10 tips for circletime in the preschool classroom

For every teacher you ask about how to run circle time, you will get a slightly different answer.

Today I want to share with you a little bit about our circletime process along with ten tips for making circletime more than just a routine experience but instead an engaging and interesting experience in the preschool classroom…

Ten Tips for Circletime in the Preschool Classroom by Teach Preschool

A Community Experience

In my classroom, circletime is a time when our students come together as a community of learners. As a community, we share our thoughts, listen to one another, actively participate together, introduce new concepts and ideas, read together, sing together, and build a sense of respect and support for one another…

Circletime Tip #1: Think of circletime as a way to foster a sense of community where everyone is a valued member of that community.

An Interactive Experience

When planning for circletime, I am always thinking of ways I can invite the kids to actively participate in the experience and not just be passive observers of the experience. An interactive experience means that the children are being invited to actively get involved. Whether it is simply passing an object around the circle to take a closer look, singing a song together, playing a game, or retelling a story the children are constantly being invited to interact with me, with one another, and with the materials I bring to the circletime experience…

Circletime tip #2: Make circletime an interactive experience by seeking out ways to keep your students actively involved in the circletime experience rather than passively sitting while you do all the talking. 

Ten Tips for Circletime in the Preschool Classroom by Teach Preschool

A Hands-On Experience

When planning for circletime, I also spend time gathering tools and materials that the children can physically touch and manipulate to further their understanding of a concept I hope to promote or introduce. By spending a few minutes working with simple tools and materials as a whole group, I am able to give guidance and insight to the children about the tools or materials and then confidently send them off to the centers later to work with the tools or materials in their own way…

Circletime tip #3: Gather tools and materials for the children to physically touch and manipulate during circletime. Make circletime a hands-on-and-do experience rather than just a hands-in-your-lap experience.

Ten Tips for Circletime in the Preschool Classroom by Teach Preschool

A Movement Experience

Throughout my circletime experiences, I make sure to integrate time for physical movement as well as time for sitting. To get the children moving, I tend to rely on lots of music and movement which means I have spent a lot of time learning songs and action rhymes that I can whip out anytime I need them.  Some of the music and movement actions may fit along with a book I am reading or a theme we are exploring and some of them may just be something the children love. Don’t get stuck on the idea that every music and movement activity has to be related to a letter of the week or some kind of theme. The better you and your students know the movements to a familiar song or action rhyme, the more confident you will be and the more engaged your students will be…

Circletime tip #4: Keep circletime fun and engaging by adding movement into the mix of your experience. Focus on developing your own rich library of music and movement songs or action rhymes that you can pull out and use anytime you need to get the children up and moving…

Ten tips for Circletime by Teach Preschool

A Read-Aloud Experience

The books we choose to read to our students is an absolute critical part of our circletime experience. Mrs. Courtney and I spend more time than I can express carefully reviewing the books we will share with our students. We are always considering whether the books will be engaging, interesting, age appropriate, and a bridge to other types of learning in our classroom. We also read the books on our own time and ahead of time so that we can be effective in how we read aloud to our students…

Circletime tip #5: Be selective and purposeful in the books you choose to read aloud to your students during circletime. Make sure the books you choose are a right fit for the age of children you are reading to and will be a book your students will enjoy. Spend time getting to know each book before reading it – you should have a good grasp on each page of the book and what approach you will take to reading the book well before you sit down to read it with your students.  

Ten Tips for Circletime by Teach Preschool

A Touching Experience

For just about every book we read, I try to find a simple way to put the story into the hands of the children. In other words, I look for something that the children can touch or feel or smell that takes the story from the page and puts it into the hands of the children. My goal is to give the children something that will help them connect with the story or remember the story…

Circletime tip #6: Make the circletime story more meaningful by giving the children something they can touch and hold. Choose simple objects that will spark conversation and help the children draw connections between the story and real life.

Ten tips for Circletime in the Preschool Classroom by Teach Preschool

A Visual Experience

 Not only do I want to provide objects for my students to touch but I want to also create a visual experience so that my students have something they can look at as we build on concepts or hold group discussions. To create a visual experience, I pull from a variety of materials or tools like a large group graph, flannel board, magnetic board, big books, and charts on a wall. For every visual, I am also visualizing how my students can participate or interact with the visual rather than just look at it. Perhaps they will guide me through a process or perhaps my students will participate by adding something to the visual but in any case, the challenge is to make the visual more than just a poster on the wall but instead an engaging part of the circletime experience.

