3 Year Olds Preschool Morning Schedule

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During my over 15 years of teaching preschool, I have made numerous changes to our 3 year old preschool morning schedule. I’ve taken a close look at how the children handle each transition, how to balance quiet and active time, and how to add special activities into our day. I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you!

Our Preschool Morning Schedule

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Our Morning in the 3′s Class:
Our 3 year old class is held from 9:30 – 12:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s taken me awhile to tweak our schedule so that we can have an hour of free choice, but also enough time for large motor, small groups, circle time.…etc. This schedule has really worked well for us. I believe firmly in balancing out active and quiet times and to be very mindful that they are not required to sit for lengthy amounts of time. 

9:25 Arrivals

We open the classroom door and greet the children. They say their good-byes to parents and come on in! We have a clipboard with all their names and a blank space beside them. The children find their name and draw a line from left to right. As they are ready, they can write some or all of the letters in their names.

9:30 Free Choice Centers

We start our morning with free-choice centers – this includes listening center/library, writing table, manipulatives, house corner, blocks and cars, art table, playdough, easel, sensory table, science. I prefer free-choice for this age group because they are all at different levels, and some want to spend a lot of time exploring one thing while others move from area to area, often wanting to return to a previous activity.

10:30 Clean Up

Our class helper rings a bell to announce that it’s clean up time. Work is placed in their cubbies and toys and materials are placed on labeled shelves. At the beginning of the year, we break the children into smaller groups so that each of the 3 teachers can model how everything is put away. For this reason, we start with less on our shelves and slowly add more as we feel they are ready.

10:40 Circle Time #1

I place the children’s personalized mats (actually vinyl placemats with their names attached) in a horseshoe shape. When I sing the “come to the circle” song, they each bring a book to their mat and look at it while the class helper and one other child help set the tables for snack. Looking at a book is a great transition to quiet themselves and prepare to listen. My co-teacher then has the children put away their books and they all sing a good morning song. We have 1 class helper a day and that person sits in front of the window. He/she checks outside to see what the weather is, and places the correct picture on the wall. We then sing a weather song and listen to a story. On Fridays, we add sharing. We have one sharing person per week. They take home their boxes on Wednesday and return on Friday.

Birthdays are celebrated during circle time as well. The birthday child gets to wear his/her crown (that is made at the start of the year and placed on a special birthday bulletin board) and we sing the traditional Happy Birthday song. We enjoy a birthday treat with our snack.

10:55 Snack

As the children are dismissed from circle, they go to the bathroom to wash hands and then get their snacks. Our children bring their own snack each day and an empty cup. They place their snack on their mat . We then pass a pitcher of water down each side of the table for them to pour their own water. As the children finish snack, they put away their garbage and work on activities that are placed on the circle time carpet, or they can go to the book area or writing table. 

11:20 Music and Movement, Nursery Rhymes and Finger Plays

This is our second circle time, when we sing songs and do movement activities. I keep a binder of favorite songs close by.

11:35 Recess/Gym

We usually have access to both our outdoor area and our large indoor gym for large motor play.
{You can see some of our favorite large motor toys here.}

12:15 Small Groups

The children are separated into 4 color groups (so each group has 4). We rotate each day. At this time in the day we have 3 teachers, so each teacher does a simple activity with her group and the 4th group sits right beside my group and works on journals. This way I can supervise both groups, since we don’t have a 4th teacher.

{You can read more about our journals in small groups here.}

12:25 Departures

We call children to the door as their caregivers arrive.

Because we have such a small classroom, almost all our areas get used in various ways. When Free-Choice is over and we are cleaning up, we push our small shelves against the wall and the block area is now our circle time area for the rest of the morning. Our art table and play dough table get cleaned up and pushed together for snack. After snack, they get cleaned up and separated once again for small groups. We’ve learned to be creative with our space and it works quite well! 

{You can see some of our classroom pictures here.}

It’s important to note that this schedule is not set in stone. On Fridays we have music with the 4 year old class in between centers and circle time #1. Once a month we have Chapel so our centers time isn’t as long, and recess is moved so that it’s right after Chapel. When we have class visitors, our schedule is altered a bit as well. Circle Times are not set to the clock, either. Sometimes we get into wonderful conversations that last quite awhile. Other days we are just too wound up to sit for long!

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  1. Thank you for sharing! I just started a mommy and me class at my center and I need all the ideas I can get. :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Do all children do the same thing but in small groups during small group time or do you have separate activities?

  3. whats “come to the circle” song?! i need such a song please .
    also can you please share a two year old morning schedule. thank you!!!

  4. What’s your “come to the circle” song? I’d love to know!

    • It’s one I made up years ago, to the tune of “London Bridge.

      “It’s time to come to the circle, to the circle, to the circle
      It’s time to come to the circle,
      find your mat.”

      I use this tune whenever redirecting them through a transition.

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