How to create a circle time

This video shares with you the process I follow to plan and create circle times for my early childhood Waldorf classroom. I will walk you through the steps I take to create, plan, and practice my circle times. It is my hope that you can follow these same steps and create a circle time for your classroom or program.

Miss Becca's Circle Time Creation Steps:

1. Plan the shell or outline

2. Consider the flow

3. Learn the songs and poems

4. Add motions & movement

5. Practice it 

6. Bring it to the children

Some of my favorite resources for planning circle time:


Transcription of video:


Hi, my name is Becca Lane. This is my next video in the series Lessons from the Schoolhouse. In today's video, I'm going to share with you my process for creating a circle time to use in my early childhood classroom. I will walk you through step by step, what I do from start to finish to plan and create circle time. I will give you details and examples along the way so you can walk away from this video with a better idea of how to create a circle time if you are looking to do so.

Circle time is such a lovely part of our day together. But for many teachers and parents, it can feel like a daunting task to know how to create one yourself to bring to your children or your program. So that's what we're going to do today; I'm going to share with you my steps from start to finish. And I think they will help you to be able to create a circle time yourself.

So let's jump right in.

I have six steps to creating a circle time, I'm going to briefly walk you through those six steps. And then we are going to go back and talk about them in detail. So the first step is to create your shell, an outline of your songs. So what I mean by that is you need to figure out the outside of your circle time what's holding it together, your opening verse, and your closing verse, whether or not you want to have a song to bring them into the circle, and a song to carry them to their next activity. And then you need to choose the basic songs and poems that you want to fill the inside of your circle with.

Step two is to consider the flow to consider what is leading up to circle time in your day, and what happens after circle time. And to be mindful when you're choosing your songs and your poems that you balance things that have high outward energy with things that are quieter and calmer.

The third step is to learn the songs and poems. You will need to familiarize yourself with the feelings of the songs and the poems themselves the individual stories that they're trying to tell. So you can bring that to the children in the way that you sing and speak and move.

And that brings us to the fourth step, add the motions and the movements. So now that you know the songs and the poems that you're going to use, you get to add motions and movements to those during this step, you'll need to make sure again that you're balancing those big outward movements with the smaller inward movements, that you're balancing gross motor activities with fine motor activities. Then the fifth step is to practice it all together. And the sixth step is to bring it to the children.

So now let's go back to step one, and I'm going to share with you some more details of each step. And so step one is to create the shell, to create the outline of your circle time. I want you to be particularly mindful of your opening verse and your closing verse. And I teach in an early childhood classroom. And with young children, I highly encourage you to keep your opening verse and your closing verse the same. I use the same ones for over a decade in my classroom. Some children were with me for two, three or four years and they heard the same opening and closing verse to circle time, every single day. Also consider what is happening before circle time, and what is happening after circle time. In my program, the children were engaged in free play before we had circle time. So I would sing a song that became a cue to them that it was time to stop playing and time to come to the circle time carpet so that we could sing together. And that song that called them to circle was this Same every day. At the end of our circle time, we would go inside to wash our hands and prep our meal. So I would sing about that at the end of circle time, after our closing verse, and that would help to lead the children to the next activity in our day.

When I'm planning step one of circle time, I write down that opening verse, and that closing verse. They're sort of like the bookends to my circle, I come up with a song to bring them to circle and a song to bring them away. And then I decide what I want to go in the inside of my circle. That's the part that changes. I plan one circle a season. So I write down on my piece of paper, all of the songs and the poems and the verses that I want to include in my circle. And then I'm done with step one.

Step two, is to consider the flow. Your circle, time itself should feel like a journey for the children, like a story, the songs, and the poems should have a connection from one to the other. And so I want you to think about that, once you have everything written down. Also consider that you are going to want to balance big outward energy with that smaller, quieter energy.

Step three, which is to learn these songs and poems, to familiarize yourself with their specific mood and energy and story. Because the next thing you're going to do is add motions to the songs. I write down things on note cards often and carry them with me throughout my day, so I can pull them out and practice them. Practice memorizing those poems. And it's okay, if you need to walk into your first circle time with a little note card with some reminders of the order of your circle, or some verses, sometimes you forget. But make it your intention to learn them as best you can to memorize them, if possible.

Step four is to add the motions and the movements. We want to balance gross motor movements, like hopping and jumping and skipping with fine motor movements, like finger plays, and smaller, more specific movements. And again, make sure that you are not doing too much of that outward energy and not enough of the inward or vice versa. You need to memorize these movements yourself. Practice them with the songs and the poems until you are doing the same movements every time. You want your movements to be intentional and clear and repeated.

Make sure that when you are moving like a bird that it is clear that you are moving like a bird that children know what's happening. Because if you're doing something little like this, even though you may know that you're being a bird, it has a very different feeling from a clear, intentional movement.

The next step, step five, is to practice it all together. Now you get to take the poems and songs you've learned in the motions, and put them together and move about your classroom or your house like you will with the children. Really practice it until you know it yourself. And then when you feel confident, it's time to bring it to the children. 

There are a couple of things I'd like to share with you about this. When I write out my seasonal circle time, I mentioned I do one circle per season, so it's quite long. I have the opening verse, the closing verse and all the songs and poems in the middle. But I don't bring it to the children that way. I bring it to them slowly. We start with just one verse from every song or poem. And maybe I'll repeat that one verse two or three times during the first circle time. As the week's go by, we will add verses to each song and poem. So by the end of the season, our circle time is quite long. Whereas at the beginning of the season, it may be shorter.

All right, I hope this makes sense to you. And I hope I've given you a format and a plan that you can follow to create a circle time. Create the show or the outline. Consider the flow, learn the songs and the poems, add movements, practice it all together. And then the best step of all, bring it to the children and have fun.

Please reach out if you have any questions about this. I would love to hear how it goes for you. All right, friends, be well. I'll see you next time.

Transcribed by

Interested in learning more nature-based songs, stories, and craft projects?

 Check out our Storytime Seasonal Sampler, which includes a whole week of Storytime for each season, giving you new songs and stories to enjoy all year.

When you sign up, you'll join 10K+ parents and caregivers who get weekly stories, crafts, and nature-based projects by email every Tuesday morning. You can easily unsubscribe at any time.

We don't like spam either. We will never share or sell your information.