Monday, August 29, 2011

First Week of Art: A Kindergarten Script!


Ah, the first day of school.

Many teachers do some sort of fun project using letters or first names...but since I have eleven classes of kindergarten, I have way too many little five- (and just barely five) year-olds to get away with anything that involves writing names. So many of my students come to school not knowing how to write their name, and some can't even identify any letters, let alone write them.

It is challenging to find the perfect lesson for the first day. My mentor teacher came up with the perfect plan. I'm going to share it with you (Thanks Mrs. Clark!)

I thought it would be helpful for you and for me and any student teachers I may have in the future if I wrote out my 'first day script'. Sometimes it can be daunting to think that you have to go over ALL of your procedures the first week of school....and I definitely don't do that. I go over the main ones: how to line up, what to do when you first walk in, what my expectations are and I save the painting procedures for the first day of painting.

I am a firm believer that my very best lessons are scripted. I am not suggesting that I write an extensive script like the one below for every lesson, but I do spend my drive to work and my morning duty time rehearsing what I am going to say and in what order so that when the kids come in, I know what will work best and I can be confident in my delivery.

Be advised, I've done the lesson plan you are about to read over 60 times....and over a hundred if you count the number of times I have done it with my older classes using a different first day of art project. 

Look for my second day 'script' coming soon.

When students arrive, I show them to their seats. I always request that the teachers kindergarteners to art wearing name tags the very first week. This is tremendously helpful since some kids can't say their 'r's and when I ask their name it sort of sounds like 'raryawa' and I am totally confused. With a name tag, I can call everyone by name.

I point to the chairs and assist each student to their 'new' art seat. I try to put two girls and two boys at every table. If it appears that one might need special assistance (because of behavior issues or special needs, I try to put them a table near the front).

First I tell them my name and then have them repeat it. I say, 'Welcome to art. Look around, this is the art room. We will be doing all kinds of fun things this year, today we are going to do a drawing but sometimes we will paint, color, fingerpaint, use clay, markers, we will cut and glue and do all sorts of fun projects this year.'

"I must tell you, art may seem like you are in here for a long time. That's because you are. Art is 50 minutes (I say, dramatically). Almost an hour, and every minute is important because we have to have plenty of time to clean up any messes we might make when we paint or do messy projects. You will have art every Friday Morning. You get to have p.e. three times, and music two times, but art is only one time each week.'

'When you come to the art room, you will sit in the same seat you are sitting right now, each week. Look at who is sitting beside you, and across from you. These are your new teammates. Because in art, we play a game every week. You are now part of a team...' Pointing to each table color I say, 'You are the red team, you are the yellow team, you are the green team, etc.'

'And if you come in and sit down quietly I will mark a star on the board beside your team color.  I will keep marking stars all the way down until each team has a star. At the beginning of art, you have a chance to earn lots of stars because I am usually giving you instructions or demonstrating what to do or reading a book. I need everyone to be quiet while I am talking so I want to reward you with stars if you are doing a good job. '

'Now, sometimes I may only give one star to one team. Or I may go all the way down marking stars and I might skip your table.....that means I am trying to get your attention.'

'There might be times when I need your attention but marking stars doesn't work. Perhaps someone at your team is talking or messing with the other team members instead of paying attention. I would give that team a 'first warning' by saying 'blue team, Stop talking. This is your warning, you are about to lose a star.'

'Sometimes that works. But sometimes, I have to erase a star from blue team if they keep talking after their official warning. Now, they can always earn that star back by doing what they are supposed to do, but by that time, they will be way behind the other teams.'

'Now, let's say that there is one person who is having a bad day. One person who is talking or messing with the other kids in the room and taking a star away doesn't work. Maybe this person is starting a fight or having a tantrum. Rather than keep him or her at the table, I would send them to timeout.'

At this point I always ask someone to be my volunteer and pretend to be in trouble. I send that volunteer to the timeout table.

'Do you see Johnny, in timeout? Okay now everyone, pretend at your table like we are finger painting...do it, pretend to fingerpaint. Okay, now look over your shoulder and smile at Johnny. Because you get to have fun and fingerpaint, and he does not...he is in time out....does time out look like a fun place to be? NO! You don't want to get sent to timeout in art because you would miss out on fun things and I also send a note home to your mom and dad and you teacher will see it...so you will probably get in trouble again with your teacher and your mom and dad.'

