Creating a Routine With Daily Starters
Each PreK-K Daily Starter includes three categories: Language Arts, Math, and Fun Fact. The Language Arts and Math questions repeat overarching themes week to week. The themes for both subjects are listed below with suggestions for discussing the answers. The Fun Facts, one for each weekday, are seasonal and include most major holidays throughout the school year.
Once you find a routine that works for you and your students, continue the routine established during Week 1 for each week of Daily Starters.
- Alphabet Recognition: Students will name letters in rows (some rows include numbers as well). Say, “Let’s read some letters of the alphabet. Are these upper case, or capital letters? Or are they lower case, or small letters?” Remind children that when they write their names or proper nouns, the first letter should always be a capital letter.
- Phonemic Awareness: Students will name one or more pictures and determine which words begin with the same sound. Have children imagine putting on their best listening caps or big listening ears, and then close their eyes as they listen for the first sound of the target words.
- Phonics: Students will name a picture and determine the first letter in the word. After children name the letter that stands for the first sound in the picture name, ask, “Is this letter in your name? Do you see the letter in the classroom?”
- Sight and High-Frequency Words: Students will listen for a target word in a sentence (it may occur multiple times in the sentence), then spell the word. High-frequency and/or sight words account for more than 50 percent of the words children will read and write. Track the words in the sentence with a ruler or pointer. Have children raise their hands when they hear and see the target word.
- Oral Vocabulary and Big Words: Students are introduced to a vocabulary word along with its definition and example sentences. Oral vocabulary is highly correlated with reading success. The more words children know, understand, and can use orally, the more words they will be able to read. Introduce the Big Word and read the context sentence. Ask children to use the Big Word to share something about themselves, their families, or events in school. Use the word during the day, and encourage children to use it, too.
- Numbers and Names: Students will read the numeral and number word versions of a number. They may be asked to count the number of pictures displayed. Have children air-write the number word as they spell it aloud. Ask them which number comes next. Review numerals and number words. Have children hold up the corresponding number of fingers. For numbers greater than 10, have them work with a partner. For numbers greater than 20, have three children work together to hold up the appropriate number of fingers.
- Counting: Students are presented with one or multiple pictures with countable elements. They may be asked to count the number of items or to choose the image that contains a specified number of items. After children count the number of objects in the Daily Starter, have them find a matching number of objects in the classroom.
- Sequence: Students are presented with a sequence of numbers with one or more missing numbers. After children identify the next number, you may want to repeat the activity using blocks or small toys.
- Shapes and Patterns: Students will name and describe displayed shapes. Be sure there are objects in the classroom that are easily identifiable as circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles. Cut out different shape picture frames for children to use for their drawings.
- Measurement: Students will compare multiple images and determine which is largest, which is smallest, or which are the same size. You can repeat the activity with classroom objects of different sizes. Use comparative and superlative adjectives to compare things throughout the day.
Read the Fun Fact aloud, tracking the sentence with a finger or pointer. Then have children read it aloud chorally. (Look for the target sight/high frequency word in the Fun Fact.) Talk about the fact.
Encourage children to think of questions about the topic. Write their questions on a chart titled "We Want to Know!" Find books in your school library on topics of interest. During free time, invite children to illustrate the Fun Fact to share with their families.
Extension and Enrichment Activities for PreK–K Daily Starters
- Hunts. Select a letter, sight/high frequency word, or number and have children look for it throughout the day.
- My Phonics Cards. Give children large index cards with the target letter in both capital and lower case, written lightly in pencil. Have children trace the letters; on the back, have them draw pictures of things that begin with the letter. Children can store their letter cards in an envelope, or punch a hole in the cards and string them together with yarn. (If you use yarn, make it a math moment by measuring 6-inch lengths with a ruler before cutting.)
- Sight Words Wall. Write each sight word on an index card and display it on a bulletin board. Encourage children to read the words on the wall. After a few weeks, take the cards down, mix them up, and place them along the chalkboard tray or spread them out on a table. One at a time, have children bring you the words they can read. Record their words. Then put the cards back for the next child.
- Big Word Wall. Write Oral Vocabulary words on large cards and place on an Our Big Words Wall or another prominent place in the classroom. Use the word during the day, and encourage children to use it, too. Invite children to illustrate the Big Words. Have them dictate a caption sentence for their pictures.
- Big Word Wall Read. Challenge children to read the Oral Vocabulary words. Have pairs of children pick one word each, then work together to draw a picture and make up a sentence for the word.
- Big Word Books. Collect children’s illustrations for the Big Words to make a Big Word Book.
- Big Words Big Count. After a few weeks, have children count the number of Big Words on the Big Word Wall. Make a large outlined number for children to decorate and add it to the display.
- Numbers and Number Words. Make a set of cards with numerals on it and a set of cards with matching number words. Have children play Concentration. Use the numeral-number cards for matching games on the playground. Give each child a card facedown. When you say, “Go!” children read their card and find the classmate with the matching numeral or number word. When pairs find each other, they sit down on the side. Play again, this time use a timer to see how long it takes children to find their partners. Record the time. Play later in the week, challenging children to better their time.
- Fun Facts in Pixs. Invite children to illustrate Fun Facts. Have them dictate caption sentences for their drawings. Write their words lightly in pencil for them to trace over. Make a class Fun Facts Big Book with their drawings.
Launch the day with Daily Starters! These fast, fun, and engaging language arts and math questions, plus fun facts and teachable moments, will spark student brains as they begin the school day.
PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8