Circle time or no circle? Say yes to circle time! It can be so fun or it can be a dread, it’s all what you make it! If your circle time is no longer fun or you’re all frustrated (we’ve all been there!) try some of these tips to make circle time a super fun circle time for everyone!
Ideas for Super Fun Circle Time!
Get their attention.
Experience Curriculum (formerly Mother Goose Time) makes this easy with the circle time song. You can play that to signal that it’s circle time. Children respond very well to using music for transitions. It’s a movement song so everyone gets the wiggles out before sitting down. I set up my circle time area like this and then turn on the circle time song.
A spot for everyone.
Little kids do not really understand the concept of personal space. Unless someone is in theirs and they don’t like it! Wouldn’t you know it, when you need everyone to sit and keep in their space, that’s when they
Having a little spot for each child helps set the expectation to sit. They learn it’s where they stay for circle time. I don’t have a fancy rug with spots for everyone to sit on so I use these little-colored vinyl “spots”. They can be used for many other kinds of activities and free play as well.
Being prepared is an obvious one but it’s a lesson I seem to need to learn on a weekly basis. I’m always forgetting something and needing to get up and find it. That’s a sure fire way to lose everyone’s attention!
I keep a handy little basket nearby my circle time area.
I keep it on the shelf where we do circle time so it’s handy. Everyone knows this is my circle time basket and it stays there. (Most of the time this works.)
These little plastic zipper bags hold our weather pieces and alphabet cards for circle time. I found them at the Dollar Tree.
Supplies I use at circle time:
- glue stick/calendar numbers
- weather pieces
- Teacher Guide
- Pocket Cube
Don’t forget whatever else you need for activities during or after circle time. Maybe bring something extra in case you need to switch things up.
Lower your expectations.
I don’t like to say that because I believe children will rise to your expectations (generally). We do have to
You will see many arguments for or against circle time for young children, but I’m a fan. Some days go better than others
Children do need to learn to sit and control their bodies for short periods of time. It’s is a reality that they will need to eventually learn to sit for group activities in school. Children who start in an early childhood earlier may have more time to practice this than a 4-year-old who is soon starting school so exposing children to the need to sit (relatively) still and quiet is not an unrealistic expectation. It must be learned like anything else and used with balance.
Some of my younger ones will wander off and that’s okay. You will know if some in your group are not ready for circle time. If I see I’m “losing” them, I wrap things up. Again, keep it short and go from there.
Use a puppet.
Read a book.
I usually put a book out at circle time and everyone waits in anticipation for the story. Starting or ending circle time with a short, developmentally appropriate book relating to the theme can extend the lesson. Don’t limit it to just books, try Scholastic Magazines, poems, nursery rhymes, fingerplays,
Play a game.
Kids love games and that’s how kids learn is through play, so let’s do that! Experience Curriculum
Keep kids moving to keep the learning going. Dance, do yoga, play a listening game or song, exercise, make animal movements, or play follow the leader. The Experience Curriculum Teacher Guides provide plenty of ideas for music and movement.
Transition to or from circle time with music and movement. Or move and then return to a sitting activity so everyone isn’t sitting too long.
We like these music and movement songs:
- Going on a Bear Hunt (we like the Greg & Steve version best)
- Hello, Hello
- Freeze Dance
- Goldfish Song
- I Like to Move It, Move It
- We Are the Dinosaurs
Use a pointer.
Ah, the magic of a pointer/wand! Kids love them. It gives them an element of control. If they have the pointer, all attention is on them. Ha, you can just see it on their face. It makes them excited to learn and participate. What a great tool! Sometimes Target has them in their dollar section or you can find them on Amazon.
Give everyone a turn.
Everyone gets a little job. The calendar number, the counting leader, the alphabet pointer, the shape finder, the weather updater. Make it up as you go! I say, “Can you find a letter E?” Another child might need more of a challenge so I’ll ask him to find a word
Another amazing thing happens at circle time – children start to help one another and therefore learn from one another.
How do you make sure everyone gets a turn? Name sticks are my little trick for making sure everyone gets a turn and it’s fair. It’s not my choice who gets to go first, it’s whoever’s name is drawn. It creates an excitement all of its own. One of the best things I’ve ever done for circle time!
Keep it short.
Goodness, don’t try to do everything at circle time! I usually hit calendar, weather, some basics, a song or small group activity. The more use to circle time your group is, the longer you may be able to keep their attention but the goal isn’t how long you can make it last. Move to a table for a small group activity or bring out new pencils for a writing activity. Incorporate music and movement. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!
Change things up.
Don’t do the same thing every day. Don’t even do it in the same order every day. That’s boring. Yes, there’s a certain amount of things that we do daily but change the order or the method. Children thrive on novelty and new experiences.
Consistency is definitely key but sometimes I get burned out on circle time, work, life…so I just have someone put up the calendar number and move on.
Remember, it’s supposed to be fun!
If it’s not fun, it’s not working! We want the things we spend our precious time with the children doing to be of value. If it doesn’t have value anymore, stop and/or fix it.
Please share what works for you at circle time in the comments below!