Are you planning circle time activities, or are you looking to revamp your circle time ideas? Find out about how circle time is important, how to do circle time, circle time songs, and more!
Back in the days that I was going to college, I absolutely would have loved a Circle Time 101 class! Like many of you, I’ve had to learn by just doing it and also by seeing other incredible teachers mentor me in this area. I love circle time now, and it is a very relaxed atmosphere in my own classroom. Here are my own tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.
Circle Time Preschool Tips 101
How Circle Time is Important
Circle Time has numerous benefits and adds incredible value to a class community. It is a time to meet together as a large group, to respect each other’s voices, to practice keeping little bodies in their own space, and to work on following instructions.
It is also a time to enjoy one another and to talk about new topics and directions. It’s even the perfect environment to learn a new skill.
How to do Circle Time
Circle time is not a formula, although it will be successful with familiarity and repetition! Circle time can be led by an adult. It can be a project in which the entire class engages in. Or it can be navigated with a preschool-aged helper. Here are some of my favorite aspects to include in circle time:
A Time of Welcoming: Simply put, this is a time to make each child feel important and valued. This can be done through a welcome song, talking about who is at school or at home, or even engaging in an activity with our names. This time conveys to each child that this is your class, and we are so happy to have you as a part of it!
Include a Story: Stories bring the elements of literacy, creativity, and listening skills. Here are our tried and true Circle Time Stories. For example, you can bring Pete the Cat to life by using him as the narrator of any of his stories. You can act out the scenes of Caps For Sale, or have the entire class read Brown Bear, Brown Bear aloud. Or even put a favorite story on with a book on tape! We love including story props such as puppets and felt board pieces too. Additionally, circle time is a perfect time to include fingerplays!
Circle Time Songs
Make it Musical: Music is my secret ingredient for making circle time magical! The younger the class is, the more movement will be necessary. Include songs with motions. Practice dancing and balancing with bean bags. Hold hands and walk in a circle to the beat, then rotate. Grab some musical instruments and go on a parade. Practice moving slowly and quickly to the tempo of the song. Sing a color song with different colored items while assigning one to each child. Music involves both hemispheres of the brain, so it is such a fully engaging activity which is fun at the same time. It’s one of our favorite teaching tools!!
To make circle time music as easy as possible for you, we’ve created song posters and cards with matching song sticks! They are purchasable in our store and printable from your own printer.
Additionally, here are my favorite circle time songs:
- Circle Time Songs that Teach
- Good Morning and Welcome Songs
- Hello Songs
- Movement and Action Songs
- Brain Break Dance Songs
- Rhyming Songs
- Alphabet and ABC Songs
- Nursery Rhyme Songs
- Days of the Week Songs
- Rainbow Songs
- Goodbye Songs
- The Ultimate Guide to Preschool Songs
- Pumpkin and Halloween Songs for Kids
- Thanksgiving Songs for Kids
- Christmas Songs for Kids
- Winter Songs for Kids
If you love CDs for circle time, here are some of my favorite circle time songs on CD:
Combine Stories and Music: We love using books with music combined. Sometimes doing this activity alone extends circle time because the children just can’t get enough! These are some of our favorites:
Circle Time Ideas
Teach Something New: Circle time is great for a new lesson in the class. When there is a new activity on a shelf, I demonstrate it during circle time then make it available during the day. We talk about how many friends can use it at once, how carefully it needs to be handled, what to do if someone drops it/squishes it/breaks it/puts it in their mouth, and where to return it when we are finished.
Talk about Classroom Life: Some children can really benefit from hearing about what the day will look like. A visual schedule is a perfect way to talk about the events of the day. Circle time is also a great time to show who is at school or who is absent. My friend Jamie of Play to Learn Preschool and I have come up with some resources for you to do this. Click one of the photos below to see our entire set designed just for circle time.
Circle Time Resources
In addition to the daily schedule, we have a Question of the Day product that is always a success in circle time – preschoolers love nothing more than talking about themselves! The pack is full of fun circle time ideas, circle time activities, circle time prompts, and circle time games.
What does Circle Time look like for the introverted, shy, or intimated teacher?
This is a circle time tip I wish I had known ages ago! We’re not all Mary Poppins with the beautiful singing voice and perfect answers all the time. And for the record, circle time was overwhelming to me for several years. I never felt that I was doing it right or that it went as smoothly as I wanted.
Then I realized what was wrong – I was trying to be a teacher who I truly wasn’t! Once I found elements that fit me and my personality, I started to become more confident.
I would do activities that didn’t focus around me. We did science experiments, dictations of everyone’s favorite color, songs and dances that were on CD, and I especially loved having a strong leader in the class help stand beside me some days. Through time I started to become more courageous and adventurous, but I will never be that engaging teacher who holds a class’ attention with dropped jaws and eyes glued to her the whole time. That’s just not me, but I am happy with what I do offer.
What are my best circle time tips and tricks?
Sometimes Circle Time can become the quickest route to chaos. You might have wondered why you called over the entire class to join in the craziness. Here are my best tips to keep calm and have fun (other than the ones listed above of course):
- Provide a boundary for each child’s space, such as a rug or a designated space on the carpet or flooring. Some carpet stores will donate old samples they no longer carry.
- When you have children who love to talk or try to take the lead, give them that chance. Give them a job to be more involved in a productive way by helping lead a song or holding a story for you. They love to feel beneficial and helpful.
- Keep the time consistent with their interest level. Sometimes circle time is 3 minutes, and sometimes we are able to go 15 minutes. The average time is 5 to 10 minutes.
- Circle time for children under three years old should be voluntary and not forced (a recommendation per NAEYC).
- For children who are extra wiggly, provide a soft item to squish such as a squeezy ball or sponge to help them manage their wiggles in a positive way.
- Stay flexible. If no one is interested in circle time, it’s time to move onto the next idea.
- Use a talking stick to pass to the person who gets to speak. There will be some classes who want to talk all at once on a regular basis, so a visual reminder of who’s turn it is can be an amazing asset. A play microphone works pretty well too.
- Manage interruptions and help guide the class back to the topic. Don’t you just love when you ask what pet each child has at home, and Sarah starts talking about her weekend camping trip? I usually reign it in by saying, “that sounds so exciting, Sarah. We would love to hear about that after circle time. Can you tell me about your pet at home?”
Overall, keep Circle Time fun, engaging, and true to who you and your class are!
I also have a FREE workshop to make your circle time more magical. Sign up for Circle Time Success, and get my tried and true solutions!
- DIY Animal Puzzle - October 31, 2022
- How to use Question of the Day for Circle Time - August 5, 2022
- Why Potty Training is Failing - June 18, 2022
This was so helpful!!
Thanks so much 🙂
Oh my pleasure, Connie! Thanks for taking the time to let me know :).
Can u please do a video on how your typical circle time looks like 🙂 thank you
Laide Ogunbekun says
Nice job. Very helpful
Thank you so much for sharing. May I ask if the 2s and 3s can keep their small bodies on a space that you have set for them? How did you do that?
Katie T. Christiansen says
Hi Reich! Yes, I did have success with keeping 2s and 3s on their spot. I made sure to do some movement and action songs at the beginning, and I didn’t make them sit long. I was OK if they were wiggly too. I’m more concerned that they sit so that they aren’t touching someone else or sit so that they aren’t blocking the view of their friend. We start off doing criss-cross applesauce, but I know some will not be able to hold that long. Sometimes I would use a motivator for extra incentives. For example, I might give everyone a feather to hold during circle time.