Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Using Class Books to Get Students and Their Families Feeling Comfortable in Kindergarten!

We are in week three of Kindergarten.  Phew!  September is always such a crazy ride!  One thing that can add to the craziness of the ride is the need for families to feel connected and have an idea of what their child is doing all day without them.  I use class books all school year long, but I use them during the first few weeks of school to really help facilitate conversations at home between students and their families.

These are the books that we made during the first two weeks of the school year:

Completely simple, yet 100% effective!  We compile the books in class and I put them together using whatever method is quickest and most simple at the time!  No fancy binding, just a quick durable book.  Why the hurry?  Well, I want to get the books into the homes of the students as soon as possible!  Parents are dying to know who their child is playing with at school and what they are learning.  These books open the communication needed for parents to find those answers.  Even more though, I've never met a Kindergarten student who didn't light up with excitement when sharing a class book with his/her family!  Really!  Ultimately, isn't this what parents need; reassurance that their child feels good about their new step in life, school?!

You know those first day of kindergarten pictures we all take?  Well, I print an extra copy for our very first class book.  On the first morning of kindergarten, I purposely read a story to them that I am 99% sure they also read early on in Pre-K.  Tears stop when they realize they have a connection.  So, Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom is a staple in my classroom on the first day.  Later on in the first day, or sometime the next day, (depending on how fast I can get the pictures printed and glued into the book), I share our first class book with the class.

I bought this class book template on teachers Pay Teachers a few years ago and use it faithfully every year!     Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom, Who is in Our Room

As soon as I have the book ready, I slip a class list in the back, and send it home with a kiddo.  They bring it back the next morning, I check off another name on the list and send it home with that child.  In just over two weeks, it makes it home with every student.  Families LOVE it!

Another go to book that I read on the first or second day of kindergarten is "Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten".  The kiddos really love the endearing teacher and students in the book.  We have a nice discussion about how each of us got ready for kindergarten.  Then the kiddos head off to show how they got ready for kindergarten on the response page.



I found this adorable (free) template for "Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten" on 

After the kiddos have finished their responses, we have our first author sharing time!  Then, I slip the pages into a class book, slide that class list in at the end, and send it home for the night with the first student.  Again,  in just over two weeks, the books makes an appearance in every home.  

After we've settled in for a few days, we start working with specific letters.  One of the first letters we explore is the letter S.  While doing so, we read the story, "Silly Sally".  As an early retelling activity, the kiddos complete a page for, you guessed it, a class book.


The little person is just a basic blackline clip art that I cut out ahead of time and give to students to illustrate as themselves.  The cover and pages in the book are a decade-old word document, BUT the kiddos love to choral read the story and to share it with their families!  So, as soon as we've read it together as a class a few times, I slip a class list in the back and start sending it home with a student each night.  

These class books are SO simple and require little extra work.  They may not be Pinterest worthy, however, they have a very important job to do.  They help form a solid foundation of comfort for the students and their parents.  They build trust- trust that their child is making friends ("I sat next to her at lunch today", "I played tag with him on the playground today"), trust that their child is learning, and trust that their child is having fun at school!  This trust is more important than any academic lesson I could teach in the first few weeks of kindergarten!