Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom

Inside: Are you dealing with energetic preschoolers? Here are 5 important tips for a calmer classroom that I learned during my years of teaching this age group.

There was a time I really struggled with the energetic preschoolers. I mean, I know little kids have lots of energy, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to handle that energy in the classroom.

I felt like there were constant struggles.

Centers time involved grabbing, pushing, sometimes running from activity to activity.

Circle time felt impossible as they wiggled and talked really loud when pointing out something in a book I was trying to read.

Small group time felt impossible as they would stay on task for what felt like 1 second and then want to leave.

Trying to get them back to the classroom from recess felt like torture. They wouldn’t line up when called. They just kept on running around.

I was a new teacher that had certain expectations, and they became really difficult while dealing with my energetic preschoolers. I was at a loss.

I would love to tell you that I found some magic solution overnight, and the problem was solved. But….nope. It took me many years of observing and noting what was working and what wasn’t. I tweaked my schedule so many times, changed the layout of our classroom, tried different types of activities.

I read books, took classes, got to know other teachers online. (Check out our Preschool Teachers’ Network on Facebook!)

I started learning what worked and didn’t.

Here I am, 18 or so years into teaching (I’ve stopped counting), and while I don’t have everything figured out, I think I have a pretty good handle on dealing with energetic preschoolers.

NOTE: Scroll down to find a coupon on our newest addition to the classroom: The Wiggle Seat!

Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom

Disclosure: I was given 2 wiggle seats to try in my classroom. Affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.

Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom

1. Make sure your schedule is balanced with quiet and active activities.

Preschool children, especially those with what feels like a never-ending supply of energy, cannot be expected to sit for long periods of time. I learned that after circle time, for example, we needed to go outside or to the gym. Then, when we returned, we could have small groups, which is once again a more focused time. After small groups we could have music and movement, getting the children up and moving.

Balancing quiet and active times is important.

Even if it’s not time to go outside yet, you can stop what you are doing, turn on some music, and invite your preschoolers to dance. Even a couple of minutes of this will release some energy so that you can return to what you were doing.

Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom

2. Provide hands-on activities that get the whole body moving.

I love to create activities that get the larger muscles in the body working. Activities that involve big motions. Activities where you can remove the chairs from the table and keep the children standing. Even better if they can walk around the table during the activity.

Here are some of my favorites:

Farm Painting

Friendship Art

Splatter Paint

3. Break up your circle times.

Shorter circle times are more successful for all preschoolers, but especially for those who have a hard time sitting. Our preschool class has at least 3 circle times each day: morning meeting, weather and books, and music and movement.

Related posts:

Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can’t Sit Still

Creating a Preschool Circle Time

Learning Songs for Circle Time

 Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom

4. Get them moving!

When little kids need to move, they are telling you something. Rather than fight it, embrace it. If you can get the kids outside for a longer recess, or if you have access to a gym, GO. Let them run and climb and throw balls.

If you can’t do that, find the biggest area of your classroom (ours would be our circle time area), find upbeat music, and invite your preschoolers to move their entire bodies. I like to have juggling scarves on hand to toss in the air. They are soft so they cannot hurt anyone when they fall. Because, as we know, children with a lot of energy can also be great throwers.

Related posts:

Music for Energetic Kids

Music and Movement Activities

 Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom

5. Have a stash of quiet, calming activities on hand at all times.

There are those days when no matter how hard you’ve worked on the above, you still have a room filled with kids who cannot settle down. Those are days when I realize I need a new plan.

And fast.

For this very reason, I make sure to know where our stash of quiet activities are. I can pull them out in a flash, get the children engaged, dim the lights, turn on some soft classical music.

Here are some ideas for you to consider: 15 Quiet Time Activities for Preschoolers

Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom

Your turn! 

What are your favorite tips for helping energetic preschoolers? Share in the comments section!


Wiggle Seat Inflatable  Sensory Chair Cushion for Kids

Recently I was given 2 wiggle seat sensory chair cushions to try with our preschoolers. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as I was focusing on strategies to help our energetic kiddos while also putting together this post.

How the wiggle seat works:

  • Helps children stay calm and focused while sitting
  • Inflation level is adjustable (comes with pump)
  • Causes the body to stabilize itself, improving posture
  • Is a good size for kids chairs and tables (13″)

How we used it:

I first placed them at our small exploration table and showed the children how to sit on top of it. I then kept them in a special location of our classroom and the children now go and get a wiggle seat and place it on any chair they wish to sit on.

More information: Wiggle Seat Inflatable Sensory Chair Cushion for Kids


Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom


Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calmer Classroom


The Survival Guide for Preschool Teachers

Whether you are a brand-new teacher or one that has a background in teaching, this free survival guide is meant for YOU. It is loaded with my favorite tips for an easier, more successful school year.

LINK: The Survival Guide for Preschool Teachers

guide for preschool teachers


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds



Fun Preschool Apple Theme Activities

I’m quite certain I’ve mentioned before how much I love fall. It seems to awaken all 5 senses and allows so much nature exploration! And so, since I love it so much, I put together this big collection of fun preschool apple theme activities.

And I just might keep adding on to it.

Because I keep finding more!

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and get your fingers ready for some serious pinning. In this apple theme collection you will find activities for art,  dramatic play, sensory bins, play dough, math, science, literacy, fine motor, cooking, large motor, and music  and movement.


Preschool Apple Theme Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Fun Preschool Apple Theme Activities

Preschool Apple Theme Art Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Apple Art

Preschool Apple Theme Ideas for Dramatic Play - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Dramatic and Small World Play


Preschool Apple Theme Ideas for Sensory Bin - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Apple Sensory Bins


Preschool Apple Theme Ideas for play dough - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Apple Play Dough


Preschool Apple Theme Ideas for math - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Apple Math

Preschool Apple Theme Ideas for Science- Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Apple Science


Preschool Apple Theme Literacy Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Apple Literacy

Preschool Apple Theme Fine Motor Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Apple Fine Motor

Preschool Apple Theme Cooking Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 Apple Cooking Activities

Apple Large Motor Games


Apple Music and Movement

Preschool Apple Theme Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Bonus! Grab your Apples, Apples Everywhere Pack!

Preschool Kindergarten Apple Theme Printables

Perfect for both preschoolers and kindergartners, this pack includes:

  • Connect the Dot and Do-A-Dot pages
  • Play Dough Mats
  • Apple Graphing
  • Lacing Cards
  • Counting & Number Word Recognition Puzzles
  • Apple Seed Counting (2 ways)
  • Tic-Tac-Toe Boards
  • A Fingerprint Apple Counting Book
  • Upper and Lowercase Letter Sorting
  • Cutting Practice
  • Apple Patterns
  • Apple Tracing
  • Craft & Snack Ideas
  • and more!

For only $6.00 you can download this 90 page PDF digital packet now!

More fall activities:

Preschool Science Ideas for Fall - 5 hands-on activities from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds      fall sensory bin with pom poms      Pine Cone Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

Inside: An entire year of preschool lesson plans: 20 themes for young children!

We love using themes with our preschoolers, but creating lesson plans to go with them can be time consuming. There’s lots of searching, trying to make sure you are meeting all your curriculum goals while keeping everything age appropriate.

Well, we’ve done the work for you!

