Circle Time Games and Activities: A Must for Any Teacher

Updated on June 7, 2016

Having taught for a number of years, I have built up a collection of tried and proven circle time games, which have not only been enjoyable for the children but beneficial too. Many of these games encourage teamwork and social interaction. Children soon learn that success is a result of positive attitude and immense enjoyment.

The learning objectives are in smaller print under each activity and where there are resources needed, it is made clear in the descriptions. It is worth printing these out, cutting them up and popping them in a circle time drawer. Then if you ever have a spare 20 minutes or a wet day, you can delve in and start having fun. Beware, there will be a lot of giggling!

Let the Games Begin . . .

Snap

Give children each a card. They have to find their partner with the matching card. Then, do it again, but this time they have to do it without talking. Use picture cards or snap cards.

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication

All Aboard

Split into 5-10 groups. Each group has several spots. Can they all stand on the spots? Now take one away spot, two spots, three spots, etc. and have the kids hold still for 3 secs without touching the floor. You can also use hoops for this, or get the whole class to stand in a hoop.

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication

All Change

Children stand in a circle and the teacher taps one on the shoulder. The child starts an action e.g. clapping, which the others have to follow. Teacher taps another on the shoulder and the children change to new action.

Learning Objectives: Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication, Working together, Leadership

Handwriting

In pairs: Each child takes it in turns to draw a shape on their partner’s hand using a finger. Children must close eyes and guess what the shape is.

In a circle: Children are to pass the shape around without talking and see if the shape is the same at the end.

Learning Objectives: Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication, Working together, leadership, Self confidence, Decision making

Whose Voice Is That?

Children stand in a circle. One in the middle is blindfolded. A child from the circle makes an animal noise and the blindfolded child has to guess who made the noise.

Learning Objectives: Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication, Working together, Leadership, Self confidence, Decision making, Trust

Jigsaws

Give every child a part of a jigsaw, puzzle, or picture. The child has to find which other children have the rest of their puzzle and put it together. Aim to work together to complete the puzzle as quickly as possible. You'll need a selection of laminated pictures or puzzle pieces.

Learning Objectives: Problem Solving, Cooperation, Communication, Working together, Leadership, Self confidence, Decision making

Through the Hoop

Have the children stand in a big circle. Can everyone climb through the hoop? Repeat the task with everyone holding hands. Repeat the task but the children aren’t allowed to use their hands. Can they repeat the task with only one person touching the hoop?

You can also have this so smaller groups are racing each other to get the hoop around the circle first.

Learning Objectives: Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication, Working together, Leadership, Self confidence, Decision making

Feely Bag

Have the children guess themed objects in a feely bag.

Learning Objectives: Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication

Jingle Bell Pass

Children must pass the jingle ball around the circle without making a noise. Then have them pass it under and over heads, side to side etc.

Learning Objectives: Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication, Working together, Leadership, Self confidence, Decision making

Sort the Cards

Give every child a card each. They have to sort themselves into each set: clubs, spades, hearts and diamonds, To make it more complicated, they then have to put themselves in number order A,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,J,Q,K.

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Following instruction, Cooperation, Communication

Blindfold — Follow Me

Have the class stand on the far side of the hall and put on blindfolds. Everyone walks towards the sound of the teacher’s (or a child’s) voice. Once the class has started moving, you can move around and continue talking

NB: For safety, have half the class carry out the task while the other half acts as safety stewards without blindfolds

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Following instruction, Cooperation, Communication

My Rules!

One child leaves the classroom. While they're gone, the rest of the children think of a new rule, e.g. cross your legs when answering a question or use words starting with the first letter of your name . . . The child rejoins the group and has to guess the secret rule by asking questions and watching the other children play. (This can be done in smaller groups too.)

Learning Objectives: Self confidence, Working together, Problem solving, Following instruction, Cooperation, Communication

Cat and Mouse

Have the whole group stand in a circle. The ‘mouse’ walks around the outside of the circle. The mouse taps a cat on the shoulder and has to get back to his or her place before the cat can catch him or her.

Learning Objectives: Self confidence, Working together, Problem solving, Following instruction, Cooperation, Communication

Tangled Circle

Have all the children stand in a circle. Everyone puts their hands in the middle and holds someone else’s. Each person must hold two different people's hands. Can the group work together to untangle themselves without letting go?

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Following instruction, Cooperation, Communication

Elephant Lines

Have each other hold hands between their legs to make a line of children. Can they make a circle? Can the two teams race each other?

