Powerful Circle Time Ideas for Fun and Interactive Sessions

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Powerful Circle Time Ideas for Fun and Interactive Sessions

Preschool circle time is not just a routine gathering of young children in a classroom; it is a powerful tool that nurtures their social, emotional, cognitive, and language development. This dedicated time for group interaction sets the stage for meaningful learning experiences and lays the foundation for a lifelong love of learning.

To make circle time truly impactful, it is crucial to create sessions that are both fun and interactive. Incorporating elements of play, music, movement, and hands-on activities can capture children's attention and keep them engaged throughout the session.

In this article, we'll cover the basics of circle time including the main benefits, ideas to keep your classroom engaged, and things to avoid.

What is circle time?

Circle time is a fundamental aspect of early childhood education that brings children together in a communal learning setting. During circle time, children gather in a circle or designated area to engage in a variety of activities that promote social interaction, learning, and the development of essential skills. 

Creating a special area helps establish a routine and a sense of structure for children, enhancing their engagement, social interaction, and overall learning experience during circle time. The most common and traditional location for circle time is a designated area in the classroom that often consists of a large carpet or rug arranged in a circular shape where children can sit comfortably. It may be adorned with colorful cushions or mats to create a cozy and inviting space. You can also consider having circle time in your class reading corner or library or even take circle time outside if weather permits. 

Overall, circle time serves as a time for connection, communication, and collaboration, where children can participate in group discussions, sing songs, listen to stories, play games, and practice social-emotional skills .

Preschool children sit on a circular rug with their teacher. They are wiggling their fingers in the center of the circle.

The benefits of preschool circle time

Preschool circle time is a precious opportunity to engage young learners, foster their development, and ignite their curiosity. This simple activity offers plenty of benefits to children and plays a crucial role in their overall development.  

Promotes social-emotional development

Circle time provides a structured environment where children can develop crucial social-emotional skills . By participating in group discussions, sharing experiences, and taking turns, children learn how to interact with their peers, express themselves, and build meaningful connections. Circle time also fosters emotional development by creating a safe and inclusive space where children can freely express their thoughts and feelings.

Increases language and communication skills

Circle time offers numerous opportunities for language development . Through songs, stories, and conversations, children are exposed to new vocabulary, sentence structures, and communication strategies. They learn how to listen actively, follow instructions, and engage in meaningful dialogue, all of which are essential for effective communication both during their preschool years and beyond.

Stimulates cognitive growth

Preschool circle time activities introduce children to important concepts such as numbers, letters, shapes, colors, and more. Through interactive activities and visual aids, children engage their senses and make connections between new information and their existing knowledge. This cognitive stimulation promotes curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, laying the foundation for future academic success.

Creates a sense of community and routine

Circle time provides a consistent routine that promotes a sense of security and belonging. By participating in the same activities daily or weekly, children develop an understanding of expectations and become more comfortable within the classroom environment. This routine also helps children develop self-regulation skills as they learn to transition between different activities smoothly.

Builds confidence

Circle time encourages active participation and gives children opportunities to showcase their abilities and achievements. Whether it's singing a solo, or sharing a personal item with the class, children gain confidence in their abilities and develop a positive self-image. This confidence extends beyond circle time and positively impacts their overall growth and development.

Preschool children sitting in a circle inside the classroom

Circle time activities for preschoolers

If you hold circle time regularly, you’ll likely notice children have trouble staying focused. They may begin to play with toys, fidget, or not pay attention during circle time. This is pretty normal, as preschool children can only stay focused for about 10-12 minutes. 

To keep your children engaged, rethink your current circle time structure. The intention for circle time is for children to learn while focusing on an activity. If you’re losing their interest, the session might not be interactive enough.

Assess your circle time’s structure to better appeal to each child’s attention span. Switch out the activities you use or the length of the session to ensure children remain engaged. Activities like reading books, singing songs, and having short discussions can help instill social and self-regulation skills. Remember that circle time is supposed to be short and fun. 

Here are some other circle time ideas you can use to make each session engaging: 

1. Set circle time rules

You can introduce circle time to your children with this activity. Explain what circle time is, then ask them for any rules they believe should apply to the activity. They’ll be more likely to remember the rules if they’re able to participate in making them.

Here are some circle time rules to consider:

  • To value everyone’s contribution without putting any member down
  • To raise up their hands when they want to speak
  • To not interrupt anyone when they are talking
  • To take turns at all times
  • To be allowed to pass if they don’t feel like speaking

2. Play a musical game

Try a singing a song with your class or playing a musical game to capture your children's attention. A song like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, incorporates song, movement, and action, and children can sing this song and move their bodies before the next circle time activity.

Other musical games could involve clapping along to a beat, making animal noises, stomping feet, or freezing when the music stops.

Preschool circle sitting in a circle outside, clapping their hands.

3. Review the day’s activities 

You can use circle time at the end of the school day to reflect on what children learned. For example, you can have children take turns sharing their favorite part of the day. This can help children retain information from previous lessons, give you insights into what activities were engaging, and help children practice their expressive language skills .

You can also use this time to prepare children for the next day's activities. This can help reinforce your classroom routines and expectations, setting children up for successful learning experiences.

4. Read books

Storytime is a very popular circle time activity. While it may seem simple, reading out loud has major benefits for children's language and cognitive skills. Reading to children exposes them to new vocabulary, sentence structures, and storytelling techniques.

Reading aloud also sparks imagination and creativity in preschoolers, transporting them to different worlds and introducing them to diverse characters and experiences. The bonding experience created during read-aloud sessions also fosters strong emotional connections between caregivers, educators, and children, promoting social and emotional development.

5. Introduce a short thematic lesson with props

To grab the children’s attention, hold an object or give them something tangible to use. For example, provide a magnifying glass and a live insect like a grasshopper if you're teaching about insects. They’ll actively take turns looking at the grasshopper to view and identify the different parts.

If you are teaching an alphabet theme, prepare a box with objects and ask the children to identify the letter associated with each object (for example, “s” for “spoon” ). They can also select objects from the box and show them to the class as they identify them.  

An alternative activity is to practice taking turns and sharing. For this session, instruct the children to pass toys around the circle. Whoever has the toy will share something like a story or a thought. This activity can foster communication and social-emotional skills.

6. Encourage dramatic play

Dramatic or pretend play empowers children with creative thinking skills. Ask them to replicate animal noises, role play a visit to a grocery store, or imagine the rug they are sitting on is a boat surrounded by water. 

Introducing a dramatic scenario for your circle time can be a welcome change for your children and encourage their imagination and self-expression. 

7. Increase interaction with hands-on activities

For preschoolers, learning is hands-on. The more they discover, move, run around, or experiment during structured activities, the more engaged they become. Find ways to make circle time activities a whole-body experience for the children. For example, use props to teach concepts, and make storytime interactive.

Children seated in a circle playing

Circle time best practices

In order to make the most out of circle time, it is essential to implement effective best practices that engage preschoolers and create a positive learning environment. Here are our tips to try in your classroom.

