Preschool circle time idea | Grab a spot

Preschool circle time idea | Grab a spot


I am so blessed each day by the folks over at  Teach Preschool on Facebook! They are always giving me great ideas and when I hear of something really cool, I like to try it out. A few months ago, we were sharing ideas for sitting in circletime and among the many wonderful ideas, this one really stood out as super fun…

I purchased a set of these colorful place mats from Target. They were actually sold individually but I loved them because of the solid colors and the material they were made from. I don’t know what you call this material but it reminds me of the mats you use under carpets to keep them from slipping. I bought red, blue, purple, green, orange, and yellow (way more than I actually needed)…

The idea is to keep the spots close to your circletime area and when you are ready for circletime to begin, you can say “Grab a Spot!” and invite the children to join you for circletime. Each child gets to sit on their own spot. Wy and I tried them out the other day and he loved sitting on the orange spot and the yellow spot…

And the purple spot…

And the green spot..

And the red spot…

Well you get the idea. When you are currently the only child in the room, you can choose any spot you like! The spots (placemats) are very light in weight so Wy was easily able to be a “Spot Helper” too. The spot helper can help pick up the spots or set them out. If the spots are already set out then you might want to change it up and say, “Choose a Spot” for the children to sit on.

Depending on the group of children, you would have to see whether “grabbing a spot” (letting the children pick their own spot and set it in the circle) or “choosing a spot” (putting the spots out ahead of time for the children to sit on) works better for you…

I don’t know if Target still has this particular line of placemats but any color of placemats should do nicely.  However, I do like the fact that these placemats don’t slip around on the floor. Now if you like this idea – go pick yourself up some spots! And if you needed one more “helping job”, add the Spot Helper to the list:)


  • Rachel Posted August 3, 2011 12:48 am

    What a great idea! I have tons of those from a party I hosted recently! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 12:51 am

    Yay Rachel – I love seeing things repourposed! Especially for preschool!

  • Shalyn Posted August 3, 2011 1:07 am

    Love that Wy loved the yellow spot….and the green spot….and the red spot….etc…
    I have two year old twins and I can just imagine them jumping from spot to spot to spot!
    Wonderful idea!

  • Leeanne A Posted August 3, 2011 7:12 am

    Love love love it!! It’s a must share! 🙂

  • sue fromm Posted August 3, 2011 7:18 am

    I have been collecting woven cloth placemats similar to rag rugs from garage sales this summer to use when preschool resumes. I found 12 of the same design and color , so could even stencil #’s on one side and colors on other for our three’s / fours or leave one side plain. Plus they are machine washable ……… you never know.

  • Alanna Kunz Posted August 3, 2011 7:40 am

    Great idea! I also used them as Yoga mats for 3-4yr. Preschoolers.

  • Country Fun Posted August 3, 2011 9:08 am

    Purchased mats are great. If you cannot find any and need the nonslip for safety check your local fabric store for yardage that is a used for placing under rugs to keep them from slipping. Have also seen packaged at local carpet store. It’s usually a dull white or gray and can be cut into any shape desired with regular scissors. Lasts years and can even be rolled up for storage.

  • [email protected] Posted August 3, 2011 10:52 am

    What an easy idea and so much better for storage than other ideas I have seen.

  • Laura Major Posted August 3, 2011 11:20 am

    What a fabulous idea! I never thought of using place mats for that! Dang Deborah, You Are Amazing! Way to think outside the box! <3

  • Tonya Posted August 3, 2011 11:22 am

    I have never thought of using them for this!!! What a great idea! A good game idea would be to take foam letters (not sticky back kind) and place on the spots or even numbers, They should stay for a game since the material doesn’t slip!

  • Andrea Posted August 3, 2011 11:25 am

    I love this idea, but last year I had it backfire when my students started fighting over who got what colour mat! If I try this again, I might buy only one colour, or maybe alternate what colours are out each day. I’ll have to think about that a bit more…

  • Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas Posted August 3, 2011 12:17 pm


    we did this in my preschool class and it was always a hit! The kids never had any trouble transitioning over to circle time because they loved coming over and grabbing their little mat and sitting down. We had a few situations over colors but they were easily resolved w/minimal tears. Overall it worked well enough that I used it for years (until I left and started teaching older grades w/kids in desks!)

