5 Tips for Circle Time with Preschoolers Using Names and Faces

circle time with preschoolers

Circle Time with Preschoolers

Looking for some fun ideas for circle time with preschoolers? How about preschool or kindergarten morning meeting activities to help with classroom behavior management? Looking for ways to engage your special education preschoolers during the day? Working on name recognition or greeting friends? Check out these 5 quick tips! Simple and effective!

I have used a variety of name/picture combos with my preschool students to help them 1) learn to identify their name, 2) recognize their self in a picture, 3) learn turn-taking and waiting, and 4) keep things entertaining! They love it.

I use printed names on popsicle sticks, pictures of their faces on popsicle sticks, little pictures with hook-and-loop to post on boards or move around the room, first letters of names, and so forth. Here are a few things I have done.

♥Looking for a simple way to pick names for circle time or morning meeting or to help teach name recognition? These easy-to-use name templates with editable names include options for large or small popsicle sticks and four different sets of images. Available in PowerPoint™ and PDF, and you can edit the names and add the font you like. Great for back-to-school prep!

I use these for group and individual name identification as well as random name picking during groups. I like having different styles and options, too, so I made them for you!

1. Circle Time Greetings

I choose a name/face and hold it up and say, “Do we see Jack here today? Where is Jack!!” and we all look around the group and find our friend Jack, and then sing.

And we all have our favorite welcome songs, don’t we? Simple hellos set to familiar tunes? So fun! The two I love and use the most are:

Set to “Farmer in the Dell”:

Janie’s here today, Janie’s here today, everybody clap your hands ‘cuz Janie’s here today.

We change up the “clap your hands” with everything from “stomp your feet” to “hang loose” to “spin around.” The current friend gets to tell us what to do for their song.

The other song I use, jeez, I can’t remember what the actual tune comes from, but if you have a piano or know notes, it’s:

E, C, low G, C (Hello, Marcus)

E, C, D (How are you)

E, C, F (Stand up tall)

F, F, E, D, C (And we’ll clap for you)

Hello, Marcus, how are you? Stand up tall, and we’ll clap for you.

I like this one because once the name is called, the munchin’ stands up, and everyone claps. They love it!

Preschool circle time songs

2. Preschool Attendance Chart

circle time for preschoolers attendance chart

Whether I was in-person or virtual, I used a visual attendance chart with names and pictures. Once we do our greeting, we then move that person’s picture to “School.” As we get through everyone, we can see “Who is at school today?” and “Who is at home today?” We talk about missing our friends and hoping to see them tomorrow. Great Social Emotional Learning connections!

Check out these resources to help with circle time with preschoolers!

3. Preschool Name Recognition

I use names and pictures with similar goals but differentiated for students in the class.

For example, for my youngest or students with the highest support needs, I may show them just their own face (I have them printed large size on popsicle sticks). “That’s Elias!” and then I show everyone the picture, and we all say, “Hi Elias!!!”

For older and more verbal or academic students, I will hold up a printed name (with or without their picture depending on their skill set) and ask, “Who do I have here?” We clap or do a silly dance when our friend recognizes their name or picture.

I also LOVE to make my own classroom visual book that follows the pattern of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Who Do you See?

Also a great way to work on name and picture recognition!

Preschool circle time name recognition

4. Preschool Daily Picture Schedule

preschool daily picture schedule

If you’re working with any students with disabilities, I’m sure you’re familiar with daily picture schedules! I’ve used so many different styles and purposes over the years. As far as what I’m talking about here, one of the fun things to do is to use the students’ names and pictures instead of tokens to move them along the schedule. Each time a schedule item is complete, I call out, “Let’s move our faces!” and we prompt the students to go find their face on their schedule, say “good-bye” to that activity, and move on to the next one (with a HELLO!).

5. Preschool Centers

For my little-littles, one technique I found worked REALLY well was to use their printed faces for center rotations. When COVID hit, and we had to keep the number of students in an area very limited, this worked great. Each student was given their own table with all 3-5 pictures of their faces at their table all ready.

When center time came, I’d yell out, “OK, go find your face and make a choice!” They took one of their face pictures from their table and found an open spot around the room at one of the centers. It was a small room and a small class, so we were able to spread them out, so each center only had 1-3 spots each. If they wanted to go into a center that was already full of other faces, they had to make a new choice.

As the day progressed, students then also had to learn to make new choices! If their face already had a turn at one center, they needed to find a NEW center to try for the next rotation! It was brilliant! Yes, some tears were shed in the beginning as they learned the system, but once they go it, It. Was. Awesome.

preschool centers

Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it! There is nothing better than seeing a young child begin to recognize their face, their name, their friends, and get so excited to greet and take turns with their classmates!

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Hi! I'm Audra!

I am a special education teacher, behavior analyst, and parent to an autistic adult. I love sharing the insights and resources I have gleaned over the past 25 years. Thanks for being here!

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