Inside: Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can’t Sit Still. Wonder why 2 and 3 year olds can’t sit very long at circle time? Then read on, my dear teacher friends!
You planned your circle time to the minute. First you will read a book. Then talk about some activities you’ll be doing during class. You might even start a second book, or teach them the words to a finger play.
And then it happens.
One child starts wiggling. Another starts humming loudly.
You look at the clock and feel defeated. Circle time isn’t over yet, you think. Now what?
Today I am so excited to have Dayna Abraham from Lemon Lime Adventures share some of her brilliant circle time strategies with all of you!
This blog post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can’t Sit Still
Ever been to a petting zoo? The goats to be exact.
You walk in and suddenly the goats disperse everywhere? If you actually tried to wrangle them into one, tiny, circle and get them to stop for a minute and sit still…
Well, that’s a lost cause.
You wouldn’t try to do that, right?
But, yet, we try to do it almost every day with our two and three-year-olds during circle time.
For the most part we’re successful.
We can gather around, wide-eyed, engaged and excited two-year-olds ready to learn what we have to offer but there’s always the one.
The one that would rather play in the blocks.
The one that would rather go put their hands in the water table, or the one that would rather tear everything off the wall while you’re trying to do your flannel board.
Circle time can be the most exciting time of the day but it can also be the most frustrating when you have kids that can’t sit still.
Today I want to share a few circle time strategies you can implement today for those kids that can’t sit still.
Let’s just get something out in the air before we begin.
Two and three-year-olds are wiggly.
They move, they dance, they get into things.
It’s their nature.
It’s who they are and it’s beautiful.
I’m not trying to start a debate on whether kids should sit still or not when they’re this young.
The truth is there are times in our day, especially circle time, when we need our children to sit even if it’s just for five minutes. Sometimes even that five-minutes seems extremely difficult, so what can we do?
Here are five, simple ways to get kids who can’t sit still to sit still. (Yes, even two-year-olds.)
Brilliant Circle Time Strategies to Use When Kids Can’t Sit Still
- Make it about them.
Two and three-year-olds are so extremely egocentric. If you’re going to try to have circle time and talk about some far off place that doesn’t make sense to them you’re going to have a hard time getting them to sit still and listen.
Whatever it is you need to talk to them about, the story you need to read to them, bring it back to their life. Make it relevant to them and you will be more likely to get your kids interested enough to sit still.
- Let go of criss-cross applesauce.
Uh-oh. Did I say it?
Did I actually just tell you to not tell your kids to sit criss-cross applesauce?
Look, I get it.
I was in the classroom for 15 years. I know how handy sitting like that can be for us teachers trying to wrangle the class of kids, but the truth is, is that at two and three-years-old our kids need to move even if it’s just a little bit.
Let them sit on their knees.
Let them put their feet out in front of them.
Let them stand.
Let them stretch their arms above them, because, really, it doesn’t matter as long as they are still engaged in what you’re doing.
- Teach personal space.
Let’s face it.
Some kids are just not going to sit still so if you can give them their own, personal, space I personally, love to use carpet squares or Hula Hoops, that they can move and wiggle and dance a jig if they want to.
Teach them how to stay in that personal space without touching others.
Teach them that if they stay in that personal space they don’t have to sit at the carpet, criss-crossed applesauce, and they can still get to do all the awesome things you’re doing during your circle time.
- Weigh them down.
One of the coolest things I learned about when researching Sensory Strategies is proprioceptive input. This is pressure and input on the joints that helps your body ground and know where you are in the world.
Grab a pillowcase, throw a bag of rice in it and put it on a child’s lap.
Bonus points if you turn that weighted lap pad into something cool and fun that the kids all want to have sitting across their lap. In my new book, I show you how to make the weighted lap snake that most kids go gaga over.
It gives them just enough pressure and just enough input to help calm their bodies and help them regulate those wiggles long enough to listen to the awesome story you have for them today.
- Keep it short.
You would think this would be a no-brainer but I can’t tell you how many classrooms I’ve actually been in where circle time lasted sometimes between 45-minutes to an hour.
I am not two or three years old. In fact, you can add an extra digit after that.Yet, I still can’t sit still that long. So how are the little bitties going to sit still that long? Yet we try.
We try to fit in calendar and book time and sign-in time and question of the day and, you name it, all into this long, circle time. But if we want to be successful we want to make it short, sweet and to the point.
Bring your kids to circle time and do songs and then do a book and then be done.
No more keeping your kids there longer than they have to.
If that means that you have to do circle time multiple times during your day than that might be what’s best for your children.
Better yet, break them into smaller groups. Maybe, do some of this during center time.
Sometimes as adults we can get really carried away, myself included, and not even realize how long we’re asking these kids to sit still and pay attention. I could go on and on about simple little tips to help your kids that aren’t sitting still, but I don’t want to keep you here all day.
I know you’re busy and you have a classroom to get to.
The truth is, I have a place in my heart for those little, wiggly guys. The ones that can’t sit still and are always touching things. The ones that just haven’t figured out how to use their body for good. I challenge you to look at these kids, not as “hyper,” not as “bad,” not as “unruly,” or “wild.”
Instead, I want you to look at these children as creative and spirited and full of wonder and interest. You are their first teacher. You have the opportunity to mold and to shape them and let them know from a very early age that their energy is a good thing, and you can give them skills and strategies to be successful for their entire life, starting right now.
Do you trust me?
In my new book, I am challenging teachers, parents and children everywhere to change their language around behaviors. I want to empower children with a language that leaves them feeling strong enough, smart enough, fast enough and just plain and simple… enough.
I believe that all children have the desire to make awesome choices, but lack the skills or communication they need to always respond the way we (as adults) expect them to.
My goal is to bridge the gap between kids and the adults who love them by empowering kids to be their own problem solvers and helping adults understand what kids really need to succeed.
Each of the 75 unique sensory-rich projects in The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day will help kids navigate the most challenging times of day. Whether they struggle to get out the door in the morning or hate to sit for circle time, this is the book for you.
Kids will be begging to clean their room, their dinner plates and more with exciting activities such as:
* Magnetic Morning Routines to help kids visualize their time and tasks to stay on track
* Race to the Finish Dinnertime Gameboard to help even the pickiest eater find foods they like
* Seated Silly Busters so even the wiggliest kid can get their work done
* Weighted Snake Lap Buddies to calms fidgety legs and minds
* Calming Glitter Slime to squash big worries
* No-Sew Weighted Blanket to ensure a good night’s rest
…and so much more.
The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day puts the power into kids’ hands to understand themselves, discover their superpowers and have an awesome day, every day.
From now until Aug 15th, you can get over $50 in Bonus Printable materials for pre-ordering The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day. Click here to grab your copy today!
About the Author
Dayna Abraham is the mother to three totally awesome superkids who inspire her every day to be the best grown-up sidekick they could ask for. When she’s not helping her kids conquer the world, she keeps busy by writing at lemonlimeadventures.com, writing books like Sensory Processing 101, STEAM Kids, and Learn and Play with LEGO®, and drinking lots of coffee. She loves getting her hands messy and creating crazy science projects and crafts to keep her super kids at home busy. Before she was a writer, she was a National Board Certified teacher, where she met some of the coolest superkids on earth. As a little girl, she wished grown-ups and other kids saw her as a superkid, so now she’s made it her mission to inspire kids like you to love who they are and embrace their differences.
Get Tips and Activities FREE!
Latest posts, teaching tips, classroom ideas!