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Many Early Education teachers utilize circle time to bring the class together, educate and have fun all at the same time. It is a great time to introduce concepts such as days of the week, the calendar, and weather to toddlers.
You can use circle time in many other ways as well. Some teachers read books, sing songs, or even say poems together in circle time. The concepts introduced here involve name recognition, following direction, and matching. The world is your oyster with the educational opportunities you can explore during circle time! Use these activities and start thinking "inside the circle!"
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This circle time activity is a great way to have the children become involved with their attendance. The set up is simple and there are several variations that you could use depending on the materials you have available. Start with two boards. If you do not have two boards available, or space is a barrier, just have one board with a divider (such as tape) down the middle. You could use a cork board, a felt story board, or even cardboard. Have one of the boards state "Our Class," and the other "Who Is Here Today."
During the first week of school, or at orientation if you have one, take a picture of each child separately and have them developed. You could even use a throw away camera for this one specific purpose. Place their name under their picture using construction paper. Using tape, Velcro, or any other safe material, place all of the students' picture-name tags on the "Our Class" board.
Now you could have fun with attendance and strengthen name recognition at the same time!
Start with a poem such as:
Who’s here with us today?
Who is ready to learn and play?
(point to a couple of students)
How about _______________ (say a child’s name)?
Well then come and get your name!
Finally ask them to grab their picture-name tag when they are called during the poem. When they have their picture-name tag in hand have them place it on the “Who Is Here Today” board. Celebrate when the class attendance is gathered!
Not Hot Potato
This activity will help the students to learn their classmates’ names as well as follow direction. Use a ball or any object that can be easily passed from child to child. Ask the children to sit in a circle. Give one child the ball and ask that child by name to pass it to the child next to them. For example a teacher would give the ball to Sally and say “Sally pass the ball to Billy,” then “Billy pass the ball to Joey.” Continue this activity going around the circle. Although this activity seems easy, it will be a great educational opportunity for your students. This game should be played often because repetition is the key to skill development!
Match the Shapes Together!
Prior to this activity using construction paper, precut large shapes in different colors. Make two of each shape. During circle time give each child one shape. Make sure the matching shape is given to another student in the circle. Common shapes include: triangle, circle, square, heart, and star.
The concept of “sides” is usually too difficult for a toddler to grasp so a hexagon and a circle would appear similar to them. If you have a lot of students have the same shapes in different colors. If you have an odd number of students then join in the fun, so no child is left out. When everyone has their shape ask the children to find the matching shape that another child is holding. Have the children sit together and show the circle what they matched together! Gather all of the shapes, hand them out and play again!
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Once you have established a working circle time with your classroom you can explore other toddler circle time activities and supplemental circle time songs. Watch your class come together and enjoy learning. Circle time will become as important to your students as craft time, free time, and of course snack time!