Teaching All Day Kindergarten with a HUGE class…What to DO?

The Question:
I am going full day with my program for the first time ever and instead of having the 20 or so students I was promised….I now have 33. Any ideas for wrangling that many children in the first few weeks of school and any ideas for filling 6 hours with activities with that many children. Help!
The Answers:
Tandy Lynn Braid 
God bless you…I am at 22 and about to pull hair out…
Heather Leckey 
At that high number…it would probably be better to do half day and split 33 kids in half.. :/ Bless your heart! I had 26 at the beginning of this year and I was going crazy. Its hard! Good luck!! REALLY focus on rules and community building…
Shalyn Lee Anne Gidge 
Lots of play time. :). Time for them to explore. Time for them to learn how to clean up after their explorations. 😉
Lise Hannon Olsen
 Try to get a couple of good parent volunteers to assist you. I can’t believe they expect you to reach 33 kids all day. Yikes!!!
Sabrina Hall 
I was at 39 two years ago. It’s a bust school year. I personally loved full day and was able to re teach. pre teach, and have a good hour for reading centers. Good luck this year. I love kindergarten.
Katy English Peveto 
Good luck! 33 is a mob not a class!
MaryLou Tuite Weymann
 Yikes! 33 in your first year of going full day? Do you have an aide? Set up routines and stick to them. Check out The Daily 5 for help in Guided Reading and small group work. My day looks like this: ELA, Writing, lunch/recess, Math, Social Studies/Science. You’ve done K before so trust yourself. Good luck!
Sharel Nelson 
Out of the gate so to speak, WOW! Can you request any in classroom support?  1st and foremost…an extra adult body!
I have been working on explicit teaching of rules/routines, etc 1st, then introducing activities that can be done as “work job” or enter rotations, independently. Daily 5 and Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller have been helpful.
Good luck! Utilize parents for classroom help at center or work stations too, if you have some helpful ones.
Janice Mendez Cooper 
Bucket Filler to hold them each accountable for their actions and positive reinforcement to manage 30. Fountas and Pinnell, morning meeting/message, writers and reading workshop to start off. That should fill a good chunk off the day.
Sue Bowen
OMG. I have 23 and the first few weeks were exhausting! At least here in NC, we have a law that caps us at 24 in K. My suggestion is organization and structure. I have my group time on the rug, but for literacy and math centers, they are grouped and rotate through the many centers during the week. During developmental centers, they get to choose where they want to go and for how long, but I do choose a different group to choose first each day.

Anyway, my literacy centers have always been in groups (so that when they rotate to me for Guided Reading, they are grouped accordingly). I had never done this before in my math, but I had to this year with so many.
Karen Burnat
 I had 33 for years and it didn’t seem like a problem at all. Now that our numbers are in the 20’s, it seems like a lot, but it’s totally doable, although not ideal or recommended.
You need to have lots of movement and free choice time. I did several blocks where I would pull small groups while they chose from about 20 different activities on the floor and tables. I could do about an hour at a time with this format. Sometimes, I would do an hour of math activities and then a break and then an hour of language arts activities. No help was needed and the kids really like it. The key is to introduce the activities gradually and really teach them what to do with them and how to clean them up, etc.
They also have to be activities they like to do.
Danielle Savage 
We had 29 one year, and wanted to run away screaming and crying……will they hire a new teacher?? I’d practice routines, procedures, and all the stuff that will help reduce behaviors, especially with that many kids….
Terri Takii 
So sorry, I had 33 students last year and it was very tough. During the last part of the day we have Developmental Centers where the kids choose blocks, playhouse, art, pointers, puzzles, etc. I use clothespins with their names on it and a chart with a specific amount of spots to avoid too many kids in one area. They look forward to this time all day!
Celina Norris Davis 
That should be illegal. Sorry I don’t have suggestions. 😦
Lucy Nazarian Bauman 
Would you be able to go on an early bird/late bird schedule? There is still a significant overlap, but at least you could have an hour or so with half of them in the morning and an hour with the other half in the afternoon and pull for your small groups with little or no interruptions. During the overlap, you could have them at centers, co-op groups; recess and lunch at that time would be good, too.
Jessica Porter Fohner
 Filling your time should be a piece of cake. I’m not sure how I’d do it all in a half day. As far as all those kids–that’s crazy! Do you get an aide? My advice is to do as much as possible in small groups. Good luck!
Maria Sykes
 I have 24 and a myriad of behavior problems. I told them military school starts Monday (I kid). But, I’ve rearranged my tables so if they cannot focus on the rug (too many kids, too little space), they can sit at their tables and still see the board, me, etc. Plus I like the teaching on my feet idea. Much easier transition from I do, to we do, to you do.
