Making School a More Intimate Place For Kindergarteners

By Colleen Ryan — Being a five year old in a school of 847 students can be somewhat overwhelming.  Some of my students still get nervous when the bell rings during a bathroom break, and 100 high/school middle school students are getting from class to class.  I do have many students with 4-5 older siblings who get excited because they get to see them in the halls, but my students who have no older siblings cannot help but feel overwhelmed.

Over the past semester, I’ve pondered how to make the school feel smaller to them.  I was talking with 3rd grade teacher, Stephanie Rappe, about how nice it would be to pair up our students and do an activity.  Right before Thanksgiving break, the third graders came to our room to help the kindergartners make a turkey craft and then read with.

At first my students were very shy, but the third graders were so caring, they soon warmed up to the idea.  Watching the third graders interact with their buddy was incredible, they were all kind and patient.  They would show them how to cut in different ways, they would encourage them when they struggled with a word, and they read to them talking about different things in the story. My kids instantly began to look up to their buddy.

For some of them, the halls started to feel a little smaller because they would have someone to look for in.  We decided to do another project before winter break and my students were counting down the days.

This time we went up to the third grade room and made gingerbread men.  They were shocked that we had to walk up so many stairs to get there, but they thought it was so fun.  Once again the pairs all worked so well together.  I even heard one third grader say to his buddy ‘remember what I showed you last time, if you cut like this first it will be a lot easier.’  It has been wonderful for both groups of kids.

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