All the activities in our lesson plans books are FUN. Every activity has been tried, tested and approved by our children.

The activities are based on play, inviting your children to explore and learn through their senses. You will be able to see how they are building their skills through play.

The activities have been carefully chosen to offer a wide range of math and literacy skills, working across the curriculum to incorporate play, imagination, science, sensory and art.

Each thematic unit is packed with literature based activities that are easy to prepare and fun to implement.


An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

What you’ll get in each unit:

  • 24 hands-on ideas that will help your child succeed in preschool
  • A variety of themed hands-on activities based on literature
  • Ideas to build vocabulary and early literacy skills with songs and games
  • Printable pages to help get learners ready for school
  • Material lists, step-by-step instructions and full color photographs of every activity
  • Suggestions for modifications and extensions so you can adapt the activities to suit your child



You will also get a wide range of learning activities, including:

  • literacy
  • math
  • sensory exploration
  • crafts
  • science
  • social studies
  • gross motor
  • social and emotional well being

Here are the preschool themes that are included in the bundle:

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Transportation
  • Dinosaurs
  • All About Me
  • Five Senses
  • All Around the World
  • Colors
  • Farm
  • Space
  • Construction
  • Habitats
  • Bugs & Butterflies
  • Weather
  • Animals
  • Ocean
  • Flowers & Trees
  • Community Helpers

Here are the skills that are covered in the lesson plans:

  • Counting
  • Pre-writing
  • Alphabet
  • Social and Emotional Well Being
  • Shapes
  • Measurement
  • Number Sense
  • Music
  • Gross-Motor
  • Fine-Motor
  • and much more!

Take a peek an what’s inside:

Every theme includes hands-on activities and engaging printables with book recommendations so that you can use your favorite picture books with the activities.

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

Here’s a sample of the activities that are included in our Fall Theme:

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

Make theme planning easy!

  • Easy to read instructions
  • Every activity comes with a supply list
  • Activities can be adapted for different learners

Take the guesswork out of planning!

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

Every theme includes:

  • An introduction
  • A recommended reading list
  • Recommended songs
  • A list of skills

The table of contents sorts the activities according to topic or skills covered to help you plan your days!

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

About the authors:

What’s unique about these lesson plans is that they were put together by a team of experienced classroom teachers and homeschoolers. They’ve put together activities that will fit into any situation.

Whether you are an experienced classroom teacher, a brand-new classroom teacher, or you are teaching your own children at home, this is the perfect set of lesson plans for you!

While planning these lesson plans, a lot of thought was considered for strong learners, special needs kids, and every child in between. They are easily differentiated for every need.

An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans

Try one theme today or save time and money by getting lesson plans for the whole year. Don’t miss out on these one-of-a-kind lesson plans!



An Entire Year of Preschool Lesson Plans


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds



How Celebrate Birthdays in the Toddler and Preschool Classrooms

Inside: How to celebrate birthdays in the toddler and preschool classrooms while keeping it simple and fun!


Just mention the word birthday and you get a super excited toddler or preschooler. Seriously, there is nothing like turning 3 or 4 in their lives.

If we just mention the word, our 3 year olds get so excited, all telling me at once how old they will be, or what they want, or what kind of party.

That means celebrating birthdays in the classroom is important. Super important!

The key is keeping it simple and yet special. And that’s exactly how our toddler and birthday celebrations are!

How Celebrate Birthdays in the Toddler and Preschool Classrooms


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.


How Celebrate Birthdays in the Toddler and Preschool Classrooms

We celebrate every child’s birthday during the school year. Our summer birthdays are celebrated in May. We don’t want anyone feeling left out! (And, as a mother with 2 children who have summer birthdays, I am sensitive to this.)


The Birthday Crowns

We have a plain white paper birthday crown ready for each child when school starts. These will be taken down to be painted and then put back on the wall with a label that reads the child’s name and birthdate. They are hung in chronological order starting with September and ending with August. (Our school starts in September.)


preschool classroom tour

The first or second week of school, we have our toddlers and preschoolers paint their crowns.

celebrating birthdays in the classroom

I love how this personalizes each crown!

celebrating birthdays in the classroom

Once the crowns are dry, they are assembled and hung back on the wall.

And then we wait.

We wait for those magical birthday celebrations! And we keep letting each other know how old we will be.

celebrating birthdays in the classroom

The Felt Birthday Cake

We’ve had this felt cake set since I first started teaching, over 16 years ago. It’s helped celebrate hundreds of birthdays at our preschool! It’s looking a bit tired and might need to retire soon, but it makes me smile every time I see it.

The birthday child sits in a special birthday chair and we place the cake on a felt board. We then count how many candles will go on the cake, and they are placed on the board.

celebrating birthdays in the classroom

The Birthday Song

We sing 2 songs. During the first song, the birthday child holds the felt board face out, so we can get some good birthday photos.

Here’s our first song (tune: On Top of Old Smokey):

Today is a birthday, I wonder for whom?
I know it’s for someone who’s right in this room
So look all around you for somebody who, is
smiling, and happy
My Goodness, it’s YOU!

I honestly don’t recall where I found it, so I will give credit to this website, where I am finding it now.

celebrating birthdays in the classroom

We then flip the felt board around to face the birthday child, and we sing the traditional birthday song.

celebrating birthdays in the classroom

And the whole class cheers the birthday person!

celebrating birthdays in the classroom

Birthday Treats

We used to have the birthday child supply treats for the classroom, but between keeping it more simple and having children with food allergies, we stopped the treats. It has not altered the birthday experience in the least!

Watch the video on You Tube

How do you celebrate birthdays in your classroom?

How Celebrate Birthdays in the Toddler and Preschool Classrooms


More posts for early childhood teachers:

Classroom DYI Ideas for Teachers      Creating a Preschool Circle Time - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds     music and movement for preschoolers

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind

Inside: 6 Steps to Setting up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind – If you are getting ready to move into a new classroom, you need this information, and the free printable checklist!


This year I am moving into a classroom after over a decade in my previous room. I will admit it took me quite awhile to warm up to the idea. I loved my previous room. I had everything figured out! I knew just where circle time would go, I finally had figured out a great spot for our science center, and I always loved that our dramatic play area had a nice big window behind it.

Really, the decision wasn’t mine, though. Our little preschool had grown and we simply needed to occupy 2 floors now instead of 1. And this meant moving the 2 and 3 year olds upstairs. That would be me.

I knew about this move months before it actually happened. I was still in my previous classroom, getting so many compliments about how warm and homey it felt.

How could I make my new room feel like this one?

How could I start all over again?

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind

School ended and everything went into storage for the summer. Late July, I decided to take a peek into my new room, just to get a head start. I let out a large gasp when I walked through the doorway.

It was a mess. An absolutely horrid mess. Apparently the church that our preschool resides in had tossed everything into it during their summer camp. I cannot even explain the piles of stuff that were tucked in every corner, in the middle of the room, on tables.

This is the video I took as proof of what I saw:



I talked to my director, who talked to the church staff. They promised to get everything out by the first week of August. They actually had no choice, as that was when the floors were scheduled to be waxed.

