Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Two Favorite Circle Time Activities...and Most Effective!

Circle time is the time of day when the class comes together.  We practice how to sit, how to listen...we sing songs, and read books.  We talk about, sing about, and learn about whatever our theme for the week might be.  Circle time is a VERY important part of any preschool or pre-k day.  Much like "morning message, or morning meeting" in the primary grades, circle time is the way we start our day in order to ensure that we are 'on the same page' and ready to learn.

I have added 2 activities to my circle time that have been transformational!   One is a literacy/name activity, and one is a math/number sense activity.  They are simple, quick, and have a HUGE impact on student learning through the year.  Each one can be leveled up as the year progresses, and the kids absolutely LOVE these activities.  If I ever forget, or run out of time...I hear about it!

Name of the Day

I have a magnet board and an organized set of magnetic letters that I will load into a little box that I keep in my circle time cart.  I always pick the names for the week all at once and make sure I have all the letters I need in my little box.  When I first begin this activity, I write the child's name on the board as shown and 'scramble' the letters below.  Sometimes the child needs help.  We may start by saying "Whose name begins with the letter M?"  Usually someone will pipe up and we will narrow it down, but sometimes we need to just tell the child. "Michael...YOUR name begins with M!"  Then Michael will come up and match the letters either on top or below what is written.  I cycle through all the kids in the class this way until I know they are ready to move on to the next level.  "Level 2" begins when we have worked on level 1, talking each day about the one uppercase letter at the beginning of each name and the subsequent lowercase letters.  At this point the kids will be ready for ONLY the scrambled letters on the board with no writing.  We always mention the Uppercase letter as a clue until the kids just know what the clue is.  Watch for the kids to just automatically know whose name it is each day.  We have a strict rule of NO CALLING the name out!  "Level 3" comes at the very end of our Pre-K year...letters scrambled, and the name of the day child will write their own name on the board.  It is amazing how much they progress in name recognition, spelling, reading, and writing with this one activity!

Number of the Day

Supplies needed for this activity are pretty simple.  You will need a dry erase board and markers. small manipulatives, (I like to change my manipulative to fit our theme as much as possible) and a small clear jar.  I will choose a number for our 'Number of the Day'.  I start small at the beginning of the year and I will repeat numbers that the kids are having struggles with to do over and over-6 and 9 are biggies for the preschool set!  I will hold the board towards the kids and write the number.  The kids usually call it out while I am writing, or we practice being quiet and waiting and we practice choral response when I am done.  I then say, "That is one way to say 6, here is another!"  and I write the word s-i-x.  We say the letters together and I say "Thats another way to say 6!"  Then I draw dots...I ask the kids to count with me as I draw the dots.  I purposely draw the dots like dice faces.  When I am done I say "I have to draw box (or boxes) around them so they don't roll away!"  Then we count the dots in the boxes.  If I have two boxes as above, we would count the dots in one box, and normally I would write that number under each this case '3'.  Then we ounce the dots in the other box and write the number underneath-then I ask, "Are there still 6 dots?"  Then we count all the dots.  This is a great way to begin the idea of 'fact families'.  So here we have covered counting, one to one correspondence, subtilizing, and an intro to fact families!  Then I choose a student to come and count 6 items and put them in the jar.  I make sure that the entire class can watch and count with the chosen student.  We then display the board with all of our ways to say '6', and the jar directly in front of it in a highly visible place the entire day.  

These two activities are so simple, but they cover such a wide range of our core standards and encourage critical thinking, problem solving, working together, and most of all...they are fun!  

I LOVE teaching little ones and challenging them to learn and explore new things each day!  I have so many fun lesson plans and center ideas in my TPT store...follow the link to explore!  (I have plenty of free items to try as well )