Pick a “go-to” movement, activity, or song

Select a “go-to” circle time activity, song, or movement that quickly grabs and keeps children’s attention. This should be an activity or song they’re already familiar with and have shown some preference for. 

Use this activity to reorient your class when they start losing focus. Sing the first verse of the song, or encourage the children to participate in the activity for a few seconds. 

Always have a learning goal in mind

As a teacher, you have an important role in shaping your children's shared learning experiences. Therefore, you must set a goal for circle time before engaging them in any conversation or activity.

Having a goal will help you anticipate problems as they occur and redirect the children’s focus with meaningful responses or questions. Before starting a circle time session, consider what you want the children to learn from the session and how you want them to feel afterward.

Stick to the time

Remember that children’s attention spans are limited; they can only handle so much activity before they lose focus. For instance, if you have circle time in the morning before the children have their morning snack, consider moving it to after snack time. Always adjust the schedule to when the children seem ready and willing.

Do not allow the circle time session to extend longer than usual. Plan your circle time activities based on the attention span of your class.

Build a routine

Children learn better when they know what to expect. Organize your circle time around a consistent structure they can adjust to and keep a consistent flow. This could include having circle time at the same time each day or starting every circle time with a familiar activity or song.

Use transition techniques 

Circle time isn’t always smooth sailing. Some days will seem easier than others, especially if children become distracted or cranky. 

Transition activities can make it easy to switch from a previous activity to circle time. Create a balance between the active and passive circle time activities. Try a hopping and counting game, singing a song, playing “Simon Says”, or starting a conversation.

Teacher seated reading for children a story book

Things to avoid during circle time

When it comes to preschool circle time, it is important to be mindful of certain things that may hinder the effectiveness of the session.

  • Avoid rigid lesson plans. Observe the children’s attention spans and tailor circle time to this. If you notice their focus waning, introduce a transition technique that will help bring them back to circle time. Make the most of circle time by carrying it out according to their capacity levels.
  • Designating seats or sitting spots for the children. Allow children to decide where to sit and maybe make suggestions according to their choices.
  • Leaving circle time to talk to a colleague or parent. This practice not only disrupts your session with the children, it can be distracting. In the end, it will be more challenging to have them re-focus on the activity and could affect consequent circle time sessions.
  • Using threats or rewards to get the children’s attention. These are inappropriate and ineffective behavior management tools. The children might believe that circle time is not necessarily an enjoyable activity but something they must do.

Frequently asked questions 

How long is preschool circle time.

Preschool children can’t stay focused for long. To get them to participate in circle time, limit the sessions to no more than 10 minutes. You’ll see that your time spent with the children will be interactive and valuable if done correctly.

How can I structure my circle time sessions?

First, establish a consistent routine for your circle time. This includes starting and ending circle time at the same time each day, using a familiar opening activity or song to signal the beginning, and having a clear transition to the next activity. Second, keep the duration of circle time appropriate for young learners. Shorter sessions of about 10 minutes work well to maintain engagement and prevent restlessness.

Additionally, incorporating a variety of interactive activities such as storytelling, songs, movement, and hands-on participation helps to keep children actively involved and interested. Provide visual aids and props to aid understanding and enhance learning during circle time. By structuring circle time in these ways, preschool teachers can create an engaging and effective learning environment.

What happens during circle time preschool activities?

During preschool circle time, children come together as a group to engage in various activities that promote learning, social interaction, and overall development. The session typically begins with a warm-up activity or song to help transition into the circle. The teacher then leads discussions on a range of topics, such as letters, numbers, shapes, colors, seasons, or themes related to current lessons.

Circle time often includes interactive storytelling, where children listen to stories and participate by answering questions, making predictions, or acting out parts of the story. Song and movement activities, such as fingerplays and action songs, are also incorporated to promote gross motor skills and encourage active participation. Circle time provides an opportunity for children to share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences with their peers, fostering communication and language development. Overall, preschool circle time serves as a platform for structured learning, socialization, and fostering a sense of community within the classroom.

Final thoughts

Preschool circle time plays a vital role in the development of young learners. It provides an engaging space for social interactions, learning, and community building within the classroom. By incorporating interactive activities, establishing a consistent routine, and keeping the duration appropriate, teachers can create a positive and effective circle time experience.

Through circle time, children develop essential skills such as communication, listening, turn-taking, and cooperation while also fostering a love for learning. Ultimately, preschool circle time sets a strong foundation for academic success and overall growth, making it an invaluable component of an early education classroom.

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25 Fun Literacy Activities for Preschoolers

By Callie Malvik on 03/29/2021

literacy circle time activities

“Literacy is more than just learning to read,” says Mary Muhs, dean of the Rasmussen University School of Education. “It also includes how children interpret and understand what is being read, as well as writing skills and composition. Literacy skills do not just develop overnight.”

"Literacy skills do not just develop overnight."

Muhs emphasizes the importance of building the framework for literacy in preschool and even before then. “If we start early and build on a child’s experience as they grow, they will not only be able to read and write but also love to read and write.”

You understand the importance of mixing in preschool learning activities with the usual fun and games, but who says you can’t do both at once? We scoured the internet to find the best literacy activities for preschoolers to add to your arsenal.

25 Entertaining and educational language activities for preschoolers

The key to instilling a love of learning in little ones is by disguising it with plenty of fun! Bookmark this list for a rainy day, and you’ll always have an entertaining and educational activity ready when you need it.

1. Kick the letter cup

This pre-K activity suggested by Fun Learning for Kids combines letters with sports. Take a stack of plastic cups, and write a single letter on each. Then line the cups up in a row, spreading them out a bit. Give your child a small soccer ball (or any soft ball), and instruct them to kick the ball toward the letter cups. Once they knock a cup down, instruct them to say the name of the letter on the cup. For a more advanced version, say a letter first, and see if they can aim for the corresponding cup.

2. Color sorting letters

Practice colors and letters together with this preschool activity from No Time for Flashcards . All you need is a printable rainbow , some colored label stickers and a marker. Use the marker to write one letter on each circle sticker. Give the child the sticker sheet, and instruct them to peel off each sticker, say the letter and stick it onto the part of the rainbow with the matching color. This helps little ones work on letter recognition, color discrimination and fine motor skills.

3. Alphabet pillow jumping

If your kiddos need to burn off some energy, this letter activity from Toddler Approved will be perfect. Use a stack of paper plates, and write one giant letter on each one. Then use packing tape to secure each plate to a pillow and spread them around the room. Have the kids start on one side of the room and try to jump to the other without touching the floor. As they jump to each new pillow, have them say the letter or letter sound.

4. Connect-the-dots with letters

Hands on as We Grow  came up with a letter familiarity activity that will get your little ones moving and their creative juices flowing. Good, old connect-the-dots gets revamped when you write a handful of repeating letters in random patterns down a length of butcher’s paper. Kids can connect the letters in any way they like so long as all of the G ’s are connected to the other G ’s and so on.

