Circle Time

Keep Preschool Circle Time Lively with these Quick Tips!

Do you struggle with to keep your preschool student's attention at circle time?  Are students distracted and un-engaged?  These quick tips to keeping circle time lively might help!

preschool circle time tips

Imagine with me if you will....

It is mid-year in your preschool classroom and it is time for circle time.  You are feeling a little dread because circle time is not your favorite time of the day.  It is supposed to be an engaging time to build a class community and review some core skills.  But, anymore it feels just routine.  Kids are rolling, pinching, picking and talking.  < None of which are a part of your circle time plan.

You started wondering why even bother with circle time.  It seems like some 'right of passage' for preschool.  But, you aren't feeling it.  So, you do less and less of it.  But, then you start wondering when you and your class are going to review some of those key skills like letter recognition or counting.  There is small group time, but you feel like you need to do some review daily.  You are also starting to miss that comradery that your circle time had at the beginning of the year.  The class coming together and learning together - it can be such a powerful experience!

So maybe you'd like to have some sort of circle time with your class, but it needs some revamping.....

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Does this experience sound at all familiar to you?  Are you ready to make some changes in  your circle time routine to keep it a fun and lively learning experience?

Check out these Quick Tips to Keep Circle Time Lively:

  • A circle time that lasts too long can result in negative behaviors from students.  How long is your circle time?  Do you extend the time frame as the year goes on?  At the beginning of the year I like to keep circle time short and sweet at around 10 minutes.  As the year goes on I extend the time as student's attention spans increase and by the end of the year our circle time is roughly 15-20 minutes (at most).

 

  • Consider your physical space.  Do children sit on one large rug?  If so, could you take the proactive route and add names to tape and create designated spots for each child.  Or, do children have their own carpet squares which help define their personal space?  Sometimes considering the space you have for students to sit can help management issues.  Hearing "He is touching me!" or "She is sitting where I want to sit!" stops when spaces are defined.

 

  • Keep students involved in circle time by giving out jobs within your circle time.  Like, a calendar helper, weather watcher or song leader.  You can also keep students involved by encouraging conversation and asking for student input.

 

  • Shake up your routine by changing it up.  Decide some 'core' activities you plan on doing every day (like calendar, weather or greeter) and change up some 'add-in' activities.  For example, you could add in an estimation jar activity, nursery rhymes or student surveys.  Bring in different add in activities every several weeks/months to keep things fresh!  

I have found, after making some adjustments to my circle time that this time together can stay a positive learning experience with just a little bit of planning on my part.  With an intentional plan in place my class is now rockin' circle time and loving every minute of it!

If you'd like, I have my sample circle time schedules for download below:

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Things to Consider when Setting up Preschool Circle Time

When planning out circle time for your preschool classroom, set-up of your space is a key component.  Read on for more!

circle-time-set-up-1

I finished my school year up about 3 weeks ago and no matter how hard I try to take a little break from school.  My mind always seems to go to next year.  It is like my teacher brain just can't shut off!  {do ya know the feeling?}

I thought..maybe... you might be looking to the future too and thinking about next year, but if you are not - PLEASE pin this post to read later - for when you are ready.  Teachers deserve a break #takeitgirl

So... planning is like one of my favorite things.  Planning vacations, planning lessons, planning my year, planning for well...anything!

Time and time again I use my summer to plan out my year.  It just makes me happy.

Are you a planner too?
 

Circle Time Set-Up: the environment

One thing I did last year is sit down and plan out my circle time set-up.  I was in a new room and wanted to get the set-up right the first time.  So, I drew myself a little sketch of where in the room I wanted my circle time to be.  I knew that I needed to keep in mind the number of students I had to fit in the space and the number of distractions the space had.  I sure didn't want my kiddos watching out the door while we were trying to do some serious learning together!  I also didn't want my kiddos squished like sardines (can you hear the 'he touched me' whining that would be going on?).  After lots of consideration, I put my circle time in a corner of my room.  It actually worked out perfectly last year.

Circle Time Set-Up: the board/wall

Another thing I did in regards to planning out my circle time set-up was creating a sketch of where things were going to go on the board.  I absolutely hate running out of bulletin board space just because I didn't take the time to think it all through.  I split my circle time activities into 2 groups.  1- skills I wanted to cover the whole year (calendar, weather, counting) and I called these CORE SKILLS.  2- skills I wanted to cover for a short time or when children mastered the skills (colors, shapes, estimation) and I called these ADD-IN SKILLS.  I knew that I needed room on my bulletin board space for items that were going to last the whole year (core skills) and a place for items to come and go (add-in skills).

