Planning Your Preschool Circle Time
Preschool circle time, or whole group time, is an essential component of any early childhood education program. Circle time provides an opportunity for children to come together as a group, build a sense of community, and develop important social skills. During circle time, children participate in a variety of activities, including singing songs, playing games, and listening to stories.
With that being said, circle time can also be a bit of a challenge, especially without a good sequence and activities to keep preschoolers engaged. Below we are sharing some of our favorite tips for planning preschool circle time, and activities you include in your circle time routine throughout the year.
Benefits of Preschool Circle Time
Circle time is that it helps children develop their communication skills. Children learn to listen to others, take turns speaking, and share their own thoughts and ideas. Circle time also helps children develop their language skills, as they are exposed to new vocabulary and sentence structures through songs and stories.
In addition to building communication and language skills, circle time also helps children develop important cognitive skills. Activities like counting, identifying colors and shapes, and solving simple problems help to develop children's math and reasoning abilities. Circle time also provides an opportunity for children to develop their memory skills, as they repeat rhymes and songs and recall information from stories.
Circle time can be a fun and engaging way for children to learn about the world around them. Through stories and discussions, children can learn about different cultures, animals, and other topics of interest. Circle time can also be used to introduce new concepts and ideas, sparking children's curiosity and interest in learning.
Tips for Setting up a Preschool Circle Time Routine
Establishing a routine is essential for a successful circle time. Children thrive on structure and predictability, so make sure to follow a consistent order of activities. Start with a welcome song or greeting, move into your planned activities, and end with a closing song or goodbye. This routine will help your students feel comfortable and know what to expect during circle time.
While routine and structure are essential, it's also important to be flexible and adaptable. Every day is different, and your students may have different needs and interests. Be prepared to adjust your activities or routine as necessary. Also, be open to feedback from your students and make changes accordingly. By being flexible and adaptable, you can create a circle time routine that meets the needs of your students and helps them grow and develop.
Set expectations and rules
Circle time is an opportunity to teach and reinforce classroom rules and expectations. It's important to set clear guidelines for behavior during circle time, such as sitting quietly and participating in activities. Make sure to explain the rules and consequences clearly and reinforce them consistently. By setting expectations and rules, you can create a safe and respectful learning environment.
Preschool Circle Time Activities
Before you start your circle time, it's crucial to plan your activities. Choose activities that are age-appropriate and engaging for your students. Think about incorporating songs, stories, and games that relate to the curriculum, such as counting or letter recognition. You can also include activities that promote social-emotional development, such as sharing or taking turns.
There are a variety activities you can incorporate into your circle time routine including:
Group Attendance Activities: Including group attendance activities in your circle time routine helps educators and students know who is at school today and promotes classroom community. It also encourages students to practice manners by greeting everyone in the classroom and welcoming them into the circle. Group attendance activities can also be used to practice letter recognition and learn how to read other friends' names.
Job Charts and Assigning Roles
Selecting and assigning job roles in preschool is often a highlight of a child's day. They love to share the part they have with their families and friends and develop a sense of pride in their role. Circle time is a great time to assign classroom helpers. Classroom jobs build community and independence and teach preschoolers about responsibility. Preschoolers are always looking for a way to help out, and when we give them a job in our classroom, they develop a sense of belonging. As early educators, we want our students to feel safe in our classrooms; job roles are an excellent way to foster that.
Record the Weather
Introducing concepts of recording weather is one of the easiest ways we can begin to educate preschoolers on climate and also to teach preschoolers about science. Weather is an easily understood concept as they can relate to it and see it firsthand. Invite preschoolers to talk about what the weather.
Ask questions like:
Then, introduce predictions and encourage them to predict tomorrow’s weather. You can also dive deeper into teaching your preschoolers about weather and include some of these ideas within your circle time routine.
Songs, Rhymes, and Finger plays
Using music and rhymes is a simple way to support preschool development. Music has an incredible way of assisting preschoolers in remembering, connecting, and instantly having fun. Music is a foundational learning tool; the best part is that there are so many options. It's great to include familiar songs you use all the time, as it helps preschoolers remember and connect to the song's meaning.
There are also a ton of seasonal options you can also use such as Five Little Pumpkins, I’m a Little Snowman, and I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee. It’s amazing to see how quickly preschoolers learn new songs, rhymes, and finger play!
Name Songs: In addition to group attendance sheets, it's great to include a name song to help students learn other friends' names at the beginning of the year. But, it also becomes a part of their routine and aids with the transitions. Hello, Hello, What's Your Name is a great song that encourages participation. Who's Here Today is a traditional classroom song that pairs great with the attendance sheets. After students have moved their names, you can incorporate this song into your routine.
Calendar and circle time are language and literacy rich which means it’s an excellent time to foster communication skills through open-conversations and an open-exchange of ideas, sharing, and feelings. Preschoolers love to share their personal stories and it helps them to feel safe, welcome, and validated.
There are a variety of different games that can be used during a preschool circle time that encourage turn-taking, listening, and team-building, which are all crucial skills in early childhood development. Games are a great way to instill a sense of community and encourage learning. We suggest using games that require movement as well as concentration and focus, the more variety the better!
Seek and find activities are great to incorporate into your calendar activities. Give preschoolers an objective and have them find "hidden" cards, this type of game can be completely adapted towards the needs of your classroom.
Reading is an essential building block for student success. While most preschools cannot read, we can encourage their love for reading by reading books aloud multiple times a day with our preschoolers. Read-aloud also gives preschoolers connections to real-life situations and helps them to better understand the world around them.
We highly recommend choosing books that are short with receptive text and that are filled with bold pictures during circle and calendar time. Calendar time can often be difficult for students, as it requires them to sit and participate; therefore, choosing powerfully engaging books is a great way to grasp their attention.
When students are gathered in group time doing the calendar and participating in group activities it's great to utilize this time for graphing and using group surveys. As we get older polls and surveys are a common aspect of real-life therefore immersing preschoolers in this at a young age helps them understand the effects of using polling and voting. Teaching preschoolers at a young age that they can't raise their hand for every choice becomes very beneficial as they get older!
Try using group surveys to make choices when it comes to their learning:
Exercise and Movement
Movement doesn't always require a lot of room and it can be very simple. You can do a simple stretching exercise everyday, listen to some music and shake out your sillies, or practice moving like different animals that align with your theme for the week-grab our free under the sea movement cards as an easy way to bring exercise and movement into your circle time.
Other fun movement games include activities similar to: "Duck Duck Goose" where one student is chosen to complete an action, "Cake Walk" activities that encourage students to walk and on Letter/Number/Shape Mats and Call out answers after the music stops, or "Simon Says" type games where students are asked to repeat actions.
Tips for a successful Circle Time
Preschool circle time is an important component of early childhood education. It provides an opportunity for children to develop communication, language, cognitive, and social skills, while also fostering a love of learning. By incorporating circle time into their curriculum, educators can help children build a strong foundation for future academic success.
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