SHOP NOW
Back to Blog

A Circle Time Plan for Preschool

Preschool Teachers! Are you ready to up your circle time game?

If you find circle time to be a challenge to manage and are starting to wonder why you even keep doing it... I'm here to help!

You need to create a preschool circle time plan and start making circle time meaningful! This guide will walk you through each step of creating a Circle Time Plan for your preschool program - workbook included!

Let's jump right in! Picture this...

A class full of young children sitting together on a big colorful rug. The year is new and students are engaged in circle time activities - helping add dates to the calendar, reviewing shapes and recording the weather on the weather chart.

But, as the year goes on... the routine of circle time gets - well.... routine. Routine gets boring and engaged little learners turn into roly-poly bugs rolling all around the carpet - attention spans are short!

They already know what is going to happen, so engagement tanks and challenging behaviors rise. What may have started as a great time has quickly become an event that no one enjoys. Circle Time for these kiddos is no longer exciting, new or fun.

It is a routine, as routine as brushing your teeth everyday, you know you have to do it- but it is the same old thing e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y. While routines are hugely important in a preschool classroom - too much routine in circle time = no learning.

If no learning is happening, then why do it? Circle Time needs to stay FRESH! If you can relate to the classroom circle time described above- I totally understand. Roll back the years and I too had some rolly poly bugs on my carpet!

So, why keep doing circle time?

I am firm believer that we need to ask these type of questions each school year. We have to make sure that what we schedule with the time in our preschool days is meaningful and purposeful.

For me, circle time is still a great opportunity to encourage social skills through group discussion and a daily shared classroom experience. I also find circle time as a great way to practice some important preschool skills in a fun way and within a short time frame.

So, since I still find circle time valuable for my entire class, I'm going to keep doing it. But, it's also important to make sure I have a plan to make this time as good as it can get!

A Circle Time Plan? 

Yep! And let me tell you... this plan made all the difference!

So together- let's make a plan for your circle time routine!

Circle Time Overview

But, before we dive in I want to give you an overview (a birds eye view, if you will) of this plan AND the plan template itself. As you can see in the graphic below there are 4 main parts to the Circle Time Plan. Including: Skills, Physical Set-Up, Management and Songs/Tools.

We will go into each of these main areas in detail as we work through this blogpost.

Now that you can see how these pieces fit together,  let's dive deeper.

WHAT ARE CORE SKILLS/ACTIVITIES IN CIRCLE TIME?

Core activities in circle time are those that stay the same throughout the year. These activities are the core of circle time. In comparison ‘add-in’ activities are those that you add and remove from circle time when students have grasped the concept.

The CORE ACTIVITIES I have in my circle time are:

  • Hello & Goodbye Songs: These songs are sang daily. The Hello Song is sung right as circle time begins.
  • The Goodbye song is sung right before the end of class.
  • Calendar: Adding the current day to the calendar. The calendar set has different picture patterns for each month.
  • Days of the Week: A song and display of days of the week on the calendar, sang daily.
  • Months of the Year: A song and poster of the months of the year, sang daily.
  • Seasons: A song and poster of the four seasons.
  • Pledge of Allegiance: A poster to help aid in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Weather Graph: Record the weather by coloring in a bar of the graph. Leave up all month. At the end of the month analyze the data collected.
  • Linear Counting Strip: A linear counting strip to aid in rote counting and number identification. Counting strip extends from 1 to 20.

Do I have to do all the core activities everyday?

As you start the year, keeping circle time shorter than normal may be necessary. It is important to be aware of your students’ attention span. It is not necessary to complete all the core activities everyday. Sometimes student questions or discussions may lead somewhere different than all the core activities - and that is great! Use the core activities as a guide to plan your circle time. Do what works best for you and your students for a successful circle time experience for all!

Now it is time to decide which core skills you want to cover each day (or so) in your circle time. Here are some thinking points to get you started: Using the core skills list above- are there any skills that you want to pull from this list and use too? Are there any skills that you are required to include in your circle time by your administration? Is there a skill(s) that your students have struggled with in the past? Is it a skill that can be brought into your circle time routine?

WHAT ARE ADD-IN SKILLS/ACTIVITIES?

You will find that after completing the core activities for a couple months, your students might just have the hang of circle time! But, don’t let your circle time get stale. Keep adding in new materials (and later taking out when mastered) fun activities. Not only does it keep circle time lively, but it also helps your students learn new skills.

The ADD-IN skills I use in my circle time are:

  • Colors: Focusing on naming colors using color cards.
  • 2D Shapes: Focusing on naming 2D shapes using shape cards
  • News Reporter: Modeling how writing is spoken word on paper, by recording a student’s news.
  • Estimation Jar: Students estimate how many objects are in the estimation jar. Then, the class counts to see how many were actually in the jar.
  • Nursery Rhymes: Reciting Nursery Rhymes with posters and retelling the rhyme with character cards.
  • Mystery Bag: A student bring the mystery bag filled with a favorite item. Three clues are given and the class predicts what is inside.
  • Subitizing: Subitizing cards help students learn to see sets without counting.
  • 3D Shapes: Focusing on naming 3D shapes using shape cards and 3D shapes.
  • Numeral Recognition: Focus on naming numerals using the numeral cards.
  • Question of the Day: Analyze the data collected at arrival time from the Clipboard Surveys or Question of the Day.
  • Circle Time Games: Short, whole group games that are perfect way to review and practice important skills

How long do you cover each add-in skill?