5. Alphabet knock down

Toddler Approved  came up with this fantastic letter recognition game, especially recommended for kids who love knocking things over. The preparation is minimal and only requires a pool noodle, some popsicle sticks and letter stickers. Once you’ve made the letters on their pool-noodle feet, give your child a ball, call out a letter and see if they can knock it down!

6. Children’s book in a bottle

Storytime has a hands-on element with Deborah J. Stewart’s discovery bottles activity. These cheap and completely customizable literacy tools could be thrown together in an afternoon as a kinesthetic addition to your kids’ favorite stories. Stewart has her students pass the bottle around while she reads them a story in class. She reports that the bottles keep her students calm while engaging more of their attention in the story. Her post on  Teach Preschool  includes directions, materials and even pictures for easy reference.

7. Crocodile circle

Picture a bin with a crocodile face on top, filled with letters and surprise cards. Students pass the crocodile around the circle singing  Crocodile, crocodile down by lake; I’m going to reach right in and see what (letter) you ate . The student holding the crocodile then pulls a letter and calls it out. Extra surprise cards can let you repeat a turn, reverse directions or anything else you want to include.  Making Learning Fun  includes directions and free printables to make things easy.

8. Feather tip salt tray writing

The title of this activity explains it all. Children get to write (letters, numbers or whole words) in their own tray of salt with a feather tip! Fantastic for motor skill development, this sensory writing experience from  Teach Preschool  will disguise writing practice as playtime. Be sure to give your students some time to explore the salt tray before their task to minimize confusion.

9. Alphabet ball

All you need for this literacy activity from Playdough to Plato is a beach ball and a sharpie. Simply write letters on the beach ball, spreading them out on all sides. To play the game, have the child (or group of kids) throw the ball up in the air and identify whatever letter is facing them when they catch it. For a more advanced version, have them say the sound or a word that begins with the letter.

10. Magic letter painting

Grab some white note cards, a white wax crayon, some watercolor paints and paint brushes for this activity from Mas & Pas . Use the crayon to write letters on the note cards (you’ll need to press firmly to make the “magic” work.) Give your kiddos some paint and brushes, and tell them to begin painting over the card. Watch their eyes light up when a magic letter is revealed! Ask them what letter it is and what sound it makes.

11. Letter matching archeology game

The perfect accompaniment to a dinosaur-themed unit, this activity from  How Wee Learn  allows students to practice letter recognition while playing “archeologist.” Drop a few magnetic letters onto a cookie sheet, writing the letters you chose on a piece of paper for your students to use as a key. Cover the letters in flour, and give the kids a makeup brush to carefully “search the site” for hidden letters. When they find one, they must match it to their paper key before continuing the hunt.

12. Mini alphabet sensory bins

This one is especially suited for a classroom environment and could be a staple setup in any preschool teacher’s arsenal.  Little Bins for Little Hands  gives the classic sensory bins a twist by using objects that all start with the same letter. Tape the letter on the front of each box, or let the kids guess the letter as they examine the objects. Either way, these sensory bins transform a fun, hands-on play activity into a literacy lesson.

13. Snowball throw alphabet game

Paper, tape and ping-pong balls are all you need for this game of “snowball” throwing from  Mom Inspired Life . Tape a bunch of letters to a wall, call out the sounds and have your kids throw the snowball at the letter represented. As an added bonus, kids get to work on their coordination as well as their alphabet.

14. Fingerprint letters

Your little finger-paint lovers will enjoy this letter activity from Happy Toddler Playtime . You’ll need a washable ink pad, paper and a marker. Start by writing large letters spread out on the paper. Then instruct your child to dip their finger on the ink pad and make fingerprints along each letter. This is a great way for little ones to start recognizing letter shapes even if they can’t quite trace with a pencil.

15. Number match-slap game

A deck of cards and some duct tape can transform any wall into a correspondence and number recognition system.  Hands on as We Grow  came up with this activity for preschoolers to “slap” a pre-taped card to its matching card on the wall. This one could even turn into a class scavenger hunt with cards taped on surfaces throughout the room.

16. Word families with ping-pong balls

Teach simple word families with this activity suggested by  Fun-A-Day . Golf tees stuck in a Styrofoam base create the perfect platform to interchange different letters written on ping-pong balls. “Dig” becomes “pig” with just one switch! This game lends itself to giggling and throwing the ping-pong balls, and all shenanigans can count as literacy training.

17. Sorting number stickers

It doesn’t get much simpler than this activity created by  Learning 4 Kids . Draw a grid on a piece of paper, and place a number in each box. Provide your students with a sheet of number stickers, and let them move the numbers into the box with the matching number. After all of the numbers are used up, encourage them to write each number themselves in the corresponding box.

18. Alphabet rocks

If you (or your kiddos) have the time to collect 52 rocks, this uppercase and lowercase literacy activity could begin in the great outdoors. Wash the rocks, and write an uppercase letter on one side, with the corresponding lowercase letter on the opposite side. Then show words or pictures on index cards, and challenge kids to recreate the word. Meredith at  Homegrown Friends  says the rocks’ weight and texture was a big hit with her little ones.

19. Triple-tracing name fun

Another great activity from Hands on as We Grow , this will give your little one triple the fun while practicing name writing. Start by writing their name in large letters with a highlighter on a piece of paper. First, ask them to trace the highlighted letters with a pencil. Then, have them trace the letters with glue, followed by yarn (do steps 2 and 3 one letter at a time to avoid a sticky mess!) This triple reinforcement will help the child learn their name letters and leave them with a fun craft at the end.

20. Beginning sounds paint stick

Collect some free paint sticks from a home improvement store, and make these phonological awareness tools from  Pre-K Pages . Directions and pictures of the paint sticks come with free printouts to make your job just a little easier.

21. Letter bingo

This twist on the traditional bingo game comes from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls . Simply make bingo cards with 16 letters on each card, and cut little squares of paper to write the corresponding letters on. Put these squares in a pile for the caller to pull from. For bingo markers, you can use legos, cheerios or anything else you have around.

22. ABC go fish

Another familiar game, this version of Go Fish from How Wee Learn will have your kiddos learning letters without even knowing it. Cut paper into card-sized squares, and write a letter on each one, making two of each letter. It’s best to use groupings of letters so you’re focusing on a few at a time. Split the cards between the players, and follow the standard rules of the game to make as many matching letter pairs as you can. “Do you have a B ?”

23. Sensory messy play

Letters drawn out with whipped cream on tinfoil begin this activity. Provide the students with sprinkles and other cookie-decorating accessories, and let them decorate their letter.  Kids Creative Chaos  promotes this playtime for its engagement with all five senses while the children work on their letter.

24. Recycled Scrabble play

Old scrabble games are the perfect literacy tool to play with. The  Kids Creative Chaos  blog recommends arranging the letters to form rhyming words with children who are interested and allowing everyone to play with the tiles as they like. Even if the kids wind up building houses out of the scrabble letters, they are still seeing the letters and establishing familiarity.

