checking out a picture schedule often to see what is coming next or how many things we have to get through until recess. LOL! Having a set schedule every day is easier for me to lesson plan because I can just quickly change out a skill, book title, etc. but overall I have a plan of what our day will always look like. You can grab these schedule card for FREE here
As a Kindergarten teacher, I think is important to let our little ones get a little bit of down time throughout the day. They still need to develop social skills and shouldn't be expected to just go, go, go all day long at the age of 5!  I have reading centers & math centers during my day so students can work on the skills I've taught, but do it by playing games/activities with their friends. Our reading centers are in the morning and our math centers are in the afternoon. Here's a picture of my reading center rotation chart. All of my supplies are right by the reading center (same for math), so students don't have to go all over the room looking for their tubs/materials. I also have 1 person in each group as the designated person to get out the tubs & clean it all up. This helps the transitions go smoother and not cause any arguing.
Inside each tub are a few activities for the students to do. I let them choose what to do, but once they've played the game once they have to switch to another activity. These low-prep Beginning Sounds activities are easy to prepare and great to throw in centers.
BINGO markers are definitely a favorite activity to do, so I created these Dot It! worksheets for reading & math centers. I love creating centers that can be used all year long, and all you have to do is simply change out the worksheets/cards. They kids already know how to play, so this makes lesson planning and explaining new centers a breeze!
Assessments are a necessary evil. It's something we all have to do, to see how our students are progressing, but it also takes time away from us teaching the rest of the class.  One way to constantly and quickly progress monitor my students on their letters is with this letter fluency sheet from my low-prep Alphabet Activities bundle. I can pull kids back and have them do this 1 minute assessment to see how many letters they know and if they know them quickly and fluently. As student's scores increase, I only have to do this with a few kids. In Kindergarten we don't do real grades or give homework that we keep grades on. I dread report card time because even if I mentally know how my students are doing and what they need help on, I still need to pull them all back 1 on 1 and give them a lot of formal assessments. This takes quite a bit of time! I don't have a classroom aide, but I try to do most of my assessing while the other students are at centers. I also like to use some of our center activities as assessments as well. I can sit with a group of kids as they are working on an alphabet game and I can take notes on which letters they are missing. This is more of an informal away to assess, but it doesn't interrupt the schedule of the day, and students are more relaxed and not feeling like they are getting quizzed by the teacher. :)
Fluency & Fitness is definitely a class favorite! These students below are working on naming their 3D shapes (shapes & real world images included), but then they have to do exercises every so often. They absolutely LOVE doing these and forget they are even learning. :) I love that I've found a way to make learning fun, help them get some energy out, yet not lose instructional time. There are over 40 bundles of Fluency & Fitness, so we can use these during math & reading, and all year depending on what skills we are learning.You can find this Shape Fluency & Fitness here.
It's tough trying to cram it all in, yet make learning fun. Sometimes we just have to trust our gut and do what we know is best for our kids.


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