Sarah Hudson 
For awhile,  don’t worry about teaching the actual skills until they get routines. It’s too much to do at the same time. Make sure they are doing something completely independent (which could be just coloring or little puzzles or exploring math manipulatives) until they get that they have to STAY in their area, not get up, not wander to other areas, etc.
Also I don’t give my children choices during play centers. They have a rotation and the areas are lined out with tape or a rug or whatever. I don’t start working with small groups for about a month. I just monitor to make sure they are staying in their areas and not coming over to me to show me something, tell me about their dog, etc.
It’s all about the ROUTINES!!
Gloria Sanchez Craine
 I agree with Terri! I have Transitional Kindergarten in CA and the last part of the day is the most stressful for me! They want to go home and so do I! I have found that having a short resting time after lunch, followed by math centers and then free choice areas like those suggested by Terri really makes for a smoother afternoon.
I also like to do PE in the afternoon, although it is a HUGE challenge with that many children in the afternoon and no help. I wait until I have everything under control before I take them out for PE by myself.
Good luck! I had 32 when I first started teaching 23 years ago BUT it was half-day AND I had an aide and teaching partner. My heart goes out to you!
Jim Reda
 It is crazy to have that many in kinder. It is not fair to you or the little ones.
Erin Herward Thurston 
I can’t believe it is legal to have over 30 in Kindergarten. 29 is our cap and I’ve had years with that many. Routines and work in small groups is key. Good luck!
Jamie Schultz Tucker 
We do the early bird/late bird schedule at my school. I did the all day with 30 kiddos for 2 years (after the 20 to 1 ratio got dropped) and it was CrAzY!!! At the overlap time I do calendar, sharing, library, computer lab and lunch.
Holli Parlier Shipman
 I agree with Celina. That is way too many children if they expect you to be a successful teacher.
Kelly Petrucci 
That is crowd control! I always say when they give us quantity in numbers the quality of instruction decreases.
Erlyne Osburn
 Lots of music, movement, transition activities, and variety in your lesson plans. The kids need to learn how to be part of a group and the routines of the classroom before they will be able to focus on academic lessons. Getting them to be independent at something (coloring, puzzles, play dough, whiteboards, etc.) will help, too. Feeling your pain!
Maggie Beattie 
I agree..it’s a mob! Try crowd control and over-emphasis on routines & rules in first weeks to establish some independence. Then, divide and conquer 🙂 Create small groups that rotate through independently,  and teacher led centers.
Asking last year’s parents to come in and  volunteer would be great!  They know you, your expectations, and the challenges of the kdg child! Even if they just help in tying shoes, redirecting “tattles”, preparing activities, checking mailboxes, and you know the list goes on….having at least one other adult with you each day may save your sanity!
Bucket filling or any other + rfmt group ideas are wonderful!!
Plus…soon the whole day seems still not enough time for all that needs to be covered 😦
Remember developmental needs of gross motor, free choice and PLAY!
Some “quiet” time (mid-AM &/or mid-PM) will help those who still need rest times…bins of books at the table/rest area will help.
And many prayers/faith from God above!! Trust your own instincts & experience too.
I love the NC cap of 24! That should become a federal LAW! Most states still won’t make kdg a requirement, but continue demanding more & more.
Oh, for your own sanity—establish realistic goals/time for yourself— leave school early on Fridays, don’t come in EVERY day before 7am and go home at a reasonable time….and don’t assign homework!
Other than usual practice skills. I used a daily message (part of daily activity read together at school: “Good day Kindergarten friends, Today is….. We will learn about…..” It also included some math or science to think about..They took this home DAILY to read with family members; if brought back with parent signature-sticker!
I also did monthly calendar with suggested home practice…brought back to school each Fri with work samples & parent signatures-stamp for each successful day-possible tally for end of month recognition: STICKERS or certificate!
Easy stuff you can look over & keep samples for progress tracking if needed. Can be done by a volunteer too, once you know your kiddies better.
Remember too HAVE FUN! They’re still 5 or 6 only once!! And, know you must love teaching to still be thinking of how to do it well with 33!!
Oh…don’t forget blog sites, Pinterest, & collaboration with co-workers. Ask parents, if they aren’t able to volunteer time, to consider classroom donations: stickers, hand sanitizer, gently used games/books/toys, post-it notes in colors, velcro, sticky dots for crafts, special color pens/pencils/markers for writing centers, help to make or fix things sent home—sorting out scholastic book order forms @home & send back to school, and the list goes on. Out of 33, surely you’ll get at least 1/2 to reply 🙂
Karen Kerns
 Routines and structure are so important. Daily 5 works great because you have kids working on writing, reading to self, listening to reading, word work, etc – they can spread out and you can work with small groups and individual students. Try for parent volunteers. Every minute of our day is packed, but I only have 23 kids this year. I’ll pray for you. We have to do our literacy block at the end of the day this year- it’s been a nightmare because the kids are tired and not focused.
