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circle time activities for preschoolers

Preschool circle time is a great way for preschool teachers to teach children tools to engage with each other. If you need some ideas for circle time activities for preschoolers, you’ve come to the right place. It’s a great way for young children to learn social skills and develop personal relationships with the other children in their class or group.

Benefits of Circle Time Activities for Preschoolers

Circle time is a fun way to learn and expand:

  • Attention spans
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Self-esteem
  • Speaking and listening skills
  • Interpersonal skills and understanding
  • Communication skills

Best Circle Time Tips

  • A successful circle time can include circle time songs, fun games, story time, group discussion, musical instruments, and more!
  • There’s no one right way to do circle time, but it will be more successful the more familiar and repetitive it is for the kids so choose at least one activity that will be part of your daily routine.
  • Build around topics the kids are interested in
  • Use exercise and movement activities

I put together a list of fun circle time ideas for you for small and large group activities. You can use these ideas to create your own routine for an effective circle time with your preschoolers.

Fun and Engaging Circle Time Activities for Preschoolers

Circle Time Song Ideas

  1. Come to the Carpet (to transition into circle time)
  2. Circle Time Hello Song
  3. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  4. The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  5. Baa Baa Black Sheep
  6. So Long Now (to end circle time)

Bringing songs into circle time helps with the management of the group and helps children learn concepts through repetition. Songs are engaging and keep children’s attention, they also help get them ready for circle time lessons. When the welcome and goodbye songs are done repetitively, the children learn to associate them with a time of transition in their day which helps things run more smoothly. You can always introduce new songs in between the welcome and goodbye songs.

Circle Time Games and Activities

Review the calendar, weather, and week’s agenda

This is a simple way to begin teaching kids about the days of the week. Use interactive tools like a dry erase board or laminated calendar to show the kids’ their week. Let them ark off days that have passed and show them what’s coming up in their daily schedule and the week ahead.

Act the Emotion

This is a great activity for learning emotions. For props, you’ll just need simple drawings that depict different emotions. You can have the kids act out the emotions with their whole bodies or just their facial expressions. You can also have them do it as a group or take turns choosing emotions to act out.

Mystery Sensory Box

This guessing game is a great sensory activity for toddler circle time and it’s fun too! Kids will get lots of giggles from taking turns reaching into the box to try to guess what they are feeling inside. It’s an easy game that can be done with things you already have on hand.

I Spy

This game will help strengthen listening and observational skills. You won’t need any props, just choose an object that everyone in the circle can see and use one descriptive factor to start the guessing. “I spy something purple.” Let all the kids guess, one-by-one. If they’re struggling, add another descriptive factor such as shape or size.

Dance Freeze

Burn off some of that energy and improve listening skills with this circle time fun. This is a great opportunity for some exercise so encourage the kids to dance their little hearts out until you stop the music. When the music stops everyone has to freeze in their position. See how long everyone can stay frozen. When someone moves, start the music back up again. Play as many rounds as you want.

Pass the Movement

This fun game encourages listening, memory, and concentration. One person in the circle begins with a movement like nodding their head. The next nods their head and then adds another movement like waving their hand. Every time the movement passes to the next person, another movement is added. It becomes a big wave of movement. You can decide if someone is “out” if they miss a movement or if the wave starts over.

Animal Movement Game

Instead of asking “what sound does a cow make?” you can ask “how does a cow move?” This will encourage movement, physical participation, and fun! You can call out animal names and let the kids take turns acting out the movements.

Duck, Duck, Goose

Preschoolers love this classic game and it’s a good standby if you aren’t sure what else to do. Have everyone sit criss cross applesauce in a circle. One person begins as “it” and walks around the outside of the circle tapping each kids head saying, duck, duck, duck” as many times as they want and then they choose a new kid to be “it.” They will take that kid’s head and say “goose!” The “goose” will jump up and chase them around the circle and try to catch them before they sit down in the open spot they left. Whoever is left standing is “it” and repeats the “duck, duck, goose” process.

Songs with instructions

Play a song that has instructions like Shake the Sillies Out and just follow along. Kids will have a lot of fun with this one.

The Hokey Pokey

This is another classic game that kids love. It improves listening, following directions, and also gross motor skills and balance. You can use a recording of the song or just sing it yourself.

Read stories

If you’re looking for a way to wind everyone down after all the excitement, reading a story is a great option. Tell all the kids that it’s time to quiet down and be still for story time. Make sure you hold up the book and show them the pictures and use different fun voices for the characters in the book to make it extra entertaining.

Closing Circle Time Routine

Having a routine for closing circle time is important to draw the children’s attention to a new task after having all sorts of fun and being silly in circle time. Use calming activities at the end of your circle time, have the whole group make eye contact with you, and explain step by step what you’re about to transition into. Your beginning and ending of circle time, those transitions, are best repeated.

There are many different ways to use the true potential of this large group time, so get creative! This list will be a great start to a successful and fun learning experience for your preschooler.

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