The 5 Fun Circle Time Ativities for Your TEFL Classroom
Every preschool/ kindergarten level teacher will swear by the need for excellent constructive circle time. It sets the tone for what is to follow throughout the day. A good circle time should be welcoming, engaging, and informative. Children should not be forced into participation; instead should be drawn into it. Circle time is the classic example of a good "engage" stage in an ESA teaching style. Therefore, during circle time, you introduce a topic that is to be covered that day or week.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Najia S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Depending upon the students' age, the activities listed below can be modified to their level of English and understanding of concepts. This is not a comprehensive list but is a list of the five best circle time activities, in my opinion, which has worked for teachers all around the world.
This one is a no-brainer. Singing songs, rhythm and movement attract young children. They tend to memorize what they hear. Songs can be chosen to improve vocabulary and pronunciation. They can also be used to introduce new topics, such as if you were to do "an apple" theme, you could sing songs about apples to engage children on this topic. Songs are also a great way to welcome children into the class. Initially, songs can comprise welcome songs, morning songs, and songs in which children and teachers introduce themselves to each other. By incorporating movement into your song session, you can also include some exercise and moving around. Depending on what direction your song requires, you can work on balance, gross motor skills like jumping, hopping, standing on one leg, etc. This also makes the children make connections between the object being sung about and its appearance. For example: if you are pointing to the window or the door, it gives the child a visual picture of the window and door. Songs also give children confidence as they all sing together during circle time, and no one child is singled out, which can be daunting to some kids.
Everyone loves a good story. Circle time is a great time to get children to sit around and read them a good story with either a lesson to learn or to tickle their imagination with a great fiction book. Picture books work great, too, at the preschool level. Younger children will make up their own story by looking at the pictures, and you can have a child-led activity this way. If you are teaching kindergarten, it is worth choosing a book with a few CVC or sight words and having children try to read them. Remember that this is circle time, and if a child is hesitant to speak up, you should leave them for a time later when they feel confident enough to speak during circle time.
It doesn't get better than starting the day with meditation and some yoga. Children especially enjoy the stretches and movement. Children's yoga also helps children calm down and connect with their inner self while focusing on the lessons to follow. It is a great way to get those joints moving first thing in the morning when some children might even be sleepy or tired. This is a relaxing and calming way to start the day. Children's yoga doesn't have to be dull or quiet; you can always jazz things up depending on your student's interest. You can introduce the animal postures in children's yoga while covering the topic of wild animals or arctic animals etc. For example, you can do a tiger yoga pose and talk about the stillness the tiger has to perfect right before hunting for food. Yoga is also known to uplift mood, boost confidence and reduce anxiety.
Using hand puppets or finger puppets is a great way to introduce literacy to younger children. You can have puppet scripts, or you can use a storybook and enact the story with your puppets' help. Reading a story is good but passing it using tools and props takes your student's experience up several notches. As the Chinese saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Similarly, a visual form of a story has a more substantial impact on the child's memory than what they hear. It is also an excellent way to break the monotony. You could also use puppets in your songs if you want your circle time to be exciting.
Doing the calendar with younger children is highly beneficial. It can be used as a starting point for many meaningful conversations. Firstly, doing the calendar allows you to see who Is absent, who is present, what is the day, month, and the weather like to name a few. All this helps build vocabulary, grammar and instilling in the children a sense of time and temperature. Once the basics of the day are achieved, you can also choose to include the leader of the day, which can be mentioned when you do the calendar. You can consist of any birthdays, new information, or even reminder of class rules during this time. A teacher can then finally move on to introducing the day of class that will be followed by circle time.
These were my top five picks of the best circle time activities. There is such a broad scope of what to include in circle time, making it so interesting for children and teachers alike. Teachers must always bear in mind when designing circle time for their children is their interests, their likes, and what the class is most comfortable with. Some children might like singing more than others, and in some cultures, the children might be shy. So, it is best to study your class before you dive into circle time activities. Remember, circle time is the "engage" phase whose primary objective is to get students on board and break the ice so that when it is the study or activate stage, the children feel confident enough to perform and take part.
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