Circle time for 2-year-olds can be challenging, as high energy levels and short attentions spans conspire to make sitting still for long difficult. Still, if you work in a daycare or preschool setting, there are ways to keep story time interesting. The key is to have a mix of activities that aren't too long in duration.
Like many other areas in life, small talk is a great ice breaker for circle time with toddlers. Start off circle time discussing the weather, as well as the day of the week, month and season if it is just beginning or ending. This is also a good time to discuss the plan for the day and anything new and exciting that might be happening.
Circle time is a great time for reading books. Choose short books with lots of pictures, and keep it to only one or two books to keep kids' attention. While reading, pause to ask children questions about the story, such as what might happen next or what color clothes a particular character is wearing. This keeps toddlers interested while at the same time promotes critical thinking skills.
Sing songs during circle time, especially familiar songs that kids can sing along with as well as songs with finger play like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." You can also use this time to allow children to make their own music with tambourines, small drums or cymbals. You may want to use some ear plugs or an over-the-counter pain reliever for this part!
When finishing up circle time, take the opportunity to ask the children if anyone has anything to tell the class. This gives kids an opportunity to report on an impending birth in the family, a new pet, getting a new toy, switching bedrooms--whatever a young child might have on his mind.
Tips for Success
The key for circle time with a group of 2-year-olds is to keep it short. Many toddlers just don't have a long enough attention span to remain interested for an extended period. Classrooms with more than one teacher may want to consider having one teacher available to sit with kids who keep wandering away from the circle. Perhaps kids who don't want to sit at circle can sit quietly and color or put a simple puzzle together. To keep kids active, consider using circle time for large motor activities like rolling a ball back and forth across the rug or hopping on one foot.
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