Circle Time Schedule
Circle time is a fun and easy way to incorporate learning into your toddler or preschoolers daily schedule.
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Like many families, we are super busy in our home. We keep a pretty tight schedule packed with meal times, free-play, and educational opportunities. Being a work and stay at home family we get to set our dialy schedule.
Of course, circle time makes the cut, and it is a great addition.
First things first…
How long should Circle Time take?
A Circle time schedule doesn’t add a lot of time to your already activity packed day.
I know you are busy moms, dads, and care providers, so adding one more thing to your schedule can, at times, seem impossible.
However, it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to incorporate this kid approved circle time schedule into your routine. Fifteen to twenty minutes is really the maximum length of time that your little person may be able to sit attentively. If you have a two or three year old toddler, this can be even shorter, at just 10 minutes.
Don’t stress yourself out or push you and your little one(s) too hard.
Remember every child is different.
Some may be able to sit for a longer length of time, while others will need a shorter amount of time. Watch for cues and remember you can always provide additional and various types of learning opportunities throughout the day, too.
We currently have an in-home daycare with six active circle time participants. Active, meaning, they can sit independently and listen well enough to participate the majority of the time.
Two additional children that are about 2 years old also participate, but have more difficulty sitting independently for any period of time longer than 5 to 10 minutes.
Heath, my husband and daycare dad, helps me when he is available. He sits with these kiddos and helps them to participate. Sometimes these younger children don’t make it all the way through to the end of our circle time schedule and that is okay.
Our nine year old also gets involved by reading stories to the children at the end of our circle time schedule.
What are the benefits for children?
- Practice academic skills
- Learn new concepts
- Increase ability to sit attentively
I could go on and on about the benefits. There is a number of journals with studies and professionals who sing the circle time praises. In short, we like it and it is a great way to get needed skills to kiddos in a organized manner.
Need additional convincing, check out the article on “Early Childhood News: The Professional Resource for Teachers and Parents” by Shelly Butler Circle Time is the Right Time
Our Circle Time Schedule
Before I go into our circle time schedule, you should know that we have a base schedule and add and take away subject areas depending on what events are occurring and what the kids need to work on.
So, in short, make it your own and be flexible.
To start things off, we go over the alphabet.
A visual of the alphabet is placed high on the wall, so I use a pointer to point to the letters. The alphabet is large and located where the kids can see it easily.
Once we are through all of the letters, we spell each of the kids names and I again point to each letter of the alphabet in their name.
We do a little celebration for each of the kids, following each name being spelled .
Kids love this!
After the kids have been learning the letters and are becoming more comfortable with them, I try not to say the letter before the kids do.
Next, we go over the colors.
Colors are also displayed on the wall in a way the kids can see them easily.
The kids do a great job of saying the colors as I point to them.
Shapes are also displayed on the wall. I ask the children to identify the shapes and we discuss the characteristics of the shape.
For example, a square has four sides that are the same length.
We also sing songs that go with the shape like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for star.
These activities can be completed pretty quickly then I ask the kids to hop up and do some movement.
You heard that. A movement break!
There are so many fun types of movement breaks that you can add into your circle time schedule; dancing, move like an animal, or movements that go with a song.
My favorite and something I know the kids love is to just tell them some easy things to do. Children stay in place and we can easily get back to what we are doing in circle time.
The movement song with sing.
“Everyone stand up. …sit down. …stand up. …turn around. …touch your toes. …touch your nose. …jump up and down. …turn around. …sit down.”
More Learning Fun
Once everyone is seated again, we count 1-10 or 1-20 or higher depending on the kids knowledge and attention span.
We then sing a couple of songs where numbers are used.
“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” or “Once I Caught a Fish.”
Kids love learning and singing new songs. We have a lot of success with sprinkling songs and nursery rhymes throughout our circle time.
Once you have made it through a couple of number songs it’s time for number identification.
Number cards or having them displayed on the wall is great for this. Cards can be either store bought or hand made.
Everything that the children are learning can then be reinforced through cards.
An example of this. Alphabet with ABC cards, go over colors, identify objects, etc…
Pictures of objects or things or the actual thing you are naming is fun!
For example, picture of a pig or a toy pig? Have them name the animal and the sound pig makes. Sing “Old McDonald.”
Toy boat? Children can identify it then sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
I know this sounds silly, but the kids love it when I break out picture cards. I pick out five to ten cards of various letters, shapes, and objects. They identify and we discuss and sing.
If the kids don’t need another movement break read a book.
After reading time, the kids enjoy an educational video. It changes the pace and gives them a chance to unwind, as well as, reinforce what you have been working on. Video time is not included as part of our circle time schedule, but I do consider it a transition time before we get lunch. Typically, the kids only watch for 15 to 20 minutes.
Do What You Need
Below is a list of many of the circle time activities that we do throughout the week as part of our circle time schedule. We repeat many of the activities, but switch out songs, nursery rhymes, and stories that match our current theme.
You don’t have to do every single thing or sing or say every song or nursery rhyme there is. There are just too many and the kids would leave you singing alone!
Circle Time Schedule Outline
- Alphabet song with visual
- Spell our friends names
- Shape Identification and Traits
- Color Identification
- Counting Together
- Number and Counting songs
- 1:1 Number Correspondence (body parts, examples around room, etc.)
- Identify mix of numbers, letters, and objects through cards or other visuals. (Keep to about 5-10 cards.)
- Nursery Rhymes
- Educational Songs
- More Movement!
- Read a short book and go over traits of book. (cover, back, spin, pages, author, and illustrator.)
- Transition: Short educational video for the kids who want to watch. (If this is timed correctly, you could slip away to make lunch.)
Potential Circle Time Topics
Here is a list of potential circle time topics.
I would suggest adding one additional topic at a time once you have your base schedule established. Don’t continually add topics, but rather interchange them. This will give you the opportunity to see how your kids do and how much time you have to add additional topics. Some of these topics listed may only need shared occasionally.
- Days of the Week
- Months of the Year
- Pray (We do this at other times during the day.)
- Introduce Clock
- Telling Time
- Charts and Graphs
- Positional Words (over, under, beside, left, right, on top of, etc…)
- Show Artwork
- Introduce Themes
- Go over the Weather
- Season Changes
- Community Helpers
- Special Visitors
- Introduce New Foods
- What are their plans for the day or weekend?
- Discuss Upcoming Events
- Rules and Expectations
Remember to have fun, keep a good pace, but be patient and you’ll rock circle time.
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We would love to hear from you here at Raising The Spengler’s. What are your or your children’s favorite Circle Time Activities?