Looking for a way to structure your Circle Time that’s fun, interactive, & easy to prep? Keep reading to see why kindergarten & preschool Circle Time Printables (which I call Monthly Learning Binders) are the way to go!
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THE UNIVERSAL TRUTH
If you have a preschooler or kindergartener in your life, you know there’s ONE truth that’s universal for parents and teachers all over the world.
It’s not that our little ones are going to ask for a snack every 20 minutes (although that’s near the top of the list!)
And it’s not that they’ll love a certain food one day and hate it the next (although again, this is pretty common at this age!)
All parents and teachers know that our little ones thrive on ROUTINE.
- If you’re a parent, have you ever gone on a vacation with your family that felt a little chaotic or unmanageable?
- If you’re a teacher, how does your class react when the routine changes because of a holiday party or assembly?
In both of those situations, things might feel out of control because your little ones weren’t following their usual routine.
Having a predictable routine gives our preschoolers and kindergarteners a sense of security and stability. It also helps them feel in control of their environment because they know what’s happening next.
When it comes to learning, routine is more important than ever for our little learners. They feel empowered when they know what to expect from the day, and the repetition of the activities helps them master crucial foundational skills.
And that’s why Circle Time is one of the most important parts of the day!
PRESCHOOL & KINDERGARTEN CIRCLE TIME
One way to add structure to your day is through CIRCLE TIME, which is also called Morning Meeting, Calendar Time, or Morning Basket if you’re homeschooling.
Circle Time is the time of day where our little ones gather together to learn, share, connect, and interact with each other.
Teachers structure their circle times in different ways, depending on the needs of their class, but some common activities you’ll see include:
- Good Morning song
- Read aloud
- Poem, rhyme, or fingerplay
- Review of the daily schedule
- Introduction of a new skill (mini-lesson)
- Show & tell
Now don’t think you have to fit in ALL of those activities at once…circle time doesn’t have to be just one time of day.
You can break it up into smaller amounts of time and sprinkle them throughout your day. Some classrooms even have two or three circle times during the day, each with its own focus and purpose.
But the idea is that you keep the routine the SAME. Whatever activities you pick for your circle time, keep them the same so your little ones know what’s coming. This will add structure and stability to their day.
That way, no matter what other activities you do during the day (or how the schedule changes!), your little ones feel confident that circle time happens in the same order each day.
CIRCLE TIME PRINTABLES
One way to make circle time more interactive is by having circle time printables that accompany the activities. These printables allow little ones to follow along with more engagement AND practice skills individually.
In order to make this work for me, I created what I call LEARNING BINDERS for each month of the year. These Learning Binders are circle time printables that go along with our routine.
The activities stay consistent from month to month, but in order to keep things fresh, the theme of the activities changes to go along with the season or special event happening that month. That way, my little ones continue to feel excited for circle time!
I print out these printables for each student, place them in plastic sheets, and then put them inside a 3-ring binder or folder with brads. That way, the printbles stay organized and can be used all month long.
The 6 circle time printables I’ve included in each monthly Learning Binder include:
1. EDITABLE NAME WRITING PRACTICE
One of the most important skills for our preschool and kindergarten students to master is writing their name. I created a name writing printable for each month with seasonal clip art so my students can learn this important skill.
This page is editable, so you can type your students’ names in the top two boxes. The first box is a solid font, and the second box is a traceable font. I want my students to spell, trace, build, and write their name each day of the month. Once they’ve mastered their first name, I move on to their last name, and even their middle name!
This printable doesn’t necessarily have to be used during circle time. You can instead use this as a way to take attendance or as a “sign-in” sheet in the morning. It could also be sent home for little ones to practice their name at home.
2. POEM OF THE MONTH
Each month, I teach my little ones a brand-new poem and sign language to accompany the poem. We practice the poem each day, and by the end of the month, they are pros and can say it themselves! I love using poems as a way to develop phonological awareness and strengthen rhyming skills.
You can send this poem home with your students so they practice with their families, or if you’re homeschooling, you can keep it hanging on your refrigerator to practice each day.
3. EDITABLE CALENDAR
Before I dive into Calendar Time, I wanted to quickly note that Linear Calendars are a great beginning calendar for our youngest preschoolers. You can read about linear calendars here.
