When you have a group of chirpy preschoolers with attention spans averaging 10-15 minutes (20 at best!), you won't have a choice but to arm yourself with a massive stock of activity ideas. To make your activity-hunt a wee bit easier, here are some engaging circle time activities to reel in their attention and make them work together in a group.
1. Alphabet Soup
Stir in some fun into circle time with the alphabet soup game from notimeforflashcards. Get your group to join in for some pretend play and make a pot of alphabet soup with some magnetic alphabets.
Bring in a pot and ladle and chuck in the alphabets. Tell the group to put on their pretend chef-hats. Invite each child to come over to the pot, give it a good stir and scoop out an alphabet. When a child finds an alphabet, get them to show it to the group and let them identify the alphabet. It's best to stick to a single round of the game before their attention begins to stray.
2. Persona Puppets
If there is a conflict that needs to be addressed in class, there is no better prop than a friendly-looking puppet to get the children to explore their feelings and talk about it. Bringing in puppets at circle time to speak to the children is a great way to build social skills, says Julia Luckenbill.
For instance, if you have some children snatching toys from their friends in class, you could come up with a story where your puppet Dexter keeps snatching toys from puppet Zoe. You could get Zoe to tell you (the teacher) how she feels and ask the class for a solution, or suggest one yourself. Follow it up by gently getting the entire class to agree on a solution. You can even draw it up as a rule and post it on the wall to reinforce the message.
Fingerplay is one of those cool circle time games that will never fail to grab the attention of the fidgety preschoolers. It is also a great activity to boost their creativity and help support their fine motor development, listening skills and body awareness.
How to go about it:
Draw on faces and characters on to your fingers. Get creative by sticking on bits and bobs for clothes and accessories to make it more interesting. Choose a fun fingerplay song for the day’s activity and get started.
4. Guess the Rule
Get one child to leave the class. While the child is gone, the rest of the group puts their heads together and comes up with a rule – for instance, hold one hand behind when answering questions or only respond with a certain number of nods. The child is called back when the rule is decided. He has to guess the new rule by asking questions and observing how the group responds.
This is an activity that can help build self-confidence, problem-solving skills and communication.
5. The Handwriting Game
A variant of the popular Telephone game and Chinese Whisper, this one always brings on a lot of giggles. The teacher whispers an alphabet to a child in the group. The child draws the alphabet with his finger on the next child’s hand, while the group keeps their eye closed. Each child will continue passing the shape to their neighbour and see how close the last person gets to guessing the alphabet.
6. Birthday Bag of the Month
Make brown paper bags for each month of the year. Fill it with the names of children who have their birthdays that month or label names on to cut-out shapes glued on to craft-sticks. Get the bags out at the beginning of the month and get them involved in marking the dates on the calendar.
7. Remote Control
Make a pretend remote control and get your group to come up with actions for each button on the remote control. Fast forward, rewind, pause - get them to perform the actions as you sit back and press the buttons.
8. Sail Around the World
Mark ‘North’, ‘South’, ‘East’ and ‘West’ on the four walls of your class. Get your circle time group to pretend they are in a boat in the middle of the class.
Shout out a direction to get the group to move towards that direction and back to the middle. If the command is to sail ‘all around the world’, the group will have to move to touch all four walls and get back to the middle. This is a great game to tie in some physical activity with listening skills, co-operation and problem-solving.