Circle time provides a wealth of learning opportunities for children. The focus on interaction means circle should be a language rich experience.
To get the most language learning out of your circle:
- Know your children – their age, interests, and abilities.
- Adapt content and length to the children in the group. Circle time should last only as long as children are engaged.
- Begin each circle in the same way each day. Repetition is essential to language learning.
- Sing a variety of songs with gestures. Children who do not know the words can still participate!
- Recite rhymes and poems to encourage phonological awareness.
- Read stories over and over. Let children finish the sentences in the book.
- Talk about the story, the words and the pictures. Make predictions about what will come next.
- Provide opportunities for children to practice language skills by encouraging participation during circle.
- Be enthusiastic. Use gestures, facial expressions and your voice to engage the children.
- Use props and visuals to maintain children’s attention and help them understand.
- Balance active and quieter activities to keep the children engaged.
To help the learning continue after circle time is over:
- Retell the stories that you have read using dramatic play or in the writing centre.
- Use the books, games and other materials throughout the day.
- Take photos and videos to share with families. Remember to highlight the root skills that you are working on from the ELECT Framework.
- Incorporate songs and stories into newsletters for families.
- Invite family members to share stories, traditions, talents, and hobbies.
- Use story extension activities. Click here and here for some suggestions to use with popular children’s books. For new ideas, you can consult books like Story Stretchers or Story Stretchers for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos by Shirley C. Raines.