Teach English in Suocheng Zhen - Yongzhou Shi

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The five best ideas for circle time Every preschool/ kindergarten level teacher will swear by the need for a good constructive circle time. It sets the tone for what is to follow throughout the day. A good circle time should be welcoming, engaging and informative. Children should not be forced into participation instead should be drawn into it. Circle time is the classic example of a good “engage” stage in an ESA style of teaching. It is therefore, during circle time that you introduce a topic which is to be covered that day or week. Depending upon the age of the students, the activities listed below can be modified to their level of English and understanding of concepts. This is not a comprehensive list but is a list of five best circle time activities in my opinion, which have worked for teachers all around the world. 1.Singing songs: This one is a no-brainer. Singing songs, rhythm and movement attracts young children. They tend to memorize what they hear. Songs can be chosen to improve vocabulary and pronunciation. They can also be used to introduce new topics such as if you were to do “an apple” theme, you could sing songs about apples to engage children on this topic. Songs are also a great way to welcome children into the class. Initially, songs can comprise of welcome songs, morning songs and songs in which children and teachers introduce themselves to each other. By incorporating movement into your song session, you can also include some exercise and moving around. Depending on what movement your song requires, you can work on balance, gross motor skills like jumping, hoping, standing on one leg etc. This also makes the children make connections between the object being sung about and its appearance. For example: if you pointing to the window or the door, it gives the child a visual picture of the window and door. Songs also give children confidence as they all sing together during circle time and no one child is singled out which at this age can be daunting to some kids. 2.Story telling: Everyone loves a good story. Circle time is a great time to get children to sit around and read them a good story with either a lesson to learn or just to tickle their imagination with a great fiction book. Picture books work great too at the preschool level. Younger children will make up their own story by looking at the pictures and you can have child led activity this way. If you are teaching kindergarten level, it is worth choosing a book with a few CVC or sight words and have children try to read them. Always remember that this is circle time and if a child is hesitant to speak up it is best that you leave them for a time later when they feel confident enough to speak during circle time. 3. Yoga: It doesn’t get better than starting the day with meditation and some yoga. Children especially enjoy the stretches and movement. Children’s yoga also helps children calm down and connect with their inner self while providing them more focus for the lessons to follow. It is a great way to get those joints moving first thing in the morning when some children might even be sleepy or tired. This is definitely a relaxing and calming way to start the day. Children’s yoga doesn’t have to be boring or quiet, you can always jazz things up depending on your student’s interest. You can in introduce the animal postures in children yoga while covering the topic of wild animals or arctic animals etc. For example, you can do a tiger yoga pose and talk about the stillness the tiger has to perfect right before hunting for food. Yoga is also known to uplift mood, boost confidence and reduce anxiety. 4.Use of puppets for literacy: Using hand puppets or finger puppets is a great way to introduce literacy in younger children. You can have puppet scripts or you can use a story book and enact the story with the help of your puppets. Reading a story is good but enacting it using puppets and props take your student’s experience up several notches. As the Chinese saying goes; “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Similarly, a visual form of a story has a stronger impact on the child’s memory compared to what they hear. It is also a good way to break the monotony. You could also use puppets in your songs if you want your circle time to be really interesting. 5.Calendar: Doing the calendar with younger children is extremely beneficial. It can be used as a starting point for many meaningful conversations. Firstly, doing the calendar, gives you an opportunity to see who Is absent, who is present, what is the day, month and the weather like to name a few. All this helps build vocabulary, grammar as well as instilling in the children a sense of time and weather. Once the basics of the day are achieved, you can also choose to include leader of the day which can be mentioned at the time you do calendar. You can include any birthdays, new information or even reminder of class rules during this time. A teacher can then finally move on to introducing the topic of the day or class that is going to be followed by the circle time. These were my top five picks of the best circle time activities. There is such a wide scope of what to include in circle time which is what makes it so interesting for children and teacher’s alike. One thing teacher must always bear in mind when designing a circle time for their children is what are their interests, their likes and what is the class most comfortable with. Some children might like singing more than others and in some cultures the children might be shy. So, it is best to study your class before you dive into circle time activities. Remember circle time is the “engage” phase whose primary objective is to get students on board and break the ice so that when it is the study or activate stage the children feel confident enough to perform and take part.