One of my favorite things about working with a center-based district preschool is the ability to do push-in classroom based services. Those services come in different formats including joining the students in their play areas, pulling students to a table to work within the classroom, and doing whole-group lessons.
Whole group lessons have always been one of my favorite ways to get involved into the classrooms I work in. I’ve done the work a few different ways and want to tell you about three different types of whole group circle times I’ve done in a classroom.
I’ve worked in two different school district as well as in private clinics that run small groups so my comfort level leading “circle time” is pretty good. I know it can be totally overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. One year, I got plopped into a life skills middle school classroom and had to plan circle time and even there I found that circle time is something student enjoy – so have fun with it!
In each preschool, classroom settings have been made up of both Regular Education Settings (50% IEP students, 50% typical peers) and in Special Education classrooms (IEP only students). I’ve done circle time in both types of these classes. A lot of the SLPs who message me about doing circle time need some help getting started. Start with your goal. I’ve done three different type of circle times over the years. Let me tell you about them!
- Weekly Literacy Lessons
In my first preschool job, I did weekly inclusion lessons. I focused on curriculum vocabulary and language targets. Each week I picked a book and did something interactive with it with the whole class and the book. For example, I used the book The Mitten and my book companion materials and gave each student a puppet prop. As I read the story I had them come up to the front and get under a white blanket that we pretended with the mitten from the story. After the story, we focused on story comprehension, story retell, and sequencing.
2. Weekly Language Lessons
Another option I’ve done is a weekly lesson related to language skills. While there are SO many language activities to teach, I find that teaching basic concepts is a great place to start. Once you move through that you can target language functions, associations, part/whole and other vocabulary relationships. These are really critical in our young learners.
3. Monthly Phonology Lessons
This year, I’ve been using the 3:1 Flexible Scheduling Model and I use my flex week as a time to do a whole group circle time. This year, I noticed that each of my classrooms had peers with phonology errors. Once per month, I do a circle time lesson that focuses on a phonological process. I focus on one phonological process per week and do a SMARTBoard activity. This allows me to explicitly teach sounds and patterns to all students, even the peers who need some extra help.
During my next few posts, I’ll share some more ideas for how to plan a whole group phonology lesson and how to manage the behavior of a group. What questions do you have that you want me to answer? Leave a comment and let me know.
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