Home-Based Circle Time with Purposeful Movement and Brain Breaks for Parents, Therapists and Teachers
This article provides a structured circle time program with purposeful movements and brain breaks to help your child learn. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child. Affiliate links are included for your convenience.
No matter if you are homeschooling or if you are part of school, therapy, preschool, or daycare closures, we want kids to continue learning. Filling the time while keeping the brain active and progressing forward may be difficult while at home for long periods of time.
If you have kids that need a better learning schedule, clients who need ideas for in-home therapy, or students who need new developmental exercises, a home-based circle time program may help.
Putting a plan or program in place may be the hardest part. We have compiled a schedule and a list of resources that include some of the best learning tools to help kids excel in their academic development. Purposeful movement is one piece we strive to incorporate in every session to “awaken” the brain for learning and prepare the mind and body for academic success.
It may be fun to dance to songs in your home, participate in crafts and even take advantage of virtual and online resources while at home, however, we want to encourage a specific structure. What we are finding is that many online resources and virtual programs offer great educational value, but lack movement, brain breaks and other purposeful learning aspects to reach our learning readiness goals.
Just like during the summer months, we don’t want all that hard work in our schools and therapy centers to go to waste. We want to see even greater neurological strides so when kids get back into their routine, they already have a strong foundation.
Circle Time Activities with a Goal in Mind
Plan activities with a purpose and keep your home-based circle times structured with activities that reach certain goals. Incorporate movements that strengthen hand-eye coordination for handwriting, tracking for reading, core strength for copying notes on the chalkboard, music for attention and following directions, phonemic awareness for vocabulary, speech and language, and much more.
Circle time does not have to be long. We recommend 30 to 45 minutes based on the learning readiness of the child. Our home-based circle time program below provides exercises kids can do to stay active and each section targets a specific piece of a child’s learning development.
The program, schedule and recommendations below can help your kids anchor their learning with movement, fine motor activities, phonemic awareness, crossing the midline, auditory processing and much more.
For a printable copy of the schedule overview, click here or the schedule image above.
Home-Based Circle Time Program
The circle time program below is approximately 45 minutes. Feel free to mix and match, add or subtract any activities to fit your child’s unique learning needs. To get the schedule overview printable, click here.
Warm-Up (1 Minute)
Begin your sessions with some type of warm-up activity to prepare the mind and body for learning. Any type of movement activity combined with a learning aspect will “awaken” the brain for learning and will help kids retain facts and information.
Ideas for Warm-ups
Roll a Ball to Child – Ask the child’s name and have them roll the ball back
Toss a Bean Bag to Child – Ask the child their favorite animal and have them toss the bean bag back
Shake a Bell – Ask the child to say their favorite color and ring the bell
Hello Song (2 to 3 Minutes)
Hello songs help kids learn greetings, social skills, emotions, body awareness and they also encourage self-confidence. Many children struggle with personal boundaries or learning how to communicate their feelings with adults and with their peers. This exercise gives them an opportunity to understand ways to interact with other children and communicate better. If you can find a hello song that includes movement, that is even better!
Ideas for Hello Songs
Hello Song (Good for children 3-5)
Hello Hello How Are You (Encourages feelings)
Good Morning Songs (Encourages Social Skills)
Hello, Hello with Nancy (Encourages Body Awareness)
Bread and Butter: Storytime Welcome and Goodbye Song (Encourages Movement)
Book (3-5 Minutes)
Books and stories may vary depending on the age of the child. Longer and more in-depth stories can be used for children between the ages of three and five. Using stories in your circle times at home or in your professional centers provides opportunities for discussing emotions, behaviors, social situations and much more. It also allows children to build their visual-motor skills, work recognition, vocabulary and speech and language.
From Head to Toe (Body Awareness)
Llama Llama Hoppity Hop (Movement)
Hop Hop Jump (Movement)
The Goodbye Book – (Emotions)
Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark (Social Skills)
Llama Llama Misses Mamma (Separation Anxiety)
Hooray For Hat (Friendship)
Dino Duckling (Celebrates Differences)
How Does a Dinosaur Say Goodnight (Helps with Bedtimes)
The Good Egg (Self-worth)
Grumpy Monkey (Emotions)
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (Humor and Creativity)
Each Peach Pear Plum (Find it Book for visual-motor)
Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) (Social Skills)
Little Kangaroo (Separation Anxiety)
Bears on Wheels (Math and Counting)
Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets (Letter Recognition)
The Mixed-up Chameleon (Self-worth)
Movement (8 to 10 Minutes)
We like to encourage movement in ALL circle times. Purposeful movement activities build a child’s brain, awakens the brain for learning and anchors learning in the brain. If a child struggles with their developmental milestones, speech and language, numbers, letters, word recognition, vocabulary and other areas of learning, purposeful movement activities may help improve these areas of your child’s development.