    At my daughters preschool – they teachers do some really cute thing s. One idea is that each month they have a certain shape made of tape on their large carpet (for example a pumpkin in Oct. A tree in Dec A heart in Feb, etc…) and then they add little X’s (enough for each child) and the kids pick a spot that way. (Pre-K 3 class)

    Another idea is that they make an art project each month (large leaf, pumpkin, tree, snowflake, etc) that they paint/decorate and the teacher laminates and tapes to the carpet in a spot they pick. They rotate spots each month as they do their new craft. It was cute and they all got to move around and sit next to different people throughout the year but minimal to no fighting over where to sit each day bc it was already settled for the month. (Pre-K 4 class)

  • Savannah Posted August 3, 2011 2:26 pm

    What a great idea. We don’t have Target in Canada but I’ll have to keep my eyes out for something similar!

  • Scott Posted August 3, 2011 3:02 pm

    A while back I purchased place mats like these from the Dollar Store – they weren’t in these great bright colors though. Thanks for a great idea!

  • Gianne Posted August 3, 2011 5:01 pm

    Love this idea!!! How do you keep the kids from sitting “on top of each other”? Do you use other markers of some kind on the rug? Just wondering… Anyway, I also wanted to let you know that you inspired us to do some shaving cream play at the water table. Thanks so much for another great idea. I shared at my blog:

    Gianne at

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:19 pm

    Hi Gianne,
    I am so glad I was able to inspire you in some small way:) This makes my efforts all worth while! The children naturally space themselves out. I just ask them to place their spot in an empty space on the floor and have a seat on it. They catch on very quickly and need very little guidance. I do ask them to sit next to their friends rather than in front of their friends so they can all see the story or flannel board but sometimes, we have a few who scooch forward. If they get too excited and I need them to sit back down – I just say “oops – everyone needs to get back on their spot so we can get started again!”

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:20 pm

    You can use mats for all kinds of games too Scott! I know you will come up with some fun ideas:)

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:22 pm

    I am sure you can find something similar – it can be any shape too. On Facebook, someone told me that you can cut large sheets of foam too for the spots!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:22 pm

    Did you share this idea with me in the first place??? I love it and can’t wait to try all these great ideas. You are keeping me busy!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:24 pm

    Yes, color preference can be a big issue. This is why I have enough that if everyone wants the same color – we are good to go. I have a fairly small class right now but if it gets too big for this approach, I will have to rethink things a bit:)

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:25 pm

    I do plan to use them for games too. I actually used them once already for a sorting game since I have all the basic colors.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:26 pm

    Haha – Thank you for the laugh Laura:)

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:26 pm

    For sure – storage space is minimal!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:26 pm

    Terrific tips for everyone to read!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:27 pm

    Hmmm, I didn’t think of using them that way! That is a new idea to me:)

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:28 pm

    Oh how homey and beautiful! I like the idea of throwing them in the washing machine too. I think you can wash these on cold but I haven’t tried it yet.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:28 pm

    Thanks, thanks, thanks Leeaane:)

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 5:34 pm

    He loves them all! LOL!

  • Amanda Posted August 3, 2011 10:25 pm

    Hi. II like this idea, but in my class we use the yoge/fitness/gym cushions as I have a class of children with autism I fine they need to constantly move and with using the gym cushions they sit in one spot buyt can still rock or move their body slightly to enable them to have that physical sensation they often crave.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted August 3, 2011 11:09 pm

    This is good to know Amanda! Ideas like these definitely have to work for the children you teach.

  • Joy Posted February 5, 2012 9:03 pm

    This is a great idea. I teach 2 year olds in preschool. my “circle time carpet” (actually an oval but close enough) has animal pictures printed around the outside and letters printed toward the center. I ask my kids to pick a picture. generally the kids pick a picture and stick with it, i do however have kids that want whatever picture their friend frequently uses etc. Aside from placemats, dollar tree sells rolls of color shelf liner, you can cut it in any shape. also i’ve seen vinyl spots with the child’s name and picture on it.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted February 5, 2012 9:48 pm

    You have lots of good spot ideas!!

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