Are Two Year Olds too Young for Circle Time?

 

Are two years too young for circle time

Circle Time is a term we Early Childhood Educators use to describe a time in the day where we sit with the children and teach them a new concept. It often includes songs, stories and learning games. The concepts being taught might be counting to five or learning colour names.

So, are two year olds too young to sit for circle time? Yes and No. Some two years are not interested in joining into a group activity and others really want to be included. Songs and games need to be adapted to make them simple and straightforward for a two year old. Notice the youngest two year old doing Ring Around The Rosy backwards in the photo?  Walking in a circle AND holding hands requires some practice!  He needed a bit of help for the first few repetitions and then he enthusiastically took part again and again.

Mixed Age Daycare Group

If you have a mixed age group in your home daycare you can invite your two year olds into circle time when they seem interested.  It helps when the younger children observe the preschoolers during circle time.  Even if your toddlers don’t seem to be watching, they are still absorbing the norms of circle time.

Circle time is fun and the two year olds will soon want to come and check out what is going on after they finish their current exploration.  I always welcome my two year olds into my lap during circle time and slow the pace down for them.  They will sit and listen or participate at their level and then get up and leave when they are ready.

As they age, they gradually spend more and more time taking part in the activities of circle time.  This happens organically without extra prompting from me.  Younger children take their cues from you and the older kids. Most children want to be where the fun is happening!

Group of Two Year Olds

If your daycare group consists of all two years olds you can create a circle time routine that is custom made for this age category. Here are five points to keep in mind.

1. Keep it short

An appropriate circle time activity for two year olds is a little song with hand actions.  Start off with spontaneous circle times when you have the direct attention of one or two children. Sing the ‘Eensy Weensy Spider’ song to them with the fingerplay actions.  Then stop.  That’s it.  One song.  Most two year olds will be able to hold their focus to the end of the song but some will not.  If the child/dren seem very interested ask them if they want you to sing it again.

2. Repetition

Continue with this type of spontaneous circle time songs or rhymes throughout the week.  Repeat the same songs over and over again.  Soon the children will become familiar with the songs and they will join in while you sing.  Some might try to sing along, others will sway to the tune and others will make the hand movements.

3. Puppet or Prop

Once the children are used to your songs, add in a puppet.  Introducing a friendly looking puppet will capture the interest of the children who are more visual learners than auditory or kinaesthetic learners. The puppet can do Patty Cake with a child or count to three and then jump up high.

Two year olds like to feed puppets and engage with them.  A silly puppet covering his head with a cloth napkin or putting on a hat backwards is a great way to get two years old interested and giggling. The next time the puppet comes out, they will most likely flock to your side to watch him be silly.

Props are another good way to get two year olds together for short circle time. If your prop is something they can touch and explore then they are going to be interested.  Make sure the children can all participate right away or have a prop for each child.  This age group isn’t old enough to sit quietly and wait for a turn. Here is a group of my kids playing the drums on a pumpkin as I sing a Halloween song to them.

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I love finger plays and often use a felt board or finger puppets during circle time. Here I am wearing a yellow glove that has velcro on each finger.  Each finger puppet will stick to each finger of the glove.  These types of props are easy to make.  You can search my video links to see some fingerplays and poems for circle time.

circle

4. Snack Time can also be Circle Time

When you feel your two year olds are ready for a regular daily circle time start by pairing it with snack time.  Eating a snack while watching you will help those two year olds who wouldn’t normally be able to sit and listen to a whole song or a book.  Keep it short and light and fun.  Pretty soon, the children will look forward to your nursery rhymes and songs and will be asking for more.

This is when you can shift circle time to just before snack time.  You can invite the children to come to circle with a gathering song.  My little ones will come running when they hear me sing our circle time song because they know they are in for a fun 5 minutes!

Here is the song I use;

Let’s make a circle,

A circle big and round.

For when we have a circle,

No ending can be found.

*Video Link to this song and other circle time transition tips I use.

 

5. Use Pillows or Carpet Squares or Chairs

It helps young children to have something to sit on when they first experience circle time in a group.  I have used these coloured twister circles or pillows in the past.

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You can get free carpet squares (samples) at a carpet store that also work well. Having a designated space will really help the children understand that you want them to sit in one spot during circle time. It will take some children longer than others to master this skill but having an obvious spot for each child will help you avoid considerable conflict between children during circle time. When a child leaves the circle, and then returns, this can cause a shift in focus from you to the child that is moving around.  If the child has a clear spot to return to they will be able to slip into circle with less commotion.

These five tips will help your two year olds experience circle time as a positive time filled with excitement and fun. May your next circle time with your two year olds be a sing song adventure!

Comments

  1. I really enjoy your blog. You have wonderful ideas. I look forward to learning more from you 🙂

  2. Hi there… my kids (2y.o) sit on the small chairs (appropriate for this age) and not on the carpet during the circle time and I can keep their attention for 10-20 min..

    • HowToDaycare says

      Fantastic Olga. Thanks for sharing your experience! Many two year olds delight in sitting in child size chairs. 🙂 Jana

      • Don’t like the method of sitting on the floor especially for the main lesson. I think it’s hard to keep small kids on the carpet with crossed legs even for 10 min….

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