It's Circle Time Under the Sea!

By Olive Estrella Coronado

Get those little kids hooked up on your preschool Under the Sea circle time theme from the very start of the day. Read on to gather ideas on circle time activities for this theme.

Setting the Mood

Circle time is not circle time without music. Since gathering together at the beginning of the day establishes the direction of the entire class, it is very important to start it right. Music not only prepares the body, but also stimulates the mind. It is the perfect way to create an Under the Sea atmosphere.

As you ask your preschoolers to sit on the mat for circle time, play an upbeat song related to the theme. A great example would be “Under the Sea" from the soundtrack of “Little Mermaid". Teach the kids some sit-down actions to go with the chorus of the song. If your theme is set for a whole month or so, you may opt to play the song every morning as the signal for circle time to start. Later on you will find some of them singing along already and even making up their own movements. Try slowly integrating these movements into the song, showing appreciation for their creativity. You may also want to allot some parts of the song for each child to go to the center of the circle and show his own actions. As you go along, you can call out names of sea creatures such as a dolphin, jellyfish, and octopus, and have the kids perform the actions of these creatures while the song is still playing.

Singing Songs

From time to time, in between your other circle time activities, insert some simple songs related to your theme. Music is a great activity for a preschool Under the Sea circle time theme. Here are a few songs you can teach your youngsters:

Fish are Swimming (tune of Frere Jacques)

Fish are swimming, fish are swimming,

In the sea, in the sea,

A-splashing and a-splashing,

A-splashing and a-splashing,

Look and see, look and see.

Other versions:

I see sea gulls

I see sea gulls,

At the beach,

At the beach,

Soaring, diving, fishing,

Soaring, diving, fishing,

At the beach,

At the beach.

I hear the ocean,

I hear the ocean,

At the beach,

At the beach,

Crashing, splashing, foaming

Crashing, splashing, foaming,

At the beach,

At the beach.

I’m a Little Fish (tune of “Little Teapot")

I'm a little fishy, I can swim

Here is my tail, here is my fin.

When I want to have fun with my friends,

I wiggle my tail and dive right in!

Swim Like a Fish (tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat")

Swim, swim like a fish gently in the sea

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Splashing with you and me

Story Surprises: Experiencing the Fun

As many educational theorists have stated, children learn more by doing or experiencing something, rather than merely listening. Sometimes, teachers incorporate storytelling at circle time every now and then. Spruce up your stories by adding a funny twist, an unexpected ending, and a lot of opportunities for the kids to participate.

Make name tags of sea creatures with accompanying pictures or illustrations. These will serve as the characters for your story. Allow the kids to choose their roles. They can exchange roles everyday. As you weave the story, be the narrator but make sure that you give each ample time to shine as a character. You may focus on one or two as the main character/s for the day, but give the others a part too. Let them make up their own dialogues if they can.

Another way of making the story more fun as well as having the kids get involved is to use puppets that they themselves made. During your art time in the previous days, guide them in designing paper bag, sock, and stick puppets that represent sea animals. Then have them use these as their characters in the storytelling for circle time on the following days.

For older preschoolers, you may prepare toys that embody things found under the sea. Place them inside a box and have the kids take turns picking one and continuing the story based on the item or animal they got. Facilitate the story to put their ideas all together.

Whatever storytelling strategy you use, remember to emphasize the theme, and to mix in a lesson or a value. For example, you can instill in the kids love for Mother Nature and the importance of taking care of the environment by not polluting the sea. In this way, your preschool Under the Sea circle time can be used to educate as well as entertain.

Learning Leaps: Exploring Theme-Inspired Lessons

As you accomplish learning activities during circle time, relate them to your preschool Under the Sea circle time theme. For instance, instead of merely placing letters of the alphabet on the cups of a muffin pan and having the kids identify them, you can let them turn it upside down to see the matching sea creature that has a name beginning with that letter (e.g. S for seahorse, J for jellyfish, C for crab).

Having a treasure hunt is another entertaining way to learn. You may stick different pictures around the classroom--- on the walls, under the tables and chairs, on some toys, etc. Ask the kids to look for those that belong under the sea. Have them stick the pictures on a big blue cloth that serves as the imaginary sea. If you want to focus more on numbers, you may show a number and ask some volunteers to look for “five sharks", for example. Have the class count them to check.

If you are planning to reinforce lessons on shapes, you may prepare huge circles, rectangles, triangles, and other shapes that have Under the Sea images. Cut these shapes into a few pieces and have the children help one another form the puzzles. Let them identify the images once they are done.

As you observe the children, you may also evaluate their listening skills, motor skills, socio-emotional skills, and more by taking down notes and using rubrics. Let your creative juices flow freely as you try out these activities and come up with your own too. Your preschoolers will surely love these underwater adventures with you! And for your other upcoming themes, you may modify the above-mentioned ideas and add interesting art projects too! Have fun!