Sharon Beckwith
 YIKES!!!!!!! Any support from ed techs or paraprofessionals? I would definitely be working on adding Daily 5 and a personal whirlpool for after school regrouping!!!! Whoever came up with this plan ought to have the opportunity to be your substitute for a week!
Cindy Tuisku 
I have 30 and no parents. Daily 5 and whole brain teaching are my 2 survival tools.
Jamie Butterfield Berube 
Filling the time is easy! Controlling those numbers, not so easy! I hope you have help! That many kids and one adult should be illegal. My day: morning meeting(30 mins, included shared reading of charted poems), writing workshop (1 hour), snack and recess or movement break (20-30 mins), literacy stations (1 hour), lunch and recess (50 mins), math workshop (35 mins), reading workshop (30 mins), special (40 mins), free choice time (15-20 mins).
Jaydee Bryant
 I have 22 kindergarten students. I could not deal with 33 students! That is crazy!! I am so glad that we can not have no more than 25 students. Once we hit the 26th student in any kindergarten class, a teacher must be hired. We have five sections of kindergarten, and we are all sitting at 22. I am so sorry that you have 33 students. You will be in charge of crowd control for the rest of the year. I would suggest working on a routine and not focusing on the standards at this point. Please come up with some classroom rules that the students can remember and use gestures to express the rules. Please stick to a routine!!! WOW!
Stephanie J Sandford 
That is absolutely ridiculous!!! I am praying for you!
Julie Prather Eikenbary 
I am at a title 1 school and could not imagine 30+ 5 years old. I hope they are giving you a full time aide. I agree with others: routines, routines, routines. And then lots of movement, songs, and hands on activities to keep them engaged.
Julianne Delaway 
I’ve had 33 (sometimes 2 or 3 more if special Ed pushes in) for 14 years……we need A LOT of tricks to keep their attention!
Linda Ann Marrero-Torres
 That number of students in a primary grade is crazy and should be prohibited!
Lora Pruden
 I am in California and have 33 kids in kindergarten. That is our cap. We do early bird/late bird and it works great. It makes time for small group reading and writing at the beginning of the day and at the end. Teaching routines and expectations are VERY important!
Ryan Ward
 If there are any colleges or universities near you see if the Teaching programs have any volunteers.
Chereda Hamilton
 I feel your pain!  It’s going to take a lot more planning and work! 😦 During my 34 years of teaching, my largest class was 35 1st graders for the entire year and another time I had 45 students when Calif was going to the 20 kids per class. Luckily this lasted for the first two weeks of school and I did have another full time teacher in the room. the problem was, the new classrooms weren’t ready yet! We finally moved half the class into the computer room for the rest of the semester until the portables could be delivered. But the average class size was 32. Get used to it! Thanks to Pete Wilson for the 20 to one class size reduction in Calif. Too bad it couldn’t continue, but I knew it wouldn’t last. I’m glad my last 8 years were only 20 students. It was nice 🙂
Sandra Milligan
I’d say “Don’t go to work until they hire another teacher!!”. How could any 3 1/2 year old function in that setting!! I’m not sure, but, I do believe that could be considered child abuse!!
Dequency Ragler
 I have 33 in a Spanish speaking population so I feel your pain. In addition I was out last week due to a family emergency. Tomorrow I plan to start over figuratively and literally! I am strict on routines and behavior as it is a safety concern to have so many students in a small space. Even still I have had parents tell me their child is being hurt in class. I say crack down hard in the beginning.
Cheryl Dycio
 33 should be against the law. Even with great structure and routines, these little learners need to develop a love of learning and a relationship with their teacher and peers. With 33 that is difficult. Routines and organization are going to be your saving grace. Ask for a paraprofessional for support.
Katharine Vera Noble 
8( Sorry about the 33. Ouch.
Melissa Williamson Spriggs
 Whole Brain Teaching is awesome. It keeps them engaged and busy. Check out YouTube for videos.
Elaine Stewart Hardaway 
Thank God Florida has a cap at 18 now. I am so sorry about your 33. I had that many a few years ago but I had another full time teacher in class. You MUST spend time on procedures or it will be so hard on you. It will be a big help during center rotation.
Rhiannon Gane
Can you use parent helpers?
They can be great help. 30 min rotations and each parent get 4 kids. But I have in past made sure mums all knew that they could only do 40 mins per week in room.
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2 thoughts on “Teaching All Day Kindergarten with a HUGE class…What to DO?

  1. I am wondering the same thing-I have 27 (20 boys and 7 girls). I have come home exhausted every day. My husband suggested taking vitamins.

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