Circle Time with our Toddlers

We have enhanced our circle time activity in our toddler room by creating new ideas to keep the children engaged and to encourage high interaction, enabling us to develop and build on their learning.

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Alongside singing and story time we base a ‘what’s in the bag’ activity on their interests and we have recently introduced ‘the talking stick’ and opportunities for the children to take part in ‘show and tell’. These new ideas have resulted in better concentration and attention and we have noted more social interaction between the children as they confidently communicate and listen to one another.

Taking part in Nursery Rhyme week in November allowed our children to look at many aspects of learning, especially communication and language.

“Between the ages of two and three children are learning new words rapidly and they use speaking as a way of sharing their feelings and experiences”

(EYFS 2012).

During circle time our toddlers love to choose which songs we sing, although some children may feel a little shy doing this. To combat this we made some nursery rhyme sticks as prompts for a few songs which gave the children a way of communicating their preferences. As a result we saw a few children gain in confidence and they even chose to stand up in front of all their friends and do the actions.

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We also made our own musical instruments with drink bottles that we recycled. This was a really good way of developing the children’s fine motor skills because it encouraged them to use steady hands as they poured rice, salt, marbles and pasta through funnels. They enjoyed watching the materials drop down into the bottles and words such as fast and slow were repeated to describe the speed with which the material went down.

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When finished, we experimented with really loud sounds and then explored the word quiet by shaking them quietly. The children gained an understanding of these concepts and we have been using the shakers during circle time, both as instruments and to explore rhythm.

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Using songs and favourite stories that we know the words to, we tap the instruments to each syllable. Building on literacy skills, this is helping to recognise rhyme and alliteration. As the children have taken an interest in this we repeated the activity but instead tapped the syllables of the children’s names. Our new instruments are now in our music basket on the story carpet and throughout the day the children enjoy experimenting freely with the noises they make.

The ‘talking stick’ is a tool we created to encourage toddlers to share what they have been up to over the weekend, how they travelled to nursery and any other thoughts they may have. Whilst promoting their confidence in speaking, the children receive lots of praise for using it and at the same time practice their listening skills as they pay attention to what their peers share with them. The children are often excited to talk to all of their friends and wait patiently listening until it is their turn. This has promoted positive relationships within the room and has helped to develop social interaction skills.

We are inviting children to bring with them an item from home that is important to them, to share with their friends as part of ‘show and tell’. This will boost their self-esteem as they stand in front of their friends and proudly show and talk about their favourite object.

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The children are asked questions to encourage them to use descriptive words, full sentences and to communicate through words. Like the ‘talking stick’, other children who are listening are learning to be patient and take turns and give praise to their friends for sharing their thoughts with them, promoting good team work.

During our ‘ what’s in the bag’ activity we fill a bag up with different items that our children enjoy and at circle time we describe them so the children can guess what they are. One of our current interests within the room is animals so we have recently added lots of different animals to our bag.

This has provided us with the opportunity to explore sounds as we make the noise of each animal and it has also allowed us to talk about numbers as we look at how many legs the animal may or may not have. ‘What’s in the bag’ broadens the children’s understanding of items and encourages them to think of their uses. It’s a brilliant tool for developing communication and language skills and it also helps to further extend their understanding of the world.

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