Circle Time For Toddlers

By Lynn •  Updated: 10/24/23 •  6 min read
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Circle time for toddlers… Can it be done? Absolutely! Whether you are working in a classroom, starting an at-home daycare, or are a stay-at-home parent who wishes to teach your own tiny tot, there are endless activities you can do to educate, enrich, and stimulate the minds of toddlers using circle time. 

What Is Circle Time For Toddlers?

Circle time”, traditionally, refers to a meeting of students with their teacher during which students undergo a series of instructional and educational activities that provide social, emotional, physical, and mental stimulation. 

Circle time often follows a particular routine and focuses on multiple areas of learning. It is typically highly interactive and enjoyable for students. Note that circle time can be done with anyone, including parents and children, and is not limited to daycare or school settings. 

Though the structured format of circle time might seem as though it isn’t achievable for young toddlers, the truth is that even babies can do circle time. The one planning the circle time simply needs to know what is developmentally appropriate for the age group he or she is working with for circle time to flow smoothly. 

What Activities Can You Do For Toddlers For Circle Time?

What to Do For Circle Time For Toddlers?

Before planning specific circle time activities for your toddler, you’ll first want to have a plan. Knowing upcoming milestones as well as what is developmentally appropriate for your youngsters is a good place to start. Aim to work on these milestones at slotted intervals within your circle time schedule for the amount of time appropriate for your child’s age group. 

Note: Toddlers are highly energetic and may not sit for the entirety of circle time. Because of this, you’ll want to keep circle time short but highly engaging. Consider switching up circle time daily so that you hit different categories on different days, rather than trying to cram in all learning tasks at once. 

Categories to consider for toddler circle time include (not necessarily in order): 

  • *Introduction 
  • Movement/Exercise
  • English Language Arts
  • Math 
  • Relationship Building 
  • Art
  • Nursery Rhymes, Songs, and Music
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Sensory
  • *Conclusion 

*The introduction and conclusion to your circle time is crucial. Use “Hello” songs to start your routine and “Good-Bye” songs to finish. This establishes a comforting and assuring way to begin and end your circle time routine that your children are sure to look forward to.

Note: Remember you will unlikely be able to hit all categories mentioned here in one circle time. That’s okay! Spread the categories out throughout the week. It’ll make planning less exhaustive and will keep your circle time from becoming too long.

circle time

What Are Some Circle Time Activities?

Here a few great ideas for circle time activities for toddlers: 

  • Read Aloud – Read alouds are hallmarks of a good circle time; just be sure to pick a book with engaging illustrations and age-appropriate text for your little one to understand. 
  • Craft Time – Craft time with toddlers doesn’t have to be hard. Glue macaroni pasta on paper, paint, or find a seasonal toddler-friendly craft online to recreate. The possibilities are endless! 
  • Calendar – Another hallmark of circle time, calendar time is typically used for older children. However, with a few tweaks, calendar time can easily be simplified enough for even a toddler to understand. Cover concepts like the month, weather, and the seasons during this time.
  • Musical Instruments – Bang on pots and pans or buy a formal musical instrument kit and let your toddlers go to town!
  • Puppet Show – Purchase or rent a few puppets from the library or make your own puppets using socks, fabric markers, buttons, and whatever else you have lying around! 
  • Sorting – Sort anything you wish, but you may want to stick to simple categories for now. Try sorting items by color or shape first, then go from there. 
  • Alphabet Review – Yes, your toddler can learn their letters and sounds! Go slow, and introduce one letter at a time. Don’t expect your toddler to have it all down, and certainly don’t drill concepts. Instead, routinely go over the letters with their sounds and you may be surprised how much your little one eventually absorbs!
  • Number Review – Introduce each number one at a time, but still count from 0-10 out loud. The more often your tot hears this, the more likely he or she is to repeat it!
toddler playing toy

Circle Time Songs For Toddlers

Circle time songs for toddlers can be any song that is simplistic and has hand motions. While hand motions aren’t required, they can be fun and help keep your toddler engaged. 

Consider the following nursery rhymes to help get you started: 

  • Eensy Weensy Spider
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It
  • Wheels on the Bus
  • Open and Shut Them
  • Pat-a-Cake
  • Baby Bumble Bee
  • Sign Language ABC Songs

How Long Should Circle Time Be For Toddlers

Keep your circle times short. You can expect to circle time for toddlers to last 10-15 minutes if you can keep your tot engaged that long. Just be sure to keep it interesting and have plenty of movement activities sprinkled in.

Can 2 Year Olds Do Circle Time?

How Long Should a 2 Year Old Circle Time?

Two-year-olds, and even one-year-olds, can do circle time. The trick is to plan your circle time so that it caters to the age of your child.

toddler painting

Tips When Toddlers Are Not Staying For Circle Time

Obviously, 1-2-year-olds don’t sit still much. So, don’t make them!

Keep circle time short but schedule plenty of movement activities to make circle time more fun than whatever it is they are distracted by. 

Note: If your toddler(s) do get up, you can gently request they come back. Even better, grab a puppet or another activity you may be doing to lure your kiddo back to circle time. Whatever you do, do NOT punish a child that is only 1-2 years old for wandering away. Your best bet is to use a distraction– otherwise, just let them be. 

Toddler Circle Time Isn’t Only Possible…It’s Also a Lot of Fun!

Though toddler circle time may seem intimidating at first, you’ll likely find it to be a highly engaging part of your day with your tot. Whether you’ve got toddlers at home or you work in a school or daycare setting, circle time for toddlers is a great way to stimulate young minds!

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Lynn is a freelance writer, a wife, and a mother of two beautiful kids. Lynn started Infant Empire with the aim of making parenting easier for fellow mums and dads. She believes the parenting tips provided here will be of great help to all parents.

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