Do you struggle with morning circle time? I used to struggle when I wanted kiddos to sit still, but then we added a circle time carpet! Whatever circle time carpet you choose should have plenty of space for little bodies to move and be comfortable. Now, join us for a moment in our circle time routine. I understand the description is long, but it takes no more than 10-15 minutes for morning circle time.
What is Circle Time?
As any good teacher knows, waiting is bad, and just sitting still is terrible! Therefore, we add movement whenever possible to activities that typically require sitting. One example would be our quick little morning circle. In preschool, some of the basics that we learn include:
- patterns such as AB or AAB patterns (see image)
- routine such as months, days or events
- learning to recognize letters and their sounds
- counting in English and Spanish.
Morning circle should be a quick event, not a big learning moment of the day. Most of these things will also be included in other activities through the day. Morning circle is more of a way to gather together, welcome everyone, and establish school family togetherness. To that end, we begin with a welcome song such as “Start this Day” or “Get Ready” by Jack Hartmann, or maybe we need to let everyone know they are loved with a hand holding song like “I Think You’re Wonderful” by Red Grammar. Each song encourages the children to engage with friends and teachers in a positive way.
Circle Time Activities
Gathering everyone together with a song works great as it is a way to tell students they are valuable, special, unique, and we are glad they are here today. Establishing community is very important for social skills. Everyone loves to feel valued, and they also need to know that their buddy next to them is important too. Empathy is not learned if they don’t learn to think of others as important also. This “school family” moment will only take about 3-4 minutes and is absolutely worth every minute as you look into each child’s eyes and tell them they are important to you. As we are a Program Wide Positive Behavior Demonstration Site, we also review our expectations of Be Respectful, Be Safe, and Be A Super Friend and the 4 rules that go along with them for the activity.
Keeping Circle Time Short
As we move through morning circle, we skip quickly from one activity to the next. Next, we vote on the weather – adding context to learning about our environment. We count how many short sleeves, how many long, and how many sleeveless are in the group and skip over to months of the year. For months of the year (patterns) we sing a song and march, clap, or pat legs as we sing along. The children choose the active movement. They say what color the word is, and what letter it starts with. Being three and newly four years old, they can’t read the word yet so we do what we can. It is all building on the skills they have. However, they do know that there are 12 months of the year. When you get to the end of the 12th month you start over again with January.
Circle Time Songs
For days of the week, we might sing it Adams Family style or Straight up Sunday through Monday – in English and Spanish. We see which date is empty and know what the day of the week is. As soon as we establish day of the week, we switch to figuring out the date and count to it in English and Spanish. They predict what picture it will be – everyone shouts out a vote – and it is turned over and they see if they were correct. This month our date pictures are in ABBA pattern, so it is throwing them a little bit, but they just about have it!
For learning what letters look like and their sounds we sometimes sing a song, sometimes just a sort of sing-song of Apple starts with A /a/, Bear starts with B /b/ using the letters and pictures on our alphabet line. But the important thing that we include for alphabet review is to include movement as we do on most of our morning circle. The children (and teacher) hop as the letter sound is made. As movement is included in activity, it is increasing their learning. Children learn best if their whole body is involved in learning. When we included the hopping, I noted a big jump in their recall of the letter sounds when we would be playing a game and talking about the letter sound.
What are some of your favorite kinds of circle time carpets? My two favorites are the Sunny Day Learn and Play Carpet and the Paint by Numero Carpet. I love how bright and cheerful the Sunny Day Carpet looks, and I really love the bilingual colors and number words on the Paint by Numero Carpet. Also, if you have a favorite activity that you do during circle time please share below!
Check out the Paint By Numero Carpet: