Large Group Activities: Circle Time

Large Group Teaching Strategies

What is the role of the teacher during large group teaching? How can you implement developmentally appropriate experiences for all children?  Learn how to design developmentally appropriate large group experiences and techniques to keep children actively engaged in large group activities including Circle Time, Storytime, and Music and Movement. READ: Large Group Spaces & Routines

What are Large Group Experiences?

Large group experiences are when all the children come together for a group activity at one time. Large group experiences are wonderful ways for preschoolers to enhance their social skills, build attention span and nurture a sense of community. Children often learn by observing their peers interact and solve problems. 

There are typically three different types of large group experiences in preschool classrooms including Circle Time, Story Time and Music and Movement. Experience Early Learning provides resources and lessons daily to help you guide Circle Time, Story Time and Music and Movement experiences.

In multi-aged groups, large group experiences allow children to practice teamwork and leadership skills.  

Let’s look at a few tips for two types of activities you could do during your Morning Circle. 

Daily Topic Discussion

After the children have gathered, introduce the topic of your day and encourage children to share their ideas about it.  Your role during the discussion is to offer the child multiple sensory ways to participate and express their ideas in the discussion.

The child can engage in a variety of ways during the Circle Time discussion with the use of a daily topic photo.  This photo prompt can be a picture cut from a magazine, an image from your tablet or cell phone, a drawing or the daily feature poster included in the Experience Preschool Curriculum.

Multi-Sensory Approach to Group Discussions

See: Show the children the daily image while talking. Even during discussion, the child has a multi-sensory way to engage. He can use visual tools and cues such as the daily photo.

Talk: You can ask open-ended questions while children look at the daily photo and invite them to practice verbal communication and expand their specialized vocabulary. Of course, you will demonstrate and add vocabulary too!

Do: Get the children involved with a hands-on experience so that children can show you what they are thinking. Remember, not all children are verbal-some will want to show you what they know rather than tell you.  There are many languages of children and those who have limited verbal skills may be able to better communicate through actions.

Sensory activities invite children to see, touch, hear and move around the space. As the child experiences through their senses, their brain takes in information, organizes it, and responds appropriately. If the child is only sitting and passively listening during Circle Time, their brain and body will not be able to process and this causes the child to act out in search of balance. 

The opening discussion especially when active and sensory-based is a great way to start the day and show every child that he belongs, that his words have value and that he is capable of participating and learning in his own unique way.

Large Group Games: The Community Challenge

When you are finished talking about the topic for the day, you can bring focus to social and emotional learning. A large group game or song will help children develop empathy so they can understand that others may have different thoughts and feelings from their peers. The Community Challenge activity embedded daily in the Experience Preschool Curriculum program offers a range of community-building activities from fingerplays and collaborative games to songs that insert the child’s name. 

In summary, your role during Circle Time is:

  • To help each child feel welcome.
  • To allow each child to warm up to learning and know they can participate in their own way.
  • To help develop social and emotional skills, such as nurturing empathy, through games.

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