Kindergarten Buddies: Building relationships and literacy at the same time

blog post by Mrs. Julie Rapoport

For the past seven years I have had my fifth grade students work with the kindergarten class on reading and writing.  Once a week we travel down to the kindergarten class and each fifth grade student finds their kindergarten buddy.  The fifth graders walk their buddy down to the library to return and pick out two books. They then walk hand-in-hand back to the hallway outside the kindergarten room to read their books. This is my favorite time during the 40 minute period as I watch each of the kindergarteners get right up close to their fifth grade buddy.  Each child is fully immersed in the reading. It is a pretty great sight to see a fifth grader and a kindergartner getting into the same book regardless of age. After they have finished their books, students go into the classroom where Mrs. Piper gives them directions about a writing project. At the beginning of the year, fifth graders are asking the kindergarten students questions about their drawings, and as the year progresses, the kindergarteners are writing their own stories down with only a little help from their buddy. It is amazing to see the growth of both the kindergarteners and the fifth graders. Kindergarteners start at the beginning of the year hesitant to draw a picture or even talk to their buddy. By the end of the year, there are hugs and kindergarteners not wanting their buddy to leave. For fifth graders this gives them the opportunity to help out younger students and to be role model for them. They look forward to this time of the week because it is outside of the fifth grade curriculum, but, without them knowing, a great opportunity for them to mature as fifth graders, ready to take on a little more guidance as sixth graders the following year.