Winter seems to drag on forever, but your circle time lessons don’t have to be boring. The key ingredient to any preschool lesson is to use a theme or subject that your students have some prior knowledge of. Of course, in a lesson, you are hopefully learning something new or reinforcing a skill, but using a subject that children already have some connection to helps to engage little learners. My favorite way of ensuring this is to read a story first. You can do this at circle time or before it, this year we’ve moved storytime to snack as our learners are much happier to listen and be successful listening to longer stories at snack. We have to meet our students where they are at, and this makes it, so we are all engaged in the story.
In my class, circle time is pretty active, and I use the time to build community as well as work on some necessary skills. We say good morning to everyone with our good morning song; we chant together, and then we sit down for a simple activity. In this lesson plan, the skills we are focusing on include learning new vocabulary like whole and half, visual discrimination, taking turns, and color recognition. There are multiple ways to use this free printable, and I’ll share how to for large and small classes.
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Snowmen At Work by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner is a fantastical book about the lives, and all the jobs snowmen have while we humans sleep. They drive trucks, stock grocery shelves, fix other snowmen’s teeth… everything we do they do too. My students love the parts of the story when we visit a snow grocery store and the pet store. They both offer teachers a chance to talk about pets and food and involve your students by asking questions about both. Of course, with a class full of 3-year-olds, the page with the fire truck was a hit too! This book is fun and straightforward, and even though it’s longer than some, I’d use it for circle time. It’s so engaging that it works even with very young preschoolers.
The FREE Snowmen Printables
The printables include eight snowmen ( there are two sheets with four snowmen each) with red, orange, yellow, blue, brown, purple, green, and pink hats.
I printed mine out and laminated them, though you don’t have to laminate. I, like many teachers, are trying to limit what I laminate going forward. Next, I cut them entirely in half and add magnets to the back. Going forward, I may glue printables onto recycled cardboard to make them sturdier.
Finally, I add one half of each snowman to the board, popping the others in a basket.
The Snowmen At Work Lesson Plan
After reading the story, I like to ask my students what job they would like to have if they were snow-people. Often they will answer with something they saw in the book, but sometimes a kiddo will surprise you with something else, it’s those moments I adore teaching.
After a short discussion, I point to the snowmen halves on the board.
“What’s missing?” Here my goal is to use the world half. We are learning about wholes and halves with this simple activity. If a student doesn’t say, ” The other half of the snowmen.” I will usually work it in before telling the students I have the missing halves in the basket.
“Oh good, let’s just fix these snowmen!” and then I’ll purposefully match up to halves that do not belong together. “Wait, do these match? Look at the hat, one half if yellow, the other is purple!”
At this point, kiddos will be eagerly correcting me. Then I explain how I will hand one half out to each child, and everyone will get a turn to match them up.
Ways to Differentiate The Snowmen At Work Lesson Plan
In a larger group, you can print out multiple copies and then call out a color. Have every child with that color come up and match their snowmen. This way, everyone moves a little at circle time, everyone has a chance to match their snowman, and it doesn’t take until home time to do it.
Want to turn this into a higher-level math activity? Write dots on one side and digits on the other. To make it more challenging, have multiple snowmen with the same color hats, so the hat color is not always a scaffold. You can do the same with letters too.