Circle time is one of the most important parts of the day in any preschool program. Whether you teach a morning session, an afternoon session, or a full day, your preschoolers will enjoy a well planned circle time session.
Set the Routine
The best part of circle time is the routine it creates for children. They know what to expect when the day begins. Once they learn the routine, they will establish an order of events. Holding circle time in the same way is beneficial to young students.
Circle time for the younger age should be held for 5-15 minutes. Avoid long teacher-led discussions. Also, be prepared to stop, shorten or change an activity that is not working or if the students quickly lose interest. Reintroduce the concept in a new way or another day. Signs that students are growing tired are when they begin to squirm or wiggle around.
Beginning Circle Time- Learning Names
For preschool students, name tags work well to organize students for the circle time meeting. Print each student's first name on the front of a sheet of paper or index card and print student's last names on the back of the card and laminate. This will allow you to teach both first and last names at different times of the year. Prior to calling the students to the circle time area or rug, place their name-tags on the rug. Call each student by name and have the students find their card, spell their name, and sit on the card. Teachers may choose to collect the tags after each student has arrived on the rug or at the end of circle time.
These cards will also come in handy for fieldtrips, lining up, or group participation games.
Circle Time Bulletin Board
Ideas for a Circle Time Board- Teaching Basic Concepts:
The letter of the week (both capital and lowercase)
The number of the week
The color of the week- cover the background of the bulletin board in the color of the week.
The shape of the week
"What Are We Doing Today?" poster
Review each concept every day during the circle time meeting. Plan one brief activity per concept. For example, if your letter of the week is Ll, then plan a song, a short book, a short poem, or a letter Ll activity (for example, make a poster of pictures some of which begin with the letter Ll and some that do not. Then have the students come forward to circle the pictures that begin with the letter Ll).
Do the same for the other concepts you are teaching that week. Make it exciting. When introducing a new letter of the week, hide the letter in the closet and give the students hints about the letter. This can be as simple as a cardboard letter, or a letter written on a balloon (for safety reasons, keep a balloon out of the reach of small children). Students will anticipate with joy the newest addition to the alphabet!
Include an action song with hand or body motions. Use the same song every day. One of the best song websites is KIDiddles. Here you will find an action circle time song and a corresponding song sheet. Another great song is the Hello Song, which is incorporated in these Kindergarten Circle Time Activities. This song is not for morning or afternoon, making it a perfect choice for either session. If you are still looking for songs, consider purchasing one of these circle time Cd's that we have reviewed.
Include a story of the week for circle time. The story should be theme related. Read it every day and plan to act out the story on Friday. Gather a few props from the classroom to use when enacting the story. This will make the story come to life for the preschoolers.
Include a writing activity so students see the proper way to form letters and words. This can be accomplished through writing on the, What are We Doing Today? board. Be sure to include picture associations. For example, if you are having a visit from the fire company, then write, "We will see fire trucks," and include a picture association. This can also be moved to the end of the day for a closing circle time and called, What Did We Do Today?
Ending the Day
End the day with a brief good-bye meeting. Have students recall one thing they learned or did at preschool during the day. This is a great way to cover the speaking standards for Prekindergarten. As true of any grade level, classroom routine and consistency are the keys to a successful preschool circle time.
Keep your morning going on a high note, with preschool morning activities which can precede circle time.