25. Alphabet Kaboom!

The Many Little Joys shares this fun preschool learning activity that only requires Popsicle sticks, a marker and a small cup or bucket. Write one letter on each Popsicle stick until you’ve done all 26 letters of the alphabet. Write the word “Kaboom!” on six additional Popsicle sticks, and place them all in the bucket with the letters facing down. Have your child pull out one stick at a time, reading the letter or making the sound of each one. If they pull a “Kaboom!” stick, they have to put all of their sticks back in the bucket and start again.

Prepare for learning and laughs with these preschool learning activities

We all know little ones love to play. So why not leverage that playtime for learning? This list of literacy activities for preschoolers is a great start for introducing youngsters to letters and setting the stage for lifelong learning!

Learn more about the benefits of starting young in our article “ Why the Importance of Early Childhood Education Is Impossible to Ignore .”

For more ideas of fun preschool learning activities, visit our Education Blog ! EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2016. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2021.

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About the author

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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Posted in Early Childhood Education

  • ECE activities
  • early childhood education

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Circle Time: Incorporating Literacy and Choice-Making

Ideas to increase active participation in morning circle time with students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.

Written by: Jaime Brown

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literacy circle time activities

Circle times in early childhood classrooms (preschool and early elementary) frequently follow the same format.  Students have an opportunity to say hello, participate in attendance, review the calendar, sing a couple of songs, and read a story. There are fun and easy ways to incorporate literacy and choice-making opportunities during circle.

Saying “Hello”

switch for

Some students may need support when engaging in greetings. Students may use dual voice output devices. This dual switch has a button that represents “hello” and one that represents “bye”. Textures can be added to represent hello and goodbye. Although this is abstract, a beginning “reader” will learn what each texture represents.  Use contrasting colors for the textures and add the braille word under the texture.  Large print can also be used for print learners.  By using a dual voice output switch, students work on literacy skills: understanding that textures represent words, touching braille, or looking at print. Students also have an opportunity to make a choice:  to respond by saying “hi”, “bye” or saying nothing at all. Students who choose to say “bye” can be redirected, if necessary, e.g.  “You said ‘goodbye’ and we are saying ‘Hi’.”  Sometimes students say “goodbye” and smile or laugh afterwards, displaying a sense of humor.   Students may also use an iPad App to say “Hi” / “Bye”.  Answers HD has an app that can be easily customized using large squares, bright contrasting colors, and a recorded voice.

When I use augmentative communication devices in my classroom, I have a verbal student record the voice. This is a matter of personal preference: I appreciate the students hearing a child’s voice say hi/bye when they push a button rather that of an adult. 

Child's name

In an Itinerant class of students K-5, we take attendance somewhat differently.   Each student has a name card with their texture, print and braille.  I present two cards on a small black board. One is their name and the other is a different student.  The students choose their name, and put it on the attendance board.  The top of the attendance board reads “These friends came to school today”.  After they have chosen their name, they choose something to hold while we sing hello, such as a glitter baton, pom-pom, etc. 

small mailbox and valentine heart

Songs are a fun part of circle time.  Teachers can show two objects, each one of which represents a song choice.  I believe that it is helpful to sing each of the songs to start, showing the object with the song. This week we are singing about mailboxes and hearts (for Valentine’s Day).  I present the choices against a small blackboard for the students that can see them.  For students that need to touch the objects, they are given ample time to explore them.  The students are then given a choice for which song they would like to sing. Each student should have an opportunity to take a turn. Movement songs also provide opportunities for choice-making.  The teacher can sing the song and then the student choses which movement to do in the song.  Examples of the movement songs can be found at the bottom of this post.  

5 little hearts

The key to choice-making and literacy is using real objects and materials during the morning circle routine.  Students should have opportunities to use real objects to support their choices.  As students are introduced to real objects and begin to recognize them, they build their vocabulary.  A large vocabulary supports literacy development and choice-making.

Song Example

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20 Creative and Fun Preschool Circle Time Activities

May 30, 2022 //  by  Seda Unlucay

Circle Time is a wonderful opportunity for cooperative learning, developing self-regulation skills, and sharpening attention spans.

This collection of circle time songs, rhymes and fingerplays, calendar ideas, alphabet and counting activities, and movement-based lessons is sure to create plenty of enjoyable learning opportunities for the entire class.

1. Dance Freeze 

Dance freeze is a dynamic movement activity that challenges kids to freeze their dancing every time the circle time music stops. It's an excellent way to get kids active while building motor skills.

Learn more: Playworks

2. Bug in a Rug Circle Time Game 

Bug In A Rug is a great circle time idea for building memory skills . After having one of the children hide under a blanket, the guesser has to survey the circle to figure out who is missing.

Learn more: Kid Fun

3. Pass The Movement Circle Time Game

Pass the Movement is similar to Broken Telephone except instead of a verbal message, children have to pass the same set of movements to the next person in the circle.

Learn more: Hi Mama

4. Shake The Sillies Out With a Song

Shake Your Sillies Out is a popular children's brain break song. Kids are sure to love wiggling around and will definitely be more settled for learning after this one.

Learn more: The Learning Station - Kids Songs and Nursery Rhymes

5. Collaborative Art Project for Preschool

This progressive painting exercise requires only a big sheet of paper and plenty of painting supplies. Collaborative art is a wonderful way to build social skills and expand attention spans.

Learn more: Art Project Girl

6. Get Moving with Alphabet Exercise Cards

This fun circle time activity is a terrific way to develop letter identification and listening skills while giving kids a much-needed movement break during their busy day.

Learn more: Homeschool Share

7. Circle Time Story Props

This collection of circle time props is organized into themes for holidays and seasons and creates a wonderful opportunity to develop oral language skills.

Learn more: Teaching 2 and 3-Year-Olds

8. Circle Time Games With Bean Bags

Bean bag games are a fantastic hands-on addition to any sing-along. They will keep your entire class engaged and having a blast!

Learn more: Sharin with Sharron

9. Circle Time Book Activity

The Feelings Book is a great resource for discussing emotions with preschoolers. Identifying the various feelings in the collection of printable faces can also build empathy and social skills.

Learn more: No Time for Flashcards

10. Alphabet Letter Ball 

This is a low prep, active game for building letter recognition skills. Students will love tossing the beach ball around the circle and calling out the letters they can find.

Learn more: Playdough to Plato

11. Color in a Daily Weather Chart

Coloring in a weather chart is a fun part of any calendar time routine. These simple charts are a great opportunity to teach scientific observation and weather vocabulary as well as counting and graphing skills .

Learn more: Fun-A-Day

12. Try a Circle Time Chant

Kids love rhyming chants and this counting one is a fun way to combine movement and counting skills.

13. Alphabet Soup Game

Students go around the circle pulling out and identifying different letters in this educational twist on tasty alphabet soul.

14. Play a Game of 'I Have/ Who Has'

This classic circle time game is a great way to master colors, shapes , numbers, and letters while building oral language and social skills.

Learn more: Preschool Wonders

15. Begin the Day with a Good Morning Song

This fun song is a great way for children to learn each other's names and can be combined with name cards to help them practice literacy skills.

Learn more: Growing Book by Book

16. Homeschool Circle Calendar Board

This simple trifold board is great for home learning. It can be decorated with activities for letters, numbers, shapes, and colors of the week. Why not add cards to discuss the weather and the temperature for the day?