Finally I got notice that the floors were finished and I could start moving everything back into the room. Normally I would have rushed over and started putting everything into the room. But I didn’t. I decided I needed to have a plan, or I’d be moving heavy furniture everywhere, trying to figure out this new place that would become my classroom.

I came up with 6 steps that I would follow to make moving into my classroom much easier. I’m on the last step as I type this, and I am really pleased with how everything is turning out.

I thought I’d share with you what saved me from becoming unglued. This plan made moving into a new classroom so easy. I never felt anxious or pressured to get it all done now. It’s not often I can say I feel organized, but that’s exactly what has happened with this move in process.

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind


Step 1: Take a Good Look

You’ve been given the green light to move into your classroom, and you want to get going NOW. But don’t rush the process. I decided to make a plan first.

I walked around and really took a good look at my new classroom. I mean, I paid attention to every little detail.

Then, I went home and made a layout of my room.

Step 2: Draw a Layout

So here’s what I’m talking about. Recall what you saw when you walked around your classroom. You might have even taken pictures. If so, look at them carefully.

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind

And then draw the layout. Nothing fancy. Pencil to paper will work. I happened to use a whiteboard because I had one handy.

Take some time and really look at the layout. Think about doorways, where there will be more foot traffic. Think about windows, where you will get natural light. Is there a sink in your classroom? What should be closest to it? What are on the floors? If there is a mixture of carpet and linoleum, any centers that involve possible dripping should be on top of linoleum. Trust me. I’ve had art activities on top of carpet and it’s a chore.

Make notes on your map of where your learning centers will be. What furniture will be needed? Where should they be placed? Do you want more of an open concept, or do you want to separate each center using low shelves and other furniture?


Step 3: Start with the Big Stuff

NOW you can start moving stuff into your classroom. The big day has arrived! Think about the layout you drew. Start with a few of the biggest pieces and move them to their designated areas.

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind

Before you continue to move the big stuff in, pause. How are those few big pieces looking? Do they need to be moved a bit to the left or right? (Trust me, I’m a pro at this part.) Move a few more pieces in and pause again to see how it’s looking. Sometimes it’s a good idea to leave the room, take a break, and return. How does it feel when you walk through the door?

Once you have all the big stuff in the room, stand back again and assess.How is the flow? Is there plenty of room for children and teachers to move from area to area?

Step 4: Add the Smaller Pieces

Now you can add the smaller pieces – chairs, easel, light table, cubbies, step stools, floor carpets for linoleum areas, if desired.

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind

How’s it looking? Are you starting to get a sense for what is needed in each area?

Step 5: Time to Include the Little Details

This is when you can add the personal details, like labeling the cubbies, containers, and shelves. You might want to add some lamps for warmer lighting and some plants. What about wall decorations and bulletin boards? This can be the fun part, if you like to be creative! And if not, there’s always Pinterest!

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom

Step 6: Set Up the Activities

Once everything is in place, it’s time to set up the activities that will be displayed on the first open house or the first day of school, whatever comes first. As I’ve mentioned in my First Day of School Post, ignore that urge to fill every nook and cranny. Less is best until the children learn how to take care of the materials and clean up.

6 steps to setting up a classroom

Now, stand back and take a look at what you created. Give yourself a pat on the back. I hope you love your new classroom! But remember, you can continue to tweak things. I know once the children are in the classroom, once I get a feel for how they are using the room, I will be making adjustments. It’s all good!

6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Checklist

6 steps to setting up a classroom

Here’s a checklist I put together that you can download and print: 6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Checklist



6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom Without Losing Your Mind


Related posts:

The Survival Guide for Preschool Teachers

The Best Resources for Preschool Teachers


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

How to Set Up Your Preschool Science Center

Science is an important part of a preschooler’s day, especially when it involves hands-on exploration. Teachers, are you wondering how to set up your preschool science center? Does it intimidate you a bit?

It doesn’t need to be intimidating! With just a few simple tips, you can have a science area that is inviting for your young learners.

Today I am going to show you almost all of the science centers we set up on ONE  year in our preschool classroom. Some of these stayed out all week, some for a couple of weeks. All of them were tied into our preschool theme of that week. We connected other classroom activities with what was in our science center.

preschool science activities



This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.


How to Set Up Your Preschool Science Center


You will notice that many of these science centers include picture books and perhaps one or two visuals placed in plexi-glass sign holders. At some of the centers there were also tools such as magnifying glasses and tweezers. We also tried to have some sort of objects that could be touched. I’ve added some affiliate links if you are interested in learning where these products can be purchased, but you might already own them. I am hoping these photos help you understand how to set up a science center that will be visually pleasing to your preschoolers, inviting them to come and explore.


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

At the start of the year we explore with magnets. This is a simple and fun activity that is especially loved by visual learners. The preschoolers discovered that the magnets stuck to some objects, but not to others. Later in the year we explored magnets at the light table, in the sensory table, and even in the block area.

More to read:

8 Irresistible Activities to Do with Magnets

Preschool books about magnets:


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

Learning about families is another great preschool activity at the beginning of the school year. As we are getting to know each other, we also love talking about the members in our family. The children bring in a family photo which we frame and display on the wall all year.


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

As we explore owls, we also learn about nocturnal animals. Why do they sleep during the day?


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

During October, one of our science displays is all about bats. Most of our preschoolers remember seeing the bats at our local zoo, so this is meaningful to them. I put together a simple discovery bottle placing some small foam bats (from a sticker pad) into water along with some glitter (just because our preschoolers love to watch it swirl).  We love National Geographic Kids books, as you can see in the photo. The rubber bat was a nice prop, too!



Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

In October we go on a field trip to the pumpkin patch, so we make sure to study pumpkins at the science table. Along with small pumpkins, we also provided a pumpkin matching activity. (If you are interested in these types of printables, you can find them at Montessori for Everyone.)

Make sure to check out our Pumpkin Theme post for lots of pumpkin activities!


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

While at the pumpkin patch, we get to walk through the the corn that is being harvested. We set up this science center to show a real piece of corn that is still in its husk, a can of corn, dried corn kernels (that I also placed letter tiles inside to spell “corn”), and some visuals.


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

Where we live, there is an abundance of pine cones. This includes all around our preschool building. We learn where they come from while we take a nature walk. What trees did they fall from?


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

Preschoolers have a fascination with dinosaurs, and we’ve happened to acquire quite a collection. The children love how large and powerful dinosaurs are!

Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

In the winter a dental team visits our preschool, talking about how to keep our teeth healthy. The week that they visit, we invite our preschoolers to practice brushing teeth with a model.

The Colors of the Rainbow

Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

During the month of March we explore the rainbow. You might recall our giant color wheel, where the children bring in items from home that are the colors of the rainbow.


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

April means gardening! We invite our preschoolers to play with our seed model while we plant sunflowers. By doing this, they actually get to watch their seed sprout. They learn about taking care of another living thing, giving it sunlight and water.


Preschool Classroom Science Area Ideas

After learning about seeds, we then explore daffodils. We explore them under our magnifying stands and learn to treat them gently.


Ocean Life

science shells

In May we explore the ocean. We have real shells, a couple of discovery bottles, and books. You can read more about this in our Preschool Ocean Theme post.


