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Backwards Day Theme for the Kindergarten Class

By Tania Cowling

Backwards Day is a fun and unique theme to be celebrated in the classroom. You can use any day of the year to engage in these activities. Some teachers choose National Backwards Day, a non-traditional holiday on January 31, and others choose April 15, because of Leonardo de Vinci (see below).

Read a Backwards Book

Silly Sally Begin this theme by sharing Audrey Wood’s imaginative book, Silly Sally, a tale about a girl who heads into town walking backwards and upside down. Sally encounters plenty of silly characters along the way that join her in singing and dancing until they all fall fast asleep. This nonsense-type story has humorous illustrations and will bring smiles and giggles to your kindergarten class.

Along with a good story, here are other activities that will enrich this theme making it a special day in your classroom.

Mirror Writing

Mirror Writing 

Did you know that Leonardo de Vinci, born on April 15 loved to write his notes backwards? This famous scientist and artist kept volumes of notes recording his ideas in backwards format.

Set up a “backwards” table and challenge your students to write short notes where all the letters are backwards. Suggest that the children write their note correctly first and then on a second sheet of paper; transcribe each letter so that it’s written backwards. Your students can check their messages by looking at them using a hand mirror. This is called mirror writing.

Counting Backwards

Counting Backwards During your backwards theme, invite your students to practice counting backwards. How well can your kindergarteners count backward from 10, 20, and even 50? Can anyone count backwards from 100? Next, challenge the kids to count down by 10’s from 100. How about counting by 5’s from 100?

Enhance this concept by reading Ten Sly Piranhas: A Counting Story in Reverse (A Tale of Wickedness -- and Worse!) by William Wise, The story has you following the adventures of ten toothy fuchsia piranhas as they begin to disappear one by one. As you read this tale count backwards together.

Backwards Painting

Have some backwards fun during art class. Provide paper to each child along with a cup of water, paintbrush and colored markers (not the permanent ones). Have the children create this painting in the opposite order. First, they paint over the paper with water and then apply color to the paper with colorful markers. The colors will run across the page and mix together. The results are fun, bright, and no two paintings are alike. Mount these dramatic art papers on a bulletin board during your backwards theme.

Practice Palindromes

Palindromes are numbers, words or sentences that can be read the same both forward and backward.

Examples of words are dad, mom, wow, pop, noon, Bob, Anna, radar and level. Can you think of others?

As a challenge, try a sentence. These silly sayings are tricky because you must change the spacing between the letters to form different words. For example: Was it a rat I saw? Now, look at it backwards to say the same. How about: No lemons, no melon.

There are books that emphasize palindromes. Check out these titles by author Jon Agee.

Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!

Sit On a Potato Pan, Otis!

Numbers can be palindromes too. This number is the same when it is read forward or backward. Examples are 33, 99, 505, 818, 1001, 4444 and 6556.

Moving Backwards

During recess, take your class outdoors and carry out races where the kids must do things backwards. Begin each race at the “Finish” line and head toward the “Go” sign. Try running backwards, and even try a backwards crab walk (with their stomachs facing the sky). Think of other ways to move backwards.

And More Backwards Fun

Continue your backwards theme with these ideas:

  1. Reverse the order of curriculum today – math in the morning and reading in the afternoon (or whichever way you conduct your classes).
  2. Read a book backwards.
  3. Show a film or video backwards.
  4. Dress backwards (putting on your coat and hat the opposite way).
  5. Eat backwards – dessert first.

Can you think of more ideas?