Circle time is often the highlight of the day. It’s a time to learn, listen, and have fun. Story time for babies is often much easier for teachers to plan. As repetition is best at this age, you can do just about the same thing everyday! Of course, it helps to change it up a bit too.
Circle time can be done at a group feeding table, or on the floor. Babies who cannot sit up on their own can be held by other staff, or lay in a boppy pillow.. At this age, story time will last for about 10 to 30 minutes. You can lengthen the time by adding in a cheerio snack (for older babies) in between.
Sing “What Time is It?”
A fun opening song for circle time is “What Time is It?” This uses visual aides, and most babies will enjoy it and pay attention. The first word they will probably learn from this song is “no”. For tips, please read “Circle Time Song for Babies: ‘What Time is It?” It does not matter what tune you sing it to, the babies won’t care!
This provides a quick weather lesson. Hand each older baby a toy plastic (child safe) flower. Fill a spray bottle with water. After each child is holding (or a teacher is holding it for him/her) sing, “Rain makes flowers grow! Rain makes flowers grow! Yes, it does! Yes it does! Red ones, purples ones, blue ones too, water helps flowers grow, just like YOU!”
Then, use the spray bottle to create “rain” on the plastic flowers. Try to make a mist above each baby’s head, or spray on their hand. Most babies will love it, some will be scared at first. This provides a time to learn about rain and plants. If you’ve had a rain recently, talk about it. You can also print off pictures online of rain, clouds, flowers, etc, to illustrate the quick lesson.
Sense of Sight Activity
This activity involves a flashlight. You can also buy small toy balls that light up and blink. Announce to the babies or toddlers, “These are your eyes! You use your eyes to see!” Then, turn out the lights and let the children see the light of the flashlight/ball. Older babies and toddlers may be provided with their own childproof flashlight at this time. It also provides an opportunity to teach the children the words “light” and “dark.”
Toy Vehicles Song
This circle time activity will require a wind-up or toy car, tractor, airplane, bus, helicopter, boat, firetruck etc. It works great on a table with wind-up toys, but can be done on the floor as well.
Pick up a toy tractor and sing, “Did you come to school today in a tractor? Did you come to school today in a tractor? Did you come to school today, did you come to school today, did you come to school today in a tractor?” Then say, “Did YOU come to school today in a tractor? NO!”
Next, pick up a toy plane and sing, “Did you come to school today in a plane? Did you come to school today in a plane? Did you come to school today, did you come to school today, did you come to school today in a plane? NO!” Repeat with other vehicles until you choose a toy car. Then at the end of the song, say, “Yes! You came to school in car!” To learn the melody of the song, please click this link here. Click on, “How did you come to class?”
Blowing bubbles is usually a big hit among babies. This is a great time to encourage older babies to make the “buh” sound. Say, “Look bubbles! Can you say “buh? Say “buh”! Also, try to count the bubbles out loud each time. You can also add in a brief science lesson, and tell them that bubbles are full of air. Say, “We breathe air!”
ABC Giant Flashcards
It is not too early to teach a baby to recognize letters of the alphabet! Simple print off, or write, giant letters on an 8 x 10 paper. Print or write one letter per page. It is not necessary to have cards for all twenty-six letters, in fact, limiting it to A, B and C is fine.
Around the letter, add pictures (from magazines or printed off online) that start with the letter. For example, for “A”, add a picture of an alligator, airplane, apple, applesauce jar, etc. Hold up the flashcards, one at a time to the babies. Say, “This is an A! Look- airplane starts with an A! Apple does too!” Encourage older babies to try to say the letter.
With lots of repetition, babies will eventually recognize the letters, even if they cannot verbalize it. It also can help to give each baby an item that starts with the letter when you talk about it. For example, when you start with A, provide with baby with a plastic apple. For “B”, try a ball or stuffed bear. For “C”, try a car, cup, or stuffed cat.
Warm and Cold Activity
Another circle time idea is to teach the babies or toddlers the difference between hot and cold. Use a child-safe cold pack and let each baby touch it and say “cold”. Then say, “That’s cold! It feels cold!” Then, fill a cup with warm water. (A second teacher will have to do it.) Let each baby put their fingers in the cup. Then, say “Warm! The water is warm!”
Organize a variety of objects that are solid (or mostly solid) colors. Some could be a yellow rubber ducky, a green tennis ball, a blue toothbrush, etc. Try to have at least three items of each color.
Announce, “Let’s talk about colors! Let’s see how many things we have here that are green! Look, there’s 1, 2, 3, things that are green!” Point to the objects while you talk. Also, say things like “Look, Azariah, you are wearing a blue shirt! Or, “Look, Mia, the ball matches your hair bow!” (Use a mirror for her to see.)
These are just a few circle time activities for your classroom. For additional ideas, please check out “Circle Time Ideas for Babies and Toddlers.” Happy Teaching!