What’s the secret to making every circle time a smashing success? In today’s episode of Elevating Early Childhood I’m sharing my top 5 circle time essentials with you.
As you know, circle time is an essential part of every preschool classroom. Done right, it can be super fun and engaging!
But, there is one big obstacle between you and a successful circle time… Children’s short attention spans!
I’ve talked about this before, and yes, I’m about to circle back — excuse the pun — to it again this week, because if you want to have the perfect circle time, you need your students to pay attention.
How can you make sure that happens?
I answer this question (and more) in today’s episode, so tune in now!
Top 5 Circle Time Essentials for Preschool
One of the questions I get asked frequently is how I get my students to listen and pay attention during circle time.
It’s no secret that young children have short attention spans, and they like to blurt out a lot. But these two things shouldn’t keep you from having a successful circle time. You can have a highly engaging and effective one if you have the right ingredients.
And this is exactly why, today, I’ll be sharing my top five circle time essentials with you.
Circle Time Essentials: A Plastic Microphone
Years ago, I had a student named Ashley. Ashley was a very active and bright four year old. She was also an only child who was used to being the star of the show at home. And that meant that Ashley had trouble waiting for her turn during circle time.
The minute I would pull out a prop, she would leap out of her seat and lunge toward me to grab it. If I was reading a book out loud, Ashley would blurt out the story. And if I didn’t let her get her way, she would disrupt the entire class. She simply didn’t have enough self-control.
However, it all changed when I introduced a cheap, plastic microphone to my circle time. I started giving that microphone to my students when it was their turn to participate, and that helped Ashley learn to wait for her turn.
Tips for a Successful Circle Time: Homemade Props
Essential item number two is super cheap and easy. This is something my mentors showed me during my very first year of teaching public pre-k, and I’ve been using it ever since. And all you need for this item is some popsicle sticks and paper.
Here’s what happened when I had a student named Jaden in my class. Jaden had been in school since he was an infant. He was extremely well-behaved and bright, but he would get easily bored when I told stories. He would roll his eyes and say, “I heard that story in Miss Melissa’s class already.”
I tried everything I could to keep him interested, but nothing worked. Until I started using props made from popsicle sticks and paper – those were a real game-changer for Jayden.
You can make these props for frogs, butterflies, or anything else that has to do with your stories. To us, they might be just some sticks and a bit of paper, but to children, they’re magical. I would let them hold them and that would be the highlight of their day.
Preschool Circle Time Activities: Mystery Bag
Yes friends, my third essential item is a bag. I know what you’re probably thinking: “How is a bag going to help me keep my students interested in circle time, Vanessa?”
A bag might seem unexciting and uninteresting to us, but when used in a particular way during circle time, it’s the perfect way to gain your students’ attention.
Here’s how you can use it: Put some items in the bag that relate to the book you’re going to read or the topic that you’re introducing. The key is to do this before the children come into class, because if they see you doing it, it’s game over.
Then, when it’s time to read the story or introduce something, bring the bag out, show it to the students, and say “I wonder what could be inside this bag…” And then, slowly take out what’s in it, and make it interesting.
You could also invite the children to take turns and pull things out of the bag with their eyes closed. Anytime children have to close their eyes, it’s magical, because they think it’s special.
Circle Time Must Haves: A Class Puppet
My fourth ingredient is a class puppet. It could be an alligator, it could be a dog, it could be a dinosaur… it doesn’t matter. Because the teacher is the one who brings magic to the puppet, right?
Using your class puppet will create engagement, but it’s not going to make your circle time instantly better. Because it’s all about how you use the puppet. I don’t use the puppet for everything. Instead, it comes into circle time occasionally, and that’s what makes it special. Be sure to watch the video above to see a demo of how I use my puppet in the classroom.
Preschool Circle Time Games
My last ingredient is circle time games! Games are perfect for increasing engagement and expanding your students’ attention spans.
For examples of circle time games (and a more in depth discussion of all the other essentials) make sure to watch the video above!