Circle time means group activities that promote togetherness. It allows children to interact with each other and provides a fun learning experience through these hands-on activities. In addition, these activities offer various other benefits such as improving attention span, social skills, adding value for the class community. Preschool circle time activities also strengthen bonds amongst students that may last a lifetime.
Circle time activities help promote positive relationships and develop stronger bonds among children. In this post, we bring you some creative and fun circle time activities for toddlers that you could do with your preschoolers.
Like playtime, these creative activities can also keep preschoolers engaged and give each child the opportunity to indulge in positive interaction, engagement, and communication. They also help foster a feeling of inclusivity and enhance children’s development.
Circle time activities for children could involve group reading, singing, and listening to or reciting poems (1). Try the circle time activities given here to help your toddlers bond
Tips For Organizing Preschool Circle Time Activities
Here are some tips that you may follow to organize circle time activities for toddlers (2):
- Flexible circle time: Don’t follow a routine and stick to the same time to perform any circle time activity. Being spontaneous can add excitement to circle time.
- Interest-based activities: You may plan activities that are specific to children’s interests. You can look for activities that provide sensory experiences and encourage exploration. This helps in getting children excited and motivated for the circle time activities.
- Variety: Having a fixed structure for activities can get boring after a while. Therefore, you may keep experimenting with new activities every time.
Sheryl Cooper, a preschool teacher from the US, shares her successful experience using a variety of props as an effective circle time tool. She says, “I have this basket loaded with what we’re going to be doing for circle time on that day, plus I also like to have some extra props and things in here just in case circle time doesn’t go as planned, which happens, and that’s okay.” Giving an example of one such prop, Cooper describes a fun-finger puppet she made, “It was from a book where you could make copies of it, and I colored and laminated it, and then it’s just elastic on the back so it fits on my hand and it’s the 5 Little Monkeys. And I think I have yet to find a 2 or 3-year-old that does not like the 5 Little Monkeys fingerplay. So we’ll sing the song, and as each monkey falls off, we take it off, and then each toddler or preschooler helps me put the monkeys back on (i).”
- Exercise: Look up some easy and simple physical exercises that can be performed during circle time.
- Role designation: Have a new circle monitor every day, as it boosts their motivation to participate in the activities. It also promotes friendship and cooperation amongst children.
- Duration: Initially, kids may not be used to performing circle time activities, so they might get restless if it continues for too long. You may gradually extend the time (3).
- Participation: During circle time, you must provide the much needed encouragement for children to participate equally and feel as involved as possible.
25 Preschool Circle Time Activities
Here are some fun preschool circle time activity ideas that you may try (3):
1. Circle time singing
During this activity, kids can practice rhymes and songs. Circle time singing is an engaging activity that encourages every child to participate and sing their hearts out. Do not forget to praise every child for participating, as positive reinforcement can do wonders for them.
In another video, Cooper demonstrates how she uses rhymes and songs to signal the beginning and end of circle time. She says, “So I’ve got their mats around the circle and I sing, ‘it’s time to come to the circle, to the circle, to the circle, it’s time to come to the circle, get up (ii).’”
2. Creative circle formation
Come up with interesting ways to invite children to form a circle. For example, you may ask simple questions to kids, and once they answer, allow them to join the circle. Alternatively, children may also sing one line each of any song or rhyme before joining the circle (4).
3. Chants to move along and end the circle time
You can use a drum or clap your hands after each activity is done during circle time. This would keep the children excited. You can also choose a rhythm for each activity, such as clapping hands in a specific rhythm for the game “passing the parcel.”
Use the circle time for a short round of the quiz. Prepare a list of interesting questions for children to enjoy while learning.
5. Musical chairs
Arrange chairs in a circle facing outward. Make sure you are short of one chair as compared to the number of students. Now play music and let the kids move around in a circle. When the music stops, they have to grab a seat. Whoever is not able to find a chair gets eliminated.
6. Picture pieces
Give the children a puzzle to solve. Sitting together in a circle to solve a puzzle can help them notice how others perform. As a result, children would be encouraged to perform faster.
For this movement activity, ask the children to stand in a circle. First, the volunteer has to make eye contact with a player, indicating to say “go.” Once they have received the command, the volunteer will slowly move toward the player. Meanwhile, the player makes eye contact with another player who will say “go” to make a spot for the volunteer and so on.
8. Story assembling
For this activity, you would need pictures of a story. Distribute pictures of this story to each child. Once they all have received a picture, they have to display it in front of them. Now ask them to form these pictures in the right order of the story. This task allows their creativity to flow freely.
9. Circle of silence
The volunteer stands in the center of the circle. Ask the children to pass a box containing marbles without making noise. If the volunteer points out where the noise came from, the child who gets caught would be the next leader of the game.
10. What’s new?
For this activity, you can bring in any new toy, parts of a game, stationery, or anything that would interest the children. Now, introduce these new materials or toys during circle time and explain how they should be used (5).
