Transitional Kindergarten Teaching Tools

TK Experience | Classroom & Instructional Planning | Learning Domains | Family Engagement | Resource Library


In Teaching Tools, you can find information on teaching transitional kindergarten that can help you make a profound impact in the lives of your young learners. With the right teaching tools in your hands, you can help children develop a successful pattern of learning that begins in your transitional kindergarten classroom and stays with them throughout the later grades.

Teaching Tools is your go-to area for understanding developmentally appropriate measures of learning across content areas or domains, providing you with sample teaching strategies, supporting family involvement and culturally relevant practices, designing your classroom and planning instruction. The best practices and instructional strategies found here were created and reviewed by a panel of experts from across California whose expertise spans the areas of language and literacy development, early math, social emotional development and executive function and dual language acquisition.

The Quality TK Experience

The term “a gift of time” is frequently used to describe transitional kindergarten and it tells us something important about the power of the grade. Families and educators attest to the tremendous impact the gift of the transitional kindergarten year has on children’s school readiness. Over the last several years, TK classrooms across California have developed a growing body of evidence suggesting that there are common themes in a TK classroom that can make this gift of time successful. Designed specifically for the unique needs of our youngest kindergarteners, successful TK includes integrated, differentiated and culturally responsive instruction, and includes strong family engagement.

Learn more in the Quality TK Experience section.

Classroom & Instructional Planning

The classroom space you create, tailor-made to the needs and experiences of young learners, will be crucial in helping them get the most out of TK, as well as laying the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. The TK classroom environment should be engaging, promote movement and be responsive to the diverse backgrounds and experiences of your transitional kindergarteners.

Throughout the day young students should be actively engaged in play-based activities that are connected to theme-based, integrated curriculum. This website is designed to support an integrated and differentiated approach to instruction, including a section on how to use assessments to enrich student learning. The teaching strategies and sample lesson plans provide hands-on ways to support children across a continuum of learning and to make connections between domains.

Learn more in the Classroom and Instructional Planning section.

Teaching within Learning Domains

This section of the website provides teaching strategies in the Social-emotional, English Language Arts, Mathematics and English Language Development domains, while offering guidance in integrated and differentiated approaches to instruction. Each domain section includes background information and an overview of the alignment between the Preschool Learning Foundations and the California Kindergarten Common Core Standards. The teaching strategies provide hands-on ways to support children across a continuum of learning through embedding learning within daily contexts, modeling, and giving children opportunities for practice.

Social-Emotional Development

Research shows – and you have probably seen firsthand – how important it is for children to feel secure, valued and cared about, and to develop strong social-emotional skills. Current research tells us that self-regulation of emotions and behavior is one of the strongest predictors of academic success and leads to success in the workplace, in social settings and in life for all young schoolchildren. As a TK teacher, you have the opportunity to play a vital role in children’s lives during a period of critical social-emotional growth.

Learn more in the Social-Emotional Development section.

English Language Arts

Rich language experiences during the transitional kindergarten year play an important role in ensuring that children are able to read at proficiency in third grade. The early literacy skills of conversation and oral language, alphabet knowledge, book and print rules, phonological awareness, and vocabulary and background knowledge have been identified as having predictive influence on later literacy. These key predictors of later literacy success can provide a focus for teachers as they develop engaging activities for their young students.

Learn more in the English Language Arts section.


In transitional kindergarten, mathematics can be taught – and discovered – in a child’s everyday environment. For example, students can be introduced to concepts and relationships of numbers and quantities as they recite numbers in order to 10, count up to five objects or visually compare two groups of objects and express if they are the “same” or “more.” They learn important foundations of mathematics while engaging in imaginative play, exploring the environment and materials and making new discoveries.

Learn more in the Mathematics section.

English Language Development

Multiple and integrated language- and literacy-rich experiences promote young students’ acquisition of English through listening, speaking, reading and writing embedded in the instructional program throughout the day. TK provides fertile ground for teachers, including monolingual English speaking teachers, to effectively implement strategies that enhance learning and development for young ELLs. As you become familiar with your students’ needs and apply evidence-based practices specific to ELLs, you will give each child’s journey into academic English a boost while also celebrating their home language development and cultural backgrounds.

Learn more in the English Language Development section.

Family Engagement

A strong body of research shows that students do better in school and in life when their parents are engaged in their education. Family engagement benefits students in school and life, contributing to better social and personal conduct skills, better student attitudes toward learning, reduced absenteeism, higher graduation rates and reduced drop-out rates, and overall better student achievement.

Find specific family engagement tips and strategies in the Family Engagement section.

Resource Library

In addition to the strategies outlined in each of the above sections, there are numerous resources in the library to support quality TK. Implementors of TK across the state have been developing new materials to get their own TK classrooms running. This resource library offers a sampling of recommended resources these educators and researchers have generously offered to support districts in their high quality planning and instruction efforts. The library includes resources such as sample activities, templates, presentations, articles, studies, web resources and more.

Search the Resource Library.

“Mrs. Londgren taught my son Evan how to deal with conflict using verbal expression. She taught him patience while learning the ability to sit still and listen while waiting his turn. Most importantly, she gave him the gift of loving school. She is phenomenal!”
–Melissa Vernon, parent of TK student
TK Conference Materials

Click here for all materials and presentations from the 2013 TK Implementation Conference

Professional Development Modules

Click here for a series of PD modules in each domain, developed through a collaboration among county offices of education