How To Create Circle Time Routines the Children Will Love
Circle time is a wonderful way to create a special daily routine for children, and we know that the best daily routines help kids feel safe, secure, and comfortable. Check out my Circle Time videos here!
My Circle Time advice in a nutshell: Create a beautiful circle time gathering space, infuse your meetings with predictable routines, and get moving and get silly!
Whether you're doing circle time at home, or in the classroom, these are some things you can do to make sure it's a fun and engaging experience for everyone.
Gather Round the Morning Board!
Your first step is to create a Circle Time Center in your learning space. Clear out a spot within arms reach for the children where everyone can comfortably gather.
Now, it's time to create your calendar board. There are so many calendar board ideas out there, it can feel overwhelming to DIY your own morning board center, but it isn't hard to create one at all! As long as your calendar center is visually pleasing, and has manipulatives designed for children to handle and touch, it's sure to be a hit! You can purchase calendar board materials already made and assembled for you, or even better, you can download a Circle Time Set and, with a little elbow grease, create one with the children.
Did you know that we become more attached to things when we have a role in creating them? It's for this very reason that I only make my materials available as printables! Get the children involved with cutting and assembling your calendar board items, and they'll love them even more, too!
Create a Special Invitation Ritual to Begin Circle Time Every Day
Maybe it's a song that you only sing to signal the start of circle time. Or perhaps you ring a bell. Or maybe you whisper, "Let's start circle time!" in each child's ear. Whatever you do, choose a simple way to begin your circle time every day, and watch how this little ritual becomes a cherished part of your daily routines.
Get the Little Ones Moving!
Any time there's something to spin, or a card to place on the calendar, or days of the month to count, involve some movement to keep the little ones engaged. This can include a song with hand motions, or taking turns spinning the wheels of your trackers. Whatever you do, the more movement, the better. Songs, rhymes, movement games, these are all sure to delight your little ones.
Sure, this is learning opportunity for children, but more importantly, this is a connection opportunity. Circle time isn't about learning the days of the week and the months of the year, it's about creating community, and making space to connect with the little ones in your life. And children universally respond to silliness, especially when it's coming from their grown-ups. You don't have to be over-the-top goofy, but a bit of giggling here, a funny face there, pretending to misunderstand things every now and then--this is the stuff of childhood magic.
Create a Predictable Rhythm
Just as you'll start your circle time with the same invitation every day, you also want to have a predictable rhythm to your circle time routine. Maybe you begin each meeting by sharing today's date, and then moving your Today marker to the correct square. Then, you can sing the days of the week song, or the months of the year song.
It's helpful to set up your circle time materials from top to bottom, and left to right, in the order that you'll use them every day. If you're using my Circle Time set, it comes with lots of trackers to use--hang up your trackers in order, and then everyone will know what's coming next. This predictability helps children feel secure and engaged with your circle time routine.
Build in Weekly and Monthly Routines Over Time
Once you have your daily circle time routine running smoothly, you can start adding weekly and monthly routines, as well. Remember, rituals, and routines are so comforting for children. They create a predictable rhythm to our days, weeks, and years, that helps children feel safe and secure. More importantly, rituals and routines are the secret ingredient to creating cherished lifelong memories.
Think of your own childhood memories, my bet is that a lot of them have to do with the simple yet powerful routines that meant something to you as a child. Circle time is the perfect place to infuse your little ones' lives with these special routines.
Ideas for weekly routines. Give each day a special focus, and stick to it. (This is a good place to infuse movement and silliness into your morning meetings, too!) Make a Face Mondays. Tap Dance Tuesdays. Wild Wednesdays. Thankful Thursdays. Favorites Fridays.
Ideas for monthly routines. Celebrate the beginning of every new month. Celebrate every full moon, or new moon, or both! End every month with a special last day routine, where you maybe talk about your favorite memory from the last month, or share a wish you have for the next month. The opportunities are endless!
Give the Little Ones the Last Word
This is my favorite tip for successful circle time meetings. However you do it, give the children space to be seen and heard before you end your circle time together. Maybe you'll end each meeting with the day's silliness, such as 30 seconds of Make a Face Mondays, or one minute of music where they get the sillies out, or you take turns sharing something that's on your mind.
Whatever you choose to do, find a way for every child to feel seen and heard before they leave circle time with you. There's magic in feeling recognized and seen, especially for our very smallest friends.
What are your best circle time tips? I'd love to hear them in the comments!