Learning about position words helps lower frustration and boosts effective communication in any classroom. Adults often take it for granted that young children know and understand these words, but many don’t. When a teacher gives a child a direction such as “Put the book beside me.” or “Place the paint between the containers.” and the student doesn’t follow through, it could be that they simply aren’t familiar with the word, not that they are being defiant. Using simple hands-on activities like these printables and modeling can help your classroom run smoothly.
My circle time routine is simple – we sing our welcome song, read a book, and so a simple and very short activity.
I usually turn the circle time activity into a free choice one on the following days. Not only does that allow the children another chance (or two) to work on these concepts, it also allows them free reign to play with it. Often my students will play circle time during free choice with another child or one of the teachers and be the teacher while we are the students.
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Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton is a wonderful book filled with zippy rhyming text and tons of facts about airplanes. Kids love this book and it is a super fun read aloud as well. The illustrations by Ant Parker make it toddler-friendly too.
Print out the following printables.
and the Airplanes.
Cut out the airplanes and laminate the airplanes and sheets. Add magnetic tape to the back. If you do not have a magnetic board, you can use a little sticky putty. Place the airplanes in a basket and the sheets on the board or wall.
After you read the book, tell the children that you need their help to figure out where to put these four airplanes. Show the children the airplanes and say “This airplane needs to go below the cloud. Where would I put it so it is below the cloud?” and repeat for the others. Sometimes I will use the children’s positions on the rug to help for example: “Hailey is between Jax and Keaton.”
For older children, you could use more positional words but I think short, sweet and successful is the best strategy for circle time. I only have four printables, but you could certainly cut the clouds out as well and add magnets to them and use words like under, over, on top, in front, behind, next to… the possibilities are endless.
Don’t forget to allow the children access to this activity for free choice after you are done the circle time. This is where they will make their own meaning more concrete. I like to think of my circle time lessons as mini tutorials for learning how to use free choice materials and a mini-lesson on group behavior. The real meat of learning is during free choice.
More Books About Planes For Kids
I Love Planes by Philemon Sturges
The Little Airplane by Lois Lenski
Check out more circle time activities and lesson plan ideas: Interactive Circle Time, Kindness Circle Time, I’m a Little Teapot Lesson
Want more preschool lesson plans and circle time activities? Our Build Preschool Thematic Units have tons of great ideas!