The great thing about virtual circle time activities is that you can use them in so many different ways. You can use them in combination with print materials so some or all of your students have solid materials to hold. They can also be used in online instruction with shared screens. they work with drag-and-drop activities on tablets or with interactive whiteboards, so they can be interacted with individually or within a group.
When I started moving morning meeting and preschool activities to have virtual options, I wanted to make sure that they met all these different scenarios. I started, as many of us did, out of necessity during the pandemic. But I wanted to make sure that you had a solid set of tools even when you were back in the classroom. So, the Winter Preschool Circle Time activities include both printable and digital tools for 3 of the 4 activities.
Circle Time Add-On Kits for Morning Meetings
As with all of my morning meeting and circle time songs and rhymes, these kits are designed to work with my Morning Meeting Starter Kit. In addition, they each contain materials for students to either physically manipulate or move on the virtual platform depending on which version you are using. And each one focuses on specific cues and offer opportunities and suggestions for teachers to target communication skills, turn taking, sequencing and reviewing steps of the activity, and meaningful participation. All of them focus on strategies to get students engaged and to help include students in morning meetings and circle time in general education and special education.
This particular Winter Add-On Kit for Circle Time includes 3 songs I composed to familiar tunes. I included lyrics for all the songs as well as a video for each of the activities. The video includes me singing and demonstrating how to use the materials with the song to help familiarize you with it.
5 Little Penguin Chicks: Print & Virtual Circle Time Activity
This circle time song is designed to be sung to the tune of 5 Green and Speckled Frog. As they sing it, the students slide the penguins into the water off the ice. Students practice counting the number of penguins remaining after each verse. And you can have the students take turns sliding the penguins down the ice.
The Google Slides (and PowerPoint) virtual circle time activity are essentially the same as the print version in this case. The students slide the penguins off the ice on the left side of the screen and move them to the holding area on the right side of the screen. You could also just move them off the slide entirely.
In addition, there is a repetitive line in the middle of the song, just like in the frog song. This provides a great opportunity for students who are nonverbal or les likely to participate in group activities to use a speech generating device to say “Yum Yum!” when that time comes to participate. This allows everyone to participate with the activity and leads to easy differentiation. In the virtual version, you would either use a communication device that the student has with them or program a spot to touch and play on the screen itself with the Yum Yum phrase for students to participate.
- Counting up and down
- Taking turns
- Speaking the repetitive chorus (listening for the appropriate time)
We Are Making Cocoa: Print & Virtual Circle Time Activity
We are making cocoa is a great activity to tie into cooking activities in the classroom. But it’s also just a fun activity to sing if your students like cocoa. The original song, sung to a familiar tune, follows the steps of making hot chocolate. The students sing the verses in order, putting the pictures on the sequence board in order. Or you can use the visuals to cue them to the next verse to sing. After singing the song, you can have them sequence the steps of making hot cocoa using the visuals on the board.
The virtual circle activity for We Are Making Cocoa is essentially identical to the print version except the students have the visuals in a holding area on the virtual board. Then they move it over to the sequencing lines as the song is sung.
This circle time song has 2 repetitive phrases: “Yum Yum! Yum Yum!” and “We are making cocoa.” Speech generating devices with these phrases can be included with the singing for students who are verbally not able to (or are reluctant to) participate.
- Sequencing the steps of making hot chocolate
- Predicting the next steps of the sequence
- Listening for cues and using speech generating devices to complete phrases
- Participating in songs
- Following directions
This morning meeting activity lends itself well to being paired with a cooking activity of having the students make hot cocoa. You can use the same visuals to sequence making the cocoa and have the students use them during cooking. You can also use them to sequence how they made the cocoa. If the visuals do not match exactly how you made cocoa in your classroom, you can do a compare / contrast activity in which they tell you what they did the same and what was different. For instance, the visuals in the song cooks cocoa on the stove, while you may need to cook the milk in the microwave.
Winter Snowflakes Falling Down: Print & Virtual Circle Time Activities
Set to a familiar tune, Winter Snowflakes includes original lyrics and a demonstration video. In the print version, students have cutout snowflakes that they scatter on the floor. Students love this game because they see the snowflakes (I usually leave them on square cards) are falling down. So essentially they get to make a mess! And then they have to pick the snowflakes up by specific characteristics.
In the virtual circle time activity, you choose which of the snowflakes to move over into the “falling down” area of the screen. The students then click and drag the snowflakes to an area you designate on the screen based on the characteristic you have told them to look for.
You decide what characteristic to focus on for them to gather the snowflakes based on the needs of your students. They could pick up all the big ones first, then the small ones. Or they could find all the snowflakes of a certain color. If you print 2 copies of the snowflakes (or put two copies out on the virtual board), you could have them pick up the ones that are the same.
As with the other songs, Winter Snowflakes has the repetitive phrase, Falling Down. You program this phrase into a speech generating switch for students to sing along with their classroom “falling down, falling down.”
Potential Skills Addressed:
- Following directions
- Identifying big and small
- Finding colors by name
- Identifying matching characteristics
- Listening and filling in the missing line of the song using speech-generating devices
- Add letters or numbers to the snowflakes (by writing on the print version or typing on the virtual version (and grouping each snowflake with the text). Students then find specific letters or numbers.
- Or you could combine letters and numbers in the mix of snowflakes and have students find only the letters or only the numbers.
- Use letters of words and have them find the letters that spell those words.
- Use numbers and students can find numbers that are more or less than a specific number.
Winter Walk Interactive Book: PDF
Finally, this set includes an interactive book. This book is a little different than my other interactive books. It’s larger, so it’s easier to use in a group and for the group to see. And the pictures that you can use for manipulatives are bigger. The book focuses on what the main character sees while taking a winter walk.
The book is designed to be printed. You could project it on a whiteboard or with a projector or show it on a screen. But it won’t be interactive digitally due to copyright of the clip artists. It is a full-page book but can be made into a matching book by just cutting out the pictures from the pages. And directions are included on how to do this.
The book includes the potential for matching picture to picture as well as using a speech generating device to say the repeated phrase from each page. In addition, I included extension question to expand expressive language with the book. You can print them on post-it notes, which is demonstrated in a video linked in the directions. This makes it easier for you to hand off the book reading to other staff with reminders of how they can elicit more language from the students than just reading the book aloud. This also brings some beginning literacy activities into circle time.
- Using a speech-generating device to fill in a repeated phrase
- Receptive and expressive identification of common winter vocabulary
- Answering comprehension wh- questions about the text
- Use of pictures in the book to retell the story
Print and Virtual Circle Time Activity Extensions
- Take a winter walk and have the students find or identify the vocabulary on the way
- If you live in a warmer climate, have them compare what they see what what Henry saw
- Identify common items in your classroom (e.g., scarves, mittens) that students own that they read about of Henry’s
- Have a scavenger hunt in or outside to find items from the book
These print and virtual circle time activities are designed for early childhood educators teaching preschool children or early elementary students in special education. They address early language and literacy activities and designed to get students engaged in communication and participation in group activities. I hope they are something you can see you using your classroom with your young students either digitally or in print.