Monday, September 2, 2013

Classroom Choreography Part 3: Circle Time

My main circle time occurs first thing in the morning, right after my kiddos finish breakfast. Upon entering the classroom, the students unpack their backpacks (with many verbal, physical, gestural, and visual prompts:)) and are told to sit on their "spot" on the rug. They are given a toy to play with while I take attendance and get the lunch count in. When I'm finished with that, toys are "finished" and circle time begins.

I have a layered circle time- an idea I was shown at my first TEACCH training many years ago. This means that my circle time is broken up into sections and that students transition to other activities throughout the circle time. The students know what to expect because of my visual circle time calendar displayed on the board. As it becomes time for a child to transition to another activity (usually because they are having difficulty focusing or sitting still), they are shown the "finished" picture and my para helps them to transition. Some days all of my students remain throughout the entire circle time- other days only one child is remaining at the end. Everyone has to sit for at least the first 3 activities.

{1}Circle time always begins with the Get Ready for Circle Time PowerPoint. This PowerPoint shows students how they are expected to behave during circle time. They love it.

{2}Second- we sing and say good morning. I change up the song everyday. Sometimes I use songs from an old CD I have and some mornings I use YouTube videos. I like to keep the activity the same- this one being "Good Morning"- while changing the actual contents of the activity. Here are some of the optional songs we sing:

this one
and this one
and this one

{By the way, I keep all of my circle time stuff in a "circle time" folder on my desktop- separated by activity- such as "good morning" or "shapes."}

After singing a good morning song, the students either say good morning to each other (sometimes using whisper phones) or-if nonverbal- wave or activate iPad button.

{3}The third thing that we do every morning is what I call "words." Last month we learned school words. This month we are first learning body words. These are our 10 vocabulary word. I alternate between showing them illustrations, real pictures, real objects, or a PowerPoint of pictures. I ask the same questions everyday- usually something like "What is it?" followed by "What do you do with it?" This is an example of last months:

(Show pic of bus)
T: What is it?
S: Bus.
T:What color is it?
S: Yellow.

(Show pic of backpack)
T:What is it?
S: Backpack
T:What do you do with it?
S:You wear it on your back (pointing to back)

These are the same questions that are asked during their unit assessment. Expressive students answer the questions verbally as stated above. For my receptive kiddos, I may say "Point to the thing you wear on your back." Or I may say "What do you do with it?" and if they can point to their back, I take that.

**FYI- Some days circle time ends here. You know those days- don't judge.**

{Optional Activities} After our words, I choose 1-4 more activities, including-but not limited to- letters, numbers, shapes, colors, game, story, nursery rhyme or song.

Letters. We learn about our letters! I usually do this one right after the words activity because most of my kids seem to like letters most of all. Here are some of the activities I choose from:

this one
or this one (they love!!)
or this one
or play with this SB activity
or play this one
or this one
or singing the good ole fashioned alphabet song
or an iPad game
or writing a letter on the whiteboard and letting them trace it with their finger
or ANY letter activity

Numbers. We have a number of the month that will come into play later but for this activity, we look at all numbers. Here are some of the activities I choose from:

this one
this one
this SB activity
or this one
or I pull out some teddy counters
or we count on the number line
or we count students
or we count teachers
or we count fingers
or we use an iPad counting app

Shapes. We have a shape of the month but here we usually talk about all basic shapes.

they love this video
this one
or this one
this SB activity
or I pass out shapes and they ID them before they put them back in the bucket- we use a carrier phrase "I seeeeeee the __" and some of my nonverbal kids approximate the tune of it.
or I pass out pieces from a shape puzzle and they ID them before they put them in

and most of the time I just draw the shapes on a whiteboard and they point to the one I say

Colors. We have a color of the month but here we look at all colors most of the time.

love this one
or this one
or this one
or this SB
or I pass out teddy bears and they have to ID color before putting it "in" the bucket- again using above carrier phrase

or I use a BM sheet and they have to point to the color requested

Nursery Rhyme. We have a nursery rhyme of the month and either say it or watch it.

Game. Sometimes we play the tickle game. They have to ask for more tickles- practicing taking turns too. Sometimes we play bingo with our unit vocab.

Story. Goes along with unit.

Song. They get to choose from communication board.

New final activity. Okay- I'm just starting this activity tomorrow. We will do it everyday to conclude circle time. I'm really excited about it. On the schedule it will be a balloon. The balloon will be the color of the month. When I blow said balloon up, it will display the shape of the month. I will have a visual that shows the countdown until the balloon is let go. The countdown will be the number of the month. This is how this month's will go:

(Show balloon)
T:What color?
T:(Blows up balloon; shows shape) What shape?
T&S:3, 2, 1, GO! (Teacher lets go & the crowd goes wild:))

We'll see. They may not be nearly as excited about it as I am.

I'll then show the finished sign and we'll transition to work time.

Okay- so that is circle time. I keep all of my circle time materials in a plastic organizer with 3 drawers and all of my visuals and communication boards in a folder divided by activity type. This makes it easier for my para or sub when I'm out. I try to not use too many videos and have a good mixture between incorporating technology and using good ole fashioned manipulative. But hey- my kids are so motivated by technology so I don't feel too bad about using it a good bit.


1 comment:

  1. I love your "don't judge, you know those days" comment! ;) I know them all too well. I love reading your blog, but I miss you being right across the hall!!!

    - Rachel