First Day at School Routine

I have received a number of emails and messages on Facebook about my “First Day at School” Routine. Drum ROLL… Here it is!

Classroom Set-up

I begin by placing a toy on each table. I try to put out an appealing assortment. Some that girls might gravitate towards and some for boys. I only set up table top toys for the first day. The Farm Set is usually used with the mat that you can see on the floor. For that morning only it was placed on the table.


I also like to create an ambience by playing some fun kids music in the background. I think that it feels more welcoming. Especially for the first few to arrive. It can be a little quiet and serious if not.

I also ensure that coat hooks are tagged and that I have sufficient space for lunchbox storage. I’m all about routine people, even on ESPECIALLY on the first day. I feel that establishing routines from Day 1 gives my pupils a feeling of security and empowers them with independence. They will only need gently prompting the following day on where to put their lunchboxes etc.

I also have “Dropbox” on my windowsill ready for all of the notes and classroom expenses envelopes. I find it to be indispensable. The kids love popping notes, drawings etc. into Dropbox in the mornings. It also means that the likelihood of putting a note down somewhere and spending the next hour panicking about its wherebaouts  is gone. If I see parents with envelope/notes I explain that we will be using Dropbox and send them over to it

Here is a rather beat up Dropbox from the end of the last school year.


I like to ‘Meet and Greet” each pupil, shaking hands, introducing myself and “stickering” them. Is “stickering” a verb? It really should be 😉 Our wonderful secretary, Shannen, always has a set of stickers ready for the first day or too. She’s the bomb!

After Mom and Dad have left

If the kiddos are settled I just let them continue playing while I empty school bags. I remove all books and any monies that I find. I will sort through these after school.

I introduce the class to “Whole Brain Thinking” and we practice ‘Class? Yes!” and “Look at your teacher when she speaks”. These are the two class rules and procedures that we will focus on for the coming days. If you are interested in learning more about Whole Brain Thinking then click here. I have used it for the past 2 years and love it!

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We also learn about “Teams/Groups”. I use Colours to distinguish between each group. If you look below you will see that I use coloured lanterns to distinguish groups. I call groups to    hang up their coats, place lunch boxes on the shelf and to show them where the toilets. I also demonstrate our ‘Toilet Pass System’.

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Then we learn where to sit for ‘Floor Work’ and story time. This is how we will start our school day from now on. We read The Kissing Hand and met Chester.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 14.59.22We then returned to our seats for our first piece of “work”. We had a Chester colouring sheet that read ‘Ask me to tell you about The Kissing Hand’. I thought that it might be useful for parents to chat about with their kids when they got home. I circulate and record who is right handed/left handed and who already has a well developed pencil grip.

After our colouring sheet we learned the “2 Little Feet” poem below. It will be one of our movement break activities for the year. Click here to download.

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Then we had our lunch and went out to play. When we returned from the yard I gave my class their gift of “Magic Play-doh”. Click here to learn about Magic Play-doh. It’s a really old blogpost. I seriously need to save up and buy a camera!!!

I then presented each child with a “Hoot Hoot Hurray'” certificate and we began packing to go home. Click here for  a link to the Hoot Hoot Hurray Certificate.

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Reading back over this post it seems like we did very little but honestly, we were flat out. We were even 10min late going home!!!

I know that you will not be able to find the same stories and certificates by Monday morning. Pick your own favourite kids story and see if you can find a corresponding colouring sheet. That allow parents a window into the world of their child’s first day. “So tell me about The Kissing Hand!”.  I would really encourage you to buy or create a certificate. Starting school is a huge milestone and should be celebrate. You certainly have time to make Magic Play-doh. It takes 4 min to make the doh and then a few more to roll into balls and add colouring. It’s great to see the excitement that it brings.

I hope that this helps all of you new Junior Infant/Kindergarten teachers out there. If you have any specific questions leave a comment below or visit missmernagh on Facebook.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


5 thoughts on “First Day at School Routine

  1. Alex Parrington says:

    Hi Miss Mernagh, What a great post – I always love to see what other teachers are doing on the first day. We use The Kissing Hand too – such a beautiful story and thanks to your link I have bought my teaching partner and I a Chester soft toy to go with the story 🙂 The magic play doh is a really cool idea too!
    We are half way through our third term for the year and feeling a little tired so it is very inspirational to me to read your enthusiasm for a new year.
    Cheers from Melbourne, Australia 🙂 Alex

    • missmernagh says:

      Hi Alex,
      Your kind comment was just what I needed today. The first few weeks of school with Junior Infants can be pretty exhausting. You comment has perked me up more than that double espresso that I just had! It gives me the greatest thrill to hear from my followers.
      This is my first year using The Kissing Hand. I am thrilled that you ordered Chester. He’s a fantastic size and feels so cuddly! My class really enjoyed him joining in our lessons today. He had terrible difficulties classifying by colour! Honestly, I thought that I would have to get oxygen for some of them. They were laughing so hard!!
      You are very nearly there and I have just begun. Check out my Memory Booklet post: It is a lovely way to finish the year!
      Have fun,
      Miss Mernagh 🙂

  2. Kay says:

    Hi Ms. Mernagh,
    This post was just what I love-other teacher’s routines! When you say you begin each day with floorwork does that mean throughout the year? Also would love to know about how you structure play in your class,
    Thank you!

    • missmernagh says:

      Hi Kay,
      I like to begin each day the same way. After kids put away their toys they know to go straight to the floor and sit on their “spot”.

      We do take a few moments to talk about the days of the week: yesterday, today, tomorrow. We graph the weather and see what, if any, pattern is emerging (data handling,/number/science).

      I chat to them about what they have to look forward to that day.

      Then we begin with a story. Then we move to phonics. All of this is done as a group, seated on the floor. I find it easier to keeps them on track and listening when we are on the carpet. We are so much closer to each other than when we are at our desks.

      I hope to cover my routines in more detail in the coming weeks. After that I will talk about how play looks in my room.

      Thanks for your message. If you have any tips please let me know!

      Have fun,
      Miss Mernagh 🙂

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