Read Alouds are one of the best ways to engage students, build community, and have fun on the first day of school. While there are many go-tos for Back to School Read Alouds (you can read my ultimate back to school read alouds list here!), The Kissing Hand is a tried and true staple for the first day of school. But it doesn’t have to stop at Read Aloud time. The Kissing Hand activities can last you all day, week, and even month of school to keep the read aloud shared experience blossoming!
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What’s The Kissing Hand?
If you’re new to early childhood, then you may be asking yourself, “What is The Kissing Hand anyway?” The Kissing Hand is an adorable book about Chester Raccoon who is apprehensive of his first day at school. His mom kisses his hand and tells him that she will be with him all day through his kissing hand. (*cue all the mom tears* how sweet!). It’s the sweetest sentiment for little ones who are having a hard time at school missing their trusted grown up from home!
The Kissing Hand Activities: Reader’s Response!
The Kissing Hand is an excellent way to tackle the social-emotional skills of what to do when we are feeling sad at school. It’s the perfect opportunity to share how we may have been feeling getting ready for the first day of school. For years, I have used these response sheets directly after reading The Kissing Hand. I like that there’s a place to write the child’s response and also a place for the child to draw a picture of how they felt. On the First Day of School, you have no idea the skill level of your students. Even if a child is simply scribbling, they are writing! With this response sheet, every child has an opportunity to “write” regardless of their skill level. Plus- do you make Memory Books? It makes a great keepsake for year long portfolios!
Chester Raccoon Handprint Craft
The sweetest The Kissing Hand activities include a handprint, of course! What I love about this particular handprint craft is that it isn’t your typical handprint with a heart in the center. This one has the handprints as the raccoon’s eyes. Plus, it includes an adorable poem. There’s even a place to draw the person you miss while at school. I can promise you, if you save these to give to families at Back to School Night, I can guarantee you a few grown ups with some wet eyes.
Pro Tips: Precut the pieces ahead of time (this adorable craft is not the place to test scissor skills during the first week!). Do the handprints first before cutting out the face. Do a little bit at a time across a few days! You just filled your first week lessons during Writing Block! Don’t have gray printer paper on hand? This is the pack I used! What a steal at that price!
Color by Number
The Kissing Hand is not just for Kindergarten and Preschoolers. First and Second Graders have their nerves on the first day too! If you are using this read aloud with an older crew, try following it up with this simple Color by Number printable. Plus, it’s only a dollar!
In Kindergarten, I used to save this page for our first rotations of centers. We would do it together in small group just to practice fine motor skills, direction following, color recognition, and center expectations.
Kissing Hand Literacy Center
Whether you’re practicing letter names, introducing uppercase and lowercase letters, or reviewing letter sounds, this Kissing Hand Literacy Center is for you! I love using this as well in my first few rotations of centers. You can match the letter on the heart to the letter on the hand to create a kissing hand. It’s easy to differentiate! You can match upper to upper for a simpler task, or match lower to upper to raise the difficulty. In First Grade, try saying the letter’s sound as you match! Plus, students can follow along by coloring in the matches on the adorable recording sheet that comes with it. I love doing this a couple times a week throughout the first month of school to really hone in on those independence skills and behavioral expectations.
Differentiated Math Center for First Month of School
Having a math connection to a read aloud does not always happen so easily. This Kissing Hand Math Center is easily differentiable to practice for weeks at the start of the year! I begin by spinning colors only, and naming the colors we spin before using that color to mark the recording sheet. The next week, we practice spinning shapes and naming the shapes as we color the recording sheet in one color of our choice. The final week, we put them together to spin both spinners and mark the recording sheets accordingly. Three weeks of a hands on Math Center with a literary connection! So many opportunities for repeated readings throughout that first month.
The Kissing Hand Activities to End Your Day
The Kissing Hand Activities don’t end til the children walk out of your classroom door. These are my favorite parts of the first day! Time to KISS the first day goodbye! Students can color their first day hat. Just staple to a sentence strip. Then, send them home with a certificate and treat! How adorable are these Hershey Kiss gift tags? Imagine how excited a little one would be to come home wearing their hat, with certificate and candies in hand!
Which The Kissing Hand activity is your favorite? What have you done in the past? Let’s share in the comments below!