The beginning of the kindergarten year is such a blur. About halfway through it, you try to look back and figure out exactly how it all started. It gets difficult to remember the hard work and organization that it took to get your from there to where you are now, but by remembering the parts that went well and the parts that didn’t, you can always improve each year. So I’m trying, desperately to make sure I document these first days of math stations and now Daily 5 Stations so I can adjust and improve and share the good, the bad and the ugly with all of you. Because hey, if you can avoid and learn from my mistakes, then it makes them even more valuable. Like with my math stations, I am hoping to give you a glimpse of Daily 5 and how it looks throughout the year in my own classroom. I’ll show you set up, groupings, organization and eventually how I start to differentiate.
DAILY 5 IN THE DIFFERENTIATED KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOM
First of all, I have to tell all of you, I am NOT a Daily 5 purest or expert. I love the components and philosophy of ‘the sisters,’ and by tweaking things a bit here and there, I’ve had really great results with literacy instruction in my classroom. I’m not here to tell you how to run your stations or what you should do, I only want to share what works for me and maybe some piece of it will help you. So don’t be surprised if I do something that ‘the sisters’ don’t. In fact, in my room, it’s not even Daily 5 . . . it’s actually Daily 6, because I have six instead of five stations going on. Ok so now that we’ve got that out-of-the-way. Let me tell you about how I get started before I even get started.
BEFORE BEGINNING DAILY 5
Before your first students step through your door, you need to have a plan for what stations you are going to have and how you will organize them. In my class, there are 6 stations:
- Work on Writing
- Listen To Reading
- Word Work 1-focuses on sight word and alphabet work depending on time of year and level of readiness
- Read To Self
- Meet The Teach
- Word Work 2 focuses on phonics skills, word families, digraphs, blends and the like
When Daily 5 (or D6 as I’ll refer to it here in this post) is up and running at full steam, these will be the stations that students will visit. They do not go to each station every day though, and they do not choose. This is where I differ from Daily 5 purists. It’s not that I think choosing is a bad thing, I simply find it easier for me in my class, to have students assigned to each station and offer choices as part of the station itself. And because of time constraints, I don’t have the time for them to visit 5 stations for 20 minutes each day. So instead, students travel to 3 stations each day for 20 minutes. That’s a total of one hour of literacy station work. Of course, there are other literacy activities going on throughout the day, but Daily 5 work stations are only one hour.
STATION ROTATIONS FOR DAILY 5
When it came to figuring out a station rotation plan, I started with the basics. I knew I had six stations to work with and an hour of stations to make them fit. I decided to have students visit three of those stations the first day of stations and the second set of three stations the second day of stations. That means students would visit the same stations Monday and Wednesday and that they would visit the second set of stations on Tuesday and Thursday.
Everyone always asks, what about Friday? What will you do on Friday? Because I have other literacy activities going on through out the day, I don’t do D5 stations on Friday. I save that day for Science, Art and thematic activities that take a big period time. It’s also very convenient to have that extra day just in case my D6 stations get interrupted by a snow day, assembly or late start Monday (PLCs) which we have once a month.
If you were going to see these rotations on paper. It would look like this:
When I write them in my plan books, I use this lesson plan template and attach it to my planbook plans. There’s a spot for including the standards, the activity, an area for differentiating by color and then a space for choices. Don’t worry I’ll explain this later. For now, here’s my template…
But this is after all stations are up and running. This is NOT a reality in the first couple of weeks of school. First of all, there will be a great number of students who have never been to school before and have never had to learn to transition from station to station or work independently. But I promise, I’ll talk about that and how you do start out in a bit.
CLASSROOM LAYOUT FOR DAILY 5
The layout of your classroom can make or break station’s success. A couple of things that I have learned from working in a small classroom is:
- use every inch of space (vertical and horizontal) that you can
- be creative with space
- use space in multiple ways
- create a natural flow to avoid bottle necks and traffic jams
I wish I could put a camera on my ceiling to show you my layout and the flow of traffic during transitioning, but I did put together this little floor plan that might help you get a visual.
STATION ROTATION CHART
When it came to figuring out a station rotation plan, I started with the basics. I knew I had six stations to work with and an hour of stations to make them fit. I decided to have students visit of those stations the first day of stations and the second set of three stations the second day of stations. That means students would visit the same first stations Monday and Wednesday and that they would visit the second set of stations on Tuesday and Thursday.
Everyone always asks, what about Friday? What will you do on Friday? Because I have other literacy activities going on through out the day, I don’t do D5 stations on Friday. I save that day for Science, Art and thematic activities that take a big period time. It’s also very convenient to have that extra day just incase my D6 stations get interrupted by a snow day, assembly or late start Monday (PLCs) which we have once a month.
I also know you’re going to ask me about the different colored name tags and whether this means that I’m already differentiating these stations. Nope! Not yet. I know very little if anything about these students. The colored name tags mean nothing at this point . . . but they will in a week or two.
SETTING UP STATIONS
So here’s what the stations look like in real life before Daily 6 even gets started. It’s pretty uneventful at the moment. But you will be able to see how these items and spaces transform over the year. (I’m crossing my fingers I can keep up with showing you.)
Work On Writing
This space will eventually include word cards, picture cues for target lessons, ball word rings, word family rings and any other writing charts that we use. I don’t like to add these until I can do it as a class however. I personally feel like there is more value in having words and charts added once the students are here and we can talk about the items as they start to use them.
There’s also a set of drawers that will have other activities and choices.
Listen To Reading
In order to save space, I have my listen to reading stations in bags hanging from the wall. These bags have worked perfectly for me for four years now. In each bag there is a clipboard, cd player, head phones, book and a pencil bag. (If you’d like to see my tip for using cd’s in your listening center check it out HERE.)