Circletime tip #7: Keep preschoolers engaged in circletime by having different kinds of visuals that promote conversation and invite interaction.

A Responsive Experience

No matter what agenda I may have for circletime each day, I have to remain responsive to the needs and interests of my students. Taking a responsive approach to leading circletime can be challenging but it is by being responsive that I can tell when it is time to move on, slow down, do more, do less, get up an move, or sit down and listen. I try to be aware of how often I am telling my students to listen and wait versus how often I am reminding myself to be the one who needs to listen and wait. I try to balance what my own agenda actually is versus what my agenda should actually be…

Circletime tip #8: Be responsive to your students by being willing to modify your agenda to meet their needs and interests. 

A Routine Experience

We have a circletime routine that we pretty much follow which gives our students an order of  the things we will do during circletime. However, within our routine – the books, materials, tools, games, and other experiences (as described above) change each day. An example of our typical morning circletime routine would be…

  • Hello Song
  • Helper of the Day
  • Weather
  • Action Letters (phonics)
  • Book (along with any additional materials or tools for extending the book)
  • Interactive graphing, story telling, music and movement, and other experiences as already mentioned above.

Circletime tip #9: Having a circletime routine that the children can become familiar with helps the children to know what to expect and to be a more confident participant in the process. However, within any routine it is important to be responsive to the needs and interests of the children. If a routine is not working well, then it will be necessary to adapt, change, shorten, rearrange, or somehow modify the routine.

A Sensitive Experience

Above all else during circletime, I try to be sensitive of my students’ needs to have their ideas respected, heard, understood, and acted upon. Finding a balance between what I believe is best for the whole group experience versus taking the time out to listen to one child tell me a rather lengthy story about going to the beach isn’t easy to do. But I have learned that my role in the preschool classroom is to build my students’ confidence to share their ideas, seek understanding, and build knowledge. I have learned that to play the teaching role successfully, I have to remain sensitive to the needs of my students and stay aware of how my own responses affect their little hearts and minds.

Circletime tip #10:  Make sure that your approach to circletime and your handling of the children during circletime leads young children towards feeling confident in their knowledge and abilities.

Ten tips for Circletime by Teach Preschool

A Successful Experience

Ultimately, I want circletime to be a successful experience for my students. It is for this reason that I use the word experience in connection with the word circletime. After years of teaching, I have learned that circletime is more engaging to young children if it is built around simple, brief, interesting, and engaging experiences that invite conversation and interaction rather than being nothing but a sit-still-and-listen experience.  There are times during circletime that I ask the children to give me their very best attention but this is balanced with making my own effort to give them my very best effort and attention in return.

Ten tips for Circletime by Teach Preschool

If you have circletime tips to share that work well for you or if you have questions for me about our circletime experience, please do leave me a comment below and we will continue this discussion as you do…

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

 Free Activities from Dr. Jean Feldman

Circletime Songs that Teach by Nancy Kopman

Morning Message by Pre-K Pages

Using the Book Cover in Circletime by Teach Preschool


By |2018-11-30T00:36:57+00:00March 25th, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Malika Bourne March 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Ah, you make me miss teaching pre-school.
    My biggest challenge was teaching in a US pre-school owned by Asian people with different cultural standards. I would have at least 15 kiddos who did not speak English. My job was to help integrate them into
    american society and learn English.
    But the owners had a problem with understanding why pre-shoolers should not be sitting with no interaction while the teacher spoon fed the non moving kids.
    I am with the way you broke circle time down. thanks.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      No doubt about it that different cultural practices can have a strong influence lots of what goes on in any classroom!

  2. Sue Fromm March 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    One simple thing I have tried that has worked well is to allow kids a choice of laying on their tummies at booktime. Keeping in your own space and quiet feet requests are reminded at beginning , if needed. Seems to keeps them more comfortable and centered.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      I have a few students who almost always end up on their tummy during circletime and this is fine with me too. Sometimes it is just more comfortable than sitting like a pretzel!

