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How To Lead Morning Circle Time… Virtually!

One of my favorite parts of the school day in first grade is Circle Time. This was a way to come together at the start of each day, greet each other, and start out with some fun and positive energy! This is always one of the routines that students come to know and love as the days go on. They’ll be the first to tell us if we skip something! Read on to find out how we transferred our morning Circle Time to a virtual platform, and my plans for getting even more out of this time with students this fall.

When we are on campus (you know, in non-pandemic times…) Circle Time in the classroom usually consists of:

  • Songs and Movement: I have a huge collection of songs and movement that coincide with our language arts units.
  • The Pledge: We have a musical version (of course!) of the pledge with a special added verse that talks about the unity of all nations and peoples. There are sign language movements that we do with it.
  • Student Compliments: We invite students to give compliments to each other about positive behavior they’ve noticed so far that morning.
  • Morning Message: Every morning I write a short letter to students on the board about what we’re doing that day. After reading it together, students volunteer to circle sight words or words with a certain spelling rule.
  • Calendar: We lead students through changing the date every day, and we write down the day of the week in English and Spanish.
  • Schedule: We have magnetic labels with all the subjects that we put in order every day on the whiteboard and then one student reads out the order of the subjects for the day.
  • Sharing: On certain days a week, students can volunteer to bring something special from home that they want to share with the class.

So the big question is…

How can we have Circle Time in a distance learning setting?

When we started distance learning last spring, we decided to continue to start each day with Circle Time. We made it optional, but the kids loved it, and we had almost all of them join us each morning.

So from 9-9:30 every morning, we met on Zoom and spent time together singing and learning and laughing. My kids loved the chance to see everyone face to face and interact with some non-academic activities.

Here is a sneak peek of how our morning Circle Time over Zoom would go:


Singing songs together over Zoom is easy! Just mute everyone except the song leader. My students loved singing along and doing our movements to familiar songs we had sung all year long.

Morning Message

My handy whiteboard made Morning Message seem the same as when we were in the classroom. I would have it pre-written off to the side so I could easily grab it after singing.


After the Morning Message was read, I would call individuals to tell us what the date was and the day of the week.

Interactive Games and Activities

Here are some of my favorite interactive games to do over Zoom:

  • Swingman – like hangman only he’s on a happy swing, helps with word recognition and spelling patterns
  • Madlibs – they have kid editions that are so fun, these also help with grammar and parts of speech
  • Class polls – we would give them three choices (like strawberries, oranges, or watermelon for fruit) and then we would tally everyone’s responses in a bar graph and talk about the results
  • Sharing – students could choose something in their house to show to the class. We had some fun ones during distance learning – lego creations, stuffies, and even pets!
  • Mingle Mingle – we would give kids a question (what did you do this weekend, what’s one game you played last week, etc) and put them in groups of 4-5 in breakout rooms to talk and visit about the question. They loved this social time!

Changes For The Fall

There are some tweaks we are going to make this fall to get even more out of our morning Circle Time:

  • Handwriting: We decided to include our handwriting instruction in our morning Circle Time. This will be a simple addition to our morning routine: a few times a week we will have a letter that we introduce at the end of circle. We will have students trace it with us in the air, on their hand or thigh, and then fill out their alphabet page that goes with it.
  • Read Aloud: I also want to include some read alouds in our morning circle. Once or twice a week, I will choose a short book to read together in the mornings. Read alouds are so important in my work to establish classroom communities at the beginning of the year, I wanted to make sure that I found a whole group live time to read some of my favorite picture books.
  • Ice Breakers: For the beginning of the year especially, I want to focus on ice breaker games, community-building activities, and getting-to-know you exercises. I plan on including a different game every morning during the first few weeks of school.

With all of the technology available, you could also create a virtual environment for Circle Time, such as Bitmoji classroom, or an interactive board. I’ve been playing around with the idea of having something in my Bitmoji classroom that links to a Circle Time area, and I created this as a possibility of something to use:

Do you have plans to incorporate Circle Time into your schoolday?

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