9 books & circle time activities for 2 and 3 year olds { with FREE Printables}

circle time lesson plans for 2 and 3 year olds Now that I am back in the classroom I get to lead circle time again. I LOVE circle time, I love seeing all the little faces looking up at me and that moment when they connect to the material.  I teach 2 and 3 year olds so my circle time is short and simple. We all sit on the floor and read a book and do a coordinating group activity. This all takes at most 10 minutes but more often 5 or 6. Keeping it short means making your students successful. I would rather have a 2 minute activity where they were all engaged and I can praise them for that than a 10 minute one where kids are losing interest and not at all engaged.  Here are 9 books and dynamic circle time activities for 2-3 year olds

This list contains affiliate links.

how big is a pig

Book : How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton

Activity : Sorting large and small

Activity set up :

printables for circle time

  • Print out the image above by clicking it and printing.
  • Cut the animals out and laminate or use contact paper to cover. Add magnets or velcro if you want to do this activity on a magnet or felt board.
  • Add the large and small barns to a box or the board you are using. Click on the images below to print.

sorting small barn sorting Large Barn

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Give each child one or two animals telling them that they are going to help you decide if these animals are large or small. If you have their attention take the time to ask if they know another word for large.
  • Invite each child one at a time to add their animal(s) to the right size barn.
  • After all the animals have been sorted count the animals together as a group.

 

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circle time lesson for harold and the purple crayon

Book: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Activity : Make The Color Purple!

Activity set up :

  • Gather a snack size ziploc for each child, blue, and red liquid paint, a small bowl, one paint brush, and duct tape.
  • Add a small amount of both colors in the ziplocs. Secure with duct tape. Trust me your circle time carpet will thank me. Set aside where kids can’t see.
  • Add paint to the dish.

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the group if anyone knows how we make the color purple. Tell the students that today they get to be color scientists and they will be making purple.
  • Demonstrate how the colors mix together in the dish.
  • Hand out the ziplocs and encourage them to squish the colors together to make purple.

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secret seahorse circle time activity for preschool

Book:  Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone

Activity : Sea animal or  land animal?

Activity set up :

  • Gather animal figurines likes these Safari Ocean Animals and Wild Republic Animals
  • Grab two shallow containers. You can fill one with grass and dirt and the other with a little water or green and blue paper respectively. If you are in a rush skip this, just grab the animals and make two piles!

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Give each child one or two animals telling them that they are going to help you decide if these animals live on land or in water.
  • Invite each child one at a time to add their animal(s) to the right habitat.
  • After all the animals have been sorted count the animals together as a group.

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trashy town circle time activity

 

Book: Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha

Activity : Taking Out The Letter Trash

Activity set up :

  • Gather some magnetic or other manipulative letters ( at the start of the year I always focus on the first letters in my students names), 4-5 mini garbage cans like these Mini Desktop Trash.
  • Label the trash cans with the letters you are focusing on. You will only be using the same amount of letters as you have cans so you will need duplicates for medium and large size classes.

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Tell the children that Mr. Gilly took out the trash but they get to sort it! Their trash isn’t old banana peels and soup cans, their trash isn’t even trash at all, it’s letters!
  • Give each child a letter.
  • Invite them to show the class their letter and find the correct can for it.
  • If your class has good letter recognition skills you can make this more of a challenge by using lowercase letters sorting into uppercase trash bins.

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emotion activity for circle time

 

Book: Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods by Sandra Boynton

Activity : Happy? Sad? or Angry?

Activity set up :

  • The days leading up to this lesson invite each child to make happy, sad, and angry faces for photos.
  • Print out the photos and laminate them.

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Invite the group to make happy faces, sad faces, and angry faces.
  • Shuffle the cards so you use at least one of each child during the activity so no one is left out.
  • Hold the cards up one at a time and have the group decide how that person is feeling.