  3. Kristina March 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this article! You are so inspiring as an early childhood educator, I just love your blog and all your ideas and experiences. I am new to teaching preschoolers and while I am just getting started in my formal education in this field, I find I am learning so much from my students (and from my own children) in how they relate and learn from what I am saying or doing. I find no circle time routine is ever the same on any given day as I sometimes have only 2 kids or 9 kids at one time. I know I need to work on flow within my circle time but do try to keep them all involved by asking them each a question and using it as a jump off for our discussions. I find in our circle time what has worked so far is the letter cans and color tubes with items inside that they can pick and writing the letter of the day on the chalk board. I hope to get a flannel board to use soon too.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm - Reply

      The fact that you are definitely being responsive to the number of students and what they find interesting is a great place to be Kristina! I hope you get a flannel board soon too:) You will put it to good use for sure!

  4. Kristen Meier March 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    We start our meningitis circle with brain gym. Gets the kids involved moving, and ready to focus. It works well for us!

    • Kristen Meier March 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm - Reply

      Woah sorry meeting time, not sure how that happened!

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2013 at 8:57 pm


    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2013 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      I haven’t heard of Brain Gym but this sounds like a great way to

        avoid meningitis

      start meeting time:)

      • Kristen Meier March 25, 2013 at 9:25 pm

        That’s what I get for trying to multitask! Brain gym has to do with doing movements that cross the midline of the body. The idea behind it is that crossing the midline of the body helps to connect the right and left sides of the brain. It is also supposed to help improve focus. For us it’s a relaxing start to our day and a way to get moving!

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2013 at 1:24 am

        Thanks for coming back and filling me in:)

  5. meg March 26, 2013 at 8:45 am - Reply

    I LOVE your site and all your excellent teaching ideas. I am an itinerant preschool speech pathologist and I have shared your website with my colleagues because it inspires me to continue ot be as creative as possible and to always think like a child. Thank you!!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2013 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you in return Meg for being so supportive! How fun to know that we are able to cross over into different disciplines of early development and inspire each other in the process!

  6. Lynn March 26, 2013 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Any special ideas for very large group circles? We sometimes have as many as 26 children at circle and even with 2 other teachers helping, it’s often hard to keep the group focused. What we eventually ended up doing is starting in the large group to do our good morning song, followed by a short discussion/meeting/movement activity (one, not all), then transition to three small groups for a more focused circle time.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2013 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Lynn,
      I have had up to 28 students in my previous classes and I found that I really had to be on my game. I had to really know my book, have a plan to keep us moving, not make the children sit still and wait on me or others all the time and use lots of music to transition the children smoothly throughout the process. If your small group circletime experience is working well, then perhaps you should stay with that. But if you are hoping to build a stronger whole group circletime then my best suggestion is to really know your stuff and be organized so that you can lead the children through the experience and keep them engaged in the experience. It’s kind of like entering a stage – once you get up there and the spotlight goes on, you have to shine or your audience will start throwing tomatoes because that is more fun:). If you are struggling to find a book or if you are singing a song that you don’t know very well or if you are stopping to every few minutes to deal with a child, then you will lose the children. If you are stopping along the way it should be because you are having genuine conversations with your students that lead to a positive whole group experience.

      I sure hope this helps. It would be so much easier to show you than it is to try and explain it to you! LOL!

  7. Kirstylee March 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    These are great tips. I especially love your tip about doing something hands on. That always makes such a huge difference for preschoolers, yet, I often forget to do it. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      It takes a bit of practice to get used to the idea but before you know it, you are always looking around trying to come up with something that makes circletime more hands on!

  8. Michele March 26, 2013 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    If only every child could have the preschool experience you promote!
    What is that interesting looking activity of the children using paint brushes on their shoes?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2013 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Michele,
      Thank you for the sweet comment. The paintbrushes went along with a book we read titled “Aint Gonna Paint No More” which you can read more about here: http://www.teachpreschool.org/2013/03/painting-designs-on-our-arms/ . To follow up our book, each child was given a paintbrush to sing along with this simple song…

      There’s a brush painting on my toe,
      There’s a brush painting on my toe,
      Oh no, oh gee, it’s painting on me,
      There’s a brush painting on my toe.

      (Repeat only change the word “toe” to other parts of the body. We went from toe to leg to knee to tummy to arms to neck to head. The child in the book pretty much paints each part of his body too so this is how we connected the book to the imaginary body painting song.