How long you spend on add-in skill before moving onto another is really up to you. I like to keep in mind how many elements are in the skill and how long that might take to cover. For example,Colors and 2D Shapes have many different components to cover (the different colors and different shape names and attributes). So, these skills might take several weeks or maybe a month. When looking at how long to cover some skills, I also look at the number of students I have.

For the estimation jar, I have an Estimation Helper (more on Classroom Jobs here). I want to make sure that everyone gets a turn as the estimation jar helper, so I make sure to cover the skill of estimation long enough that all students get a turn.

 Adding Classroom Jobs to Circle Time

Can I fit some of my classroom jobs into circle time? Yes! My Classroom Jobs are incorporated into many different parts of my day. Circle time in particular, takes a lot of helpers!

Here is a short list of how my Classroom Jobs correlate to circle time:

Core Activities

  • Greeter: During the Hello Song, the Greeter greets each student on the carpet.
  • Weather Watcher: Checks the weather and colors it in on the graph.
  • Pattern/Calendar Helper: Helps add the current days card to the calendar and helps say and point to the pattern on the calendar cards.
  • Flag Holder: Holds the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Add-In Activities

  • Well-Wisher: After the Hello Song, the well-wisher wishes everyone a good day.
  • News Reporter: The News Reporter tells about something that has happened in his/her life. The teacher scripts what the students says, modeling writing.
  • Estimation Jar: The Estimation Jar helper helps count the contents of the jar and helps find the closest guess.
  • Mystery Bag: This helper bring the Mystery Bag from home with something to share inside. He/she gives 3 clues for students to guess.
  • Survey Taker: If using the clipboard surveys, this helpers asks the question of the day before circle time and shares results during circle time.

Learn more about classroom jobs in preschool here.

 

Setting Up your Circle Time Area

Let's get into the actual physical set up of your circle time area.

Creating an Engaging Circle Time Environment

The physical set up your circle time is an important part of the equation to consider when planning out your circle time. We will plan out where to put your circle time area in your classroom and what materials you want to add to your actual circle time board or wall.

Deciding where to put the circle time area in your classroom...

When it comes to planning out the physical layout of your circle time area, it is important to take some consideration to where the circle time area will be within your whole classroom layout. Some things to think about might include:

  • Is the space large enough for a rug or carpet squares?
  • Is there space for a bulletin board or wall space to hang circle time materials?
  • Will the space fit all of your students at once?
  • Does the space have a lot of distractions? (For example, are there center materials within reach while students sit on the rug? Or can students see out the classroom door and become distracted by passing classes?)
  • Is an outlet near the circle time area for access to a cd player/speaker?
  • For space saving purposes, can your circle time area be used for other activities throughout the day (a center or play area)?

Planning out the circle time board/wall...

Now that you know where you want your circle time area to be in your classroom, we can start looking at what materials you want to add to your circle time bulletin board/wall.

Here are some considerations:

All items on the board/wall need to be eye level for your students when they are sitting. Materials too far above eye level need to be in something that you can bring down to the carpet level. For example, you could place alphabet cards in a little basket and hang it from the wall above your circle time area. When you are ready to use the alphabet cards, you can pull the basket down and use the cards at carpet level.

Take into considerations how 'busy' your wall is. Bright and colorful displays attract children's interest. But, too much can be an overload to your student's senses.

Take into consideration of the needs of your students when deciding what to display.

CORE SKILLS+CIRCLE TIME WALL

Take a look at the core skills you want to cover daily. Using these skills, what materials do you need?

For example, if you plan on covering the weather, what materials will you need to display this?  Remember these skills are your core skills. You will cover them {almost} daily, so they need a permanent spot on the board/wall.

ADD-IN SKILLS+CIRCLE TIME WALL

Now, let's do the same thing with the add-in skills that you wanted to include in your circle time routine. Since the add-in skills don't all happen at the same time, you can easily take off any materials needed for that skill and add any materials needed for a new skill. You will just need to be mindful in leaving room for these materials.

Ready for some inspiration? Here is a picture of my circle time wall at the beginning of the year:

Looking for the Printables from the picture above? 

Circle Time Materials You May Need

In addition to a large bulletin board or wall space to display your circle time materials, here is a list of items you might need by the skill.

Circle Time Cart

I store all my circle time materials in a rolly cart to make them easily accessible! Take a peek inside my Circle Time Cart here.

 

Circle Time Plan Workbook

Now that we've went through all the part of creating a Circle Time Plan, I want to give you the workbook to help you make your own plan! 

In addition to the workbook, the materials lists is included as well as Shape and Color Song cards!

 

SIGN UP FOR THE CIRCLE TIME PLAN WORKBOOK HERE

Don't miss a beat!

Never miss a blog post or freebie again! Get helpful preschool resources and ideas delivered to directly your inbox. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.