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5 Steps to a Problem Free Circle Time

Updated on August 31, 2017
JoannaBlackburn profile image

Joanna is a hands-on teacher, that has spent many years using the following activities. Her methods have kept children from falling behind.

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3 Simple Guidelines for Teachers

These guidelines are important for this method to work.

  • Do not force the children to come to circle time.
  • Do not force the children to sit still.
  • Keep your mind open to change.

Step 1- Start with a song

Children of all ages love to express themselves through singing and movement. The children love to hear the teacher sing, even if it's off key. The enjoy watching the teacher move around, even if its clumsy. If you can act out words, you can dance and so can the children.

Let me explain this with an example. Use 3 Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Jump when you say jump, fall to the floor when monkey's fall off the bed, gently hit your head on the floor and use your hand for the phone.

After Practice

After you have done this for a couple of weeks, add the hand sign for jump, and the hand sign for mother.

Start every circle time with this and the results will surprise you.

The Hand Sign for Mother


Step 2- Getting the children to sit down

This is a challenge for all teachers, but if you make it the children's choice to sit there will be no behavior problems. The key is simple Yoga. As you will see in this example.

After you have finished your song, sit down with your legs crossed. Then cross your arms across your chest, close your eyes, and hum. Every time you take a breath, open your eyes, then shut them and hum again. By the third time you open your eyes, the children will be doing the same thing you are.

Step 3- The Name Game

After you've done Yoga, then do the name game. Remember this is an activity for the children, so let them answer.

Put your hand on the head of a child and say, "What is her/his name?" When the children get it right, say "Wow, you guys are so smart". Then move on to the next child. Say, "What about her/his name?" after the children answer say, "You guys are on a roll. Let's see if you can keep it up?". For the next child say, "Okay, how about his /her name?" Do this through all of the children.

Let the children move around during this activity. It let's them burn some of their energy.

Step 4-Interactive Storytelling

Be prepared, have all of your props next to you or in a bag with in reach.

Give each child a puppet or a stuffed animal. Just make sure they have something to keep their hands busy.

Pick a book that the children can participate with. Dr. Seuss books are great for this. Make sure that each page has a key line that repeats throughout the book. Keep in mind it's not about getting to the end of the book, it's about participating during circle time.

Example of how to the book shown below

The book bundle that keeps on working

The Little Blue Box of Bright and Early Board Books by Dr. Seuss (Bright & Early Board Books(TM))
The Little Blue Box of Bright and Early Board Books by Dr. Seuss (Bright & Early Board Books(TM))

Hit the road reading with Dr. Seuss! Tucked inside this cute little blue box topped with a plastic handle and secured by a tuck closure are board book editions of the classic Dr. Seuss titles Hop on Pop; Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!; Ten Apples Up On Top!; and The Shape of Me and Other Stuff. Ideal for the holidays, new mothers, and happy occasions of all kinds, this is a literacy-nurturing gift that babies can literally sink their teeth into!


Dr. Seuss Books Work Wonders

The book I'm using is Green Eggs and Ham, this book is awesome for getting children involved with story time and sign language. The phrase that gets children excited is "Sam I Am". After only a couple of pages the children will start saying this phrase. When you come to this phrase, stop and cup your ear, then wait for them to say it. Even two year old can do this.

After a week of doing this, take a page that list several items, like box and fox, and use the hand sign for 3 words while saying them. Don't teach just use them. They will start using them.

Now the final thing to use with this method is your voice. Use two funny voices while reading. Even if you mess it up, the kids will be in tune with the story. Laugh when you mess up and start again. This is fun and the children will help you.

Then one day dress up and do the story. Help the children to dress up.

You can do this with almost any book. The collection above is a wonder group of books to have and use. I have used all of them with great success.

Below is a sign language book that was very useful when learning the hand signs for the stories. Take the time to learn some of the fun and unusual signs that can be done one handed.

Works great with young children

ABC Sign and Color: A Beginner's Book of American Sign Language (Dover Coloring Books)
ABC Sign and Color: A Beginner's Book of American Sign Language (Dover Coloring Books)

Clever and kid-friendly, this introduction to signing features whimsical illustrations to color as well as the basics of both American Sign Language (ASL) and the American Manual Alphabet for finger spelling words. Each page features a clear drawing of a hand letter sign and common words beginning with the letter. Includes signing tips and etiquette


Step 5 The Train Game (Part 1)

End with the train game. Do not make the children stand in a straight line, that take the learning out of it.

Example of how to do it:

"Okay, let's make a train." Stand up with your back to the children and wait for them to join you.

"All aboard the fun train."

Start shuffling forward, saying, "Chugga, Chugga, choo, choo." stop at the first center.

"What center is this? What do we do in this center?" Now let them answer, if someone says the right answer, point that out.

Step 5 (Part 2)

Do this all the way around the room, even when you come to the cubbies.

Like when you come to the block center, suggest that they can build a road or a dinosaur land. Then go to back to the library and do one last yoga move.

By doing this everyday, they will be telling you without you asking.

Add your own twist to this activity and make it your own fun.

Conclusion- What you just taught the children.

You just taught the children how to have a back and forth conversation.

You just taught them how to actively participate in group time.

You showed them how to appreciate books, stories, sharing and singing.

You gave them the ability to use actions, objects and ideas to represent other actions, objects and ideas.

And most important you showed them that they are capable of attempting everyday task and how to communicate in non-verbal ways.

Plus there are lots more early learning guidelines that you just completed with this circle time. You covered math, science, language arts, large motor, fine motor and social skills. So the next time you go to do your circle time think about what it teaches them.

© 2017 Joanna Blackburn

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