11. Greeting and welcoming
This activity promotes classroom community and manners. Teach children to welcome everyone to join the circle and learn how to greet each other. This task teaches children patience, kindness, and respect for others.
12. Discuss children’s concerns
Circle time can be used to discuss queries or concerns of children. It can be about the ongoing classes, activities, or anything else they would like to express. If a child feels shy and wants to talk in privacy, it should be respected.
13. Reminder alert
You may also use circle time to remind the students of all the tasks assigned to them. This may include their homework, assignments, and other activities.
14. Differentiated learning
Through small groups of children can learn something different from their partners in the circle. Every child thinks differently and comes from a unique cultural background. Hence, it promotes the learning and development of a child both emotionally and academically.
15. Open ended conversations
Circle time can be a new “safe space” for the children to discuss anything that they want to. Let the discussion move in a circle, and each child would get to express their thoughts.
16. Group reading
Reading time can be done sitting in a circle. This can promote togetherness, and the children may feel comfortable and encouraged to read with their friends (1).
17. Word activity
Come up with a “word of the day” every day during circle time and let each child make a sentence using this word. For instance, if the word is “fruit,” each child would have to say a sentence with the word fruit in it, such as “I like to eat fruits.”
18. Game time
Use circle time to play a game that involves participation from each child, such as Chinese whisper, where the child has to whisper a word in the other’s ear, and the game continues so on. The last child has to tell the entire list of words without missing any.
19. Lunch circle
Circle time can also be used by children to share their lunch with each other while enjoying the company of their friends.
20. Story building
Ask each child to tell a sentence and let the next one build on to it, finally making these sentences into a short story. For example, if the first child says “the bear was hungry,” the next one has to say “the bear was hungry and looking for food,” and so on.
21. Discuss the schedule for the day
Circle time can be used to inform children about all the activities that lay ahead for the day. This may help them to remember the tasks better as they have the day’s schedule. It may also promote better understanding of their daily activities.
22. Class attendance
Convert the attendance line into a circle activity. Take a child’s name and let the other children answer if they are present or not.
23. Question and answer
Let the children ask questions about anything during circle time. Children may also ask and respond to each other. This activity not only helps in engaging them but promotes teamwork as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is circle time in primary school?
Circle time, also sometimes called group time, involves a group of children in a class sitting together (usually forming a circle) with their teacher for an activity such as reading or sharing thoughts on a particular topic. Furthermore, circle time enhances children’s social and academic skills (6).
2. How long should circle time be for preschoolers?
Ideally, a circle time could last about ten minutes; however, it depends on the activity and interests of the group of children involved (3). Nevertheless, splitting the circle time by incorporating two different activities into two sessions is also a good idea.
3. What are some circle time activities that encourage socialization among toddlers?
Some circle time activities that encourage socialization among toddlers include creative circle formation, quizzes, singing, dancing, greeting and welcoming, discussing their concerns, and open-ended conversations.
4. What are some circle time activities that teach about holidays and cultural traditions for toddlers?
You can include learning about holidays and cultural traditions during circle time with activities such as playing traditional music, dancing, craft making, dramatic play, storytelling, and question and answer.
5. What circle time activities encourage language development for toddlers?
Circle time activities that can encourage language development in children include singing, differentiated learning, group reading, and word and story-building activities.
6. How can I make my circle time more enjoyable?
You can make circle time more interesting by including different activities every time to keep the children engaged and capture their attention. Include elements, props, and activities of various genres to facilitate fun and learning. Avoid making circle time too long, and design activities as per the toddler’s age and preferences.
Circle time activities for toddlers help them come out of their shells, learn the importance of interaction and help them socialize. The above activities are not only fun but also educational as they can engage in different learning activities such as quizzes, word of the day, or simple discussion to stimulate their cognitive abilities. Moreover, these activities are a great energy booster for children and a fun way to get to with their peers and friends better.
Infographic: Tips For Organizing Circle Time Activities For Toddlers
Preschool is where children learn to develop positive relationships and become part of a social circle. In the following infographic, we have included a list of important points to remember while organizing circle time activities. Save this list so that you can refer to it easily.
- Circle time activities make learning a fun experience for children.
- Group reading and lunch circle can help promote togetherness and the quality of sharing among children.
- Open-ended conversations, question-answer games, and many other similar activities are mentioned in this post.
Watch this video and learn these songs for some fun circle time activities with your friends or at your playschool!
Personal Experiences: Sources
i. My secret to a successful circle time.
ii. How to start toddler and preschool circle time (back-to-school).
- Getting The Most Out Of Circle Time.
- 5 Tips For A Successful Circle Time
- Successful Circle Times
- Circle Time And Movement
- From Circle Time To Small Groups
- Successful Circle Times with Young Children
- Thinking and play: preschoolers