Want to see more science activities? Check out our pin board!



preschool science activities


More preschool activities to explore:

friendship activities for preschoolers      Shape Activities for Preschoolers     Learning the Alphabet - Activities for Preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can’t Sit Still

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!

Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can't Sit Still

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.

Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids 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

  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.

Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can't Sit Still


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.


  1. 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.

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.”


Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can't Sit Still

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?

Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can't Sit Still


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.

Superkids Activity Guide


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

Brilliant Circle Time Strategies When Kids Can't Sit Still

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.


Related posts:

Dealing with Big Emotions in the Classroom

Separation Anxiety Tips for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Building Communication Skills with Preschoolers


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Classroom Schedule for 2 Year Olds

The most successful classroom schedule for 2 year olds is simple but well thought out.

The teacher takes time to observe how the children use the materials.

The teacher notices what they are interested in, what is working, and what is not.

The teacher is careful about balancing active and quiet times and tries to have as few transitions as possible, understanding that too many changes can be disruptive to a young child.

And even once school begins, even halfway through the school year and perhaps longer, the teacher knows the schedule can be tweaked when it’s apparent that the day is not flowing as it should be. The teacher creates a plan, but knows that it does not have to be set in stone, that ideas can change at the last minute and that’s okay.

The teacher plans, but is also flexible.

When keeping all of this in mind, a classroom schedule has been created that is developmentally appropriate for these young, curious, energetic children.


Classroom Schedule for 2 Year Olds


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Classroom Schedule for 2 Year Olds

Our preschool has two 2’s classes. One is Tuesdays only, and the other is on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It meets from 9:30 a.m. to noon. I teach the 2-day a week class, but both classes follow this schedule. After tweaking it several times over the course of many years, just like we have done with our 3 year olds class schedule, we have created a schedule that has worked very well for our children.
Before I even begin, I cannot stress enough how important a picture schedule is, especially during the first weeks as the children get adjusted to the routine. You can print your own picture cards here.






We greet our children at the classroom door with warm greetings, the children say goodbye to their parents or caregivers, and we walk them into the classroom.


Free-Choice Centers


classroom schedule for 2 year olds
We offer free-choice centers as soon as the 2’s arrive. They are not required to be at any center at any given time, but have the freedom to roam and explore at their own pace. The centers provided are: book corner, writing table, play dough, table activities, house corner, blocks and cars, science, art, easel and sensory. Also, during this time, if the weather is cooperating we open the door for outdoor exploration as well.



classroom schedule for 2 year olds
We are lucky to have an outdoor area right outside our classroom. During the last half of centers time, we open the door and the children can go outside. (We have one teacher inside, one teacher outside, and our assistant is wherever we have the most children.)


Clean Up


preschool schedule
After an hour of centers and outdoor time, we are ready to clean up the classroom as a group. We model how we put the toys on the shelves and tidy the activity tables. We put away our playdough and art supplies and disinfect them since that is where we will have snack.

Group Time

classroom schedule for 2 year olds
At the beginning of the year our group time (similar to a circle time) informal and I don’t force anyone to sit while we read. As the year progresses and their attention spans grow, they sit on a carpet square while we read a short story and recite one of our favorite finger plays or dance to one of our favorite songs. This gets them used to sitting together and they will be ready for a more formal circle time in the 3 year old class the following year.



classroom schedule for 2 year olds 
A lot of independence takes place during snack time. We start from the very first day carefully showing the children how we wash our hands before and after snack, how we sit at the tables, and how we clean up our spots when we are finished.




classroom schedule for 2 year olds
Our preschool resides in a church and we usually have access to either a large fellowship hall or a large activity room. Both areas have lots of toys that allow the children to use their large motor skills. We make sure they get at least 30 minutes of time moving their bodies.

Music & Movement


classroom schedule for 2 year olds
When we return from large motor play, we end our morning with music and movement. This might be using rhythm sticks, instruments, dancing scarves, or singing to our favorite songs



As the parents gather in the hallway, we say goodbye to each other.


What schedule works best with your 2 year olds? Let me know in the comments section!


Classroom Schedule for 2 Year Olds


You can find more teacher posts in this collection:

teachers back to school information

More ideas for toddlers:


20 Learning Activities for Toddlers      Easy Art Tips for Toddlers      The Best Books for Busy Toddlers

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Ultimate Back to School Bundle

It’s back! Our ultimate back to school bundle that you all wait for every August.

You guys, as a teacher or a parent you will LOVE this bundle. And it’s one of the best deals you will get. It is packed with educational stuff – 52 products, to be exact – and once you download it, it’s yours! Immediately!

But here’s the thing, this ultimate back to school bundle ends on September 1, 2017. Not a day later. So take advantage of it NOW!

Ultimate Back to School Bundle

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Ultimate Back to School Bundle

This amazing bundle is filled with fun and exciting activities, with a variety of learning activities that include different topics. The bundle features printable worksheets, activities with simple supplies, and crafts.

Perfect for teachers, homeschoolers, parents and caregivers of preschoolers, kindergarteners and children in grades 1-2.

Use this with your existing curriculum or on it’s own as an after-school activity or supplementary.

ultimate back to school bundle


So you want to know what’s in this bundle, right?

This bundle is filled with exploration and learning, such as:

  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Art
  • Alphabet
  • Numbers
  • Addition/Subtraction
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Handwriting
  • ..and more

Ultimate back to school bundle


It comes down to this:

52 products

$360 value

You pay: $24.95

That’s a savings of 93%!

It’s ONLY available during these dates: July 24 – September 1, 2017

Just like all of our other educational bundles, once it’s gone, it’s gone FOREVER.

MEGA Back to School Bundle

And if you are one that loves details, here’s exactly what you will get:


Science Pack for Preschool & Kindergarten:  Jump into science with this set of 30 hands-on worksheets designed for preschoolers and kindergartners to explore Life Science, Physical Science and Earth Science concepts! Learn about our bodies and the world around us while sorting, classifying, predicting and observing. Also practice fine motor skills while cutting, pasting and coloring these hands-on worksheets.

The Ultimate Alphabet Activity Bundle: A collection of alphabet activities designed to go along with with alphabet crafts.

Farm Fine Motor Pack: The Farm Fine Motor Pack includes more than 40 pages of farm-themed fine motor activities for children. These print-and-play activities support the development of a range of fine motor skills including pincer grasp, lacing, tracing, tweezing, drawing shapes, q-tip writing, pin punching, hole punching, and cutting with scissors.

Beginning Sounds Activity Pack: Students will practice beginning sound recognition with puzzles, matching, card games, play dough mats, sorting mats, BINGO games and more! A great addition to your word work activities.

Ultimate Preschool Printable Bundle: Make your next home preschool year easier than ever and a whole lot more fun with the Ultimate Preschool Printable Bundle! Over 600 pages of activities covering everything from the letters of the alphabet and colors, to shapes, numbers, and fine motor skills!

Play-Based Learning Rainbow Activity Booklet: Get colouring pages, play-based learning prompts, recipes for sensory play and more. Through these 15 pages, you’ll find prompts to promote numeracy, fine motor skills, colour, word, letter, and number recognition!

Fall Activities Bundle: Don’t miss this gorgeous FALL Montessori Inspired Activities Pack! With 60+ pages of activities, All activities are easy to print and ready to go.