"Now, Johnny, you can go back to your seat, everyone clap for Johnny....you have to be very brave to pretend to be in trouble. I'm giving Johnny's team an extra star. I have had kids who were pretending to be in timeout, that actually started crying because they though they were really in trouble, even though they were my volunteer.'  

'You will earn stars at the beginning of art, and you will earn lots of stars at the end of art. At clean up time, you have a chance to jump ahead of the other teams if you are the first team that is cleaned up and ready. At the end of art, every week, you will hear me say "ONE MINUTE WARNING". Once I give the one minute warning, I will be watching the clock, and backing over towards the lights. Once one minute is up, that is when I will flip of the lights. When the lights go out, you need to be in your seat, the supplies slid into the middle and your head goes down. Let's practice.'

'I want you all to pretend like you are cutting something out. When I say 'one minute warning', pretend to cut really fast, or stop cutting and slide your scissors in the middle. When I get over to the lights, you have to put your 'pretend scissors' down and put your head down. Let's do it. ONE MINUTE WARNING. '

'After the lights go out, put your heads down, and I will rush to the board to mark stars for the teams that are ready. Ooh, red team is totally ready...green team has some trash on the floor, pick it up!....blue team, sit down....Sally, hurry back to your chair from the trash can, time is up!! I will be quickly marking stars on the board.'

'The team with the most stars at the end of art will win a prize. Today, you may pick one high five sticker. Sometimes I may have glitter stickers...or rainbows, or footballs, or dinosaurs. Hold up one finger. If your team wins, you get ONE sticker. Only ONE team can win...so you won't get a sticker every week, only one table...the best table gets a prize, so you DO want to earn stars by sitting quietly and cleaning up.'

At this time, I cross to the expectation posters I have in the room.

'In art, I expect you to be 'polite listeners,' I say, pointing to the poster that says BE A POLITE LISTENER.  'Being a good listener means you are looking at the teacher, keeping your hands and feet quiet. Give yourselves a pat on the back, you are all doing that now!'

Pointing to the other posters I explain what each one means: USE ART MATERIALS WISELY (do not cut your clothes, do not paint your hand, BE A GOOD TEAMMATE (sharing, using manners), SHOW RESPECT TO OTHERS (don't say mean things about other people's artwork).

'In art, I want you to learn, have fun, but I also want you to stay safe. Take a look over here,' I say, pointing to the sink. 'In art, students do not use the sink. See how there is a 'hands-off' symbol posted near the sink? That means DO NOT TOUCH HANDS OFF.' I turn on the water, 'the sink is dangerous because the water at the school gets very hot in the art room...I don't know why but I have scalded my hands in the water because I forgot and turned it on hot...it is dangerous...and it is loud when the water is running!'

'Right here we have the drying wracks...say that 'drying wracks'.....'Do not bang on the drying racks, they make lots of noise and it is loud and annoying.'

'Perhaps the most dangerous thing in the artroom is the paper cutter,' I say, pointing to the paper cutter. Sliding a sheet of paper under the blade, I pull it down, making a loud SLAMMING noise...'Never, ever touch the paper cutter...don't even joke about touching it. DANGER!'

I make my way over by the smartboard. 'This is the smart board, say that smartboard. This like an awesome big screen t.v. that hooks up to my computer, I can show you all sorts of things on my computer using this camera (pointing to the projector)....but please do not touch it. Do not touch the pens at the bottom because you could tear them up...do not use art supplies over here and do not touch it with your messy art fingers...this is very expensive and if you tear it up, your parents would have to buy me a new one and it would be more expensive than any big screen t.v. you might have at home.'

 'The last thing I want to show you is how we line up. In art, we line up here. We make a boy line and a girl line,' I say pointing and standing in the spot where we line up.  Sometimes the line leader does not line up first because the line leader might be getting a sticker...if you are the first girl or the first boy over here, save a spot for the line leader so they may come to the front when they get to the line'.

'Now, does anyone remember my name?'....crickets.....

