10 Ideas to Spice up your Circle Time

circle time ideas

It’s spring time and you know what that means, the end of the school year is just around the corner for many of you.

With that comes a little less ambition to plan.

If I’m right, then I’ve got something for you, 10 ideas to Spice up your Circle Time!

But even if you are reading this list in late October, I bet you’ll still find some inspiration you can take right back to circle time.

1. Guess the instrument

Get that box of mixed instruments out. Choose 3 to play for the class and tell them their names. Then take them out of sight. Say the outer space-themed chant below and then play one instrument at a time in between. Can they guess which instrument was played?


Astronauts, astronauts are flying all around,

One of them has an instrument, just listen to the sound.

2. Parachute Fun

The parachute doesn’t always get all the love it deserves. Let’s be honest, you haven’t gotten it out all year!

The best part is, kids love it! Try this simple song below and change the word in bold to mix it up!

If you need a little help with how to manage parachute time, check out my blog post 3 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make with the Parachute.


(Tune: This Is The Way)

This is the way we walk around

Walk around, walk around.

This is the way and then we all sit down.

3. Change The Hello Song

Doing the same hello song at circle time can feel safe, but it can get old fast. Change up the second line of this chant and it will feel like new every time!


Strawberry shortcake, banana cream pie

If you’re wearing red, jump up high!

variation ideas: If you have a dog, raise your hands high.

4. Shadow Screen Story

Children love readalouds. But storytime doesn’t need to stop at books!

All you will need to tell a story with a shadow screen is, well, a shadow screen, some characters cut out of cardstock with a popsicle stick attached, a story you can retell easily like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and a backlight (phone flashlights work)!

Not sure how to make a shadow screen? Check it out here!

5. Hide The Star

This game is a lot like hot and cold. But instead of saying, “you’re getting hotter” when the person gets close to the object, you sing louder and quieter as they move farther away!

To play, choose one child to hide the star and one child to be the finder. They’ll hide their eyes until it is hidden. Then have the finder enter the room as the group directs them to the object using a song’s volume as the clue. I like using “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” because it is a well known tune.


Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.

Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.

6. Storytelling Stones

For this storytelling change up, you’ll need a short story such as “Too Much Noise”, small rocks and the characters modge podged onto the rocks. That’s it!

I’ll tell you the story using flannel pieces and that should get your wheels turnin’ on how you can put the characters on stones. Click here for the story.

7. Bubble Time

Blow a bubble and have children count how long it takes for it to pop. Try other objects like feathers, scarves and tissues. Keep a record of how long each object stays in the air. Children will also get an opportunity to play with physics as they determine which one stays in the air the longest. Be sure to ask lots of “why” questions.

8. Memory

Teach children how to play memory by placing numbered cards in a pocket chart. Next, get a set of cards with pairs and mix them up and place behind each number. Have a child select two numbers and see if the card behind them match. If they don’t match, turn them back over and have another child make a guess. Continue the game until all cards have been matched up. Make the game available for children to play with a partner later.

9. Flower Shop

Give each child 5 pennies in a ziplock. Get a bundle of fake flowers at the dollar store. Say the chant below and insert a child’s name. Then tell them how many pennies to pay. Get ready for them to want to play flower shop for at least a week after this!


So many flowers in the flower shop,

So many flowers to be bought.

Along came Ethan/Emily with a penny to pay (or “some money” if you don’t have pennies),

He/she took one (change number each time) flower then he/she ran away.

10. Make Slow Cooker Playdough

Cooking is not only fun and memorable, it is a great STEM activity. Using a slow cooker means the children can help you make it in the classroom, then watch it cook. Grab the recipe here.

Name Games for Preschool

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

-Dale Carnegie

Learning the names of your kids right away is a must! It instantly connects you with them and they move from being anonymous to, “oh man, she knows my name!”.

My mom was a substitute teacher for years. She had a few tricks to help her survive the day. The first one was to always start by telling the class a joke. She mainly taught high school so that opened up the door for lots of silly and probably off color ones too.

Her second trick was to learn the students’ names right away.  That way they went from being “hey you” to “Tommy, turn around!” and that got their attention REALLY fast.

I took that trick to heart and always made sure to learn every child’s name as quickly as possible. 

That meant I had to find a lot of name games to keep it fun for kids while I was busy committing the names to memory. As a music teacher I see on average around 300 kids a week so if you are a classroom teacher with 20 kids, I’m little jealous.

I did find that having a list in front of me or on the wall with the names helped me to lock in the name even better.  When we use multiple senses to retain information, it helps us to retrieve the information more easily because it’s kept in more than one spot in our brain.

