Summer! Responses!

WOW!! I’m so amazed at the amount of responses I’ve received about my Summer! posting a few days ago.  I’m going to try and answer your questions below (Warning that this might be a long post!!).

Q: How do you decide what the journal topic will be each day?

A: I typically pick a topic that ties in with something we are doing or have been doing in class.  For example, if we were talking about color mixing during science, I might have the children write about something that they noticed or learned during that activity.


Q: Science!

A: All of my science stuff is under the science tab at the top and also if you look under the  “Categories” section you will find a link to all the things I have tagged under “Science”.


Q: I am wondering if you do Guided Reading and if so how do you manage that in your classroom?

A: I do guided reading in my classroom during our Big Book time (it’s more whole group where we learn about strategies we might use during our small group time).  When we do Literacy Work Stations, at the Work with the Teacher station is when we will do Guided Reading in smaller groups.  I have my groups organized by DRA level and they are flexible.  We use lots of Reading A-Z books as they lend themselves well to topics and reading levels.  I keep my books stored in tubs by DRA levels, so I just pull a new one out when I’m ready for it.


Q: I am trying to make my class more Kindergarten friendly-what are some must-have toys. manipulatives, etc. that you think should be in every K classroom?

A: I think every kindergarten classroom should have a supply of math manipulatives (pattern blocks, links, unifix cubes, junk boxes, etc.) in addition to board games, play food and dishes, legos, puzzles, dolls, hot wheels cars, blocks, and kid friendly toys.


Q: Students in my school also participate in student led conferences rather than parent-teacher interviews and will develop their own simple portfolio for that. What do you do?

A: I have a checklist of things that the children and I decide they would like to show their parents when they come to the conference.  We also pick out 5 of our best pieces of writing work to share.  I keep writing samples and other artifacts in a hanging folder for each child all year long and they can choose which pieces to share with their families at conference time.

Q: When do you start sight words?

A: I usually start introducing sight words in late September/early October, when we begin our homework packets.  I introduce between 5-10 each 9 weeks throughout the entire school year.

Q: Can you give some ideas on activities that address Common Core Standards!

A: There are some really great resources in Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations book, the Math Their Way book, and Marcy Cook has some nice ten frame activities.  I’m still working on collecting resources, so as I find them, I’ll share!

Q: I’m interested in your schedule this year! The thing you were telling me about 90 minutes…that would be an(other) interesting blog.

A: The state of Indiana mandated that grades K-2 have to have 90 minutes of uninterrupted literacy time beginning next school year.  We cannot include any word work, hand writing, or spelling during that time–now that we’ve adopted the common core standards, the state is telling us we no longer have to teach handwriting, but computer keyboarding instead.  Our 90 minutes will look like this:

15 min: Morning Message

15 min: Open Court, Imagine It!

15 min: Big Book

15 min: Predictable Chart

30 min: Literacy Work Stations

followed by 30 minutes of writing


Q: HI. I would love to know how you do calendar…I often it is just a boring routine to put up the number. Could you please tell me how you do this and how you make it more exciting. I would love to see a picture too of your calendar and all that you do around it.

A: I think there is a picture of my calendar in my classroom photos, but if you can’t find one, let me know and I’ll take a picture when I go into school next week. Here’s what we do during calendar:

Place the number on the calendar and the children repeat the day, month, number, and year after me.

Sing the days of the week song and the months of the year song.

Choose four students to tell what the weather is like and move the hands on our weather circle to reflect that, then we graph it on a Math Their Way weather graph

Count to 100 by ones, fives, and tens.  The children make up patterns to go with them

Add a base ten block to our “How many days in school” count, add a penny in the money section for the same, and then add a straw to the straw count.


Q: I am a school counselor and this will be my first experience as a kindergarten teacher. I am wondering if you could give me some tips on classroom set-up and well as schedule. You might have something already written so if you could direct me to that portion of the blog I would appreciate it! I have enjoyed reading our entries and they are very informative!

A: I have my schedule in the categories section called “Schedule for Full Day Kindergarten” and pictures of my classroom over the last couple of years under “Classroom pictures” followed by the year that I took them.


Q: I would love to hear about how you begin your year, what your routine looks like, which themes/topics you cover, etc . . .

A: I think some of this can be answered by my schedule in the previous answer.  For topics, it will look a little different this year, because it will be our first full year teaching with all of our IB unit planners.  To begin, we are doing a unit called, Who We Are–how to be successful members of a community, essential agreements, all about me, and hopefully some great science!


Q: Do you do math and science journals and if so, how does that work?

A: I use science journals on a regular basis, from about October on.  I think I’ve posted copies of my science journal pages before, see if there is a category called, “Science Notebooks” and that should have them.  We will use them before, during, and after an activity.  I would recommend a book called Science Notebooks by Brian Campbell for more information.  I want to be better at math notebooks this year, so I’m working on something for that!


Q: Your site is wonderful! I’d love to see what you do to develop community within the first few weeks of school.

A: To develop community, you should read any of the Responsive Classroom books that can be found on Amazon and other book places.  They have great ideas for building community in your classroom.  We also do the “getting to know you” activity from Building Blocks and that helps as well.


Q: Thanks for asking! I will be teaching Kindergarten for the first time in the fall. My class will consist of 21 students. Some will leave at lunchtime, but the majority will stay for the day. How do you or others handle this type of situation? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

A: That’s a unique situation!  I would do all of your academic teaching in the morning because all of your children will be there.  In the afternoons, I would set up some Literacy and Math Work stations to reinforce the ideas you taught in the morning.  I would use the afternoon for the reteaching of concepts, not for introducing new ones.  It will take your kiddos who only stay half of the day a bit longer to get the routine down, so make sure you build that up in the mornings also.  Lots of interactive, hands-on activities in the morning too, so the children can interact with each other.  Also, make sure you get a good community developed so that the children who leave at lunch will still feel like they are apart of the classroom.


Hope this answers your questions–keep them coming and I’ll answer more!  I’m going to go into school next week and start setting up so I’ll take some before and after photos of that!

Kristen 🙂

About Kristen Poindexter

I am the 2014 National Shell Science Teacher, 2014 PAEMST Awardee for Science, and a Kindergarten teacher who blogs about my adventures in teaching!

Posted on July 17, 2011, in Ask a Question!. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi! Just wondering what is your months of the year song? I teach Special Education and am in a self-contained class. Many thanks!


  2. I am a fellow teacher here in the Indianapolis area. I teach at a private Catholic school. I implemented the K program 4 years ago. I am a little nervous about the Common Core Curriculum. I would love to come and visit your classroom. Fortunetly I don’t start until after Labor Day.:)


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