'My name is Mrs. Mitchell. Say that with me: Mrs. Mitchell'.

'Now, I just showed you three spots in the room with a hands-off symbol: everyone point with me to the SMART BOARD, very good....now point to the SINK.....very good...now the PAPER CUTTER....never touch the paper cutter, very good."

'We are about to get started with our project for today, but first, I need to see how big you are...and tall you are...everyone STAND UP.'

We have been sitting for way too long at this point, and the kids need to move a bit before we start the project. 

'Very good....wow, you are tall....you are big....now, raise your hand if you are 5....good...now raise your hand if you are 6.....very good....now raise your hand if you are 7? 4? Okay great, everyone in this room is either 5 or 6 or 28! Now, show me your muscles! Wow, you are big and tall and strong, very strong!"

'Now, sit down.'

'Today, we are going to be drawing ourselves on a piece of paper to be as big and tall as the paper. I know that some of you might think that you already know how to draw people, but I want you to draw what I draw....because I want to see if you can do that. So here is what I want you to draw....'

'First, draw a circle for your head. Give me a thumbs up if this looks easy and a thumbs down if this looks hard. Easy or hard? Easy, okay...now, draw two lines down for the neck. Easy or hard? Easy, okay...now draw a box, or a square or a rectangle shape for the shirt area....easy or hard? Easy...okay, some of you are saying hard. So here is what we will do, if you think you can do this, I want you to draw these three things and then stop and hold up your paper.


Once I look at it, I will give you a thumbs up...you can put your paper down...and then wait for me to check everyone else's...if you think this is hard, draw the head and hold up your hand and I will try to help you with the rest. If you see me give you a thumbs up, put your paper down....and wait....if I say 'make it bigger, draw another line' or whatever, make the changes and then you will be ready for the next step. I'm going to give you paper, and a pencil tray. There are 4 pencils on every tray. Please try not to bite off the erasers....on Friday, I picked up a tray and all 4 erasers were bitten off----EW! gross!'

This is one of my favorite drawings ever!!
Pass out supplies. Assist as necessary. Sometimes I get them started with the head...sometimes I try to draw all three and have them just add legs and arms...Depending on where they are developmentally, some students are incapable of drawing a human with a neck, a body and arms and legs...especially if they still see humans as a circle with arms and legs.

This project gives me an indication of where they are developmentally. If they can add lots of details, they are advanced...if they can't even finish when I draw the first three things, then they are way behind.

Draw remaining steps: legs and arms, hair, and face details. Have everyone go step-by-step with me. Have students point to the shirt, then draw something they like on the shirt, whether that is spongebob or a football or hearts....Now if students know how to write their name, I have them write their name on the front.




 Demonstrate how to trace over lines with a sharpie marker. Explain that sharpies can ruin a perfectly good drawing. Never draw with the sharpie on the back! Never scribble over the whole paper, it will be ruined. Show them an example of one that IS ruined!


'Now sharpies can stain your clothes and skin so be careful!' While students are tracing their drawings, I go around the room and help the ones that can't write their names.This is also when I go to each student and write their name down in my seating chart book....if teachers send them with name tags, it helps tremendously. I always request name tags!

If time allows, give students erasers to erase any pencil lines that still show through.

By this time, we only have about 5 minutes left.  I announce the 'ONE minute warning'...and watch to see that they are nearly ready....then I have them put their papers in the middle, start putting their heads down as I flash off the lights. I rush to the board and mark stars for teams that are ready. I give stickers to the team with the most stars, and then line up the the other tables by the door. I remind them to save a spot for the line leader as they line up.

At the door, I have them repeat after me: "S-M-I-L-E'...emphasizing the 'eeeeee' so that it makes them smile....I say, Smiles on, voices off, we are going in the hall....just as I open the door and greet their teacher. I try to remember to ask if anyone was absent when they arrive, but sometimes I ask at the end, so that I can write their name on a sheet of paper so that they will have a paper to draw on the very next week.









And that is how I do it. It may seem like I talk a lot...and I do...but I try to move around...it is probably the longest lecture I give the entire year to kindergarteners...and it is only between 15-17 minutes at the most.

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