Learn more: Let's Play, Learn, Grow

17. Try Some Fun Fingerplays

Fingerplay refers to hand movements coordinated to a song, story, or rhyme. It's a fantastic way to boost oral language skills, imagination, and social skills.

Learn more: Preschool Inspirations

18. Brown Bear Circle Time Props

These Brown Bear, Brown Bear  character props are sure to get preschoolers actively engaged with the classic story, making circle time more enjoyable.

19. Sing Along With Counting Rhymes

These classic rhyming songs are a creative way to develop counting skills. The accompanying collection of character props is versatile enough to be used with flannel boards, magnetic strips, or laminated to make stick puppets.

Learn more: Kid Sparks

20. Dinosaur Counting Song

This engaging twist on the classic Little Mouse rhyme challenges kids to find their favorite dinosaurs while practicing memory skills and sharpening their color identification skills.

Learn more: Love, Learn & Librarian


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Engaging Circle Time Activities

  • by Colleen Beck
  • December 15, 2021

Amazon affiliate links may be included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

In this blog post, you’ll discover Engaging Circle Time Activities for Preschoolers . These circle time ideas are structured to help preschoolers pay attention and focus to group learning in a circle time center. We love using ideas like our All About Me preschool activities in circle time to engage kids with meaningful and motivating learning opportunities.

Circle Time activities to engage preschoolers

Circle Time Activities

Keeping children entertained for 20 minutes or longer, isn’t for the faint of heart. As teachers, we learn to “read” children’s cues and adapt our plans to their needs. Every child, and every preschool class, isn’t the same. Sometimes our plans have to be adjusted to a child’s skill level or interest. T

he best way to keep a class of 24 preschool aged children engaged for circle time is to include sensory foundations within each of the activities. In this blog, you will learn how to do this, no matter what theme your classroom is studying. Circle time lessons can use all of the senses to engage young children.

Children don’t always show interest in learning a new skill, but when we encourage interaction and multi-sensory experiences while teaching new skills and concepts, preschoolers become more interested in the activity. This includes circle time and small group lessons. You can learn more about multi-sensory learning in this blog.

Attention during preschool circle time

Children’s attention spans grow as they age, but not by a lot. For every year old a child is, they are able to attend to a task for two to three minutes. That doesn’t seem like a long time, but let’s think of this from an adult’s perspective. 

When you are sitting in front of a powerpoint presentation, where does your brain go after 60 minutes? Do you catch yourself slipping off to daydream land or thinking of what you are going to make for dinner? Without a stretch break, 60 minutes is a long time to pay attention. 

There are four areas that are assessed when addressing attention span in preschoolers. This US National Library of Medicine article explains the four areas as:

  • sustained attention
  • selective attention (or focused attention)
  • span of attention (encoding/maintaining)
  • controlled attention (freedom from distractibility and set-shifting)

“Performance-based methods for measurement of attention in the preschool years have been developed to address most of the salient components of attention described by Mirsky, Dennis, and Posner, and include sustained attention, selective (focused) attention, span of attention, and top-down controlled attention, including freedom from distractibility and set-shifting.”

As children develop these four areas of attention span in their early years, early childhood educators are left with the job to teach children new concepts in a way that they remember. The attention facts are embedded within curriculum development from all angles.

Preschool circle times often involve a read-aloud story, group songs, and interactive actions as part of the preschool curriculum.

The average preschool story is between 30-40 pages (that’s 20 pages front at back!) The average children’s song is 4 stanzas (something that can be sung in under one minute.) The average children’s television show (without commercials) is 18 minutes long. 

Every single one of these activities includes a sensory break. Commercials allow children to stand up and move around. A song typically includes hand motions. Children’s stories include brightly colored and engaging illustrations. All of these are components that we can include in a typical preschool circle time. 

For a preschool aged child, 3-5 minutes is the maximum they can attend to a lesson where the adult is leading. A successful circle time could last up to 20-30 minutes, but each activity within that 20-30 minute time frame should be broken into 5 minute mini activities. 

Circle Time Activity Plan

Here is an example of a successful 30 minute circle time, based on what we discussed about preschool attention span.

  • 5 minute Movement activity (like one of these YouTube brain break songs )
  • 5 minute Story time
  • 5 minute Songs (try one of these engaging, core strengthening songs )
  • 5 minute Large Group Discussion
  • 5 minute Stretch/Yoga – like these penguin yoga cards
  • 5 minute Explanation of Centers and Dismissal

Making Circle Time Activities Engaging

The most successful way to encourage children to stay engaged in a story is to make the story interactive. Try these strategies when reading stories:

  • You can do this by changing your voice throughout the book, reading some parts of the story at different speeds.
  • Including the children in the creative storytelling process,  like in the books “Sammy Chases the Alphabet,” “Sammy’s Counting Adventure” and “Going on a Bear Hunt.” These three books can be created into a large group, movement game, keeping children’s attention while learning their alphabet or while counting from 1-20!
  • Incorporate movement: Ask children to do a specific action when they hear a keyword from the story.

Alphabet Circle Time Activity

Affiliate links are included below.

Try these ideas to work on letter identification, concepts of learning letters, and the alphabet using an interactive and engaging book and game, Sammy Chases the Alphabet .

  • Sammy, the golden retriever, loves playing fetch with the alphabet around his farm. As his human throws the letter balls, he chases them and finds them near animals or objects that start with that letter. Print out these ABC balls before you start reading the story.
  • Place the letters around the classroom. Start reading the story. When you get to each letter, have one child in the group hop, skip or jump to  the letter ball print out you are reading about, then place it in the basket. 
  • Continue reading the story until all the letters have been found. 

Counting Circle Time Activity

Use the movement game, Sammy’s Counting Adventure to teach number words, one-to-one correspondence, and counting skills with this interactive movement game.

  • Sammy, the golden retriever, likes to count objects while he is on a walk. He learns to count from one to twenty in English, Spanish and French. While reading this story to children in your class, have them all stand up. 
  • On each number page, have the children complete a movement while counting each object. For example: “There are 7 colors in the rainbow- the children can jump seven times.” 
  • Change the movement for each number you read. Movements can include: jump, spin, hop on one foot, tap your head, touch your toes… and more! 

Going on a Bear Hunt Circle Time Activity

The classic children’s book, Going on a Bea r Hunt is engaging and fun for kids. Work on skills like attention, sequencing, recall, movement changes, and sensory input with this fun circle time book activity. You can even add these Going on a Bear Hunt snacks to the circle time lesson plan. (Kid-friendly preschool recipe contains peanut butter, but you can use other ingredients as a substitute.)

Going on a Bear Hunt Movement game:

  • While reading the story, have children act out what they see on each page (slumping through the mud, climbing the tree, walking through grass and tiptoeing through the cave.)
  • Give each child a picture that describes or depicts an action or part of the story. As that part is read, the child can place the picture in the circle. All students can complete the action, creating an interactive, group story.