Once you’re ready to introduce a traditional calendar, these editable calendars are a great tool for you. You can type the year and numbers into the boxes so you can use them from year to year.
There are also plenty of weeks on the calendar so none of the days have to share boxes (I think calendars with slashes for the days 23/30 and 24/31 are SO confusing for kids!)
The numbers on the calendar are traceable, so your little ones can practice number formation, too. Or you can leave the calendar blank (like I did in the above photo) and have your little ones add the numbers on their own. So many math skills can be covered during calendar time!
4. WEATHER CARDS & BAR GRAPH
After calendar, I like to talk about the weather outside. But I also wanted a way to sneak in more math during circle time, so I came up with the perfect solution.
Each month, we have 4 types of weather cards to choose from with a corresponding bar graph. After students choose the weather for the day, they color in a bar on their bar graph.
At the end of the month, we see which weather we had the most of and which weather we had the least of. Great way to mix in more math skills!
5. FEELING CARDS & TALLY CHART
Another main focus of circle time is developing social emotional skills. I wanted to include a “feelings check-in” so my little ones can get in touch with how they’re feeling. Plus I wanted to introduce them to new vocabulary words for their feelings.
Each month, there are 4 new feelings words (the clip art changes to go along with the month). You talk about what each word means and act them out. Each day, your little ones can choose a word that best describes how they’re feeling. Then they can make a tally mark on their tally chart.
At the end of the month, we add up the totals and see which feeling they had the most of and which they had the least of. Another way to work on math skills!
6. MONTHLY READING LOG
The importance of reading aloud to our preschool and kindergarten kiddos can’t be overstated. It is SO crucial to their reading development as it helps with vocabulary development, oral language skills, comprehension, and fluency. Oh, and it’s fun, too!
I love having my little ones color in a picture for each book we read during circle time as a way to track all of our amazing read alouds. You can also send this home to families so they’re encouraged to read more to their kids.
THE BENEFITS OF USING CIRCLE TIME PRINTABLES
Following a circle time routine using hands-on printables is so beneficial because it allows little ones to feel confident in the predictability of the routine.
Each day the order of activities is the same, although each month includes variety with different feeling words, different weather words, and a different poem to keep things fresh & engaging.
Following a routine like this also helps parents and teachers feel confident and reassured that, no matter what the rest of the day looks like, your little ones have practiced basic preschool and kindergarten skills.
Just by using these Learning Binders, your little ones have already worked on:
- Handwriting (Letters & Numbers)
- Oral Language (Listening & Speaking Skills)
- Phonological Awareness (Rhyming)
- Days of the Week
- Months of the Year
- Tally Charts
- Bar Graphs
- Social Emotional Learning
- and More!
These printables are perfect to use in your classroom or homeschool. I used these exact printables when homeschooling my 3 year old for preschool, and he loved them! I was so impressed with how much he learned just from following this routine.
I also love that each month has a different theme. The themes are fun, engaging, and keep things fresh. The themes for these circle time printables are:
- August: School
- September: Apples/Farm
- October: Pumpkins
- November: Turkeys
- December: Winter/Snow
- January: Polar Animals
- February: Love/Hearts
- March: Bees/Flowers
- April: Spring
- May: Sweet Treats
- June: Beach
- July: Camping
PRINT & GO PRINTABLES
But with that said, sometimes you just need a quick printable for your kiddos for a variety of reasons:
- You have a little one who wants to do “homework” like big brother or sister
- You have a little one who finishes their work fast and is always looking for a challenge
- You want to take an activity with you on the go, but you can’t pack tons of manipulatives
I can totally relate! That’s why each monthly Learning Binder also includes 4 printables (2 literacy and 2 math). These are unique printables each month that cover a variety of skills. Just think of them as a “bonus” for purchasing the pack!
AN EASIER WAY TO PLAN FOR CIRCLE TIME
I hope these ideas are helpful to you when planning your circle time, whether that’s for your students in your classroom or homeschooling your own child.
And while I can’t guarantee your kiddos won’t ask for a snack every 20 minutes, or that they’ll always like the same foods, I CAN guarantee these monthly Learning Binders will help them establish a predictable, consistent routine that will keep them engaged, active, and learning during circle time.
How do you structure your circle time? What songs or printables do you use? Comment below or head over to Instagram [@littleslovelearningblog] and share there!