The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is such a classic. If you asked 100 kindergarten teachers what books are on their Back to School list, I’m betting 99 would include this amazing book.
I have used it for years because it hits on all the great themes of the time: nervousness, separation anxiety, friendship, and love. Teachers can use the story day after day to discuss different themes.
I have had students complete first day/first week art activities with hands and hearts and snack activities with sugar cookie hands and chocolate kisses.
Here are 6 center ideas for Back to School with Chester.
Creating Early Independence
It is important to introduce centers early in the school year. Students need to quickly learn independence with centers that are routine and easily achievable.
Early success in centers will create students eager for independence. The first rule of centers is it doesn’t go into a center until it’s taught whole group.
I will give ideas for whole group instruction and practice during the first week of school, so that this can become an independent center the following week. Why do you want the students to be independent in centers?
Because you want to teach reading.
THE Kissing hand Letter Match
The first week of school students should be introduced to ALL the letters of the alphabet.
We use a sound chart for quick connections and it becomes part of our routine.
We chant the chart: a, /a/, apple, b, /b/, bear…and so on. I also love to sing ABC Rock.
It’s such a fun way to get them reciting the alphabet independently.
As a fun way to introduce the Letter Match with Chester, pass out letters to students and ask them to find their partner.
Have plenty of sound charts available for reference and teach them how to find the letter on the chart. Once they find their partner, turn in the letters and take a seat.
Once all the partners have been found, start all over. It’s a fun way to find the upper/lowercase matches. The letter cards are available for an independent center the next week. Provide students with the letter cards and a sound chart. It can be a group activity in the center or each student can be given a certain number of letters to order.
Be careful not to overwhelm students with too many letters, if this will ultimately frustrate them. If there are 5 students in a center, give each child 5 or 6 letters in a baggie. Ask them to match and order their letters individually, then read the letters as a whole group.
the Kissing hand Number Match
As with the routine above, numbers can be similar.
The set includes numerals, sets of objects, and ten frames.
Students can work in sets of three to complete the match.
As a while group, you can sing the Number Rock. It’s one of my favorites.
As a whole group, you can build ten frames and match numerals to sets.
the Kissing hand Letter Sound Match
This is another sound chart connection center.
As you are chanting the letters and sounds, students are making connections to sound all week.
Students can orally make connections with the sounds by introducing themselves to each other with alliterative sentences: “I’m Brian and I like bears.”
Matching letters and sounds can help students with connections for future reading decoding strategies.
The set included is consonants (excluding x) and two picture cards for each letter.
The sound center can have bags with 5-6 letters and matching sound cards. Students can match letters to sounds. This is easily differentiated. Students with letter/sound knowledge can be asked to write the letters and attempt writing the words associated with pictures. Students with letter or no letter/sound knowledge can be asked to write a letter and draw two the two picture representations.
the Kissing hand Shape Match
This activity is a perfect center for first week connections to shape charts.
One of the first writing activities in a kindergarten classroom is building anchor charts with colors and shapes. (If you would like to read the anchor chart post, click this link: 5 Reasons Anchor Charts are Important.)
The first week of school, we write the color words interactively on 12 x 18 construction papers and we sort pictures for each color.
These are anchor charts that are used all year.
Students are asked to refer to the wall each time they want to write colors and shapes. Once the anchor charts are created, students can use the card sets containing shapes and two cards per shape with picture representations of the shape.
Students are asked match the shapes to the shapes in space. This center is also easily adapted for the varying levels of prior knowledge in your class.
the Kissing hand Color Match
Just as the shape anchor charts are constructed, the color charts are also constructed WITH the children.
Students can use the color anchor charts to match the color cards, the object cards for each color, and the word cards.
Follow-up activities can be differentiated based on student need.
Some students can match the cards, some can choose a color to write and draw, and some students can write, draw, and label color words.
the Kissing hand Word Wall Words
Students can create word wall words on the cards provided with magnet letters or letter tiles.
These are not included in the set.
It is important that students are not provided with words they have not been introduced to prior to the center.
This center could build, as words are added to their word wall, the cards can be added to their center.
These centers can allow for early independence and success. If you would like a free sample of the color cards, click on the Sample Back to School Color Set link or the picture below.
If you are interested in the entire set of Back to School Kissing Hand set, click the picture below.