Fall Season and Holiday Activity Bundle: The Fall Season and Holiday Pack includes four sets of printables perfect for preschool learning in autumn. Each pack offers six hands-on, reusable games and activities. Included are Autumn, Apples, Halloween, and Turkey activity packs.

All About Fall Preschool Pack: This pack of ten preschool activities is perfect for celebrating fall! From color sorting, to counting, cutting, oral language development and much much more, your students will practice valuable skills while having fun!

Life cycle of a blackbird in Spanish, English and Bilingual: This Montessori inspired life cycle or a blackbird pack is made using only real photos. It is perfect to introduce science to preschoolers.

Hands On Alphabet for Preschoolers: Hands-On Alphabet for Preschoolers is a workbook designed to help anyone teach the letters of the alphabet. Using fun and creative methods of learning, this book will:

  1. Teach your child to recognize both upper and lower case letters
  2. Teach your child to write both the upper and lower case letters
  3. Expose them to the beginning sounds of words

Apple Preschool Matching Worksheets: These fun apple preschool matching worksheets are a neat way to help preschoolers practice recognizing similar items! Both color and line art versions, as well as a full answer key, are provided.

Preschool Assessments: This printable preschool assessment pack provides a variety of tools as well as record keeping resources These assessments include ways to assess and record the alphabet, shapes, colors, numbers and more.

Counting Playdough Mats: 2 printable play dough mat sets. One for counting to 10, and one for ‘making 10’ through addition.

50 Transportation Crafts for Little Kids: 50 easy crafts of for young children that feature cars, boats, trucks, airplanes, trains, buses, and more!

HEEP (Hands-on Energetic Easy Preschool) Curriculum: A weekly themed, book-based preschool curriculum with art, math, science, literacy, and more fun, active learning projects for young children. Also includes over 100 pages of printable pages! Ideal for homeschool preschool and a wonderful resource for larger programs!

Montessori Inspiration at Home: Practical Life Skills – Toddler Series

This Montessori inspired book is a helpful resource for practical life skills for toddlers. All together it includes over 100 pages, of easy to follow ideas, for caregivers to use with their children. Included are 60+ pages of printables and resources, including Spanish printables!

Honey Bee Educational Bundle: This 30+ page honey bee printable pack includes the life-cycle of a bee (spinner), life-cycle 3-part cards, cut & paste activities, anatomy of a bee, writing practice using print and D’Nealian style font, and 3-part card number work (0-10).

A to Z Science for Toddlers and Preschoolers: An introduction to science for ages 2 to 5. Includes one science activity for each letter of the alphabet .

Apple ABC Letter Find: You can trace that letter then dot or color the letter on the apple. Plus this is a No Prep printable. That means you can just print and use them. It has uppercase or lowercase for all 26 letters.

Farm Printable Set: Quick print and use farm themed learning printables for preschool.

Skittles Math: Hands On Lessons and Games: This collection of resources provides fun, hands on ways to explore math in the early years using a tasty manipulative: Skittles candy! This is the perfect way for kids in Preschool to first grade to explore important topics such as sorting, counting, graphing, comparing quantities, addition and subtraction, shapes, patterns, estimation and more. Color and black and white versions are included.

Preschool Assessment Portfolio: Track a child’s yearly growth with this assessment portfolio designed for work samples and photographs.


Self-Awareness, Friends, & Family Bundled Unit Study: With at least two weeks worth of learning material focusing on “self”, family, friends, and a child’s life, this is a perfect introductory learning pack for the school year whether at home or in a traditional classroom.

Pet theme learning and activity pack: Each activity as its own instruction sheet on how to do and use that particular activity pack. There are 5+ pet themed activities plus variations on how to play and learn with each.

All About Apples Printable Learning Pack: A perfect early learning apple unit with math, literacy activities, logic puzzles and more!

Apple No Prep Math for Kindergarten:30 pages of no prep math for kindergarteners. Includes number sense, tally marks, graphing, simple addition, writing numbers, and more. And all with an Apple Theme!

Grade 1 – 2

Printable Alligator Math Game: Learning Greater Than, Less Than, and Equals with Alligator Math – kids have fun with the alligator mouth representing the less than and greater than signs.

8 Super Cool Dry Ice Experiments for Kids: 8 Super Cool Dry Ice Science Experiments contains breathtaking science experiments that will amaze kids ages 5 and up. All of the activities are suitable for the classroom or at home, for small groups or large classroom demonstrations alike and contain a printable worksheet that is meant to help students process the information they learn during each science experiment. Students will not only be blown away by these impressive projects, but they will also learn their first science lessons in changing states of matter, density, solubility, acids/bases, and pressure vs. temperature.

Fall ABC Order Literacy Center Sets: Kids can practice alphabetical order with these 4 hands-on, differentiated ABC Order literacy center sets and related worksheets. Includes 4 seasonal sets: Back to School, Cute Monsters, Thanksgiving, and Gingerbread Boy/Girl.

Mixed: Preschool to Grade 2

Six Traits Checklists and Rubrics: Help your students assess their own writing using the six traits checklists and six traits posters! A checklist is included for each trait with 4 questions for the students to answer about their writing. Page sized posters with REAL PICTURES are also included for each of the six traits!

Alphabet Posters: Your preschool and kindergarten students are going to LOVE Alphabet Picture Posters! This pack includes 26 posters that each contain a letter and several pictures that start with the given letter. There is a color version and black and white version.

Food and Nutrition Printables: With this pack children will gain crucial knowledge about nutrition and healthy foods, find out where our food comes from.

Drawing Based on Reading Comprehension: A great way to check for comprehension, practice reading as well as letting kids have fun drawing!

Initial Sound Booklets: Do you have a child who’s ready to learn his sounds but not sure where to start? Here’s a PDF of initial sound booklets that are super easy to assemble!

Crafts to Go: 100 Easy Crafts for Kids for all occasions – each with step by step instructions and supplies list.

Montessori inspired weather and water cycle printables: These Water Cycle and weather printables are perfect for creating hands on learning activities! You can use them to teach children about weather, including the water cycle. Practice fine motor activities with pin poking printables, or you can use them to practice tracing.

Fun Felt Busy Box Ideas: 14 Fun Felt Busy Box Ideas with templates to make for your young child or as a gift. These busy boxes are great for on-the-go-educational activities during traveling, waiting times or quiet time.

An Introduction to STEAM for Early Elementary: An introduction to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) for early Elementary. Includes three fun activities – making plastic toys from milk, exploring the senses, and bubble science, plus a coloring page, word search and crossword puzzle to learn vocabulary words.

100+ Word Problems: With over 100 word problems, these printables will help your students become confident solving word problems. The bright pages and fun topics get children excited about learning. The hands – on activities such as number lines, ten frames, and equation build number sense.

The Dice Games Activity Pack: The Dice Games Activity Pack contains 15 fun and engaging dice printables designed to get your child creating, moving, and exploring the world around them. From silly shakes to drawing shapes, these dice games are perfect for the classroom or for a fun after school activity.

Kids Yoga Class Ideas PDF Download: Fun and simple themes with monthly yoga poses and kids books recommendations! To spark your imagination, each monthly theme includes five yoga poses for kids and five recommended children’s books. This 31-page eBook is for teachers, parents, kids yoga teachers, caregivers, and health practitioners looking for simple, convenient ways to add yoga into your curriculum, classes, or home life. Age group: Toddlers to Early Primary, ages 3 to 8.

