Kindergarten Step by Step: Week 1- Rainbow Fish

Hey there and welcome back for the next edition of Kindergarten Step by Step!  My last post was all about those first few days.  For you this might be 2-5 days that first week!  Today’s post will be about your first week of nitty gritty instruction!  A lot of you own my different curriculum packets and long for a “how to guide.”  So, I aim to please and I am just so excited to continue this blog series each week!  I am going to break down each subject area below and include links and pictures so you can easily make connections to the packets you already own!  Of course if every you should have questions…please don’t hesitate to comment below or email me at li******************@gm***.com
I’m simply elated to be able to spend this time with you and truly hope these weekly posts bring you some teacher clarity and allow you to be less stressed and have more time to focus on those other valuable parts of your lives!  If you have yet to connect with myself and about 4,000 other awesome educators using my material be sure to do so HERE.  It’s a closed Facebook group, but each and every educator in the group has a passion that shines bright!  Another great spot to start if just getting started with my curriculum, would be to download my freebie curriculum guided HERE! Alright, let’s get started!

Up first is calendar and morning meeting!  Wait a second!  You skipped morning work!  Yes, at this time in this series I will be skipping over morning work as my kiddos have breakfast in the classroom the first 20 minutes of the day!  If you are needing some quick morning work ideas be sure to search “morning work” in the Facebook group!  It’s calendar time and honestly you most likely got started with calendar day 1 of school so you have already started your calendar routine!  This week you will be spending a lot of time still just going over calendar expectations.  When do we come down to the calendar carpet, how do we sit, how do we interact to the questions being asked, what do we do if we have something additional to say about the calendar routine, and so on!

During calendar I have always felt the need to really try hard to get everyone engaged!  It might have just been me, but the past few years I would have totally give my calendar routine the “boring” adjective!  I know horrible right?  We were for sure engaged and the kids always loved the routines, but frankly I think they could have ran calendar with or without me!  I decided I wanted that NO more and this summer came KinderCalendar!  I was not only wanting to freshen up my calendar board but I was DETERMINED to not let my calendar routines be boring and monotonous!
Yes, we would need routine, but NO we didn’t have to do the SAME thing everyday!  The way I set KinderCalendar up is that yes… we could cover those general calendar routines, but each day I would ask a “critical thinker” that went along with it! This way each day I would have a way to engage their thinking and really get them to go deeper.  It would be something like this, “Oh boys and girls, today we will be adding another number to our number strip. I’m positive you already know what number I will be placing up here so I don’t want you to tell me today’s number…. I actually want you to trick me and tell me the number that is ten more…eeek!  This will make Mrs. West have to really think!  Yes, you’re right…today’s number is 25, but you tricked me and told me 35!”  Again, this is just an example but for sure critical thinking and hey if it’s ever too hard for them it’s still a great learning experience teacher led!
Along with the general calendar routine and critical thinker …come TWO important additional math aspects!  To cover math standards beyond those they’ll see in calendar routines, the students will also have a number of the day and a math skill focus!  The number of the day will be a number the students get to “dissect” and show true number sense for.  They will know and understand the tally marks, part-part-whole, place value, and more!  The number sense focus numbers have purposely been placed in a random order.  This will only increase the amount of learning that can take place during the week.  If we used the numbers 40, 41, 42, 43, and 44 the students would be using the same before/after numbers along with the same group of tens all week.  If we chose numbers like 7, 15, 20, 30, and 41 the students get to experience new before/after sets each day and new groups of tens!
In addition to the number sense focus, students also have a math skill focus!  This follows the scope and sequence of KinderMath, but no fretting if you don’t follow KinderMath!  These focuses are general kindergarten math skills that every curriculum follows!  For the math skill focus the teacher will ask or demonstrate a quick way of applying the skill.  For example, if working on shapes you might lead the students in a quick shape hunt from the carpet.  Does anyone spot any circles, squares, etc around the classroom?  These are meant to be brief and to the point!  Just another way to be sure our students are mastering those math concepts!
The calendar routines can really vary on length of time!  I always encourage teachers to take it or leave it with my programs! If you don’t have time…then drop a part of it or expand over multiple days.  If you have the time, then you have the option to learn your little hearts out!  Next week during this segment I will explain specific days/routines in more detail so you can become confident in those!
In my classroom I’ve always enjoyed having the students stay at the carpet for calendar and simply rotate their bodies for morning meeting.   Basically this is a way I can utilize two walls in the room and allow the kiddos a quick transition!  After our calendar routine we will sing our months/day song by standing, then remain standing for our good morning song.  After the good morning song we will sit back down criss-cross facing the smartboard and ready for morning meeting!  During morning meeting I cover sight words, KinderLiteracy phonemic awareness, and KinderLiteracy shared reading poem!  After morning meeting we take a quick restroom break!
The first few weeks we always do one sight word a week and eventually get up to two.  Our kiddos are only required to know 40 and I’ve added an additional 10! I like to introduce the word “I” by having students first practice what makes and “I.”  We practice writing it in the sky... down, across, across!  I then have them turn to a partner and use the word “I” as much as possible.  “I like dogs.  I can jump. I see you.  I do too!”  I’ve always found it to be extremely important that students not only can identify sight words, but that they also know how and when to use them in context!  I’ll then present to the kiddos my “I” sight word card and then write “I” onto our word wall for future reference!  You can view a list of my sight words HERE!
For the KinderLiteracy phonemic awareness it’s simply a breeze because it’s already written for you!  Week one’s focus for phonemic awareness is rhyming words!