Of course while planning I made little sketches and some notes in my notebook.  But, I love to create things for other teachers... so I created a 'Circle Time Set-Up' mini-workbook (if you will).
This mini workbook provides you with ideas and things to consider when planning the physical space for your circle time.  It also gives you space to sketch it out!

circle-time-set-up-2

Head to the RESOURCE LIBRARY to get these planning printables!  

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5 Songs you Need for Preschool Circle Time

Bringing songs into your preschool circle time is not just fun.  Songs help with circle time management and help children learn concepts through repetition.


Preschool Circle Time Songs 1

So...what songs should you be singing during circle time?

Here is a list of 5 songs you should be singing at preschool circle time to encourage learning, establish routines and manage the time together as a group.

5 Songs You Need to Make Your Circle Time ROCK!

1. Come to the Carpet Song

You need to get your students wrapped up and transitioning from what they were doing into coming to the carpet and sitting down.  I like to keep this song very repetitive so that kids can not only remember it, but also sing along.  This song signals students to come and sit for circle time.  You can find the 'Come Sit Down' song I use at this post (you will find lots of other transition songs there as well).

2. Welcome Song

A welcome song helps set the tone for the day.  A welcome song should be fun, engaging and make children feel welcome!  Below, you can find the Welcome Song we use (free printable) and an audio of the song - so you know how to sing it!

3. Weather Watcher Song

The Weather Watcher Song signals the weather helper to get up from the carpet, look out the window and present the weather to the class.  We all sing this song while the weather helper is looking at the window, which keeps children engaged in singing and not losing interest while waiting for the weather helper to finish his/her job.

4. Days of the Week and Months of the Year Songs

If you do calendar time within your circle time, Days of the Week Songs and Months of the Year Songs are a great learning tool.  Reciting the days and months are much easier when put to a special tune.

5. Monthly Songs

Monthly songs are a fun way to help children learn about the events and weather of a given month.  I use my 'Song-a-Month' song ring (available here for free).  We sing the monthly song everyday of that month.


Also, at the end of the day, before we go home we sing a Goodbye Song. My kiddos just love this song!  See the download below for the song printable and the audio file so you can learn the tune.

Preschool Circle Time Songs 2

 

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Teaching Shapes through Songs at Circle Time

Teaching children shapes is an academic skill that most preschools and kindergarten programs focus on. But, naming shapes can sometimes be a daunting task. How you bring shapes into your preschool world can help support identification.

We like to do a brief review of shapes during our circle (and I mean brief!). Keeping things lively at circle time is how it stays successful. To keep it lively we SING! I feel like I have said this so many times before, but singing keeps children's attention (and it also makes it fun). Plus, our brains can better remember the skill we are trying to learn when it is in song. Have you ever tried to get 'What Does the Fox Say?' out of your head? An hour later I am still like "Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding"- don't act like I'm the only one!

Yes, songs stay with us. So, we sing shape songs at circle time. After I assess each student's knowledge of shapes, I can get a better idea of which shapes I need to focus on. We usually do only a shape song or two a day. We also review them as we are waiting for the bathroom or heading outside. Wait, what's that? You want to me to just give you the shapes songs already? Okay....

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Alphabet Ideas for Circle Time

I love letters. You know, the alphabet kind.... well, truth be told I like the 'open up the mailbox' kind too. I'm not sure if it is because I am a preschool teacher or if it is because I have always excelled in reading/writing (as opposed to math... numbers + me = yikes). But, letters are my jam.

Letters play a big role in preschool. Seems like everyone is wanting those kiddos to KNOW THEIR LETTERS....parents, K teachers, administration...

Don't get me wrong, I want my kiddos to learn letters and letter sounds as well. But, I do not believe that pushing my preschoolers with flashcards and drill and practice is the way to go. I mean, they do learn best through play- God made them that way! So, why don't we have fun and play while learning letters?

So, in today's newsletter I thought I'd share some of the ideas I use to bring letter learning into circle time. These are the ways that I purposefully plan letter experiences for my preschoolers (which happens to be in circle time for us). But, please know that we do connect with letters and sounds all day long through books, centers, conversations and other activities.

Included in the link below you will find 8 alphabet ideas for circle time. You will also find my letter cards (NOT flashcards...please, please do not use these as flashcards). Letter cards are what I use to help children visualize the letters and I use them in all the activities in circle time.

Now, you may be asking yourself- so does she do all 26 letters in each of these activities? (okay, so you probably were not asking yourself this, but hey- go with me) The answer is...heck no- that might take all day! Long activity = bored checked-out children. I use the letters that my students are having the most trouble with. I get this info from the assessments I do 3 times a year. It works great for me!

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