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The Busy Little Squirrel

 

Book : The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri

 

** Only to be used in a facility where nut allergies are not an issue. You can use photos of nuts if that is the case.

Activity : Sorting and Counting Nuts

Activity set up :

  • Gather a dozen or so nuts in the shell ( walnuts, chestnuts and almonds work well. A nutcracker as well ( a real one like this ( affiliate link) not the fancy ones).
  • Gather 4 baskets. Place all the nuts in one basket taking out one of each kind for the

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the children what the squirrel was gathering for winter. Show them the inside of each of the nuts.
  • Tell them that you have some nuts like the ones the squirrel was gathering but you need help to find out how much of each kind of nut you have.
  • Sort the nuts together.
  • Dump each basket and count as a group.

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activity for mr. cookie baker

 

Book:  Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington

Activity : Shape Match Cookies

Activity set up :

cookie shape sorting printable

  • Print out the image above ( click to enlarge) and cut the cookies out. Laminate or use contact paper to cover.
  • Print out the jar printables below ( click to enlarge) and tape to the front of an empty jar or basket.

cookie shape match triangle jar

cookie shape match square jar

cookie shape match heart jar

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the children if they can help you put all the cookies in the correct cookie jar.
  • Hand each child one or two cookies.
  • Invite the students to place the cookies in the correct jar. If a child is having a hard time don’t just swoop in, see if another child can help.
  • After sorting count the contents of each jar.

* Tip the younger the group the more simple the sorting should be. At the start of the year I would only have 2 options and nearer the end I would expand that to 3 or even 4.

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Northwest Coast Learn the Alphabet cover

Book:  Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others)

Activity: Fishing for Letters

Activity set up :

  • Gather some magnetic letters, a small blue towel, and a magnetic fishing pole. You will also want a cookie sheet or magnet board.
  • Lay out the blue towel and place the letters on top.

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the children if they had a favorite animal in the book. Tell them that you thought the salmon ( or just fish) were very neat.
  • Tell them that they get to go fishing too! But that they are going to fish for letters!
  • Invite each child up to fish for a letter. When they have one ask them if they know what letter it is, if not label it for them. Place the letter on a magnet board or cookie sheet.
  • After all the children have fished a letter review the letters that were caught and then release them back out into the ocean!

 

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alphabet under construction

 

Book: Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming

Activity : Building with letters

Activity set up :

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Tell the children that they will get to be builders today just like the mice in the book and build with the alphabet.
  • Bring out the bin of cardboard blocks.
  • Invite each child to pick out a block, tell the class what letter is on the block and place it in the middle of the rug to make a tower.  If the tower is getting too high build a 2nd one.

 

I hope these ideas are something you can use or adapt to your classroom.  I have been having so much fun being back at circle! What is your favorite circle time activity? Link or comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harvest Crafts & Activities

thanksgiving harvest craft ideas for kids While lesson planning for my classroom I was thinking about Thanksgiving and what other themes go with it. For young children I like to add on to a Thanksgiving theme with more concrete ideas like farm animals, harvest vegetables, and turkeys. While exploring these you can work in tidbits about the history and traditions of the holiday. We celebrate food, farms, and harvest together to remember the ways the Native Americans shared their knowledge with the Pilgrims and where we get our food to celebrate together today.

Here are 17 harvest and farm themed crafts to help you explore Thanksgiving.

harvest sensory tub

Farm Sensory Tub

paper plate pig craft
Paper Plate Pig

turkey paper bag puppet for kids
Turkey Puppets

Thanksgiving Math with Candy Corn
Candy Corn Math

paper plate scarecrow craft
Paper Plate Scarecrow

potato print turkey craft for thanksgiving
Potato Print Turkey Craft

painting with garden vegetables
Vegetable Printing

marshmallow harvest cornMarshmallow Corn Craft

outside activities for kidsGardening For Letters

farm animal activity for preschoolSheep Craft

Simple Sensory Tub Simple Harvest Sensory Bin

indian corn craft for kidsConfetti Corn Craft

pumpkin printing for kids and toddlersMini Pumpkin Prints

handprint henHand Print Hen Craft

feather finder gameTurkey Feather Hunt

Scarecrow Craft

Shape Scarecrow

rp_indian-corn.jpg

Mosaic Harvest Corn

 

 

Princess Playdough Activity For Kids

sparkle playdoughMy daughter loves princesses and when we were buying leaf cookie cutters for my classroom a few weeks ago she spied this pink crown cookie cutter and HAD to have it. At our house cookie cutters are not really a food item, they are for playdough. When craftprojectideas.com sent us some pearl beads I knew exactly how I could make plain playdough into princess playdough.  My daughter loved this activity and my favorite part was seeing how carefully she placed the beads taking time to really consider what she was doing.

princess playdough invitation to create

Gather your materials. You will need some playdough in your child’s favorite color, some glitter, a crown shaped cookie cutter ( see supply links below tutorial), some fun beads, and if you want a tray to keep everything organized. As you can see this is not homemade playdough but if you want learn how to make your own playdough , I have some great recipes.playdough princess party activity

Start by kneading your playdough colors together if you have multiple colors and/or adding glitter to your playdough. This is great and no where near as messy as you’d think because any spills can easily be picked up with the playdough. Shake it on and knead it in. Kneading playdough is a wonderful exercise to strengthen hands, which will come in handy when learning to write.Princess playdough activity for preschool

When the playdough is ready it’s time to cut some crowns!princess play doh activity

Add some bling.  princess beads in playdoughThe pearl beads were her favorite!princess crown playdough tiara

I played along with her but eventually she asked if she could have my crown to make another one. I obliged.playdough tiaras for princesses

Books About Princesses

great princess picture books

Check out our list of positive princess books here and find something that will make your princess obsessed child happy and something you feel good about reading them all in one book.

 

Quick Link Supply List
This list of supplies from the tutorial above contains affiliate links.
Play-Doh
Silver Glitter
Pink crown cookie cutter
Pearl Princess Beads

Link up your posts about kids crafts and early learning!

preschool blogI hope your Halloween was fun and you haven’t been dealing with too many sugar crashes! If you didn’t see our post yesterday we shared 7 fun ways to use Halloween candy for educational activities. Check it out and maybe some of the candy can go to great use.

Now that I have shared what we have been doing, tell me what you have! I can’t wait to see your posts about kids crafts and early learning activities.

If you are a reader without a blog to link up ( most of you are) I hope Link & Learn is a super helpful one stop shop for finding new ideas. You can stop here before hitting up Pinterest.



How To Use Halloween Candy For Learning

halloween candy activities for learning These 7 posts all focus on different things, counting, color matching, threading, writing, painting, and even science! I LOVE Halloween candy and I am not talking about eating it. I am talking about how effective a little novelty can be to spark your child’s interest in learning. I like doing candy related ideas after Easter and Halloween when we already have the candy and I want to USE it up. I get asked a lot when I post marshmallow crafts how I keep my kids from eating too much while playing. Well usually ( this didn’t work one time with my daughter) I set aside a small bowl with a reasonable amount of candies and tell them if they don’t eat the candy we are playing with they can have the small bowl when we are done. It usually works. An alternative could be that for every candy they sneak you remove one from their after activity stash. It’s never been a huge issue though, they are too busy having fun.

Here are 7 fun ideas for Halloween candy learning !

candy experiments from teachmama.com

Candy Experiments from Teachmama.com

Thanksgiving Math with Candy Corn

Candy Corn Counting

beading with twizzlers

Twizzlers Necklace

treat tally for halloween

Treat Tally Printable from PBS Parents <—- print this out NOW and keep count of your candy from last night!

skittle paint from teachpreschool.org

How To Make Skittle Paint from Teach Preschool

use skittles and m&ms for math

Candy Apple Trees ( great for M&Ms and Skittles!)

estimation ars filled with candy

Estimation Jars with Candy

 

How do YOU use candy for learning? Tell us and link your ideas in comments!