After some time, students will be utilizing response sheets for what they listen to, but not in the first couple of weeks.
If you’d to grab this free set, however, go ahead and grab them now.
Word Work 1
In this station, students will focus on letters/sight words, depending on the time of year and their level of readiness. You will see there are a lot of drawers here. Eventually, these will be filled with different kinds of items and materials that students will use to practice their sight words (Ball Words). The colored drawers contain Ball Word rings, games and materials. My students will know exactly what level of ball words they are on at any given time. They can grab a ring of words to practice with the materials in the white drawers or use the ball word games and materials. But that’s a couple of weeks down the road.
Read To Self
Eventually, this will be a station where students work with I-Pick books and leveled readers. Students grab their book boxes and select a pink sit spot of their choice and read their books.
(I’ll talk more about Sit Spots later, but for now, I can tell you that these little spots are great for getting your kids thinking about where ‘good spots’ to sit and read are in our classroom. They’re a nice scaffolding tool to train your students about making good choices.) I don’t add this station into my rotation of stations, however, until students have reached a stamina reading level of 20 minutes consistently. We will be in the practicing read to self for several weeks until that happens, and I’ll simply have a different literacy activity available for the ‘read to self’ slot until we get to 20 minutes.
Here, I have my students’ boxes preloaded for our when we start practicing read to self. Eventually, they will shop for books themselves, but for these first book selection, I picked some books for them based on the Student Interest Inventory their parents filled out at Open House.
Meet The Teach
This is my ‘guided reading’/small group instruction area. I’ll talk more about this later, but for now, the first few weeks of Daily 5 will have fairly independent station activities or activities that I have introduced at whole group first. That way I am can still manage the room. I will ‘manage the room’ until I think they are really ready to be independent at all stations. I would rather take it slow and wait to really start my Guided Reading groups until I know those Guided Reading groups won’t be getting interrupted every 2 minutes.
You’ll notice I don’t have a kidney table. Just a regular small rectangular table. Most of the supplies I need for these group activities are located close at hand. It’s also where I keep my timer and the station rotation board is right behind me. I know, I know . . . huge rotation board, but I want it to be visible, and I want my kinders to get to the point where they can quickly look and see where they need to be.
Word Work 2
This station will eventually focus on phonics skills, word families, blends and such. Students will be able to come to this station and choose what activity they would like to complete for that day. There are some times when I have a ‘must complete’ activity, but generally, they have plenty of choices to keep them occupied and engaged.
FIRST DAY PLANS
So now that you’ve seen the where and how everything is organized. Here are the plans for my first week. (I only had two days for the first week.) Please remember, it’s not so much about the product as it is about introducing my students to the procedures, routines, and materials that we will be using.
To make it easier to understand, I set up my plans like my rotation cards so you can see how each group moves from one station to the next.
Individually, these are the stations that my kinders would be completing. On my lesson plan template, it looks like this. Notice there isn’t any differentiating going on yet or choices because we are JUST working on building stamina at stations, procedures, routines and working with materials.
Write the Room
I love Kinder-Craze’s Getting It Write Penmanship Pages handwriting sheets. Yes. I know. I’m old-fashioned, but I think good penmanship is harder to undo that to just do it right the first time. I want my kinders to enter 1st grade and have their teachers delighted with their letter formation and writing. So, yes, we spend a lot of time, making sure we know how to write our letters correctly. Starting with the letter Mm.
Listen To Reading
I simply chose some beginning of the year cd’s on tape from Scholastic. I have quite a large library of them. Students will only be listening. There won’t be any response sheets or corresponding activities for a while. In the beginning, we simply want them to get used to finding the materials and getting the cd player working. That’s a big enough task.
Word Work 1
An easy and engaging station to start out that takes very little management is play-doh letter mats. These ones are from my Back To School Word Work Galore pack. It always makes it that much easier when I can include an ‘I Can’ type, visual instruction sheet for my students like the one below. I only introduce a few those first days so that students can concentrate on making the letters correctly. I will also keep some scissors on hand for this station. I like to have my students cut up their letters after they make them for added fine motor work.
Read To Self
As I said before, there won’t be read to self until my students build up stamina. For that reason, I’m having students who would otherwise be reading later in the year, doing this Time For Recess activity from my Back To School Word Work Galore packet. I will have introduced it as a whole group before hand. It’s a simple game that students will see throughout the year. One student hides the clock behind a letter while the other students aren’t looking, then they turn and try to guess where the clock is hidden by naming the letters. Believe it or not, my kinders love this game whatever the skill. It’s a great go do anchor activity.
Meet The Teach
This will become my guided reading station, but for now, my students will be working on this Spin-it, Say-it, Pop-it spinner game from my Back To School Spinner Fun. I will introduce to the class beforehand using my document camera, so they will at the very least be familiar with the concept. It will give me a quick look at who is able to match up these few capital letters with their lowercase partners. But more importantly, it will introduce them to the materials and the procedures of Daily 6 stations.
Word Work 2
Word Work 2 will be pokey pins. I can never go wrong with fine motor activities, and this one will give me a chance to see where I have students who will need extra work with these muscles. Plus, it’s just plain fun. Krissy Miner from Mrs. Miner’s Monkey Business has a great set if you’re looking for some.
So there are the bones of the starting your Daily 5 Stations. You can see the framework of where the action is going to take place. Next up. I’ll show you what my first two day’s looked like in my next post (I’m a bit behind on photo editing, but hope to have it up tomorrow), and how I introduced stations, tell you all about ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly.’ So make sure you stop back.
If you are in need of some labels for your stations to get you started, I have a free set for you here. Just complete the instructions below by entering your email address, I will send you a confirmation note, and as soon as you confirm, the document is downloaded directly to your computer’s ‘download’ file.
Make sure you drop me a line if you have any questions.