      This kids giggled lots along the way:)

  9. Caroline March 26, 2013 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I have been struggling a bit when it comes to circle time. I was wondering if going over the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and such everyday during circle time is a good idea because that’s what we do. Also how long should it be? Mine is about 20-30 min long.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2013 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Caroline,
      Lots of folks typically review each of those areas during circletime but I have purposely chosen to use circletime as an opportunity to introduce mostly new experiences and concepts and integrate the concepts of colors, numbers, shapes, and the alphabet throughout the classroom centers instead of using up circletime for this purpose. There is ample time to draw kids attention to these concepts through real and meaningful activities that will help them remember and relate to the concepts. I would say that if the children are clearly demonstrating that they have most of those concepts memorized or recognized then it is time to use the time that it takes doing other things that build on new ideas that interest and are meaningful to your students.

      As far as the length of circletime, let me quote myself from the post because it truly is my best answer. “No matter what agenda I may have for circletime each day, I have to remain responsive to the needs and interests of my students. Taking a responsive approach to leading circletime can be challenging but it is by being responsive that I can tell when it is time to move on, slow down, do more, do less, get up an move, or sit down and listen..”

      Circletime tip #8: Be responsive to your students by being willing to modify your agenda to meet their needs and interests.”

      In other words, it isn’t a set time that should govern your circletime experience but rather the ability to know your students well and what they can handle. If you are talking about turtles and the children are totally into it, then perhaps you will go a little longer that day in circletime but if your students are clearly giving you a signal that they are done, then you need to recognize that it is time to wind things up and move on.

      I sure hope that helps!

  10. Barbaral March 26, 2013 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Great post….as always!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Thank you Barbara:)

  11. Darla Hutson March 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Love this post! So many great suggestions…reposted. Thanks for ALL you do for your own students while sharing with others!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Thank you Darla:)

  12. Johanna Gillespie March 27, 2013 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I love these good sense tips!!! I am forever encouraging child care providers I come in contact with to follow your blog for great ideas and strategies! Can I use these tips in an upcoming local newsletter article siting you and your wonderful work as the source?


    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 27, 2013 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Of course Johanna:)

  13. Sara Beyer March 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    I am in my first year teaching preschool, and am still trying to get comfortable with altering my agenda at circle time, and learning to read the cues from the children. I have 17 children in one class and 12 in the other, and have 2-4 children in each group that misbehave regularly at the carpet (ok, not JUST the carpet!;) two of them have pretty severe behaviors that have to be dealt with during my teaching time. How do you keep the flow of carpet time going and keep the rest of the children’s attention when you are having to change course 2-3 times each day at the carpet to handle something like that? I have tried placing my parent helper for the day near those children, but sometimes that does not work, depending on the parent, and depending on the day. Something that works one day may not work the next. I am all new to this and sometimes feel like I’m failing the rest of the group (and the student misbehaving) when these things happen… I only have them for 2.5 hours a day, and I just want them to get as much out of that time as they can.

    I’m also wondering where you got your large white tray that you put items on at the carpet? We have a large rectangular carpet with designs and colored squares on it, and although its nice for defining personal space for the kids, it is too busy to put items on top of and have them be highly visible for the kids.

    Thanks for your expertise and inspiration that you share with us through your website and Facebook page. You help more than you know! 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Sara,
      Let me give your questions some thought (it’s a school night for me and I don’t want to rush my answer). As for the white board – This board is my magnetic board but I use it around the classroom for all sorts of purposes. You can see how I “made” this board here: http://www.teachpreschool.org/2012/08/diy-magnetic-board/

      I will get back with you asap!


      • Sara Beyer March 29, 2013 at 2:08 am

        Thank you! I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I have renewed my contract for next year, and I really want to get a handle on this so I have some tricks up my sleeve for next year! 🙂

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 24, 2013 at 1:16 am

        Hi Sara,
        I’m so sorry for taking such a long time to get back to you. I hope things are starting to get better for you during circletime. I thought about your question regarding managing the children who are misbehaving. It is always so tough for me to answer a question like this because I almost need to observe you and your classroom to give you the kinds of help you are looking for. What may work well for me may not work well for you for many reasons.

        But to give you some sort of support, here are a few thoughts…

        Do a little outside of circetime coaching for the kids that need that extra help. Trying to “fix” the issues during circletime only make circletime less inviting to everyone. During circletime, continue to lead the children though the experience and give them as many positive and fun opportunities to move, sing, stay connected with you as possible. Outside of circletime, have a private talk with the children who need it about how you really enjoy having them in your class and would love to see if he/she can really try hard to give you his/her very best attention. In other words, build a bond and a rapport with each of these children that fosters a kind of unspoken but real commitment between you and the child to work together and be a team. Follow up as needed and use your intuition to know when one of the children is going to lose it and head it off before it happens.

