As they grow, children need opportunities to interact with others, build their own thoughts and ideas and have opportunities to express emotions. In the classroom, educators are able to create these opportunities through the setup of the classroom, the routines they establish, the activities they facilitate and the materials they provide. Large group experiences include Circle Time, Story Time, and Music & Movement. Read about how to set up and maintain large group spaces and plan large group routines.
Setting up Large Group Spaces
For large group times, plan to keep them short and active so the children remain engaged throughout the time. Choose a designated, carpeted area or something for everyone to sit on. Be sure there’s enough space for everyone to sit comfortably.
Before gathering children, ensure that all materials are in close proximity and easily accessible to prevent long or unnecessary wait times for children.
Prepare for large group experiences by setting up displays provided in the Experience Toddler and Experience Preschool curriculum. Read Set Up Your Circle Time Display.
Plan a transition to bring everyone together for large group activities.
Follow your Experience Toddler or Experience Preschool Teacher Guide for Circle Time, Story Time or Music and Movement to keep experiences engaging and fresh.
Maintaining Large Group Spaces
The resources and guidance you need for your toddler or preschool large group spaces are provided by Experience Early Learning. Each month, open your kit and pull out Circle Time display materials, story books, story magnets, music CDs, toddler yoga cards, and more.
Maintain large group spaces, by refreshing them with new materials each month from Experience Early Learning and following a consistent schedule and routine that incorporates large group activities. Laminate materials that will be handled often.
Read how to set up your circle time display for toddlers.
Large Group Routines
Create and use large group routines daily to create a consistency that children depend on and enjoy.
Over the years, Circle Time has served a lot of different purposes within an early childhood setting. Historically, it was the time to teach basic concepts such as letters, numbers, and shapes. This was the primary ‘learning time’ and would follow a routine of calendar, weather, basic concepts, song and a story.
However, Circle Time has evolved over the years to shift focus away from basic concepts and towards establishing a safe and nurturing social-emotional foundation for the day. The basic concepts are now taught throughout the day in more authentic, hands-on games and experiences.
No matter if you focus on social and emotional routines or basic concept routines to structure your Circle Time, consistency and sensory are key. Circle Time is a time to build community, establish and sense of belonging and involve everyone.
- Welcome: How do you want to say good morning?
- Weather Song and Chart
- Calendar Song and Chart
- Daily Topic Discussion
- Community Activity or Fingerplay
Circle Time for toddlers should be short and sweet. Read how to facilitate group time with toddlers. Read: Large Group Activities: Circle Time
Read, read, read and read some more to children! Books are a primary tool that you can use to build literacy skills. Storybooks are a great tool to host a quick group time multiple times throughout the day. You may want to grab a book when you go outside to play and then gather on the grass before coming back inside for a quick read-aloud. Or calm your group before nap time with your eyes closed to see ‘pictures in our head’ read aloud. Stories while waiting for families to pick up are perfect for multi-age settings. There are many ways that you can investigate books with children. Read: Large Group Activities: Story Time
Music & Movement
Music and movement activities support cognitive and physical development and are great ways to burn off preschool energy. Additionally, there are many benefits to the child’s development when you include dance in your daily routine:
- Builds confidence
- Physical strength to move and act independently
- Independence, in turn, supports the development of social-emotional skills
- Dancing in groups increases respect for others and awareness of personal space.