The first day jitters were always a “thing” for me. I would pick out my outfit, label all the things in my classroom, and prepare a space that they would love and help me complete. But this year is different. This year teachers like yourself are picking out half outfits (because who is even going to see your pajama bottoms?) and you are preparing a virtual classroom with bitmojis. A virtual first day of school for kindergarten or first grade will look different, but there are many things that you can and should keep! Today I am sharing some of my favorite first-day routines and how they can cross over to the first day of virtual learning.
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Students LOVE learning silly and special things about their teachers. This helps them both connect and feel comfortable with you. You may share about your family, favorite things to do, places to eat, books to read, a favorite color, any pets you have, and your favorite meal. Anything that will help the kids connect with you and say, “Hey, me too!” is a win! If you are looking for pre-made slides that you can edit and make this simple, check out my Editable Meet the Teacher slides!
Complete a Fun Boom Card™ Activity Together
Boom cards™ are an engaging, interactive way for students to practice skills correctly without you sitting right by their side. They feel like games to my kids! They are great to assign to students and have them complete when they aren’t joining you for live teaching. You can share your screen and complete an activity together to help introduce this type of activity.
You can try a FREE deck here of beginning sounds Boom Cards™.
Share Your Virtual Teaching Space
Everyone’s virtual learning space looks different because everyone’s home is different. That is okay and to be celebrated! We want kids to feel proud of their learning space and to feel like it’s a comfortable space. You can help set the tone for having a great learning space by sharing your virtual teaching space.
Think through what your expectations are and model that for your students. If you want your kids to make sure they have full tummies before coming, then maybe don’t share your space with a snack in it. If you want them to stay hydrated, then model having a bottle of water (with a flip top so it doesn’t spill on tech!) near.
Remember, this can all be overwhelming for kids and not everyone has the same things. It can feel so unfair for some kids. But if you can model for them what a good learning environment looks like, sounds like, feels like, then that could help guide them as they create their own learning environment.
Read Aloud a Favorite Back to School Book
Interactive read alouds are definitely something that can and should stick for distance learning. No matter if they are prerecorded with Loom or you are doing one live in your Zoom meeting, they are a time that kids will enjoy as you engage the kids and keep their attention.
I have many back to school read alouds that are favorites, but a new book that I have found and love is Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen.
Play a Get to Know You Game
Playing games is a fun and interactive way to spend the first day of virtual kindergarten or 1st grade. Since this school year will be just like any other school year, you’ll want to play some get to know you games to help build classroom community. You can try a get to know you game for virtual learning that I shared on my blog and grab the FREEBIE!
Go Over Virtual Learning Expectations and Procedures
“Go slow to go fast.” I always liked to work these in throughout my day. Also, they are definitely not a 1-and-done thing, especially with this year being new for everyone. Here are some things you may want to discuss during your virtual first day of school.
- What is allowed and not allowed in the meeting
- When to arrive
- What materials are needed and how to store them close by
- What to do when tech isn’t working
- What to do if you miss a lesson
- How to reach you
- What should the virtual classroom look like? What should it sound like?
- How to quietly notify the teacher that you will be right back: need to use the restroom, need tech help, need to help a younger sibling, etc.
Introduce Your Shared Reading Routine
This is always a highlight of the day for students so I loved to introduce it on day 1! This is something that can easily be adapted for virtual learning. If you aren’t familiar with shared reading, then it’s a short 10-15 minutes of your day where you invite the students to read with you. I loved using a big book, song, or poem for this time of our day. For virtual learning, a poem that you could share your screen with would be perfect!
You can find a fun, rhymic set of 3 set poems perfect for a virtual first day of school in my August Shared Reading resource!
Have an “Afternoon News” Time
Lots of times I would begin our day with a morning meeting routine. This was a great way to do morning message, revisits skills, do a social/emotional check-in with kids, and help us all begin on a good day!
Since the first day of virtual learning and virtual learning as a whole will be different, keeping their attention may be tricky. You may want to move the traditional morning meeting time to be an “afternoon news” time. You can feature a different child each week and allow them to do a “show and tell”, you can review skills, or do an interactive writing activity as you write about your day. This can be a way to wrap up your day with the kids and send them off with something fresh they learned to share with family.
The first day comes and goes so quickly. Though I’m not back in the classroom this year, I have done some virtual teaching with guided reading groups. I got the first day jitters just like I would each year in the classroom. I left my short time and felt both exhausted and thrilled to have met new kids and taught them new things. A virtual first day of school for kindergarten or first grade routine may be a little different, but it can still have many of the great routines you have in an in-person classroom! What would you add to your first day of virtual learning?