Self-Regulation During Circle Time Activities

Sometimes, even with all the planning and changing activities to meet our preschoolers needs, there are some children who don’t have the self-regulation skills developed in order to attend to large group activities. Besides the attention span issues, there can be other contributions leading to behaviors during circle time that also are a part of leading a successful circle time session:

  • There are other children in the group
  • Turn taking requirements
  • Spatial awareness considerations
  • Sensory challenges
  • Postural needs or core strength issues impacting sitting on the floor

Kelly Choo reports in this article that “Attention and self-regulation are closely interlinked, with research suggesting that by improving self-regulation, it will help your children pay better attention. This is because, self-regulation gives children the skills to ignore the distractions and avoid going off on a tangent, allowing them to better focus on tasks in front of them.”

She goes on to describe the impact that self-regulation abilities have on the child’s ability to participate in tasks. These self-regulation skills allow the child to participate in social situations with specific skills displayed:

  • Focus and concentrate
  • Assess themselves
  • Initiate or persist in a task
  • Think before they act
  • Maintain social appropriateness”

If you have children that need support learning self-regulation techniques, Soothing Sammy was created to support preschoolers through visual and tactile cues, teaching them how to calm down so they can participate in daily activities.

A final note on Circle Time Activities

As you plan your large group activities, remember that children are always learning and their brain continues to develop rapidly for the first 5 years of their lives. If an activity doesn’t work well one week, then save it and try again in another month. Meeting our children where they are at, creating engaging and multi-sensory circle time sessions, will make learning fun for them, and enjoyable for us. 

literacy circle time activities

Jeana Kinne is a veteran preschool teacher and director. She has over 20 years of experience in the Early Childhood Education field. Her Bachelors Degree is in Child Development and her Masters Degree is in Early Childhood Education. She has spent over 10 years as a coach, working with Parents and Preschool Teachers, and another 10 years working with infants and toddlers with special needs. She is also the author of the “Sammy the Golden Dog” series, teaching children important skills through play.

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21 Circle Time Games For Preschool That Actually Work

In preschool fun and engaging circle games can teach many crucial skills that children can then use to deepen their play. Eye contact, turn-taking, understanding emotions, and listening are all key skills in life. The benefits of short, snappy, fun circle games that really work cannot be overestimated.

However, there seem to be so many games around that don’t really work that well in reality. This article presents just the games that are tried and tested, that children really ‘get’ quickly, the games they will ask for again and again.

These are the cream of the crop from my book – 101 Circle Time Games…That Actually Work! (that you can check out here).

literacy circle time activities

This book offers the very best math circle games, literacy games, physical circle times, mindfulness, circle times, and so much more! Check it out here.

So what are the best circle time games for preschool ? Some excellent circle time games for preschool are:

  • Don’t Wake The Monkey
  • Pass The Rhythm
  • Act The Emotion
  • Parachute Pairs
  • Pass The Potato
  • Wonkey Donkey
  • Baby Bear Game
  • Pass The Smile
  • Spin The Bottle
  • Spare Place
  • Picnic Memory Game
  • Where Is It?
  • Pass The Puppet
  • Matching Socks
  • Pass The Ball Round The Circle
  • Missing Child Game
  • Mystery Object
  • Mystery Box

Read on to find a detailed description of each and check out our amazing online courses to help take all of these developmental concepts to the next level. But for now, read below to help to bring your preschool circle times to life!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is parachute-games.jpg

This game can be adapted in lots of different ways.

The idea is that you have lots of pieces of paper that all have pairs of matching pictures on. The adult just draws the pictures on themselves. For example, they could be simple pictures of shapes. You could have two separate pictures of a triangle, a square, a circle, and a pentagon etc. You need as many pictures as you have children. For example, if you have 12, you need 6 pairs of matching pictures.

The pictures could be anything. Nice easy ones are things like numbers, shapes, letters, animals, weather, or emotion faces.

Children are handed a piece of paper each. They screw it into a ball – a snowball – and throw it into the middle of the circle. Then they have to go and pick up a ball. The only rule is that they can’t pick their own snowball up. They must pick up someone else’s.

When they pick up their new snowball, they unscrew it and then try to find their partner. If you have an odd number of children, you will have someone without a partner, and this is normally the ‘champion’!

Children develop lots of skills through this game. They have to show each other, they must look at other people, and it helps to ask.

Also they will usually have to go and stand next to a partner that is not their best friend.

2. Don’t Wake The Monkey!

You don’t need a monkey for this game – any puppet or teddy will work fine. I just happen to use a large monkey puppet.

Put the puppet or teddy into the middle of the circle. They are ‘asleep’.

Then get either a tambourine, bells or keys . In a moment you are going to pass these around the circle as silently as possible.

Before that, though, there is a chant to all say together in a whisper. It goes like this:

Little monkey’s sleeping on the ground.

Sh! Sh! Sh!

We must not wake him with a sound.

Then, as silently as possibly, try passing the instrument around the circle. The children have to work together, and try and get it all the way around.

Another way of playing this game, is to split into two teams. The two teams form two circles, each with their own instrument and sleeping puppet in the middle.

The two teams then battle it out, and see which one can be the quietest passing the instrument around. This is a great variation for competitive children.

literacy circle time activities

3.Pass The Rhythm

This is a great game for early phonics as well as behaviour.

There are two ways of playing it, an easy way, or a slightly harder way. The harder way is generally much better for social skills and turn-taking.

In the easy form of the game, the adult makes up a quick rhythm (maybe limit them to three hits), using different parts of the body. For example, tap your head once, and then your knees twice. Everyone copies. Then do another rhythm, for example, tap your shoulders, then legs, then feet. The children copy.

When they become good at that, then you can move on to the harder version of the game. In this the children will make up their own rhythm. Start with the first child in the circle. They make up a rhythm of 3 actions, for example, tap head then shoulders then legs. The other copy. Go around the circle, taking it in turns to each have one go.

If you’d like to find out a whole lot more rhythm games, then why not check out my article the essential guide to rhythm sticks games, featuring at least 12 ideas.

4. Act The Emotion

Have three emotion cards in the middle of the circle – happy, sad, angry. You just draw a happy face, sad face and angry face on pieces of paper.

The adult goes first to show them what to do. They stand up and act out being one of these emotions. For example, if it is sad they bow their head, hunch their shoulders, mooch around and do a sad face. The children point to which emotion they think you are feeling.

Then it is their turn. One at a time a child will stand up and act out one of the emotions. The others try to guess which one it is. Talk about the body language and facial expressions.

5. Parachute Pairs

Parachute games are brilliant for young children to develop all sorts of listening and cooperation skills .

This pairs game is a nice simple one to have a go of. The idea is all everyone holds the parachute at about waist height. Then you pick two children, by saying their names. They are the two children that are going to swop places.

The idea is that the adult goes ‘1,2,3!’ On the ‘3’ everyone lifts the parachute up over their head as high as they can, so the chute mushrooms up in the air.

At that moment the two children run under the parachute and swap places.

Then bring the parachute down and pick the next two children. Repeat the same process.

