Your Kids Need Circle Time Activities. Here’s Why And How

Preschool is a time of wonder, exploration and sadly, short attention span. If you find it challenging to reel in your children’s attention at this tender age, consider incorporating fun circle time activities into their routine. Circle time, also called carpet time or group time, is a vital preschool routine where children gather in a circle to participate in guided group activities. Effective and consistent circle times can help children stretch out their attention span, improve their cognitive, social and language skills, and build a routine. If at all parents find themselves in another lockdown, circle time activities will certainly come in handy.

Useful Tips For Quality Circle Time

Having meaningful circle time shouldn’t be stressful for both parent and child. Just be flexible and keep these pointers in mind:

  • Determine the theme or lesson of the day: Plan circle time activities around educational or interesting topics, such as hygiene, animals or colours, ahead of time. This way, the children can learn something new. Plus, parents can anticipate questions from the children and plan ways to help them refocus if they get distracted.
  • Variety is key: Remember to alternate between activities that are interactive, hands-on, and ones that require movements to keep things interesting.
  • Length of circle time: Apart from being age-appropriate, circle time activities should last for as long as a preschooler’s attention span allows. They are typically engaged for up to 18 minutes at a time, depending on how the group reacts. If they start losing focus, feel free to switch up the activity or end circle time early. Parents can always revisit circle time later in the day.
  • Establish a circle time routine: Just like adults, children respond better when they know what to expect. Rather than surprising them with circle time, make it a weekly or biweekly exercise. It also helps them develop a sense of anticipation for circle time.

Below, we’ve rounded up eight children’s activities that parents can mix and match for a fun and easy circle time.

Fun And Interactive Circle Time Activities For Preschoolers

Musical Games

Musical games for circle time activities
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What better way to kick off circle time than with musical games? They’re foolproof activities for preschoolers to get into the mood and shake the wiggles out. One idea is for parents to play an instrument like a drum while the children march to the beat, be it slow, moderate or fast. When the music stops, the children will stop too.

Calendar Time

Calendar time
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To settle them down, consider following up with this classic circle time activity. You’ll need a children’s calendar, or a DIY one, where children can help pick the date, time and weather of the day. Parents can prompt the children to discuss upcoming events of the day and observe the weather outside. It’s a gentle way to approach the concept of time and to see beyond the confines of home.

Spin The Bottle

How about a child-friendly version of Spin the Bottle? Parents can prepare some animal flashcards and have the children take turns spinning the bottle, which can double up as a motor skill activity. Whoever the bottle ends up pointing at will have to act out the animal on the flashcard chosen at random by the parents. Simply change up the flashcards according to the lesson of the day or replace the tasks with other suitable activities for preschoolers.

Group Art Project

Group art project for circle time activities
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Children are natural artists, and preschool is the perfect time to encourage them to explore their curiosity, creativity and teamwork through group art projects. For instance, on the topic of vegetables, children can create a collaborative vegetable stamping artwork by using cut vegetables and non-toxic paint. If they’re learning about colours, they can make a rainbow out of colourful rice. As these can be quite messy, do consider putting on a bib or laying down a splash mat or tray that will make cleaning up much easier. Be creative, otherwise the Internet is always a good resource!

Story Time

Story time
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Reading to children at a young age can inculcate a lifelong love of books, so incorporating storytelling as part of circle time activities is highly beneficial. Not only does reading strengthen the parent-child bond, it also develops children’s imagination and empathy, and helps them understand the world around them. For a more engaging story time, try using nuances, body language and different voices while telling the story. Pepper the story with questions and use illustrations in the book to get children to describe what they see or to explain difficult words.

Puppet Show

Puppet show
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Alternatively, bring the characters from your children’s favourite story to life with a puppet show! Use stuffed toys, finger puppets, colourful socks or oven mitts as puppets, or get the children to help make the puppets as part of their circle time activities. To keep the children engaged, keep the show to a reasonable length, and make sure the plot is fun and easy to follow. 

The ‘Touch Something’ Game

This is one of the easiest children’s activities that will keep them on their toes and train their observation skills. Parents tell the children to touch something that begins with a certain alphabet, or has a certain colour, texture or characteristic. Then the children hunt around the house for an object that fits the profile. Best of all, everything’s already lying around the house and the children can expend some of their boundless energy!

Finger Play

Remember songs like Baby Shark, Wheels on the Bus, and Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes? They’re actually finger play songs that combine hand actions or movements with singing or rhyming. There’s a plethora of finger play songs on YouTube, so parents can choose a different song for each circle time. The catchy tunes will be sure to help children have fun, multitask and improve their hand-eye coordination.

Make Circle Time Activities for Preschoolers Easy, Fun And Educational

Circle time activities
Credit: Yan Krukov via Pexels

Circle time activities for preschoolers don’t have to be complicated, rigid or stressful. It’s okay to start small with a shorter circle time and gradually lengthen it to build up longer attention spans in children. More importantly, circle time makes for an enriching experience for both the parent and child – children gain holistic mental and physical development, while parents get an opportunity to understand their children better. It’s a win-win in our books. For more circle time inspiration, check out these engaging indoor activities and arts and crafts projects.