We encourage five minutes of circle time where children can do body awareness activities, marching, follow directions, directionality exercises, bilateral coordination, crossing the midline and any other activities they may enjoy. If your child has a hard time wanting to join in the activity, add a toy or object that will make the activity more fun (for example, a bean bag, East egg, ribbon sticks, bouncy ball, etc.).
Ideas for Movement
Drum – Use a drum at home or use the pots and pans. Say “Rum Pum Pum, this is my Drum.” Let kids march around the room then ask kids to drum out the syllables of their names (“My name is Kristy” – Drum two times for two Syllables in Kris-ty). This helps with phonemic awareness and vocabulary for learning readiness. Try this same activity with colors, shapes, numbers and letters.
1, 2, 3 Baby’s On My Knee – For younger kids, put them on your legs or knees. Older kids can do their own stuffed animals like in the video.
Handy Spandy, Sugar and Candy – Movement Activity (use scarves or other fun items)
Handy Spandy, sugar and candy, we all jump in
Handy Spandy, sugar and candy, we all jump out
Handy Spandy, sugar and candy, we all jump up
Handy Spandy, sugar and candy, we all sit down
Directionality Game – While walking in a circle, call out directions the kids have to follow. Now we creep, now we jump up, now we walk on our toes, now we walk on our heels, now we skip, now we leap, now we shuffle to the side, now we turn around. Change to the opposite direction and repeat.
Bean Bag Game (Body Awareness) – Use a bean bag to call out a body part for the child to place the bean bag on. For example, touch your knees, touch your shoulders, touch your head, touch your toes, etc.
Crossing the Midline – Any activities that get kids crossing the midline will help the right and left sides of the brain work together for better learning readiness.
Movement Song (3 to 4 Minutes)
To add additional movement to your circle time, select movement songs to help kids with body awareness, directionality, following directions, core strength, balance and coordination and other areas of development.
Ideas for Movement Songs
How Many Fingers – Super Simple
Toe Leg Knee – Jim Gill
Silly Dance Contest – Jim Gill
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Sit your child in your lap while in the butterfly position, hold them tight and rock them through the song. This provides deep pressure, nurturing and positive reinforcement to build neural connections in the brain.
Music Time Instruments (3 to 4 Minutes)
Anytime we can incorporate music and musical instruments into circle time is so important for a child’s learning. Music can strengthen a child’s auditory processing and speech and language development, which is what a child needs for following directions, completing tasks, copying notes from the chalkboard, and receptive and expressive language.
In addition, musical instruments get kids excited about music, but they can also strengthen a child’s bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination and visual-motor skills.
Ideas for Music Songs and Musical Instruments
Ring, Ring, Ring Your Bell | Jingle Bell Bracelets
Tune: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Ring, ring, ring your bell
Ring it up, then down.
First, you swing, then, you ring
Then you – put the bell down.
Nursery Rhyme (3 Minutes)
Nursery rhymes provide kids with opportunities to strengthen speech and language, creativity, independent play, problem solving and learn rhythm and timing (important for processing speed).
Use puppets, flannel boards, cutouts, stickers or any other form to teach kids the rhymes. Kids can practice putting the characters up on the wall, window or flannel board while telling the story for additional benefits of using vertical spaces.
Ideas for Nursery Rhymes
Puppets (2 Minutes)
If you have any puppets at your house (hand puppets or finger puppets), add them to circle time. If you have animals, let the kids make the noises and ask questions the kids can respond to. If you have people puppets, it’s a great opportunity to talk about feelings, functional skills, social subjects and behavior. It can also improve speech and language skills.
This part is meant to be quick, playful and fun. You can extend it longer if you are telling a story.
Ideas for Puppets
DIY Puppet Videos
Craft Activity (5 to 10 Minutes)
Craft activities are great for developing a child’s fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and visual-motor skills for reading, writing, pencil grip, sorting, following directions, completing tasks and much more.
Craft activities may vary depending on the age of the child and their skill set.
Toddlers (Ages 1 to 3)
Preschool (Ages 3 to 5)
Goodbye Song (2 Minutes)
Goodbye songs are a great way to wrap up circle time and help kids with goodbyes, social skills and transitioning to new activities.
Ideas for Goodbye Songs
Puppet Goodbye (1 Minute)
It’s fun to end with a puppet saying goodbye to all the kids. We especially like to use our animal puppets to give all the kids treats as circle time ends. Birds can eat bird seed out of your child’s hand, monkey eats a banana out of your child’s hand, bunny eats carrots out of the child’s hand, etc. Kids absolutely love feeling like they are helping and making a difference!
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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