Looking for ways to "jump start" the school day? Begin with these tricks and prepare for a great day!
1. Choose a "Greeter"
Stand at the door as school begins and say to each child, "I'm so glad to see you," or "I've been waiting for you." Give them a pat on the back, hug, or handshake as they enter the room. After you have modeled this, choose a child to be the "greeter." This could become a regular classroom job or a task for the children who arrive early. You can even make a badge for the greeter, or give him/her a special hat to wear.
2. Sign-in Poster
Children can sign their names or make their "marks" as they enter the classroom each day with this trick. Simply print "Sign in, please" at the top of a laminated poster board or dry erase board. Place the board on the classroom door. Explain to the children how much it means to you to have each of them at school every day. To help you know they are present, ask them to sign the board on the door before they come in the room. Each child can write her name, make a mark, or draw a little picture.
3. Morning Match-up
Nurture children's reading skills as they arrive at school! Place a pocket chart in a prominent spot in the classroom. Ask the children to bring in photos of themselves. Cut strips of paper and print each child's name on one. Place the names and photos in two separate boxes in front of the pocket chart. Have the children match up faces with names as they arrive. Next time, place their birthdays in the box and ask them to match the date with the photo or name. You can even try adding favorite colors, eye and hair colors, and more!
4. Secret Password
This is a clever way to repeat key information! Write a letter, shape, color, word, or other piece of information on a piece of paper. (Relate this to skills you are working on, and change it as needed.) Tape the paper over the door. Explain to the children that you will have a Secret Password above the door each day when they arrive. They have to whisper the password to you before they can come in the room. When the children first come into the room, be available to help them identify the password. Give them hints if they have difficulty, and provide them with immediate feedback.
5. Brain Sprinkles
Jump start children's brains each day with "brain sprinkles." Cover a can with contact paper. Decorate the can with markers and write "Brain Sprinkles" on the side. Put 1/4 cup (50 ml) rice in the can and glue or tape it closed. To start the day, tell the children you're going to give them some "brain sprinkles" that will help them think better. Walk around the room and gently shake the can over each child's head. At the conclusion of a learning experience or at the end of the day, ask them how the "brain sprinkles" worked. What did they learn?
You can even label other cans "quiet sprinkles" or "dream sprinkles," and use them throughout the day to prepare children for different activities. For example, before taking them in the hall, shake "quiet sprinkles" on the children, at rest time shake "dream sprinkles," and so on.
6. Music for the Brain
Play soft, classical music as the children arrive in the morning, just before circle time, or any time during the day to create a positive learning environment. During circle time, ask the children if they noticed anything different when they came into the room. Tell them that you've read that classical music can help their brains work better. Continue playing classical music each day as children arrive at school. Experiment with other types of music, such as jazz, country, and ethnic music. How does it influence the children's behavior?
For more attention-grabbing, creative activities to ensure successful, smooth classroom transitions, check out Transition Tips and Tricks by Dr. Jean Feldman (available in both paperback and eBook formats).