For week 1’s poem the kiddos will be introduced to Jack and Jill!  For the most part all KinderLiteracy poems match the theme of the week… weeks one and two are an exception as I felt the kiddos needed time with some “good ol’ rhymes” as well!  With Jack and Jill  of course you can also work on listening for rhyming words and placing the kiddos names back into the poem as well!

Woot!  It’s time for week one of KinderLiteracy!  Most likely if you used KinderSurvival your first few days you have already kind of introduced your kiddos to the big idea of close reading… yes kiddos we will be using the same book for the week!  Again, as you get them to buy into this close read time… also stressing that each day they will have a special job they get to help with! As with each day of the close read you will be giving them a purpose to listen and respond!  If you haven’t stumbled upon KinderLiteracy yet then you can download this first week for free be sure to click on the PREVIEW in order to download the free week.  Grab it HERE This week’s book is Rainbow Fish and follows the theme of sharing!  Tell me how fitting that is for week 1 of kindergarten?  I simply love this book on any given day, but that first week of kindergarten it for sure has a special place in my heart!

Below you can view the ‘spread’ of the first week lesson plans!  I like to keep my lesson plans in this two page binder so I can easily see the skills/topics as they progress through the week!  However, I generally will remove them from sheet protectors and place them onto my clipboard for easy access!

Along with printing your plans you will also need to write your essential questions on the board and display the vocabulary words and definitions!  It’s completely up to you if you want to write the entire definition beforehand or wait until the kiddos are there with you!


This first week you will be mainly modeling the process of the weekly close read.  We will do that knowing that the kids might or might not have a lot to say. However, we will continue to follow the same routine and just do more teacher modeling when necessary!  For example, when posing the question, “Where did the story take place?” you can model this.  “Well boys and girls, I know as we read the book I saw lots of fish!  I know that fish have to live in water, but I think I can tell even more about this water.  I believe all of the fish lived in the ocean… What do you think?  What other animals live in the ocean?”

This first week you will want to have had partners established.  This should be two students that are either sitting next to or in front/behind of one another.  Instead of jumping right into literacy based questions…take time for students to become acquainted with their partner and ask fun questions!  You can have the students turn and talk about topics like: favorite color, favorite animal, who lives at your house, what pets you have, what you did over the summer, and so on!  We want the kiddos to be comfortable enough with their partner and talking about settings and characters probably isn’t the most comfortable HA!

Still… do not feel defeated if you do a fun or academic turn and talk and it’s crickets!  It really does take a while for young kids to get used to talking to a partner.  I mean imagine when they are asked what they want for dinner does mom and dad ask them to turn and talk to a partner about their choice? HA!  It’s most likely very foreign to them!  Take the needed time to teacher model…. answer the questions aloud to them by showing your thinking!