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Following instruction, Cooperation, Communication

Sit on My Knee

For this exercise, you will need a strong chair. Split the class into groups of six with similar-sized children. Get the first person to sit on the chair, the second person sits on their knees, the third on theirs . . . and so on. Try making a tight circle to the left

Learning Objectives: Self confidence, Working together, Problem solving, Following instruction, Cooperation, Communication

Bench Boat

Put the children into groups of 6-8 standing on a bench. Can the group rearrange themselves into height order without falling off? Try this again with age order, alphabetical order or indeed any order. Repeat with one child blindfolded.

Learning Objectives: Self confidence, Working together, Problem solving, Following instruction, Cooperation, Communication, Trust

Balloon Keepie Uppie

Have the children sit on the floor in groups of 4-8. The aim is to keep the balloon or balloons in the air. Try it with all body parts, with no hands, with just the head, etc.

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication, Trust

Around the World

Put North, South, East and West on the 4 walls. Children start in the middle and shout out commands as to where to sail the ship. If the teacher shouts ‘All round the world’ the children have to visit all four walls and get back to the middle.

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication, Following instructions, Decision making

Wink Murder

One child (the detective) leaves the room while the rest of the children choose a murderer. When the detective enters the room again, the murderer winks at the children to kill them off. (They can die spectacularly.) The detective has to guess who the murderer is.

Learning Objectives: Working together, Cooperation, Communication, Self confidence

Who Am I?

Give all the children a sticker to wear on their foreheads that has the name of a famous character written on it, e.g. Spiderman. The children have to guess who they are and can only answer yes or no to each other’s questions.

Learning Objectives: Working together, Problem solving, Cooperation, Communication, Decision making

Parachute Games

  • Sharks: Everyone sits with the chute over their legs and shakes it vigorously. A student (the shark) sneaks around underneath the chute and grabs someone’s legs by surprise. Keep changing the shark.
  • Tent: The group raises and lowers the chute, when the chute is up high, everyone passes the chute over their heads then sits down to create a tent with everyone inside.
  • Team work: Raise and lower the parachute as a team. Go up and down slowly, then go more quickly
  • Jog around: Children walk or jog around holding the parachute. They can change direction, skip etc.
  • Pass the parcel: Pass the chute around but have the children stay still
  • Cross the water: Opposite children cross to their partner under the parachute while the others hold it up.
  • Ball boy: Roll a ball around the parachute by lifting up different sides

Learning Objectives: Cooperation, Working together, Following instructions, Decision making

More Parachute Games

  • Cat and Mouse: Place one child on top of the parachute (the cat) and one underneath (the mouse) everyone shakes the parachute up and down. Can the cat find the mouse?
  • Ball catch and throw: Can the group work as a team to use the parachute to propel the ball to the ceiling and catch it again? (Choose a light ball)
  • Golf: Can the group work together to get a ball down the hole in the middle of the parachute? Repeat this task with 2 teams alternately spaced around the parachute. Each team has a different-coloured ball to get down the hole.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Manny 

      7 days ago

      These look great for my children with SEN. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Sheena Yorkshire 

      5 months ago

      Lovely selection of activities for all ages

    • profile image

      Rebina Udash 

      6 months ago

      great ideas!! thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      Marie Smith, New Zealand 

      9 months ago

      Thanks, what an awesome resource!

    • profile image

      Rita Renaud 

      11 months ago

      Thanks for taking the time to share these ideas with us!

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      12 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Is Tangled Circle always possible to resolve? Without letting go. I don't think it is.

    • profile image

      Gwendolyn 

      12 months ago

      Wonderful ideas. Thanks so much I will be using these games with kids of all ages.

    • profile image

      Michelle 

      13 months ago

      Thank you so much for sharing, some really great ideas which I can explore with my preschool class! :)

    • profile image

      nancy patterson 

      15 months ago

      thanks lots of great ideas for me to use!!

    • Talisker profile imageAUTHOR

      Honor Meci 

      16 months ago from UK

      Brilliant! Glad to be of use

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      16 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Greetings Talisker! I hadn't seen this one before. Lots of good fun ideas that would work just as well in birthday parties as in the classroom.

    • profile image

      fellow teacher 

      18 months ago

      Yes, Why don't we keep things positive instead of choosing to cut someone down.

    • profile image

      Lucy 

      19 months ago

      Thank you so much for sharing your game ideas! It´s such a big help for me. Of course no-one needs to play the games they don´t consider appropriate. I mean it´s just not fair to criticize other people´s effort to help their teaching "colleagues".

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      20 months ago

      We call the Wink Murder game - Frog Detective instead. Same rules except instead of winking the person who is chosen by the circle sticks out their tongue. When other in the circle see it they flip over and lay on their bellies. The detective in the middle of the circle tries to find the "frog."

    • profile image

      Kaitlyn Reinhardt 

      21 months ago

      Wink Murder, really?? Totally not appropriate for preschoolers to be "choosing a murderer". Could do without that activity...

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great ideas for keeping kids minds growing and bodies healthy.

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