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Tips for a Successful Circle Time

Circle time is a brilliant time to help children develop many different skills such as working with others, language and literacy skills. Being prepared can help circle time be successful for all and ensure you can make the most of this really beneficial time. Preparation is key, so with that in mind; here are our five strategies to ensure a successful circle time:

1. Time:  

It is vital that circle time is an appropriate time for each age group. You should not be expecting children under the age of three to be participating in circle time for more than six to eight minutes. For kids three to three and a half years old, circle time should last only eight to 10 minutes. For children age three and a half to four years and up, circle time should not be longer than 15 minutes. Keeping circle time short and concise will ensure children’s attention is retained and keep disruption to a minimum.
2. Location: 

Where you organise circle time is really important, everyone should feel comfortable and safe. A nice space could be on a large rug, facing away from the entrance. You could use individual carpet squares or a laminated circle designated for each child’s ‘personal space’, this can help them to stay in their place. 

3. Engagement: 

The most important aspect of circle time is ensuring every child is engaged and enjoying the time. Keep things interactive by encouraging activities such as singing and dancing, read engaging stories and play games. You can check out our circle time activity ideas in the next section of this blog.  
4. Multisensory:   

It is important to think of all of the senses to ensure circle time is a multisensory experience. Children engage more when there are things to see, touch, hear and even smell.  

Ensure a safe environment where every child feels safe, respected and listened to. Create a space where everyone is equal and no one feels left behind. Everyone should be given equal time to participate.  


Circle Time Activities: 

Songs: Children love singing and songs have the power to make them feel energised and engaged. Songs can also be educational, making them a fantastic resource not only at circle time but throughout the day. Check out lovely song ideas for circle time here.


Discovery Basket: Create a discovery basket based on any theme you like, simply by filling a container with items of your choice. The idea is to give kids an encouraging prompt: a gentle invitation to dig in, discover new materials, and then use their own ideas to learn about something new. Discover ideas for your discovery basket here. 

Poems: You can choose a poem based on any topic you like, for any season or situation, making them a very reliable circle time activity.  

Movement cards: Movement cards are a great way to lift the spirits and pick the energy up. Again, you can choose these around the theme you are covering at the time, for example, animals. You will find loads of options here.


‘Doggy, Doggy, Where’s your bone?’

Choose one child to be the doggy. The doggy will sit in the middle of a circle as the other children sit around. Find a bone (or any object to represent the bone) and give it to one child while chanting this song:

Doggy, Doggy, where’s your bone?
Somebody stole it from your home.
Guess who! Maybe you…
Maybe the monkeys from the zoo
Wake up doggy, find your bone.

Have all of the children hide their hands behind their backs. When the chant is over, the doggy can uncover his or her eyes and gets 3 guesses as to which person has the bone. If they guess where the bone is, they get to sit outside the circle and the person with the bone is the doggy. If they don't guess where the bone is, they have to be the doggy again.

‘Duck, Duck, Goose’
The classic favourite; this one is perfect for when kids have lots of energy to use up! Have all the children, except for one, sit in a circle. The child who is still standing will then go around the circle, tapping on each child’s head saying duck, duck, duck, until they choose someone as goose. The chosen children will then try and tag the other before they sit down. If he/she makes it to the goose’s seat without being tagged, the goose is now “it”.  If the goose tags “it” first, then the goose gets to keep his/her spot in the circle, and “it” continues tapping children until they make it to the seat first.

‘Simon Says’
Start by introducing yourself as Simon. Simon calls out steps starting with the phrase “Simon says”: Simon might say things like, “wave hello,” or “touch your knees”. The children then have to copy Simon’s action, by waving hello or touching their knees. If Simon calls out an action without saying the phrase “Simon says,” the children must be still and not complete the action. If a child waves hello when Simon doesn’t say…he or she is out of the game. The last child left wins!

‘Hot Potato’
Play some lively music and have the children pass the potato (or a ball, bean bag, or anything you have handy) around the circle as quickly as they can. When the music stops, the player holding the potato leaves the circle. Keep playing until only one child is left and they’ve won the game!

Find more fantastic games for all ages here.

Enjoy! 😁


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