        One way to head it off early is to say – “Ooooh, we need to stop, reach up high, take a deep breath, now let it out slowly.” While you do, smile at the child that you need to bring back in but if he is coming back to you – then move on – don’t dwell.

        Most importantly is to really know what your students as a whole will find the most interesting and really build on this as best you can. Be fully prepared – think and visualize your circletime experience beforehand and know if what you are planning will really work or if you are headed towards disaster. Figure out how to modify and stay connected and above all – smile, even when you are feeling stressed. If you call a child’s name who is not looking at you or listening and he turns and looks at you, smile warmly and say “There you are, I was so worried I had lost you!” Then continue on. Break the tug of war with warmth and inviting tones of voice and language. Don’t use circletime as “lecture time” – always use circletime and a platform to build connections and community the best you can.

        If you are reading a story and you see trouble brewing, either have your parent helpers trained to know how to quietly and gently go over to the child to calm the behavior while you continue to read or scooch closer to the child that needs your touch for the moment to be drawn back into the experience but don’t stop reading the story – continue to keep the rest of the children engaged in your story like there is nothing else going on.

        There really is no perfect recipe that I can give you – just the encouragement to stay warm, be creative, and build connections with the kids all throughout the day.

        I hope something I have said helps you!

        PS. This may seem kind of off, but if you separate the children who are having behavior problems and that isn’t helping then try putting them together – to sit beside each other. This way, if you need to move closer – you only have to look or move in one direction rather than spreading the problem from one side of your circle to another.

  14. Amanda Mason March 29, 2013 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post! You definitely inspire 🙂 I am going to make myself a circle time checklist with your tips on it so that I can ask myself if I am making the most of these precious moments with the children? It really is my favorite time of the day, but I am often so wrapped up in the centers and making sure that everything is ready that I neglect to make circle time as meaningful as it could be. Thank you for your wonderful posts!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 30, 2013 at 12:34 am - Reply

      I too often get very focused on centers – it has taken me time and lots of trial and error to make circletime an amazing experience for my students and myself:)

  15. roxanne shives March 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    I found your page and was so interested on your circle time routine, I do have a question I hope you can help me with. In one of your post you said you use the concept of colors, shapes, numbers and letters in your classroom centers. My question is how do you incoperated in your centers? I have 3 and 4 year olds and I would love to put those concepts into my centers. I would appreciate it very much if you could help me, my other question is how can you teach letters and numbers in a fun way.? Our director wants us to not use tracing letters on paper instead come up with other ideas because they will learn to write in the pre k class. I really appreciate it any help you can give me. Thank you

  16. margaret April 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    Hi Deborah,

    I am wondering if you take time at circle to demonstrate what is happening at the centres, or if the children just explore and discover what to do once they get to the centres.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 24, 2013 at 12:47 am - Reply

      Hi Margaret,
      I am sorry to just now get back with you. We take a mini-tour of our classroom every morning after circletime to briefly go over what is out on our tables or to touch on any necessary guidance I think my students need from me. Then I give them all the freedom to go off and explore the centers and to translate my guidance in a way that makes sense to them. I hope that helps:)

  17. Misty April 10, 2013 at 12:28 am - Reply

    Great advice and tips! Thanks for sharing this with the ECE community.

  18. Miko Holt April 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    I love circle time. We actually have circle time at the end of the day. This includes reading, reiterating what we learned for the day. Talking about the day. Thank you for these useful tips! Very helpful!

  19. Grace May 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    I am getting ready to start homeschooling my daughter and I’ve seen many homeschool families start with circle time, which I never would have thought of. She is 3.5 years old and I will probably start preschool when she turns 4. Do you have any tips on doing circletime with only 1 child? I know that’s different. I love this post by the way. It helps me to understand what circletime is all about. I was really unsure about the whole thing because I have never experienced it first hand. Thanks.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 10, 2013 at 8:11 am - Reply

      Hi Grace,
      I am not so sure I can give you tips when it comes to having circletime with only one child since my main practice has always been with groups of children. But you might find this Circletime post helpful: http://carrotsareorange.com/circle-time-haves/

  20. Pam May 28, 2013 at 7:38 am - Reply

    I see some great ideas in your photos. Do you have another article or blog where you describe whats going on in each photo????

