Five Tips to Help Young Children Enjoy Circle Time

five tips to help circle time

Circle Time is when daycare providers sit with their children and introduce them to a new activity.  Traditionally the children will sit in a circle on the carpet. Common circle time activities involve singing songs, reading stories or playing counting games.

When we have a mixed-age daycare group it can be challenging for the younger children to sit still and enjoy circle time. I’ve discovered over the years these five tips work well to keep my youngest ones engaged and excited about circle time.

1. Prime Location

Give the child who has the shortest attention span the best spot in the circle. That spot may be in your lap, beside you or directly across from you depending on the activity.  Make sure that child feels like they can see the book or the felt board.

Young children will say they can’t see the pictures in a book when they really mean they would like to be close enough to touch the book. When you hear, “I can’t see!” move them closer to you and the book.  My younger kids know after I finish reading a story, they will have a chance to sit with the book on their own laps and study the pictures close up.lap2

2. Busy Fingers

Give your active kids something to hold in their laps, a small stuffed animal from the story, a felt number or a finger puppet. I always try to include objects that correspond with my circle time activity so I have something for my youngest to hold. Children with busy fingers find it easier to sit in one place.

My little ones love finger play poems. Many finger play rhymes involve the puppets flying away one by one.  My young ones love it when I hand them the puppets to hold as they fly away in the poem.
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3. Come and Go

Circle Time participation is voluntary at my home daycare.  I invite all the children to join circle when it begins by singing them our circle time song.  You can hear it here.  My group LOVES circle time because it is always lots of fun but sometimes I have new children who aren’t used to sitting and listening for an extended period of time.

My new children and younger ones can leave circle time whenever they want to and play quietly nearby.  This eliminates a child needing to act out behaviorally at circle time because they need to move their bodies.  Slowly a child will decide to spend more and more time with the group during circle time until they end up staying for the whole activity.
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4. Be the Leader

I involve the children in circle time by asking them to take part in leading the activity. They take turns choosing an action for our song or chiming in during a book reading.  Each child will lead the group in a silly dance or barnyard animal sound. The anticipation of being the next leader in the game helps children feel part of the action.  When kids contribute to a song or action they are drawn in with their whole being to the activity.
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5.  Use Mystery

I like to keep my circle time props and books covered in a basket beside me.  I purposefully keep my materials hidden until it is time to use them in the activity.

Little children love surprises and they will wait with big grins to see what book or puppet I have in my basket today. Bringing out one object at a time and keeping the rest hidden under the cloth works well to keep the children engaged in circle time.IMG_7712-resized

May your circle time be filled with many smiles.

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