Eight ways to recognize moving up to first grade—or kindergarten.
Write a Class Song
Choose a favorite tune, such as “Happy Birthday” or “Puff, the Magic Dragon” and together write new lyrics honoring students’ transition. Come up with the first lines yourself, write them on chart paper, and then encourage kids to contribute suggestions. Use the opportunity to discuss meter and rhyming words, if appropriate.
Tech Twist: Record the song using a computer program like Garage Band.
Stage a Story
Have the class vote on their favorite storybook of the year. You might limit the choices to stories with lots of characters, as the next step is putting on a show! Assign roles and have small groups take on different tasks, such as scenery, costumes, and programs. Perform the story for families. Take lots of snapshots so that kids have a memento of the occasion.
Tech Twist: Put the photos in a slideshow so that kids can view their version of the story anytime they want.
Design a Diploma
Look at images of diplomas online, or bring in actual examples to share. Talk about the features of a diploma, such as the person’s name, the name of the school, and the type of degree. Then discuss what you’ve studied this year. In what subjects have kids earned their degree? Make a poster-sized class diploma, listing students’ names and their new specialities.
Tech Twist: Invite kids to create a diploma using Microsoft Word or a design program. Print copies for everyone.
Plan a Celebration Feast
What would children bring to a no-holds-barred graduation feast? Ten-scoop ice cream sundaes, perhaps, or magic beans from Jack’s Beanstalk? Invite children to illustrate the foods—real or imagined—that they would bring. Post the drawings on a bulletin board titled “Our Graduation Feast.”
Tech Twist: Help kids look for recipes online. If it’s a made-up dish, help them type instructions for preparation.
Make Your Own Regalia
Instead of traditional graduation robes and caps, purchase plain white T-shirts, baseball hats, or visors for kids to decorate. (Try sites such as www.orientaltrading.com ) Help children write their new grade level—either “Kindergartener” or “First Grader”—on the garments. Use leftover paints, glitter, and other supplies from projects throughout the year for further embellishment.
Tech Twist: Search for “graduation” at www.scholastic.com for tips on making traditional gowns and mortarboards.
Create Crepe Paper Graphs
Use crepe paper and posterboard to create simple bar graphs summarizing what you’ve done this year, for example, number of parties, field trips, books you’ve read, or special guests you’ve hosted. Post the graphs on a bulletin board with party hats and balloons.
Tech Twist: Recreate the graphs using a graphing program like Microsoft Excel.
Host a Readathon
Devote a day to rereading favorite storybooks. Invite family members to serve as guest readers, as well as having students sign up to read a favorite. Pair stronger readers with children still working on basic skills. Get kids moving by creating a “reading train”—stand in a line and have students read one sentence, then pass on the book.
Tech Twist: Make a podcast of kids reading. Go to www.scholastic.com for tips.
Ask the Big Kids
Pair up with a kindergarten or first-grade teacher and have your classes spend an hour or two discussing what’s ahead. The older students can offer tips or suggestions, while the younger ones can brainstorm a list of questions about the upcoming transition. In addition to discussion, plan a cooperative activity that gives kids a preview of the following year—perhaps next year your preschoolers will have access to a water table, for example. Tech Twist: Find first-grade pen pals in Africa or France. To do so, visit www.classroom-connection.org