Alphabet Letter Sound Mats: These beginning alphabet letter sound mats contain images and mats for all of the alphabet letters. They are perfect for literacy centers. Just print, cut, laminate, add velcro and it is all ready! You will find 26 alphabet mats with six card slots.

Pancake Craftivities: Included are templates for two simple pancake craftivities (crafts + activities) celebrating making and enjoying pancakes! Students color, write about how they cook pancakes, and cut and glue the utensils and pocket to an apron. Then, students decorate pancakes with their favorite topping and write about what they like to eat on their pancakes.

I Know My Colors! Mini Folding Books Bundle: Learn all about colors with these cute, printable mini folding books! The I Know My Colors! Mini Folding Books Bundle includes 57 different books focusing on 11 colors: black, blue, brown, gray/grey, green, orange, pink, purple, red, white, and yellow. Read the books, color them, fill in the blanks with color words – there’s something to do for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners!

Montessori Inspired Dinosaur Printable Pack Bundle: This Montessori-inspired bundle includes includes 80 pages of language, math, science, culture, and music dinosaur themed activities for children.

Personal Space Social Skill Pack: This social skill pack is designed to reinforce concepts of personal space with kids in a fun way, using bright colorful aliens to illustrate the differences between being a space invader (aka showing bad personal space) and being a friend who shows good personal space.

Emotion Paper Doll Kit: Instead of dresses, this paper doll changes faces and exhibits a wide range of emotions! With the help of this kit, children develop the necessary vocabulary for expressing their emotions and learn to read the body language of their peers.

I Have, Who Has? Dinosaur Game Pack:  Fun I Have, Who Has? Dinosaur Game Pack with types of dinosaurs. Printable pack includes a game using photos of dinosaur models and another game using drawings of dinosaurs. Games can be used for cooperative play or competitive play for a variety of ages.

Superkids Sensory Break Cards for Busy Kids: These printable Superhero Brain Break and Sensory Break Cards are designed to help you lead your child(ren) through guided movements in between long periods of sitting. These are great for in between classes, church services, connecting flights, long driving stints and more! Plus, they’re all based around Superhero movements which makes them a ton of fun for kids!

BONUS Printables:

Back to School ABC Puzzle with Pete the Cat
School Bus Addition Mats
Planets Dice Game Printable
Leaf Identification Cards
Construction Truck Counting Mats
Letter A Printable Pack
Apple Theme Sight Word Game
Ultimate boredom buster
Autumn Vocabulary and Silhouette Match Cards
Back to School Themed I Spy Game
Get Ready For Kindergarten Checklist
Raccoon Do-a-Dot Printable and Resources for a Kissing Hand Unit


All of this ($360 value) for only $24.95

Get it before it’s gone!

Ultimate Back to School Bundle


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Back to School Activities for Preschool Teachers

If you are like me while searching Pinterest, you might be overwhelmed by all the back to school activities for preschool teachers. Each of my 17 plus years of back to schools has given me a better understanding for what works and what doesn’t. I know I will continue to learn as the years go on, always tweaking things.

Here is a collection of activities, books and songs that might be good choices for those first weeks of school. Some we have tried and loved, and others I have found on the internet and have added them to my list to try.

Remember to keep things simple so as not to overwhelm yourself or the children. Don’t add more until you are feel they are ready. Don’t be afraid to remove materials you realize they might not be ready for yet.



back to school activities for preschool teachers

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.


Back to School Activities for Preschool Teachers


circle painting




painting with sponges




toddler collage



  • Brush glue on paper and add rice for a collage.

  • Stamp paint on paper using blocks.

  • Fill a sensory table with foam letters.

  • Or how about putting pom poms in the sensory table?


preschool art



  • Use brayers instead of brushes for painting.


preschool painting




preschool counting



  • Make these cards for simple counting.


preschool literacy




preschool light table


  • Don’t have a light table? Make your own!



back to school preschool ideas


You can find even more back to school activities on my Pinterest board!


back to school activities for preschool teachers

More back-to-school resources for teachers:

The Best Resources for Preschool Teachers      guide for preschool teachers

Learn with Play post footer

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


How to Set Up a Preschool Classroom

Are you a new teacher who is wondering how to set up a preschool classroom? Or have you been in your setting for awhile and want to make some changes?

Six other early childhood educators and myself joined together in a classroom blog hop. We each put together a virtual tour of our environments. Scroll down to get the links to each tour!

How to set up a preschool classroom.

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I’ve had the privilege of touring several Reggio Emilia-inspired programs and fell in love with their attention to natural materials and lighting.

My co-teacher and I decided over a year ago to slowly transform our small classroom so that it contained more natural materials, earth tones, and warmth. We found some child-sized wood furniture and eventually got rid of most of the plastic and bright colors. This was part of our first transformation. We started collecting pieces from thrift stores and got the word out to our preschool families who were ready to donate wood toys.

We started our 2013-2014 school year with quite a few new additions, such as new area rugs, baskets, and sheers on the windows. By spring of 2014, we felt pretty good about how our classroom had changed, as you can see in these spring pictures.

Then, over the summer of 2014, I learned about Fairy Dust Teaching. I, along with some other preschool bloggers, decided to enroll in one of Sally Haughley’s Learning Spaces e-courses. I realized there was much more to learn about creating a classroom environment! School started a few weeks ago, and I made more changes. Some small, some a bit larger. And I’m not finished. I look at it as a process.

I thought I’d share where my classroom is at now, and how it is working with our 2 and 3 year olds.

How to Set Up a Preschool Classroom



When our children arrive, they find their name sticks on their circle time stools and place them in the name chart’s envelope.

preschool classroom tour

(This picture was taken before the children decorated the stick.) This is a great visual for the children to see who is in class and who is absent.

preschool classroom tour

To the right of our room as you enter is our reading and writing area. I love this space, and so do the children. You can see how we used to have it more blocked off last year. After taking Sally’s e-course and seeing all the wonderful Montessori, Reggio and Waldorf classrooms, we decided to open this space up. It welcomes the children as soon as they arrive. What a difference this has made!


preschool classroom tour

We also got a new cubby system that looks much better. Our 3 year olds each have their own cubby inside the classroom to put away any of their “dry work” – anything that is not wet. They learn quickly how to identify their names so they can find their cubby. It’s placed conveniently beside the doorway so the children remember to empty them when they are picked up at the end of the day. They love taking their work home! (We also have cubbies for each student in our hallway, but these are more for parent-communication and larger pieces of artwork that first needed to dry.)

preschool classroom tour

The bookshelf holds our journals and our memory books. Last year we realized we had the perfect spot for our light table, tucked in a little nook which once held our storage carts. This cozy area offers a place for children who would like some quiet time. (Note: this photo was taken before all the memory book binders arrived. The parents provide and bring in the binders on the first day of school.)

preschool classroom tour


Our block area is our noisiest part of the classroom, so it is at the opposite end of the reading and writing area. We once had this center sectioned off by separating it from the dramatic play area, but last year we realized that the children preferred it more open. By pushing the shelf against the wall, this area invited children to enter with ease and create large structures with plenty of room.