A slightly harder version of this game is the fruit salad game. In this you give everyone a name of a fruit. Go round saying ‘Apple, banana, strawberry, pear’, or something like that. Have about four fruits, and give them out equally so you’ll have roughly the same number of children each being an apple or a strawberry.

Then go ‘1,2,3!’ On the 3 lift the parachute and shout a fruit name, for example ‘strawberry’.

The idea is that all the strawberries will run underneath the parachute and swop places. Then repeat for other fruits.

This is a bit harder just because the children have to remember what fruit they are. For some this is an extremely tricky task.

Did you know you can also play all sorts of math and phonics games with parachutes?! Try reading my favorite 14 Parachute Math Games . Also, one of the best ways of keeping phonics exciting and engaging is by trying some of these 10 Brilliant Phonics Parachute Games.

There is also a whole chapter on the very best parachute circle time games, that you can find in my book 101 Circle Time Games…That Actually Work! (which you can check out here).

6.Pass The Potato

This game is bit like pass the parcel, only you use a potato! All that is required is a potato and some music.

Put some music on and pass the potato around the circle . When the music stops, whoever is holding the potato is out and has to stand up and sit outside the circle. Continue until you have a champion.

Some children react better to being ‘out’ than others.

7. Wonkey Donkey!

This is a really fun game, that helps children listen to the voices of others.

One child is the Wonkey Donkey! They come and sit in the middle of the circle and put a blindfold on. They also put on either an old shirt, or an apron or a bib. Whatever you have to hand will work.

The idea is that you pick one child to come up and hold on to the back of the child’s shirt or apron. This is the donkey’s ‘tail’. That person shakes the ‘tail’ and shouts ‘Wonkey Donkey!’

The idea is that the Wonkey Donkey has to guess who has shook their tail!

This game helps them to begin to recognize the voices of their friends. It also tunes them in and gets them listening.

8. Baby Bear Game

This is one of my favorite listening games .

To play it you need a blindfold, a jar of honey and a noisy instrument of some sort – usually a tambourine or some keys work well.

The idea is that you get a child to come and sit in the middle of the circle. They are Baby Bear, and they put a blindfold on so they can’t see. Baby Bear is ‘asleep’.

Put the honey behind Baby Bear.

There is now a chant that goes like this:

Isn’t it funny how a bear likes honey!

You give the tambourine to one of the children in the circle. Their job is to stand up as quietly as possible, and sneak over to Baby Bear, pick up the honey, and sneak back to where they are sitting with it.

The tricky bit is that they have to try to hide both the honey and the tambourine behind their back.

They keep their hands behind their back, and everyone else puts their hands behind their back as well, so anyone could be the thief!

Then Baby Bear wakes up (takes the blindfold off). The bear has three guesses to work out who the thief is.

There are usually lots of clues if everyone stays quite – footsteps, little jingles from the tambourine and other noises like that.

If the children are having problems putting the tambourine behind their back, then the easier version of the game is to swop the tambourine with honey, so you take the honey back but leave the tambourine behind the bear. You get less sound clues this way, but it is easy for very young children to accomplish.

There seem to be many variations of this game, and I have seen it played with the Bear as a pirate, with someone robbing his treasure, or as a Giant and someone robs his keys. The basic skills behind all these games are the same.

9.Pass The Smile

This is a circle game that is great for eye contact, turn-taking and thinking about emotions.

The adult to begin smiles at the first child. They ‘pass’ the smile to the child next to them, by looking at them and smiling. Then the children pass the smile all the way around the circle. You may need to give the occasional child a bit of a reminder to look or pass it on.

You can also pass a frown, a wink, a nod or some other facial expression. Great for thinking about emotions, and what our faces do when we are feeling different ways.

10. Spin The Bottle!

This is the child-friendly version of this classic game.

All you need is an empty bottle. This game works better on a harder surface, such as wood or laminate flooring. The bottle doesn’t really spin enough on a carpet.

Put the bottle in the middle of the circle, and choose one child to come and spin it. They spin the bottle and shout one child’s name. That child has to jump up and pick up the bottle before it stops spinning.

Then they spin it and shout a child’s name, and just carry on repeating.  

11. Spare Place

In this game you need cards with pictures on . The pictures all have to be different. A good example would be to use pictures of animals. You could have a full range of animals – a cow, a horse, a dog, a cat, a mouse etc.

Sit in a circle, but have one big space in the circle, easily big enough for a child to sit in.

Give each child a picture of an animal, and you also have one spare picture that goes in the space.

Say an animal name. The child holding that picture will move to the spare space. They then say an animal name, and that child will move to the space that the first child has vacated.

12. Picnic Memory Game

There are many variations of this classic memory game, but here is just one way of playing it.

For this game you need a bag of simple pretend (or real) food and a picnic hamper or box of some sort to put them in.

There is an easy and a hard version of the game. For the easy version, what you do is take one piece of food out of the bag first. For example, let’s say it is an orange. The first person would say, ‘For our picnic we took an orange.’

They put the orange in the box so everyone can see it.

Then the next person goes. They take a piece of food out, for example a banana, and say ‘For our picnic we took an orange and a banana.’

They put the banana next to the orange and the game continues.

This is much easier than the hard version, because you can see the food, and just need to be able to say it in a sequence.

For the harder version, the idea is that you put one piece of food into the box and then close the lid so you can’t see it.

For example, the first person says ‘On our picnic we took an orange.’ They put the orange in the box and close the lid.

Then the next person says, ‘On our picnic we took an orange and a banana.’ They open the lid and put the banana next to the orange, then close it.

There is lots of memory and listening and looking required in this game . You may want to start with just 3 or 4 objects, though some children are amazing at remembering a huge number.

Just see how it goes, and make the game easier or harder as required.

literacy circle time activities

There is a whole chapter on ‘memory circle time games…that actually work’ in my book 101 Circle Time Games…That Actually Work.

13. At The Zoo

This is another variation of the picnic memory game.

Have a story bag with animals in. Say ‘In the jungle, we saw a (pick one out) an elephant!’ Pass it to next person. ‘In the jungle we saw an elephant and a tiger etc etc.’ Keep going just like that.

There are many variations that you can play on this classic memory game. All you need is some kind of objects in a bag and some sort of context. Other ideas could be a bag of vehicles. Say something like ‘On the road I saw a …lorry.’

You could use dinosaurs, or superheroes, or whatever you like. Be creative! Whatever the children are interested in will get the best response.

14. Where Is It?

Have one child sitting in the middle of the circle. They put a blindfold on.

Then get a noisy instrument – it could be a tambourine or keys or something similar. The idea is then that the children pass the noisy instrument around, all giving it a shake when they are holding it before passing it on to the next person.

When the adult says ‘stop’ the person holding the tambourine holds it silently.

The child in the middle is going to try to point to whoever they think is holding the instrument. Then do it again.

15. Pass The Puppet

This is a great activity that can be adapted in many ways, and is one that I play a lot, possibly the most out of this article.

Have a puppet , and it is good to have some sort of story. For example, the puppet is happy because his friend has shared their toys. You basically have some sort of them. The puppet might be sad for a reason, or worried, or anything like that.

