In my school district, we offer both full-day and half-day kindergarten classes, but parents have to pay tuition if they want their child to be in a full-day classroom. The half-day kindergarten teacher in each school teaches two half-day classes, an A.M. class and a P.M. class. That means I'm gearing up for potentially 40-50 students here, estimating that their will be 20-25 in my morning class and 20-25 kids in my afternoon class. So, organization is a MUST!
My biggest half-day tip is color coding everything. I assign each class a color- this year my A.M. class will be red and my P.M. class will be yellow. That way, you know at a glance just by looking at the color, whether something belongs to the A.M. or the P.M. class.
Here is a picture of the cubbies in my classroom. The bottom part of each cubby where backpacks and coats go will be shared by an A.M. kid and P.M. kid, but the top has a small space for each kid to put their personal supplies (red owl tags for A.M. and yellow owl tags for P.M.).
I also put 2 nametags at each table seat. The regular-sized nametags you can buy at teacher stores are too big to fit 2 at each table seat, so I cut up sentence strips I got at Dollar Tree. I know some half-day teachers just skip table nametags altogether, but I always have tons of kids that start school not knowing how to write their name, so I feel like I have to have each child's name on their table spot to help them learn to write it. Again, I use color coding, so each table spot will have 1 red and 1 yellow nametag (I won't write the names on the tags until my class list is finalized!).
In my district, 40 minutes of guided reading is required each day- doesn't matter if you teach half-day or full-day. So...I had to make sure I was organized for a whole lot of guided reading groups, since I will be doing it each morning and afternoon and could have 4 or 5 groups in each class. I'm using red baskets and folders for my A.M. class and yellow baskets and folders for my P.M. class. I absolutely LOVE these baskets from Calloway House because they are divided onto 3 sections so I can keep the group's guided reading books for the week in one section, their journals for writing/word work activities in one section, and my folder with lesson plans/running records in another section.
I love those little baskets they have been selling in the Target Dollar Spot the last few years. I have tons of them in all different colors due to my Target addiction. This year, I will use one of the red baskets to hold the math books for my A.M. class and one of the yellow baskets to hold the math books for my P.M. class. When I taught full-day I just had them keep things like math books in their chair pockets, but that is just too much stuff for one chair pocket with half-day kids sharing the chair pockets now.
For my behavior system, I use a clip chart with apples. I clip clothespins onto the sides of the chart and the kids all start each day on the green apple. As they get warnings in class, I move their clip down progressively (to the yellow, "orange," and red apples). The apple chart under the red owl is for A.M. and the chart under the yellow owl is for P.M.
One of my literacy centers is the pocket chart center. I have a big pocket chart at this center that usually has some sort of poem or song that you can put students' names in. For example, we will start the year with "Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?" in the pocket chart. Then students can take nametags with their classmates names/photos and insert them into the poem to read it. I will use the red pocket chart to hold all of the A.M. students' nametags/photos for the pocket chart center and the yellow pocket chart for the P.M. students (these little pocket charts are the ones Target sells in their Dollar Spot each summer).
I know at this point you're probably thinking I'm a bit crazy to take the color-coding so far, but honestly it really helps. I do it with absolutely everything- even their take-home folders and their writing journals. In terms of assessment, I keep a red binder for my A.M. class and a yellow binder for my P.M. class, and then I also have hanging files for each student as well (you can buy colored tabs to put at the top of each hanging file if you want to color code these too).
I will be sharing some of my other half-day teaching ideas as well as my half-day schedule later this summer as I continue getting organized for the upcoming school year...should be fun to try to figure out how to fit in guided reading, writing workshop, and math work stations (not to mention everything else) in under 3 hours!
I would love to hear tips from other half-day teachers out there! Us half-day teachers have to stick together and help each other out!