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 28, 2013 at 8:49 am - Reply

      Hi Pam,
      Most of these are photos from activities I have shared here on the blog but not all of them are. I would have to go back through and find each article. When I have the chance in the next day or so, I will add a link under each photo so that you and others can click to read more.

  21. Laura Corral July 24, 2013 at 12:43 am - Reply

    I love this article thank so much.

  22. Taiwo August 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your tips on Circle time,really helpful! I also discovered that giving Children special toys like a “Teddy Bear” to hold when they talk and ask them to pass it round while they wait their turns to hold it and talk also helps Circle time!! Yes Visuals play a vital role during Circle time too! Flashcards,picture Books etc help their imagination and link the teaching to what they are being taught to have a better knowledge in real life.

  23. Anna Andrews September 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Hello, I have a problem with my circle time now. Circle time is one of my favorite parts about teaching. However I find it really difficult now cause my director put two children in my class that just moved to the united states and speaks only spanish. we do have a spanish speaking teacher in another classroom, but her class is full.
    Now I do everything you mentioned above in my circle time, however since these two boys dont understand anything, they disrupt the whole circle time screaming loudly, playing, getting in other childrens faces, poking them, ect. What can I do? Thank You

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Anna,
      Working with children who have English as a second language requires understanding what their needs are and finding ways to successfully meet those needs. This post was not written with a language barrier in mind although I still think many of the suggestions could benefit any child. I would suggest that you talk to your other teacher to see what she recommends as to how to help manage, teach, invite, and encourage your two new students to be more integrated into your community and a more positive part of the overall classroom experience. As one can imagine, when you sit through anything that you don’t understand, it is simply not meaningful so we have to find a way to make every experience meaningful to each child.

      I also recommend you visit Language Castle and connect with Language Castle on Facebook or Twitter or through the blog to get suggestions from an expert. See the link here: http://languagecastle.com/wordpress/

  24. Kate Hardman September 16, 2013 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    I Love Everything You Say About Circle Time and I Do Try To Accomplish All Of These Things But I run into Certain Issues and I Haven’t Been Able To Figure Out A Solution. I Teach Preschool Age Children. This WIll Be My Fifth Year. My Circle Time Is Also My Morning Meeting Time And I Find It Difficult To Continue A Fun Activity For My Lesson After We Do Calendar AnD Weather BeEcause I Begin To Lose Them. And If I Do Continue With A Fun Activity For My LEsson After I Can Not, Nor Would I Expect Them To Sit For A Following Project. So I Find It Hard To Break Up My Day With All I Would Like Them TO Do And Still Be Sure THey Are Getting Free Choice Time In Centers ANd Outdoors. Help Me Please.
    Kate Head Teacher In Montrose Ny

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Kate,
      I cut waaaay back on my “morning meeting time” because I found that it was taking away from so many more meaningful things we could be doing. We do a very short helper of the day, the helper’s name and the weather and then move on to the book and all that goes along with it. I decided that spending time trying to get my preschoolers to remember a date or a month wasn’t nearly as important at this time in their life as the many other things we are doing. We do naturally talk about the date in other parts of our day such as when the children sign in as they come in the door. And we talk about today, yesterday, and tomorrow as we talk about our weather which they understand much more than what they see on a calendar. This was my personal preference to make this change and we are loving this choice. After we finish our morning circle, the children are then sent off to explore our centers and any project I have for them to do is hands on and integrated as part of the choices they have during center time. The projects can be done sitting or standing and at a pace they enjoy.

  25. Bonita Peake January 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    I love this article and I am going to try it in my class. I am in a class by myself with 11 two year olds. I have two boys that just want to climb/lay on the other children and each other all during the day, even outside. Do you have any suggestions to help me? I would really like your help.

  26. Lucy Williams February 19, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    I, too, am a new convert to your blog! I wish I would have found you when I first started teaching pre school 3 years ago…but hey, better late than never! You have answered so many of my questions, but I do have one that has not been addressed yet. Here is my situation. I teach Pre K 4 in an International School in China with one Para Professional. Most of my students are non native speakers. Also, most ride a bus in the morning and arrive anywhere between 7:45 and 8:20. Right now, they are allowed to choose special toys and play on the table tops until the whole group of 18 students are present. I really don’t like my circle time, so I am going to implement many of your ideas. However, how do you set up in invitations to play? Do you do circle time and then you have a helper set up the invitation to play? Our program is a full day program with a nap time of 1;45 mins. I am sure I will have so many more questions. Thank you for your time in answering this one.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 20, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Lucy,
      We set up the invitations before the children arrive to school. During the arrival time, we have simple tasks for the children to complete and then they sit down on the carpet and talk with me. We keep the morning arrival very simple and low key focusing on on building conversation.