preschool classroom tour



We replaced plastic containers with wicker to hold toys and materials. We are always looking at design and texture when choosing and displaying pieces.

preschool classroom design

We tucked a small round table between the block area and dramatic play for our science center. We used to have a science shelf, which we loved, but when this table was given to us, we were fortunate it fit.

preschool classroom tour -science

Across from the block area is our dramatic play center. We removed the big plastic kitchen and replaced it with a wood stove and sink (not pictured). We love our dress up cart that we purchased over a decade ago! We change out what we hang on the hooks, depending on the theme.


preschool classroom tour - dramatic play

We love the displays of natural materials, along with books. Books are on display all over the room, not just in the reading area. We also prefer to use the children’s art for our walls rather than commercial posters. The canvas watercolor art was made by our summer camp children.

preschool classroom tour

One of the many details we saw in the Reggio-inspired classrooms was the use of wire and 3 dimensional art. This is a simple mobile made by our students over 4 years ago who delighted in threading buttons. I adore it, and move it all over the room.

preschool classroom tour

We want everything displayed in the classroom as meaningful as possible for the children. This birthday wall is most special! At the beginning of the year the children paint a birthday crown and all the crowns are displayed in birthday order. When the day comes to celebrate a birthday, the crown is removed for the child to proudly wear and take home. I will then replace the crown with a picture of the child wearing the crown. This lets the children see who has had a birthday and who is still waiting. It is one of the best visuals, and I got the idea from one of the Reggio-influenced classrooms that we visited many years ago. (The photo below shows the crowns before they were painted by the children. We also add labels with their names and birth dates.)

preschool classroom tour

Our classroom is small but efficient. We have had so many people tell us it feels much larger than it really is. If you peek into the classroom while children are present, it doesn’t feel the least bit crowded. Everything is open, and yet you get a feel for what each space is for.  Since the children are allowed to be wherever they want during centers time, it’s important that each space is inviting and organized. Materials are neatly displayed and the children are shown how to use and put them away. We work on this at the beginning of the year and keep modeling it, each and every day.


Related link:

The Best Resources for Preschool Teachers


Ready to see some more early childhood environments?


Over the past couple of months, I have gotten involved with a wonderful group of early childhood bloggers. Perhaps you recognize some (or all) of them? We decided to put together a classroom tour blog hop! Click on the links below to see how each educator put her own special touches on her environment!


Preschool Classroom Tour Blog Hop


Photo Credit


Classroom Tour Blog Hop Environments:

Katie at Preschool Inspirations
Jamie at Play to Learn Preschool
Darla at The Preschool Toolbox
Amy at Child Central Station
Mary Catherine at Fun-A-Day
Deborah at Teach Preschool

How to set up a preschool classroom.


 Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds



25 Favorite Preschool Learning Themes

Are you like I was, searching for themes that will work with preschoolers? Do you have stacks of notes with ideas but not sure where to go next? Take a deep breath. I am hoping to help you with this collection of 25 favorite preschool learning themes.

I have searched for the “perfect” preschool themes. I’ve redone our curriculum so many times during the 15+ years I’ve taught 3 year olds. Remember I had the same issue with our preschool classroom schedule? It’s HARD. But, dear teachers,  I bet you know this. That’s why you are searching.

The collection of preschool curriculum ideas I’m about to share has been used for several years now, and we love it. You could move some of the themes around a bit and it will still be effective. Or, if there’s a particular theme you really want to use that’s not in this list, just substitute one of my suggestions for that one.

Looking for theme packets that give you activity ideas and more? Scroll down towards the end of this post!

25 Learning Themes for Preschool

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Note: We usually do a different theme every week or every 2 weeks. However, if we see that the preschoolers are really into a particular theme, we will stay with it another week.

Please click on the photo for activities. The themes with no pictures means I have not created posts about them yet. (But, believe me, I’m working on it!)

25 Favorite Preschool Learning Themes



In September we start with just getting to know the classroom and our routine. We then move into “All About Me”. This is why you only see one theme this month.

All About Me
All about me theme



Apple Theme for Preschoolers 

pumpkin theme activities for preschoolers


Farm Activities for Preschoolers




thanksgiving craft ideas




Gingerbread Dramatic Play Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Easy Christmas Ideas for Little Kids



Ice and Snow

Hibernating Animals

Hibernation Theme Ideas
Day and Night



Post Office

post office dramatic play

valentines learning activities
Community Helpers



Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss Activities for Toddlers
St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick's Day Ideas

Easter Ideas for Kids



Caterpillars and Butterflies

Gardening Ideas for Kids - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds



Mother’s Day

mother's day ideas

Ocean Theme Activities

water activities for preschoolers - teaching 2 and 3 year olds

What about themes for toddlers?

For those of you wondering about our toddler themes, we pretty much use these same themes but make sure they are age appropriate.


Looking for more detailed theme activities? Check out these packets!


You can find more teacher posts in this collection:

teachers back to school information


Learning Themes for Preschoolers

Don’t forget to add signs to your learning centers!

preschool centers signs

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Dealing with Big Emotions in the Preschool Classroom

You get your classroom set up, everything is organized, you are ready for that first day of school. The children arrive and you smile as you watch them get to know each other. And then you hear a high-pitched scream. It completely startles you. There are big sobs. You are trying to figure out what happened, but the child just screams louder. You are dealing with big emotions in the preschool classroom and need the tools to calm this child.

I know because I’ve been there.

Dealing with Big Emotions in the Classroom

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Dealing with Big Emotions in the Preschool Classroom

Dealing with big emotions in the classroom has been part of my teaching life for years. I’ve had students go from happy to angry in what seemed like a second. I’ve had children who’ve cried a lot, always seeming to fall apart over different situations. I’ve had children with big worries that I wished I could soothe. I’ve had children who would shout at the top of their lungs when they didn’t get the toy they wanted. I’ve watched children have big meltdowns but had no idea what prompted them.

I’ve gone home exhausted, sometimes in tears. And I’ve received so many messages from parents and teachers who’ve asked for help, feeling the same way. They wished they knew why their children acted the way they did. They were desperate for answers.

Finally, there is a solution.

I’m so excited to be partnering with Dayna from Lemon Lime Adventures. She is helping me and so many other parents and educators get to the root of these behaviors.

Dayna is a national board certified educator who is now a stay-at-home mom of 3, one that deals with big emotions. She truly understand what we are going through. She’s lived it and has the tools to help! She wrote the popular post Top 10 Tips Every Parent of an Anxious Child Should Know. And now she has put together The Worries Workshop.


What is the Worries Workshop?

The Worries Workshop is a video e-course designed to show you how to easily understand your student’s behavior and implement calming strategies that work.

Starting with the very first lesson, the course provides the tools and strategies necessary to dig deeper to find the source of the worry. You will remain calm and help your student cope with his surroundings.

You will get 16 lessons that take less than 2 minutes.

You have lifetime access, so there’s no need to rush. You are busy. Dayna understands.

You will have a choice of 3 different plans.

There’s even a payment plan!

Oh, and teachers, Dayna will give you a certificate of hours!

Class starts March 13th and space is limited, so don’t miss out! Claim your spot now!


