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Friday, May 31, 2019


I’m so excited about my June blog posts because it’s like passing on a lifetime to the next generation. You know I’ve been at this rodeo a LONG time, but before they put me out to the pasture, I want to keep all the ideas I’ve gleaned along the way alive and I want them available for you. I am a broken record saying, “THE WORLD KEEPS CHANGING, BUT CHILDREN ARE THE SAME.” The activities I used in my classroom years ago will still work for you today. You can call it circle time, or morning meeting, or anything you want, but the bottom line is it’s a special way to start your day.

What if someone says that circle time is a waste of time?

What would you respond? Do you really think it’s a waste of time? Most of us who have actually sat in a circle with our children to start the day realize it is MAGIC! It is the way to connect with your children, nurture your classroom family, develop social /emotional skills, and set the stage for the day. Since standards and skills are driving education, take a look at these skills that can be nurtured in a natural way at circle time.

Oral language– Children learn to feel comfortable talking in a group and expressing their thoughts and opinions. They also learn to listen to their classmates and respect their ideas.

Literacy skills– Alphabet songs, phonological awareness activities, choral reading, nursery rhymes, finger plays, daily message, and classroom print can be highlighted at circle time.

Math concepts– Talking about the calendar, counting the friends present, comparing sizes, or discussing shapes can be a meaningful part of circle time.

Executive function– As children learn to sit quietly and participate in a group they are developing self-regulation. There is also a beginning and an end to the routine.

Classroom management– This is a time when the teacher can reinforce simple skills, explain classroom activities, review the daily schedule, and model expectations.

Social skills– Learning to take turns and listen to classmates is expected in circle time. As children sing songs together or say rhymes or finger plays they can have fun with their friends. At this group time you can brainstorm classroom problems – tattling, hurting someone’s feelings, pushing in line, etc.

Emotional skills– In circle time all children can be accepted and valued for their individuality. Feelings that we are all different, but that’s O.K., are of primary focus.

Physical skills– Dances and movement songs release wiggles and oxygenate the brain. Cross-lateral activities activate the brain and get it ready to learn.

Science Social Studies– Talking about the weather, the leaves changing colors, the different ways families celebrate, classroom pets, and real events in the children’s world are meaningful topics at circle time. Specific themes and units of study can also be integrated into this large group time.

Fall in Love with Books- Circle time can be used for book walks, talks, themes, and bibliotherapy.


GET UNPLUGGED - Circle time should be a natural time when you look the children in their eyes and give them 100% of your attention. Let this be an AUTHENTIC time when it’s just YOU and the CHILDREN! Be in the moment!

Harvest These Ideas- Each class is different and unique. Get to know your kids and adapt activities to stimulate them and create interest.

Intentional Teaching– What’s the point? Think of your goals and objectives and then make a plan. What age do you teach? What is their skill level?

Balance – Integrate activities where children sit and then let them stand and wiggle. Sometimes they need to be quiet and listen, and sometimes they can be encouraged to talk.

Hands-on– Try to provide multi-sensory experiences to activate different pathways to the brain. Finger plays, movement songs, handshakes, and real objects will engage children more than watching a video.

Vary the stimulus– Yes, you want to have a basic routine to give children security and help them feel comfortable, but you need a little spark each day to keep them focused and curious.

Model, Model, Model! Children learn more from your actions than your words. Model sitting quietly, listening attentively when a child is talking, being enthusiastic with your facial expressions, and making the motions for the songs and finger plays.

Quit while you are ahead! Don’t make circle time too long! Start with 10-15 minutes and then extend it as the year goes along. They will let you know by their body language when they’ve had enough!

Follow a basic routine.

     Good Morning Song
     Morning Message/Review Schedule
     Calendar and Weather
     Pledge, Rules & Mantra
     Active - Skill Songs
     Concept Lesson – Theme

You might also want to highlight a different area of the curriculum each day of the week.

Marvelous Monday– Teach a new nursery rhyme or finger play. Practice it each day at circle time.

Terrific Tuesday– What’s in the news? Introduce social studies concepts of interest to the children. Discuss friendship and showing kindness. Brainstorm what to do about classroom behavior issues.

Wonderful Wednesday– Focus on oral language with show and tell, echo chants, and phonological awareness games.

Thrilling Thursday–
There’s always something interesting outside your classroom door that your children will be interested in. Each season brings new experiences and objects to observe.

Fabulous Friday– Just for fun! Play a silly game, have a dress up day (silly socks, shirt of favorite sports team, etc.), be DJ and play favorite songs, etc.

During the month of June I’m going to share some activities that I did in my classroom, as well as ideas teachers have shared with me over the years. Pick, choose, adapt, change, delete – they are free and they are yours to do as you will. My hope is that you’ll be a little more excited to start the new school year and have some fun as you make plans so EVERY DAY WILL BE THE BEST DAY EVER!