Visual Lesson Plans - How I Fit It All In

  I often get asked how I'm able to fit things into my day and I'm hoping this helps give you an idea of how that looks.  Let's go ahead and start with the plans.  I'm fortunate enough to be able to help teachers plan for their days while pushing in to assist and mentor.  We talk a lot about "fitting it all in" and I hope this helps you to see what that looks like.  I tend to OVERplan because I'd rather have more than enough to get through the day(s).


Now let's break it all down.

Most kids are still filtering in during this time, so I like to give my kids something hands-on to keep them engaged while everyone is arriving.  When I'm working with teachers, I really try to encourage them to give students hands-on materials instead of worksheets.  While I do feel like those have their place in the classroom depending on the content, I feel like the morning time is a GREAT time to phase them out.  

Make It Monday 
Kids can use various mediums to make their names. Q-tips and paint, tear paper, white crayon and watercolor, or markers & crayons.  Each choice is placed at a different table.  When my kids come in, they grab their name cards from the pocket chart and then choose how they want to make their names. I write their names for them on a piece of construction paper and they go to town.  

Type It Out Tuesday  
As the kids come in, they can grab a "keyboard" and practice typing their names and the names of their friends.  Make name cards available to use as a resource.

I Wonder Wednesday
On Wednesdays we work in our "I Wonder" journals.  I display an "I Wonder" prompt on the whiteboard, we talk about it, and then they write/illustrate their "wonder" in their journals. This week's I Wonder prompt can be found on Wonderopolis HERE.

Creative Thinking Thursday
I've used draw starts since my first year teaching.  This is one of the components my first district used to identify GT students.  Draw starts are a great way for your kids to think outside the box.  Once they complete the draw start, they write about it.  These are great for collecting and keeping in student portfolios, too!

Find It Friday  
Students will search to find their names and the names of their classmates in a Wordle or Word Search.  If you're new to Wordles, see how I create them for sight words HERE.  
You can Google "Word Search Generator" to find a website that best fits your needs for creating customized word searches.

If you don't think a system like this would work for you, you could always consider rotating the activities throughout the week.  On Monday, table 1 does a doodle loop, table 2 does a sight wordle, so forth and so on.  Just an idea. 

Now let's break down my literacy/reading block.
I flexibly pull my kids up to teacher table for small group guided reading activities and lessons.  For my K babies, we're learning letters at the teacher table for warm ups.  You can read more about that HERE.

I'm using small group activities from my Guided Reading Phonics Activities Bundle for my first graders this time of the year.

Here's what we've got going on during our literacy rotations (literacy tubs and centers):

Pocket Chart:  I write out the first letters of the names in my class on a small index card and place them in the pocket chart.  I also create name cards for each student in my class.  You can read more about how I created those HERE.  I place the cards in a tub and then students work together to sort the names by first letter.

Writing:  In Power Point, I create a single sheet class roster with names and pictures.  I make sure to take a picture of each of my kids the first week of school.  Each picture is placed in the file and their first names are typed underneath their pictures.  Then I create a separate writing sheet.  I take all of those pictures and place them in a file going vertically then place writing lines next to each picture.  I place the picture/writing line sheets in a plastic sheet protector in the writing center.  The kids choose one and then practice writing their friends names next to the matching pictures.  They use the single sheet class roster as a resource.

Word Work #1
Name Baggies:  THis activity is from my Say My Name packet.  Students choose 4 name baggies assemble the names, and record.  They love this one. I keep this one in my literacy centers for two weeks and then move it over to the "fast finisher/anchor activities" after that.  I send them home with the kids at the end of the year.

Word Work #2
Name Sorts:  This is another activity from my Say My Name packet.  This week the kids will be using letter tiles and t-charts sorting by "letters in my name/letters not in my name". I have them choose up to 5 different names to sort through before moving on to their next activity. I have several sorts included in this packet, so this is a tub that I keep out for a couple of weeks to give my kids several opportunities to practice.

Word Work #3
Build a Name:  This is another activity included in my Say My Name packet.  The kids build their name with tactile letters or letter tiles, write it with a pencil, stamp it, rainbow write it, and decorate it.