Below are 4 name games that kids love and I hope you will too.

#1 Higgelty, Piggelty, BumbleBee

This catchy rhyme can be sung or chanted with the same great results. There are so many variations to this activity, that you really could do it every day for weeks! Begin by going around the circle and having children say their name at the end of the rhyme. If children are not comfortable enough with the group to say it, they may need some help. Just be sure to not force them to say their name. It will come with time.

#2 Willoughby, Wallaby Wee

If you don’t know this funny rhyming song yet, it’s time to learn it! Even babies will enjoy it especially if you bring along an elephant finger puppet or hand puppet to join in the fun.

Willoughby Wallaby Wee

Rhyming is a major component to learning to read. The sooner children are able to manipulate language the way we do in this song, the sooner they will learn to read. Click here to read more about why rhyming is such a key player in reading.

#3 Who is Here Today?

Taking the time to show each child that they are a valuable member of the learning community, builds self-confidence and a sense of belonging.  When these skills are fostered at an early age in children, it helps cement the idea that they are important and special. 

Make sure to look each child in the eye when their name is called.  This lets them know you are focusing on only them.  Emergent literacy is also developed in this activity when a picture of each child along with their name is used. By providing this visual clue, a child can correctly identify their written name in print as well as their classmates’ names – double win!

who is here today?

#4 Johnny Whoops

While it might seem boring and basic to you as an adult, kids love the simplest things like hearing their name played with in funny ways.

“Johnny Whoops” is the perfect song for this.

You can either go around the circle and do one child’s name at a time, or use a name jar especially if you have a big class. 

To use this method, simply place a popsicle stick with each child’s name written on it in a jar.  Then select a few children’s names to do at each circle time.

Start on your pinky finger and say “Johnny” as you point to the tip of each finger. After the pointer finger, slide your finger over to the thumb while saying “whoops”. Then work your way back to the pinky saying “Johnny” on each finger.

name games

Old McDonald Had a Haunted House

Halloween is just around the corner and I bet your little ones will go batty over this festive song! “Old McDonald Had a Haunted House” takes that popular farm song (you know the one?!?) and creates a perfect rendition for this time of year.

Old MacDonald had a haunted house,

E – I – E – I – Boo!

And in that house there was a bat,

E – I – E – I – Boo!

To add an additional layer of fun, engagement and a literacy connection, add a visual for everything in his house!

Don’t have time to source all the pictures? No worries, just click here or fill out the form at the bottom of the email. You’ll be able to download the activity pack for FREE! It includes the song sheet, activity guide and printables with character names (just like the one below) so you can start singing the song right away!

Happy Halloween!

My Great Big World

My Great Big World

>>>>>Download the activity by entering your information below<<<<<

When September roles around, it is pretty common for the “All About Me” theme to fill many preschool teachers’ lesson planning books.

This song, “My Great Big World,” is a perfect addition to your “All About Me” circle times. It’s sure to keep kids engaged as they will learn the sign language for several of the words in the song!

Teachers will love “My Great Big World” because the adaptions are endless! You could literally use this song all year long when introducing a new theme or topic to your class.

Some of the skills fostered in “My Great Big World” are:

  • Singing with others
  • Sign language
  • Developing an awareness of self 

Check out the video below so you can see the song in action! Then be sure to click on the link to download the activity guide, audio recording and chords to play the song on ukulele or guitar.

Download My Great Big World!

Simply enter your name and email in the fields below. Once you’ve done that, check your email for this free resource. I hope you find it to be a fun song to add to your “All About Me” theme!

7 Secrets for Circle Time

secrets for circle time success

Do you know what the biggest struggle is when it comes to circle time? Keeping kids engaged!

Here’s how it goes….you plan this amazing list of activities to do at circle time, but you can’t even get a word in edgewise! With kids complaining about not having enough space, someone’s in their seat or they have to go to the bathroom, it is no wonder many teachers say circle time is their least favorite part of the day.

What if I could give you 7 tried and true secrets that will begin to turn your circle times around? These secrets have come from me falling flat on my face repeatedly until I found what works. This means, I’ve failed so you don’t have to!

If you are ready to make a change at circle time, check out the “7 Secrets for Circle Time Success” and get ready to rock your circle times tomorrow!

Songs for Circle Time

A really awesome way to keep kids engaged is to have lots and lots of activities to share. My two favorite kinds of activities are music and movement ones of course.

If you are ready to freshen up your circle times with some tried and true songs, check out my CD (or audio download) “Circle Time Success”!