Week one of KinderLiteracy your main goals are to get the kids semi-comfortable with turn and talks, establish what a ‘character’ is, have students gain one piece of evidence from the text, and make one personal connection to the story!  Most likely they will gain a quick understanding of who the main character is from the text.  For the piece of evidence, this simply means that they can state an exact “snippet” of the text.  For example, “I know Rainbow Fish was happy at the end because he was smiling and playing with his friends!”   Students generally make personal connections to stories as well!  You can leave it at a personal connection from Rainbow Fish or allow students to make personal connections from Little Critter I am Sharing as well.

A huge part of KinderLiteracy is also the push on vocabulary!  I will try my best to remember and share with you the vocabulary action movements!  Below are this week’s:

shimmer: do “spirit hands”
glide: show your hand in a gliding movement through water
admire: put your finger to your chin and pretend to ‘look up’ at someone you admire
wise: tap both sides of your head showing how you think smart
shocked: hands to cheeks

Each week we wrap up the close read with a fun and exciting craft!  The kiddos have always enjoyed making these Rainbow Fish crafts!  I give them an assortment of tissue paper and then they also get one foil ‘scale’ to resemble the shiny scale!  Below are some additional pictures from KinderLiteracy teachers last year!






Again, download the above material for Rainbow Fish HERE.  You will click on the PREVIEW to download!

Guided Reading/Literacy Centers

After KinderLiteracy in my room we transition to guided reading and literacy center time! Although, we know that this time looks extremely different those first few weeks!  This first week I will introduce my students to literacy centers!  I have an entire post all about setting up literacy centers HERE.  I will explain again below but it won’t be in as much detail!That first day it’s all about getting them EXCITED about literacy center time and letting them know from the beginning why we do literacy centers – – so the teacher can work with students back at their table! You can see the video below showing day 1 of literacy centers!  This video was day 3 of school (we start on a Thursday!)


You can see from the video that the first day we are really just getting them introduced to what their main job will – -building stamina and being INDEPENDENT!  We want them to know what it means to be independent and how they can be successful at it!  That first week my ‘literacy center’ time is only about 10-15 minutes at the most.  I start by introducing/reviewing the three ways to read a book, the ‘rules’ of literacy center time, what it means to be independent, and practicing building that stamina!

You can see from the video, I teach my kiddos these important four rules; work the whole time, work quietly, get started right away, and stay in one spot!  I created this life-size poster to display!  There are directions in the free download to explain how you can print it to be large!  You can click below to download the freebie poster! It’s also available in multiple colors as well!

Up next I would like to explain how I ‘prepped’ for my first week of literacy centers!  In my classroom each kiddo have their own labeled book box!  Inside their book box I would go ahead and place 2-3 books.  Each night I will swap out the books so they aren’t reading the same set of books each day!  This helps them to stay more engaged!  Other than the student book boxes you will need chart paper to chart student/teacher responsibilities for read to self (or you could just display the poster above).

We then jump right in and build our stamina!  On day one we read for 1-2 minutes and then add one an additional 1-2 minutes each day! We also track our stamina on our stamina graph. You can download that for free HERE. I ask that the kiddos find a quiet reading spot and read silently.  I walk around and encourage students to build that strong stamina if they should say their are “done.”  You can see us busy reading from our reading tubs below!

This first week of literacy centers is really just teaching the kids what that time of the day is used for and getting them to understand your expectations!  In my classroom I prefer a 100% silent and independent approach.  However, you might prefer partners and allow talking… it really just goes on your personality and what you like best!

I have a 60-75 minute block for guided reading/literacy centers.  However, this first week I am not meeting with groups and as I mentioned we are only spending about 10-15 minutes to build stamina.  The rest of that time block I allow the kids to free play!  If you have KinderStart you might also choose to use that then!  I will explain how I use it during my intervention block next!  These first few days they are still getting into the routines of school and it’s tough work!  I enjoy giving them this time and I can then call back students to my table to do letter assessing!  We enjoy blocks, play dough, and lots of fun explore tubs!


As I mentioned above… during their “free play” I like to call them back to assess them on their letters!  You can download the freebie HERE!


Following my guided reading/literacy center block we go into grade level intervention!  You can read all about how we run our grade level intervention block in detail HERE!  However, the first 8 weeks of school we do not switch kiddos… as there is still SO much learning happening over 8 weeks… a lot can change!  The first 8 weeks we keep the kiddos in our own rooms and use KinderStart!  KinderStart is broken down into three major areas: oral storytelling, phonemic awareness, and phonics!

