Chaotic Circle Times Don’t Have To Be a Problem Anymore by Renae Lingafelt-Beeker


We adults know circle time is academically focused and serious learning should be going on. But the fact remains this is actually an exercise in social emotional adventures. The children are physically close together, they are on the floor, they are asked to listen, and to wait their turn!  It is amazing anything positive happens in this setting, and often the longer they sit, the less attentive they become.

It is important to bring new life to circle time every day! Often it can be enhanced by giving it a new twist. To keep children (and teachers!) from circle time struggles, try these tips:

  • Set this time to officially begin the school day.
  • Start with a short circle time and test the waters for group attentiveness.  
  • Remember if circle time is just not working (or runs a little too long), don’t force it. Conduct a second circle time later in the day.
  • Divide a large group into smaller groups (everything is always more manageable in smaller groups).
  • Assign children a “bottom button” which can be a taped design on the floor, a square of carpet, or even an art project laminated.
  • When showing a picture to the group, hold it still and give their eyes time to focus.
  • Allow time for children to ask questions about what they see in the pictures. Tap into their interests.
  • Plan age-appropriate activities.
  • Include a movement activity to alternate with the need to be still.
  • Make it fun! Evaluate the need to change the routine.
  • Give children a chance to participate in circle time. For example, one child may have the job of picking a song to sing.
  • Take opinion polls. Allow children to vote on what goes on in the classroom from the next activity they may want to do or how a new item is used.
  • Discuss and encourage comments about feelings. Talk about how the characters in a story might be feeling.
  • Add a “discovery box” to group time. Let children guess what is inside.
  • Always start circle time with something exciting that piques the children’s interest so they want to participate. Draw them in by what is happening!


Do you have an excellent tip or trick that makes circle time successful? If so, please let us know!