Pass the puppet round, and everyone says one thing that makes them happy, or sad, or appreciative of a friend, or whatever the theme is. You can only speak when you’re holding the puppet!

If you’re interested in reading more puppet games, then check out my article about the 22 best uses of puppets in teaching.

16. Matching Socks

Some group games are great for mixing and working with people that you wouldn’t normally work with.

The matching socks game is a great example of this. The idea is that you have lots of pairs of socks. The sock pairs all need to be a different design, and you need at least one sock per child.

Give the socks out! The children stand up and try to find their matching sock partner.

This gets them thinking about color and pattern. It also gets them looking at their friends, and also standing next to a partner that they wouldn’t necessarily choose to stand next to.

17. Pass Balls Round The Circle

Simple ball games are great for young children, and this is about as simple as it gets.

The very simplest way of playing this game is to have one ball . All you do is pass the ball around the circle.

The slightly harder version of this game is to have several balls. You pass these round the circle!

This game is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ball games that preschoolers love. Why not check out my 30 Preschool Ball Games For The Whole Curriculum.

The book contains a whole chapter on simple and imaginative passing games like this.

18. Change!

To extend this game yet again, pass several balls round, but when you say ‘change’ the balls all have to go in the opposite direction. This is not as easy as it sounds!

The next stage of this game is to have two colors of balls. For example, have three blue balls and three yellow balls. The blue balls are going to go one direction, and the yellow balls are going to go in the opposite direction.

See how you get on! The tricky bit is that some children will get two balls at once. They will have to switch them over to keep them going.

When, and if, the children are doing well at this game, you can then introduce a ‘change’ again. So when the balls are all going around in the two directions, say ‘change’, and see if they can move them back the other way. This takes a lot of teamwork and cooperation! It also is good for conflict resolution, as some children will naturally get it wrong, and you will be encouraging children to support each other.

If you liked the sound of these simple ball games, you will be pleased to know that I have written 30 Preschool Ball Games for The Whole Curriculum. There is a host of ball games for math, phonics, physical development and more – the whole curriculum. Why not take a look?

19. Missing Child Game.

This is a great game for eye contact.

The idea of this game is that all children close their eyes. This is the tricky bit! They have to try and do it properly, and no cheating!

Then tap one child on the shoulder. That child is going to go and hide somewhere where the others cannot see them.

Then tell the children to open their eyes. Who has gone missing?

This moment is great for them all to be looking into each other’s faces to see who is there and who isn’t. Eye contact is a massive target for so many children, and this game really helps this skill. Looking for more eye contact games? Why not check out my 12 Fantastic Eye Contact Group Games  .

There is a version of this missing child game using a parachute . In that version the children sit around the edge of a parachute that is on the floor. They close their eyes, and you tap one child on the shoulder. They go under the chute and sit in the middle of it.

When the others open their eyes they can see a child under the parachute, but who is it?

20. Mystery Object

This is a bit like Chinese whispers, but with an object. Have a mystery object in a bag or box (or even an envelope). The object is just to really focus the attention of the children.

Whisper what the object is to the child next to you, and they have to pass it round the circle whispering to each other as they go.

When they have gone all the way around, the last person guesses what it is. Open the box or bag and reveal have they got it right!

21. Mystery Box

This is similar to the last game, but without the whispering element.

In this you have a box, and inside the box is a mystery object. What you do is pass the box around and everyone gets to shake the box, hear what is inside and then guess what they think it is.

After you have passed it all the way around the circle, and everyone has guessed, then you are ready for the tricky bit. You ask ‘Who guessed it was a bottle?’ The children point to who they think guessed it was that. ‘Who guessed it was a lion?’ You just carry on saying the children’s suggestions, and the children point to who they think it was.

At the end open up the box and see what it is!

101 Circle Time Games…That Actually Work!

If you’ve found these games beneficial, then I would definitely recommend checking out the book!

It’s called 101 Circle Time Games…That Actually Work! and it contains:

-Active circle games

-Phonics and literacy circle games

-Math circle games

-Emotion and mindfulness circle games

-Memory circle games

-And so much more!

You can check out further details of the book here.

So there you have the complete guide to preschool circle time games that actually work!

Children learn the most through play at this young age, but some well structured and engaging group games develop lots of skills that children can use in their play. Skills such as eye contact, turn-taking and cooperating are the key elements of play.

Good luck with these circle time games, and if you try any out feel free to share this post!

If you’ve found this beneficial, then you will probably also like The 40 Greatest Parachute Games For Kids.

Table of Contents


  1. Circle Time Activities to Build Literacy Skills

    literacy circle time activities

  2. Preschool Songs for Circle Time

    literacy circle time activities

  3. Little Miss Kim's Class: Circle Time... with an Emphasis on

    literacy circle time activities

  4. the circle time schedule cards are shown with numbers, letters and

    literacy circle time activities

  5. Circle Time Activities Resource Book

    literacy circle time activities

  6. Little Stars Learning: Our 25 Activities of Circle Time

    literacy circle time activities


  1. Learning Languages: Pumpkin

  2. Literacy Circle Drum

  3. Circle Time at Preschool

  4. Circle Time Best Preschool Learning _ FULL VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

  5. Morning Circle Time Activity || मॉर्निंग सर्कल टाइम के सत्र की गतिविधियां || चहक

  6. Circle Time ( Activity )


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  4. 260 Literacy Circle Activities ideas in 2023

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  5. Circle Time Activities to Build Literacy Skills

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  6. Powerful Circle Time Ideas for Fun and Interactive Sessions

    Switch out the activities you use or the length of the session to ensure children remain engaged. Activities like reading books, singing songs

  7. 25 Fun Literacy Activities for Preschoolers

    Crocodile circle. Picture a bin with a ... Have your child pull out one stick at a time, reading the letter or making the sound of each one.

  8. Circle Time: Incorporating Literacy and Choice-Making

    Circle Time: Incorporating Literacy and Choice-Making. Ideas to increase active participation in morning circle time with students with visual impairments and

  9. 37 Fun Circle-Time Games and Activities: A Must for Any Teacher

    Need ideas for circle time? Here are 37 fun games to play with your primary-school students. Some can even be played with preschoolers.

  10. 20 Creative and Fun Preschool Circle Time Activities

    This collection of circle time songs, rhymes and fingerplays, calendar ideas, alphabet and counting activities, and movement-based lessons is

  11. Circle Time Activities and Games

    A list of fun circle games your kids can play with instructions and resources you can use. Ideas for EAL Circle Time Games for ECE, Year 1-2 children.

  12. Engaging Circle Time Activities

    Place the letters around the classroom. Start reading the story. When you get to each letter, have one child in the group hop, skip or jump to

  13. 101 Circle Time Activities—Ages 3–6

    You will find activities to foster children's social and emotional development, language and literacy skills, and understanding of math concepts. You will also

  14. 21 Circle Time Games For Preschool That Actually Work

    (that you can check out here). This book offers the very best math circle games, literacy games, physical circle times, mindfulness, circle times