Preschool Circle Time

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Preschool circle time in our classroom is a time when we all get together in one place. We plan books, songs, and activities that will encourage the children to interact, building verbal, listening, and social skills. We are always mindful of how long these young preschoolers can sit, as their attention spans are short. Here are some suggestions that have worked with us throughout the years…

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Circle time with our 3 year olds is held around the middle of our morning, between centers time and snack. After we clean up from centers time, we push our shelves against the wall and use our block area for our gathering. As the children are selecting a book from the book corner, a teacher is setting out the circle time mats. I vary where the children sit so that they are not next to the same child each day. Because there is a bit of social time during circle, this encourages them to feel comfortable sitting by and talking with all their friends.

After the mats have been set out, the teacher leading circle time invites them to find their mats (we sing a “come to the circle” song that I made up years ago).

After they find their mats, they look at the books they’ve brought with them. Meanwhile, the teachers are setting up the tables for snack.
When the teacher is ready to begin circle, their books are placed in a magazine rack and it’s time to listen.
Each day we have one class helper. That special person gets to sit at the head of the circle and report the weather. He/she looks out the window to see if it’s sunny, rainy or cloudy. The appropriate picture card is chosen and we sing a weather song that includes the class helper’s name. This is an extremely special moment for each child when it’s his turn!
A book is then enjoyed.
Sometimes we might have personal books to look at that were part of an earlier activity, such as these pumpkin books, that the children then take home.

Circle time might also consist of sharing. We have one sharing person every Wednesday. The sharing person walks around the circle and the children give one touch. {You can read more about our sharing person here.}

We enjoy snack time after this circle time, but keep our mats on the floor. After snack, when all the children have finished, we have a second circle time. This is when we will sing songs, perform finger plays, or play games using props. I break our circle times up because I find that with this young age group, shorter sessions work better.

This is also when we might do some dancing to music, or using instruments. 
Our goal is to make circle time enjoyable. There are moments when we share, moments when we listen, moments when we work together during an activity. If a child isn’t ready to be at circle, that is okay. He can go to the book area to look at books. When he feels he is ready to return, he quietly comes back to the circle. For some, sitting and listening is easier than for others. It’s a work in progress, something we work on all year. 
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  1. I love those placemats for circle time. What are they made out of and how did you put the names on them?

  2. I am pleased to read this and see what age group is considered for circle time. I wonder about having circle time for 2 year old and what expectations should anyone have for that age group? I ask to discover what if any type of quiet circle time could be expected from children younger than 3 years of age. Please advise. Thank you.

  3. The mats are actually vinyl placemats. I reuse them year after year unless they start tearing. I tape their names on them and at the end of the year we pull them off. Easy!

    For my 2s class, we start the year by inviting the children to come over and sit on a mat to sing a good morning song and listen to a story. They are not forced to join us, but by mid-year they are usually all wanting to participate.

  4. I love the placemat idea! I’ve read a few circle time posts (here and other blogs) is calendar (counting, days of the week, months of the year etc) not done anymore? Is it “out’?

  5. Gian Turman says:

    What is the “Come to Circle” song?

    • It’s one that I made up. It’s to the tune of “London Bridge”:
      It’s time to co-ome to the cir-cle, to the cir-cle, to the cir-cle,
      It’s time to co-ome to the cir-cle,
      Find your mats!

  6. I am wanting to know where you bought the weather sleeves chart.

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