For week one of KinderStart the students will be introduced to Brisket!!!!  Each day the kiddos are introduced to a story about Brisket!  They get to hear all about him as a puppy in week one! The teacher reads the story script and then asks two-three quick comprehension follow-up questions! Each week they will get to listen as Brisket goes to doggy school, has his first birthday and more!

Along with the oral storytelling the students also will be practicing their rhyming skills!  This first week the students will be simply identifying word pairs for rhyming matches. The unit contains all necessary rhyming cards!  You can place them into a basket to pull and find matches or place them onto a pocket chart!

 For the phonics section this week, the students will be working on their names!  You will place all student names into a pocket chart and students will work on their individual name as well!

YAY It’s time for Unit 1 of KinderMath!  This week is all about learning those numbers to five in fun and engaging ways!  The students will be introduced to numbers 1-5!  They will practice counting those sets and the path of movement for the numbers!  The lessons are paired with fun and engaging read alouds… number talk images as well!

This first week we are wanting to get the kids EXCITED about mathematics and know that math is all about exploring numbers in a hands-on way!  We know that they learn the best by being able to touch, move, and explain what they see before them!  They are only able to do this when we let them get up with their partners, grab their supplies, and explore!  It’s just so hard for the teacher to be able to reach every kiddos at the carpet when not everyone has in their hands what the teacher has!  Below is a great example…. these little girls have their five frame cards and are talking all about math!

Daisy Days for Learning

It can appear to be so ‘basic’ at this point, but please know that all these basic steps help to create mathematical number talkers!  They need to have that math vocabulary to be able to discuss more in depth concepts later!  Also, this first week you will want to have printed and laminated these super freebie number posters from Miss Kindergarten!

This week we also jump right into unit 1 of KinderPhonics!  I always feel strongly about taking that first week to work on strokes.  However, once it’s time for letters I am SO excited for them!  If you haven’t read up on my phonics units here is a quick over!  Unit 1- we introduce the letters QUICKLY!  We do a letter a day and the students get to hear the letter sound and practice the path of movement!  So, we start right on letter A!  I have always loved sharing the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD in my room along with the letters as well!  We have the action that matches and it increases their ability to retain the letters AND sounds tremendously!  As I introduce the letter we also watch the DVD to that given letter.  So, on day three we watch A-C!  There are also practice sheets within KinderPhonics as well that the kiddos complete!

Progress Reports

I wanted to also to discuss progress reports in this first week!  I have had a lot of requests for my progress report system so I wanted to share that here!  We decided a few years ago to move away from weekly newsletters and go to quarter approach!  This would cut down on paper and allow the teachers/parents an opportunity to see student success over a quarter!  We fill out the progress report and send it home each Friday.  The parents then initial and send back on the following Monday!  I have included a PDF and editable version below!

Thanks so much for joining me for Week 1 of Kindergarten Step by Step!  If you have suggestions/questions you would like to see answered in the next post… please comment those below!


  1. Thank you! This helps a lot with my flow using all of your products. I haven't started yet but feel better prepared for what I should get prepped to use after KinderSurvival. You are putting a ton of work into this and I thank you!!! Andrea 🙂

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  3. This is awesome! I love the video examples because it reassures me and/or gives me new tips of things to do when teaching my own littles! I feel much more confident going into our first full week seeing how you laid everything out. Anything like this for other weeks would be super helpful in the future! ~ You are amazing for what you do and are impacting so many! ~ Crystal

  4. Thank you for doing this for us Tara! With this being my first year back in kindergarten after several years away this is a life saver for me. We had our first week last week with kindersurvival and kindermath getting started, and it was a huge success. You are my mentor this year, and I am so happy to be talking this walk with you right there each week! Thank you so much again!!

  5. Hi Tara!! I loooove your products!! I was just wondering about the progress report above. Neither one of the files will open when I click on it. Is it on your TPT site by any chance so I can try to download it another way? Thank you!!

  6. I love the weekly progress report. We don’t sent home a weekly newsletter anymore wither due to paper shortage and time it takes, so this will be great to let parents how things are going. Wish I would have had it at the beginning of the year, but this wll help for the last two quarters.

  7. Tara, in regards to your progress report, do you change it as the year progresses? Add the more academic skills? I know that the Powerpoint is editable just wondered what you do with it.

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