Make attendance easy with a simple attendance chart for kindergarten. This quick classroom routine simplifies your morning and reinforces key skills.
Attendance. It’s one of those daily details of classroom life. Day in. Day out. You need to do it, but you don’t want it to take any more time and energy than necessary.
I understand why it’s important. I’ve been on the receiving end of the office calls a few more times than I like to admit. “Mrs. D., is Lexi here today? Her mom put her on the bus this morning, but you marked her absent.” As I envision the panic-stricken mother, I look around my kindergarten class, and there’s Lexi, smiling up at me – wondering what’s going on.
And I get to utter the delightful words: “No, I messed up – again. She’s right here, where she belongs. Please apologize to her poor mom!”
At that point, I knew I needed to improve my attendance chart and tie it to the students’ morning routines. My students could take on the responsibility of indicating that they had gotten to school – and their friends would be happy to help check on them! (Now I just need to mark name correctly on my attendance form! What could go wrong?)
How an Attendance Chart in Kindergarten Helps Everyone
As I shifted the attendance responsibility to my students, I realized there were a number of benefits of putting them in charge of attendance.
Frees up the teacher
Not to be selfish, but teachers are busy people, especially in the morning as the kids are arriving. If you are anything like me, you are prepping the last few things for the day, writing the morning message, and swapping out cards for the daily schedule. Plus, you want to personally greet and check in with each student as they start the day. Using an attendance chart for kindergarten allows you to pay attention to more pressing matters in the morning. It also provides benefits for your students.
It’s important to let kids do what they can, without help. Once children can read their own names, they can do attendance on their own. It makes them feel so grown up!
Provides Meaningful Opportunity to Read Names
The process of using an attendance chart helps kindergarten (and preschool and first grade) students learn how to read their own name and the names of their classmates. My kindergarteners are more than happy to track down friends who didn’t do their attendance, which requires reading their classmates’ names.
Noticing how the names Michael and Micah are different from one another helps them understand that they need to look closely at words to tell them apart. Reading classmates’ names, they also learn about letter names and phonics patterns. These real-life lessons helps them make sense of the patterns in the English language. (Even though not all names follow English phonics patterns, teachers can capitalize on more consistent patterns, like many beginning consonant sounds.)
Fun Ways to Take Attendance in Kindergarten
You know you need to take attendance each day, but you want to make it fun and meaningful for your students. You also want a routine that lets you know at a glance who is absent. You might choose an attendance chart or a slightly different attendance routine. A few quick and simple routines include name writing cards, attendance pocket chart activities, name sticks and an interactive white board display. Keep reading to learn more – plus learn about fun ways to take attendance for distance learning.
Pocket Chart Check-in
There are lots of variations on the attendance pocket chart routine. The basic idea is that each child finds their name as they arrive and places it in the pocket chart so you can tell who is at school.
One simple way to do this is to create two headings: Home and School. Before students arrive, place all the names on the Home side of the chart. Students can move their name to the School side as they arrive. You can tell at a glance who is absent.
Another variation is to use the pocket chart for lunch count and attendance combined. Use headings that say Hot Lunch and Cold Lunch (or whatever options your school uses.) Place the name cards on the floor or a table in the morning. As students arrive, they place their name in the chart to indicate their lunch choice and complete attendance at the same time.
You can also display a question of the day in your attendance pocket chart. Students find their name card from the floor or table and place it under the response that matches their answer. An attendance question also builds in additional reading practice as students read the repetitive questions in order to select their answer.
If coming up with a daily question seems overwhelming, look at the pre-made question sets I have in my store. Save time and energy by using thematic questions that are already created for you!
Interactive White Board
If you have a Smartboard or Promethean board, you can use that for attendance. Create boxes labeled Home/School or Hot Lunch/Cold Lunch (similar to a pocket chart display). Add each child’s name at the bottom of the screen (or in the Home box) and they can move their name up to the correct box as they arrive.
You can easily incorporate a question of the day on in interactive white board. Instead of having labels of Home/School at the top, type a question and two response choices. Students can move their name under the response that matches their thinking.
Not all attendance routines require a chart. Sometimes you are short on space, or want your attendance routine to do double-duty. Name writing and name sticks help you collect attendance information while serving another purpose, too.
Name Writing Cards
Make a name writing card for each child. Spread out the cards every morning. As students enter, they grab their card, practice writing their name, then place the finished card in a basket. The remaining cards show who is absent (or playing at their locker!)
To make this work, you can use a letter tracing font, such as Print Arrow Dotted Font, Nilam Tracing Font, or KG Primary Dots. Depending on the needs of your students, you can include a name writing model and blank space below for writing, or you can have them trace their name. You can make a green dot on each letter shows them where to start.
Laminate each card, then students can use a dry erase marker or Vis-a-vis marker to write on them. You can probably find an eager student volunteer to help clean the cards each day!
This routine is similar to the pocket chart lunch choice. Instead of using name cards and a pocket chart, you use popsicle sticks and cups or cans.
Write each child’s name on a popsicle stick. (Mid-year you can swap these sticks out for sticks with last names, to mix things up a bit.) Label one cup (or can) Hot Lunch and one Cold Lunch (or whatever options your school uses.) Target sells some really cute plastic tumblers for under a dollar – perfect for this use!
As students enter, they find their name stick and place it in the cup to match their lunch choice. This is a great solution if you are short on space.
You can also use name sticks to indicate Home or School, if you don’t need to gather a daily lunch count.
Looking for Virtual Attendance Questions?
Are you preparing for (or currently doing) distance learning? There are still some easy ways to create an attendance chart for your kindergarten class using distance learning technology.
If you use Seesaw, you can easily upload a question of the day for students to answer. Make the format look similar each day so it’s easy for parents (and office staff) to identify the attendance question. Students respond verbally, in writing, or with a video to answer the question. Read this post to learn exactly how to use an attendance question in Seesaw.
If you use Google Classroom, here is a detailed post from Leslie at KindergartenWorks. She shows how to make an adorable form for teachers to use for daily attendance. You can even add the link to your Class Dojo account to use it with that platform.
As you can see, there are lots of simple attendance routines for kindergarten (and preschool or first grade, too!) Choose one that fits the materials and space you have available.
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