Word Work #4
Mystery Bags:  Students assemble scrambled letters inside of a mystery bag to find out who the mystery student is.

Name Craftivity: This is another activity included in my Say My Name Packet. Kids put together the craft template and stamp their names.  The activity can be differentiated based on student needs.

Sight Word Station
The sight word station has a variety of activities with which the students are familiar and they will choose an activity to do giving them an opportunity to practice spelling/identifying/reading their sight words.  These are some things from which the kids can choose...

Now let's move on to Phonics and Poetry...

When the kids come to the carpet for whole group phonics, we start with a poem and a chant for a warm up.  These warm-ups/chants are pretty quick and don't take too much time, but they get the kids settled and engaged with a quickness.  I keep the Name Chant out all year long and when we're done with the names, sight words take their place.  

You can download the Name Chant (for free) below.
After we've warmed up, we do a quick whole group lesson.  That's where the direct, explicit instruction takes place. That is necessary before moving onto independent practice.  I have to teach before I can expect them to do.  All of the independent activities pictured above are in my Short Vowel Ventures - Short A packet.

Now let's talk about Math.  

For Math whole group on Tuesday, we'll be making a Name Graph.  I love Julie Lee's from Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten.

You'll also notice that I warm up with our Number Line Prompts.

Let's break down the math tubs.  I incorporate name recognition here, too.

  Math Tub #1
I place a set of student name/picture cards in a tub and then have my kids choose 10.  They count and graph the names on a recording sheet and discuss the data with a partner.

Math Tub #2
Name Measurement - I place a set of student name/picture cards in this tub also.  The kids have to choose their own name plus 4 more and use the manipulatives labeled on the recording sheet to measure the names they chose.  They will use their own name card to record the data on the recording sheet.

Math Tub #3
Choose It.  Build It.  Add It - Students choose two name cards, count the letters in each, and then build matching snap cube towers.  If the name has 7 letters, they build a snap cube tower with 7 cubes.  On the recording sheet, students will write the names and color in the number of cubes they used to build their tower.  Then the kids will take the number of letters in each name and add them together (write an equation).  They can combine their snap cube towers to correct their work.  You can download your recording sheet for free HERE:

Math Tub #4
Name Frames - one of our favorite activities!  The kids will use the letters in their names to fill the frame and then determine the amount needed to make 10 altogether.  It's a FREE download HERE.

Math Tub #5
If you're familiar with mine & Abby's Science units, you know that we're all about cross curricular content.  This is a great way to bring science concepts into the math setting.  This activity is called Magnified Math and students have to use science tools (the theme of the week) to find solve equations or find numbers hidden in a picture.  

Math Tub #6
Science Tools Tally - this activity brings science tools into the math setting.  Students have to roll a die, identify the science tool, and then tally the amount they roll.  Simple, easy, and meaningful.

Math Tub #7
Lab Coat Capture - this is a fun partner game (math with friend) where players get to practice 1:1 correspondence and identifying numbers that are more/less.

Math Tub #8
Good Citizens are ONEderful - again with the cross curricular content, only this time the focus is social studies.  This activity compliments our study on good citizenship - the first SS TEK we cover here in Texas and I'll pretty much take any chance I can get to reinforce the importance of being a good citizen.
And then we finish out the day with Theme...aka - Science and Social Studies.  Here's what that looks like visually, but you can take a closer peek in the plans.  Just download them HERE.


Hope this helps you visually see how I try to fit it all in!!! 


  1. Wow!!!There's so much prep that must go into your schedule! I wish I had your energy to get all of that ready each week. I also noticed that you start at 8:00 and dismiss at 3:30 with a 30 minute lunch. Your day is longer than mine by almost 1 hour. I really admire what you do!

  2. This is great. Thanks for some great ideas!!

  3. You are the best. I have taught first grade for 18 years, and still love to look at lesson plans and activities and tweak them every year. Thanks so much for this long article. I will be purchasing your science/social studies units. I look forward to more lesson plans. God bless you, your family, and your students this coming school year.

  4. So do your students rotate through all of the literacy stations everyday? Or what do they do when they have finished their station since they are basically in them if an hour and a half?