Dealing with Big Emotions in the Classroom


Related posts:

Separation Anxiety Tips for Toddlers and Preschoolers      Building Communication Skills with Preschoolers     Teaching Kindness in the Classroom



Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

Teaching kindness in the classroom is one of our most important jobs as teachers.

From the moment our toddlers start their school year, we are working on teaching them how to care for others. We start working on empathy. Young children are very egocentric, so it takes great work to help them recognize the needs of others.

But we work on it. Every single day. From the first day they arrive as toddlers until the last day of pre-kindergarten, when they are ready to move on to the big world of kindergarten. We are setting the stage for their future years.

It is THAT important.

Kind Classroom



This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Teaching kindness in the classroom

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about kindness. I was part of a kindness blog hop a few years back, where we all shared ways we have taught our young children how to be kind. I also shared how we focused on kindness during the Christmas season. But I honestly don’t think I can write enough on this topic. It is that near and dear to my heart.

I take these types of pictures often during our school year:


This photo shows how one child reached out to another. It felt so natural.

Recently one of my blogging friends, Anna from The Imagination Tree, created The Kindness Elves. They were part of our Christmas theme, as I mentioned earlier. When I learned that there was a teacher packet to go along with The Kindness Elves, as well as a new book, The Story of the Kindness Elves, I decided to add it to our curriculum.

Kind Classroom is an eBook packed full of helpful resources and printable materials for teachers using the Kindness Elves in their classrooms.

The Kindness Elves are the perfect addition to the classroom setting as they make wonderful mascots and are encouragers of kind and caring behaviour towards others.”


The Story of the Kindness Elves

In the clouds not too far above your home, live the teeny tiny Kindness Elves who spend their days making special kindness potions. One day they discover they need the help of some very special children on a very important kindness mission!”

I divided this beautiful book so it could be read during  3 days. I really wanted our young children to absorb how special these kindness elves were, and how they encouraged others to be kind. I was amazed at all the thoughtful comments my preschoolers gave!


Our Kindness Shelf

In the Kind Classroom ebook it’s suggested to create a kindness shelf. I placed our kindness elves and their home on the shelf, along with their book (The Story of the Kindness Elves).  I also added other kindness books and our kindness mailbox.


Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

During our centers time, I placed our kindness mailbox on a table, along with the kindness elves and heart-shaped paper, stickers, and pens.

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

Our preschoolers could not wait to write notes to each other and to their family members!

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

It warmed my heart to see that mailbox fill!

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

By the end of the week our preschoolers were very skilled at creating love notes.

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

They wrote so many notes to Sparkle and Pop that their mailbox got jammed.

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

We had to come up with another place to store our notes for the kindness elves. We found the perfect heart-shaped box.

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

I introduced our kindness stone during our circle time. I explained that when this stone is in our hands, we think good thoughts about someone else.

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

We say something kind about another friend in our classroom, and then we pass the kindness stone to the next child.

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

And when I saw 2 friends holding hands as we went our our letter hunt around the building, my heart was full.

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

This brought tears to my eyes, as I mentioned on my Instagram picture. This confirms why I love my job. I adore their tender hearts.


Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

And now there are NEW elves!

teaching kids to be kind

Introducing 8 new Kindness Elves Characters to the family, 4 in lovely pink clothes and another 4 in beautiful green. Aren’t they so sweet?


teaching kids to be kind


teaching kids to be kind


Simply head over to The Kindness Elves and place your pre-order over on the site of your favorite new colors and they will be sent out to you ASAP. Get all the details on the website!



Teaching Kindness in the Classroom


Want to create a kind classroom?

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

Related posts:

friendship activities for preschoolers      Fun play date activities for preschoolers      Building Communication Skills with Preschoolers


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds





Winter Activities for Preschool Circle Time

When planning winter activities for preschool circle time, we make sure to include kids songs, stories, and learning ideas. Circle time is a great way to help build language and social skills while also learning new concepts. Each day our preschoolers hear at least one story, sing songs and/or recite finger plays, have the opportunity to hold and flip though books, and have short discussions. Some days we also have one sharing person and we will also play a large group game or involve all the children in some sort of activity.

winter circle time ideas


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 


Are you planning your preschool winter curriculum? You will want to make sure to pin this as a resource!



Winter Activities for Preschool Circle Time

kids winter activities

Winter activities for circle time:



preschool winter books

Winter books to read at circle time:


More winter ideas:

Preschool Bear Theme   winter themed sensory table   winter learning activities

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Organizing Preschool Classroom Supplies

I am not an organizer. I want to be. I really do. But that is not my gift. Thank goodness other members of our teaching team are gifted at organizing preschool classroom supplies. In fact, in my 18 years of teaching,  this is the first time we are starting a school year completely organized.

It’s not as though we didn’t try in the past. Each August the teachers would meet, decide what needed to be pitched, and tried to put it all back nice and organized. But it never was quite right.

This year we finally got it! And wow, what a difference this is going to make this new school year.

Organizing Classroom Supplies

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.


Organizing Preschool Classroom Supplies

Our preschool resides in the basement of a church. We have a storage closet that all of our classrooms share. Even though we are lucky to have a decent sized storage room, it still felt cramped. In fact, often we had to pile materials on the floor because we didn’t have enough shelf space.

We also struggled every single year with organizing classroom supplies so that teachers could quickly find what they needed.

So, during our last few weeks of summer break we opened our storage room door….


classroom organization

And pulled everything out.

I will be honest. This made me very anxious. We only had 2 days to get this done.


classroom organization

But with everyone’s help, we got the shelves emptied.

classroom organization

And it all went into our classrooms, where we organized them.

Literacy, math, science, fine motor ….

classroom organization

We first put together our theme tubs. We have 4 different levels in our preschool. The 2 and 3 year olds are upstairs and we call them the juniors team. The 4 and 5 year olds are downstairs and we call them the pre-kindergarten team.

For most themes we put together 2 bins for each one – a bin for juniors and a bin for pre-kindergarten.  We labeled the outside of the clear containers and filled them.

classroom organization

classroom organization

And then they were placed back on the storage shelves, with September’s bins first and May’s bins last.

classroom organization

classroom organization

We also created bins for our cognitive activities such as shapes, colors, math, fine motor, language and literacy.


classroom organization

classroom organization

Our art supplies are in the next bay, with all of our paint and then assorted craft materials. The see-through containers make it so much easier to find what you are looking for!

classroom organization

Paper also has its own spot.

classroom organization

And then, each classroom has its own storage cabinet inside their room. This is ours. Our new assistant took on the challenge and completely organized it for us. I’ve never seen it so clean!

The baskets above the cabinet are where we keep extra clothing in case of accidents, spills, or just having a lot of fun with art materials!

classroom organization

So there you have it.

Our first day of school was today and it was a dream to be able to find what we were looking for in a matter of seconds!

Organizing Classroom Supplies


Looking for classroom supply labels that are ready to be downloaded and used today?

classroom supply labels

Organize your classroom supplies quickly and easily with these done-for-you printable labels!

More information: Printable Classroom Supply Labels

More ideas for teachers:

Preschool Learning Centers      Classroom DYI Ideas for Teachers      Preschool Classroom Schedule


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds