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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spider Web Walking Spelling Game

spider web balance game for preschool One of our most popular posts ever is our Spider Web Walking and the other night while looking through pictures my 4 year old asked me if she could try that game. She was tiny when we did it the first ( and 2nd) times. So we got our stuff together and made a huge spider web to balance on but since my daughter had been asking to learn how to spell all her imaginary friends’ names I decided to turn it into a spelling game. You have to stay balanced on the web without stepping in the letters while you gather all the letters needed to spell the name ( or word). We were just matching up letters but when my son had his turn after he got home from school he had no visual as a guide, he just found the letters he needed and spelled the name without a guide. Easy to adapt is a must with a 4 and almost 8 year old.

Gather your materials. You will need some letter magnets ( or letters written out on paper), painter’s tape, card stock, a marker, scissors. Something that came up in a facebook thread is that children should be using lowercase letters. This will depend on the curriculum you are using. Some districts follow Upper than lower, some follow lower then upper and I personally have always followed the child. I teach my children to recognize the letters in tandem as well as my students. Letters in both forms are everywhere and recognizing them both is great. By the time children are working with word families they know both upper and lowercase letters, and I had uppercase ones on hand so I grabbed them. I wasn’t worried my daughter was getting confused, however in a class I would probably have shelled out more money and get some lowercase magnets! web walking spelling game

Start by writing out the names or words on card stock ( I use sentence strips from the dollar store). Cut so they are one per piece of card stock. web walking spelling activity

Tape out your spider web and add letters making sure you have put out the letters needed for the word you have asked your child to spell.spider web game

Start walking on the web.web walking gross motor activity

Balance to the word or name and read it. web walking for halloween game

Then gather the letters placing them on the written out word. web walking is fun gross motor activity for preschoolWhen every letter is matched up you walk off the web and let someone else have a turn or switch up words. web walking spelling game for kids

It’s very very tricky to bend down and get all the letters without touching extra letters but your kids will love the challenge! spider web walking game for kidsWe covered 3 names before having to run to the bus stop to get my son who promptly announced ” I did that before, let me try!” They kept playing happily long enough for me to get dinner started and read a little before any arguments began. web walking for elementary spelling game

 

Quick Link Supply List
This list is of the supplies I used ( or very similar). This list contains affiliate links.
Magnetic Wooden Alphabet
Sentence Strips
FrogTape

 

Books About Spiders

All our book lists include affiliate links.

spider

The Very Busy Spider was a favorite of my son’s from the get go. We have the board book edition and what I love about it, is that the spider web in it is raised and offers a sensory element to reading the story. This is a story of hard work, persistence and also helps reinforce animal sounds. Perfect for toddlers !

diary of a spider

Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin is a very clever book with some pretty funny bits of humor . Older preschoolers will love it. The overall theme is that spiders aren’t all nasty and that they have fears too. What a great lesson for kids that are at the age where they are not as eager to share their fears because they don’t want to look weak or unable to handle things themselves.

missspider

Miss Spider’s Abc Book by David Kirk has the most vivid and beautiful illustrations. The text is simple and flows well but the value is in the illustrations, they cover all sorts of bugs and are so bright that they will appeal to your child!

Easy Painting Activities For Toddlers

art ideas for toddlers I was digging through my own archives the other night as I was lesson planning for my preschool class and found a bunch of posts I’d forgotten about. I found exactly what I needed for my lesson plans and decided to share some of what I found with you as well. These easy painting activities for toddlers are all great for children who are just starting to explore with art. They are open ended, easy to do with one or 10 kids, and let children explore. For more art ideas for toddlers ( and big kids) make sure you are following us on Pinterest and Facebook! 

Do you have a favorite art activity to do with toddlers? Link it up or tell me about it in comments. My children aren’t toddlers anymore but I am always looking for new ideas for my classroom.

art activities for toddlers

Cork Printing
Fly Swatter Painting
Baby Block Painting
Painting with Bugs

toddler painting activities for daycare
Sponge Painting
Pumpkin Printing
Letter Cookie Cutter Printing
Bath Poof Painting

easy painting ideas for toddlers
Splat Painting
Toy Track Painting
Cookie Cutter Prints
Garden Vegetable Printing

toddler printing and painting ideas for preschool
Pot Scrubber Painting
Rubber Duckie Printing
Feather Painting
Painting With Water

painting ideas for young toddlers
Animal Track Paintings
Glass Sponge Painting 
Potato Masher Painting
Painting With Sound

Early Learning Linky !

rp_link-learn-2014-455x1781111111.jpg

Even though summer isn’t officially over until the 21st of September I can’t help but think that Labor Day is the end of summer. We have had so much fun sharing great summer activities but now it’s time for all fantastic fall ideas. We gathered up a bunch of ours a few days ago in this list of fall activities and crafts for preschool. Now I want to see yours. I would love for you to share your fall themed early learning activities, play ideas, and crafts buy linking them up below.

If you need more fall ideas I have had fun curating links from all over on my Fall Lessons & Activities For Preschool board on Pinterest.

Thanks again for taking time out of your day to check out these links and leave some of your own!