The start of the school year always comes with a specific planning challenge, what will my students be able to do? How long will they be able to sit for? How can I teach them how circle time works while being sensitive to their abilities and meeting them where they are at. This simple circle time activity is perfect for the start of the year because it focuses on listening as well as taking turns, and it’s easy to cut it short by simply reading the book or having the teacher do all the interactive steps if the activity is too much for your class that day.
A few notes before I get into how to use this circle time lesson plan. First, re-reading books with preschool age children is a great tactic for literacy development. Not only does it help with vocabulary development but it also helps to develop a sense of security. Predictable stories, routines, and lessons are all valuable tools to help children feel comfortable in the classroom. Also, as you will see this book is written and illustrated by a Hailsa, Heiltuk author, and illustrator, and I am guessing most of you reading this are not from that specific culture. Incorporating multi-cultural books into your classroom for lessons and simply on your bookshelf is important, and as you see you don’t need to make it a special “learn about other cultures” lesson, just incorporate the diversity into your classroom. Diversity should be the norm.
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Good Morning World by Paul Windsor is a great repetitive book that is all about welcoming everyone to the day. Short little sentences greet the sun and various animals as they start their day. While the text is perfect for a short circle time the illustrations in traditional Haisla and Heiltuk style are bright and inviting enough for silent “reading” time for preschoolers who can explore the story through them. I love this book because it’s impossible to feel anything but happy after reading it.
The Circle Time Activity
Before class, print out the printables ( below), cut the animals and sun out, and laminate if you want. I have a large magnet board in my classroom, and so I print them out, laminate and add magnetic tape to the pieces. You may want to add magnets like me or velcro dots for a flannel board, or just leave them as is and have the children place them in the center of the circle. All those options work!
After reading the book. Hand out the animals and sun, one to each student. Label the animals verbally as you hand them to the students. “Hailey you get the eagle, Brain here is a bear for you.” Feel free to make multiples for large classes.
Tell the children that you are going to read the book again, but this time they need to listen so carefully for their animal. When they hear it, they need to come and place it on the board or in the middle of the circle. I like to end activities like this with a little counting, so I usually say something like ” Let’s see how many animals we have?” then ask the children should we count the sun? Is the sun an animal?
What’s great about this is that if your class is not yet ready to get up and down at circle, you can place the animals yourself making it more interactive by having the children repeat “Good Morning” and waving at the items as you place them.
Making circle time interactive is a great way of making it successful for your students. It’s hard to sit when you are a preschooler and expectations should be realistic. As teachers, we want to work towards a goal but forcing children before they are ready is not our job. Making circle time interactive lets children get up move, and be participants instead of passive observers which makes it much more meaningful for them.
For more circle time activities check out a whole bunch of great circle time lesson plans here.