Circle time with preschoolers can go south quickly, especially if you’re relatively new to the whole early learner experience. Gathering 15 to 20 small children together on colorful carpet squares and keeping them there can be a challenge. If you have plenty of planned activities to keep young minds and fidgety bodies engaged, circle time can become your favorite time of the day.
10 Activities for Early Childhood Circle Time
Try these ten activities, alone or in combination, to make the most of this special opportunity to share this gathering time with the young children in your classroom. Also be sure to check out the Childcraft carpet selection online to see a mix of high-quality, stylish, and educational carpets for any classroom.
1. Welcome Routine
Every child likes to be acknowledged by name and welcomed into the classroom. You might sing a classroom song like “Where Is Thumbkin?” substituting the name of each child for the names of fingers or sing “The More We Get Together” including each child’s name. If you are not a singer, you may want to welcome each child present by adding a photo or name tag to a list of “Who is in School Today”. Reading, writing and saying the names of each child in Circle Time builds literacy skills and helps children to learn the names of their classmates.
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2. Daily Weather Report
What’s the weather like outside today? Nearly every preschool classroom has a window. Let each child take turns checking on the weather and then reporting back to the circle. Children can predict what’s going to happen outside throughout the day based upon what they see. Clouds? Maybe it’s going to rain later. Cold and blustery? Maybe snow is on the way.
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3. Story Time
Story time is always a favorite activity for circle time, and few things keep preschoolers engaged better than an interesting story that’s punctuated by rhyming words and funny or outrageous pictures. Choose books that will make children laugh, and encourage your audience to interact with you by asking open-ended questions about the text.
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4. Felt Board Activities
Working with a felt board and felt figures is always entertaining. Don’t make the children just sit back and watch you having all the fun, however. Choose audience members to come forward and move the figures around the board. Ideas include using pieces of felt food to build a healthy dinner plate, encouraging felt people to interact with one another in socially acceptable ways, or organizing felt animals into their proper habitats — the pigs inside the barn, the bears in the forest and the cat or dog inside the house with the people.
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5. Time to Move
Integrating physical activity- Morning Calisthenics, Yoga, Creative Movement-into Circle Time and activate the brain. It can help set healthy habits for life. Young children actually think better when they have the opportunity to move during the day. Break up quiet listening times with “Movement Breaks” like a quick version of “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.
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6. 100 Days of School
Children are counting at many different levels in preschool. Help them to understand one-to-one correspondence by visually adding a large bead onto a string or a link on a growing chain during every circle time to represent each day in school. You may want to count the beads or links together or just display them for a growing visual representation of adding numbers.
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7. Yarn Ball
Yarn ball is a fascinating way to get shy children to speak up. You’ll start by holding the end of the string and passing the yarn ball to the student who answers your question. That child holds onto the string too, as play, and the yarn ball, passes to the next volunteer. By the end, everyone wants a chance to hold the yarn ball, and you’re left with an intricate living spider web for children to enjoy.
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8. Take a Turn with Craft Sticks
Introducing the craft stick method of calling on children helps to ensure that everybody gets a turn. Write each child’s name on a stick, and drop them into a cup. When it’s time to call on someone, pull a stick to see who gets to answer!
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9. Sing to the Music
Singing is standard activity that all children adore. If you want to get a group of preschoolers on the same wavelength, settle them down together with a few fun songs that get them moving and shaking.
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10. Facial Feelings
Facial feelings help young children identify the wide range of human emotions that they, and others, feel on a daily basis. To play, simply cut faces from magazines and glue them to heavy card stock. If you prefer, you can tape the faces to craft sticks to make them easier to handle. Hold up a face and ask children to identify the emotion on the face, and then encourage children to share their experiences with each emotion.
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More Early Childhood Ideas and Inspiration
Having a variety of activities for Circle Time ready to go will keep things engaging and moving along at a pace that both you and your young students can enjoy. If you’re looking for more inspiration, ideas, and products for your early learners, be sure to check out the other blogs on the Early Childhood category and stop by the School Specialty online store. Stock up on the latest classroom tools and supplies.