I get asked all of the time, “What exactly is soft start?” Well, soft start is basically a soft beginning to the day. Instead of the kids coming in and immediately getting started on a “practice page for the standardized test” or just “reading silently” at their desk–they softly ease into the routine for the day.
Last year, soft start looked very different then it will look this year. I would recommend reading my past blog post about it. When we are NOT in a global pandemic, I will go back to that way of doing soft start, or maybe even a mix of what I am doing this year and the soft start tubs from last year. Nonetheless, this year…we will be doing a social distancing version of soft start.
Now, I know what you are thinking…”Why is that 5 upside down?” Well, simply to make things interesting! I have learned that kids love when things look silly. My 4th graders especially will get a kick out of this! In all seriousness though, let’s talk about my plan for when they walk in the door each morning.
I have heard we will be doing breakfast in the classroom. So I am going to assume we will first do breakfast, then once they finish breakfast–they can start “soft start.” Each child will have a SOFT START JOURNAL.
The front will have the cover pictured below. The first page will have the instructions pictured below. We will just trim those and glue them on the journals.
The students will choose a number to go to (1-10.) These numbers (tasks) will be hanging up around the room. The purpose of them hanging around the room is to keep the students from all having the same task on the same day and to keep them distanced from each other. I will have no more than 2-3 students at a number each time.
For example, if Timothy chooses to go to number 8 on Monday, he will complete that task then on Tuesday he will go to number 9. Each card has a unique task. These tasks are hopefully interesting to the children, keep them engaged, and allow them to be creative. They can absolutely talk during soft start, but they just won’t be sharing supplies like they would with the soft-start bins.
As you can see, the upside down 5 starts by saying, “Whoops! Sometimes our mornings get turned upside down. Turn your journal upside down and write a letter to your teacher.” Normally, writing a letter to their teacher might not be very fun. However, turning their journal upside down makes them laugh, they feel like they are being silly, and it is something they will remember!
As you can see, card 8 has the students drawing clocks and labeling them with times of the day (lunch, etc.) They will be practicing math and getting to draw. There are treasure map tasks, rock, paper, scissors tasks, poetry, science, cardio, timelines, posters, etc. The kids will LOVE these tasks.
Is the set up hard? Absolutely not. I put each card in a page protector. Then, I used sticky tack to put the page protector on the wall. Now, I just simply slip the card out and slip another one in when it is time to change them out. Since the numbers go to 10–you only have to switch them every two weeks. I love that! There are 180+ cards, but I will just print 10, then sometime during the next two weeks, print the next 10. No need to print 180 all at once.
Each task should take around 15-20 minutes. Really, the kids could spend an hour on it if they wanted, lol. I will just explain to the students that this is an on-going project. So if they finish with work early and want to pull out their journal, they are welcome to work on an old task (not start a new one.)
I will not grade these. I will have to be very flexible with these. Meaning…not every child will get to school in time to complete these tasks. That does make me sad, but I have to remember the purpose of soft start. I want to ease them into the day. Soft start cannot be stressful. So I will not grade these. I do love the fact that their journal will be a great keepsake for them at the end of the year.
Note: I am also working on converting this to digital as well. I have had a few requests for this. The students would just need a journal at home and they could do a task a day.
I hope you love this as much as I do! If you want more of a walk-though, go check out my INSTAGRAM. I have a highlights in my stories saved as “soft-start.” It gives you a walk-through and I explain more about it! If you would like to grab this for yourself, you can grab it in my TpT SHOP or here on my BLOG.
Feel free to let me know how it works for your kids in the Fall! Have a great week!