      Some of our tasks include: sign in, question of the day, journals, and the children can play at light table and magnet board.

  27. […] learn from peers and develop friendships. Many of these apps and activities are perfect for circle time, too. Get inspired with these ClassTag teachers’ favorite brain breaks […]

  28. Joanne Lightfritz July 8, 2017 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    One of my favorite circle time activities that I do with my children is called – Build A Story. A child will pick out a prop, we talk about the item then we incorporate it into a story. I always start the story (prop in hand), then I pass it to the child next to me who adds on to the story, and so forth around the circle a few times until we have built a story with a beginning, middle and end. I write down what everyone says, then I type it up on pages of card stock for the children to illustrate each page. These stories get added to our library. I also copy them and give each student a copy of the story we built together. I do this activity once a month.

    • Deborah Stewart July 8, 2017 at 3:09 pm - Reply

      That is a FABULOUS idea Joanne! I may have to borrow that this year in my Prek class!

  29. Katie July 31, 2017 at 7:14 am - Reply

    How do you feel about linear calendars? I haven’t don’t a calendar for 2 years but felt like I needed to add more counting into my day. (We could while washing hands, and while we are in a line) I intend to use my linear calendar like this… Each day I will hide a number in the sign in book, the child who has the number will go put it on the space before circle time even begins. On one side I have a month and the other side I have the other month.
    Then once we are in circle time we will count and then the helper will spin the action wheel to see what action we will do as we count (jump…)
    We will also use it to talk about birthday, home days and other activities.

    • Deborah Stewart August 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Katie – There are opportunities to build student knowledge and recognition of numbers and counting all throughout the day. I like to use their short attention spans during morning greeting for building community and story telling and use the rest of the day for all the other concepts. However, I think what ever your students are loving and interacting with you at the moment is a great place to start so don’t jump ship if you are having success!

  30. Naghmeh August 3, 2017 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Hi Deborah,
    thanks for sharing your valuable experiences.
    I have a question, when your children enter the preschool, aren’t they attracted with other toys and plays than sitting on that square carpet listening to their teacher?
    I mean don’t they go around the class, playing.

    • Deborah Stewart August 6, 2017 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Naghmeh,
      Great question. When my students come in, we invite them to do other processes such as sign in, put things in their cubbies, answer our question of the day, and usually are sitting on the carpet with a simple activity for them to join us on. They naturally get the message that things on the table will wait for a bit and after our first week of school, they see the whole routine and get what the idea is. They learn so quickly and are so responsive when we provide a little guidance and encouragement but then give them LOTS of play time when morning circle is done.

  31. […] Teach Preschool – Ten Tips for Circletime […]

  32. SHILPI April 17, 2018 at 4:09 am - Reply

    Hi Deborah
    Great to read lots of ideas to be used during circle time. We are already incorporating many of these but some are new to us. Would start incorporating from tomorrow onwards……..
    One thing that we do in our circle time is to check the missing member/fellow friend. Then we sing a Get well Soon ….song for the unwell friend (if that is the case). This way they feel compassionate about their fellow friends. Also they make a Get Well Soon Card for their friend.
    Secondly we also sing HAPPY SONG to start with our circle time where all the kids along with the facilitator and class attendant greet each other in a loop in the form of a song with a smile on their face and twinkle in their eyes. This type of greeting fills their heart with happiness.

  33. […] time at the library, we knew she really struggled with sitting still. We anticipated that “circle time” at preschool would be a […]

  34. Tiffany K September 27, 2018 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Hi Deborah!
    This is very inspirational! Thank you! Where do I find the wide spiral notebook you have on your wall? I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find it?

  35. Rai October 5, 2018 at 8:21 am - Reply

    Hello Deborah!

    I love this website! You’re tips are very helpful! Quick question: What activitiy are you doing with the kids using color squares?? I’m doing a unit on colors with my preschoolers and I’d love to make circle time more interesting with an interactive activity like that one

  36. Jennifer December 21, 2018 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Your circle time looks so fun. Can you explain what you are doing in each of the pictures? I am curious about your actual routine. Thank you.

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