CeCe has served as Vice President and President of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (Affiliate)
Circle Time: Getting to Know You Activities
Need a first-day icebreaker for circle time? This is a great way to get to know each other and come together as a group! I begin by telling the children about myself. I tell them about my family and my love of reading and cooking. Next, each child names a favorite thing. We continue around the circle until each child has several turns. Would you like a fun extended activity? A memory game! Each of the children sits in the magical chair, and we remember their favorites.
First-day circle time sharing could also include the story, Fill A Bucket: A Guide To Daily Happiness For Young Children. This delightful book is perfect for the first day of preschool, or any day! The message is simple, yet powerful. Our words and actions can either add or take away from each of our invisible buckets. How could we be bucket fillers to our new friends?
Another circle time activity during the first week might be to talk about our home or neighborhood. A map of each child's neighborhood would be a fun follow-up in a learning center. I usually brainstorm with the group about what we might find on our streets—a backyard swing or playset, street signs, or the elementary school down the block.
I like to keep it simple for first day learning centers. You may decide to talk about learning center choices at circle time.This is also a good time to talk about number of children in each center, keeping materials in each center, scissor safety, etc.
Block Center: Building neighborhoods with blocks and cars. Assorted props could be included.
Art: Using poster board cut out figures, child traces family members. These tracing figures are great to keep in mind for other units. Trace and dress community helpers. Trace and dress for the weather using fabric.
Science: My growing hair! Children love to cut yarn hair on self portrait paper plates.
Math: Children sort shapes. Later in the week, child may construct shape houses with same shapes. Designs may be shared with the group. Drawing a map of your neighborhood is another fun idea for the math center. This gives the child a sense of directionality.
Language Arts: Friendship Bingo. Laminated photos of children on poster board. Caller has own set of laminated photos. If caller has yet to learn name, photo is shown.
Dramatic Play: A fun problem solving and creative thinking activity to begin the year. Where is your favorite place to go? How do you get ready? How would we dress for the activity? The housekeeping area, with dress up clothing, would be a fun starting out point for this activity. Future ideas for the dramatic play area could be discussed with the children later in the week. Train station? Bakery?
Movement and Gross Motor Lessons
Shape Toss: Children call out shapes and toss beanbag through cut out shapes on cardboard. Neighborhood theme could be included by cutting out squares for windows, rectangles for doors and a circle for the sun on neighborhood cardboard scene.
Getting to know you beanbag toss: Child calls out name, and tosses beanbag to new friend.
Get on board! Fun to call out new friend's name to board the moving train. A song to sing along? (sung to Where is Thumbkin) Where is (child's name)? Where is (child's name)? Get on board! Get on board!
Music and Story
"Ms. CeCe's New Friend Greeting" (sung to London Bridge)
You are wonderful in every way!
What will you decide to do today?
Ready to learn, ready to play!
You are making new friends along the way.
My friend (child's name).
Teacher shakes hand and speaks name of each child around circle.
Share The Wonderful Things You Will Be. "This is the first time there's ever been you." Emily Martin's poetry and beautiful illustrations of children in nonspecific gender roles is refreshing and inspiring. "I know you'll be kind and clever and bold. The bigger your heart the more it will hold." This heartwarming story will be requested again and again!
Invite children to share about their day. What was your favorite part? The quiet place in the room to rest or read could be introduced. Do you have a quiet place at home? Sometimes we all need to take a break. Let's make a quiet space for our room.
This is the perfect introduction to Charlotte and the Quiet Place, a beautiful book about mindfulness. "Charlotte discovers an even quieter place." The inner calm inside. A place she can revisit when her world is too busy or rushed. The expressive watercolored images are a perfect pairing to the calm and centered message.
CeCe Rees (author) on May 18, 2017:
So beautiful. Thank you.
Decaturflyfisher on May 18, 2017:
This really speaks to your love of teaching and more importantly, making everyone feel welcome and included. One of your strongest talents! Your students are luck to have you! Keep writing - we want to read more CeCe!