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Top 10 Circle Game Ideas

Children of all ages should regularly participate in group circle games to encourage focus and attention skills, as well as learning how to listen to others. No matter the size of the group, by taking part in circle games children can simultaneously develop both socially and academically.

They can be played at any time of day but are especially useful after lunch or snack time to help the children remain calm while tables are cleaned while also allowing their food go down. There are many wonderful activities practitioners can host for large groups of children (around 16-30), and smaller, more intimate groups, (around 4-8), but it can be hard to think of new, creative games for the children to participate in.

Photographer: Artem Kniaz | Source: Unsplash

Here are That Nursery Life’s Top 10 Circle Game ideas that require little to no resources and can be adapted by practitioners to better suit their age groups:

1. Pass the high five

This is such a simple game that both toddlers and older children can enjoy. Sitting in a circle, the practitioner begins finding a ‘high-five’ in their pocket and then passes it to a child sitting next to them. The children must then pass it around the circle back to their teacher. This helps children’s concentration as they track the high five around the circle, eagerly anticipating their turn. Once the high five has made it all they way around, more movements can be passed, such as fist bumps, hugs, blowing kisses, elbow touches or high fives with their feet!

2. Don’t make a sound

The aim of the game is to pass an item, such as bells or keys, around the circle without them making a sound. In order to achieve this the children must hand the item round slowly to each other, thinking of the best place to hold it so it doesn’t make a noise; for example, if using bells they would have to hold the handle rather than touching the bells. If the item does make a sound it must be passed back to the practitioner to start all over again!

Photographer: Kristina Flour | Source: Unsplash

3. Simon says

A calmer approach to the classic game ‘Simon says’ is to choose suitable movements to be made while sitting in a circle. For example, children stretching out one leg, putting one hand up, closing their eyes, clapping, tapping shoulders, touching their nose, reaching towards their toes, crossing their legs, putting hands on heads. If someone does the item without ‘Simon saying so’ they could take part in a forfeit, such as standing up and doing a wiggle. Having practitioners do the forfeit with the children helps make it more fun and provides guidance and support, helping children acknowledge it is ok to make mistakes.

4. Freeze

A great way to help children become mindful of their bodies is to encourage them to remain still and calm. Sitting in a circle, ensure there is enough room for the children to lie down comfortably on their backs. The aim of the game is to remain still for as long as they can with the adult watching to see who moves. If they move a body part, they are out of the game and can sit back up, helping the practitioner identify any more movers. Some children will move after a few seconds, lasting longer each time they play, but some children can remain still for quite some time! So it is a good idea to set a time limit; maybe about ten minutes. If, after this, anyone continues to be lying still there can be multiple winners.

Photographer: Jakayla Toney | Source: Unsplash

5. End of day questions

It is best for children to have a physical representation of these questions, rather than just having an adult talking to them. We suggest printing or writing the questions out (enough for each child) on pieces of card or paper, placing them into the middle of the circle and encouraging the children to select one. The question is then read out by the adult, giving support and time for each child to give their own answers. The questions should reflect the children’s experiences within their session, such as “who did you play with today?”, “what did you do in the garden?”, “who did you sit with at snack time?”, “what is something that made you smile/laugh?”, “what is something you wish you did but didn’t have time to do?”. These sorts of questions get children thinking, while offering valuable insights for their key workers.

6. Whose voice?

While sitting in a circle one child will be blindfolded in the middle of the circle, while an adult points to a child who says a predetermined phrase (such as “good morning/afternoon everybody”). The blindfolded child must then determine whose voice they heard. The structure of the circle helps children identify which direction the voice came from, making it slightly easier. Some children may not be comfortable being blindfolded, so they can choose to cover their eyes with their hands, close their eyes independently, or may rather not have a turn at all and simply watch the other children take part. Children should be supported, whichever option they select.

Photographer: Franco Antonio Giovanella | Source: Unsplash

7. What is missing?

While the children are sitting in a circle, a number of random toys can be placed in front of the practitioner, ensuring all children can see them. These can be any items at all, but must all be different; For example, a pencil, a car, a train, a duck, a cup, a shoe or a book. More items will make the game harder, while fewer items will make it easier. The items should be discussed at the beginning, helping the children to remember what there is. The items will be covered by the adult using a blanket or similar piece of fabric then, as the material is removed, the teacher takes a toy away with it and the children must identify which item is missing. Going round the circle ensures every child gets a turn.

8. Honey bear

A child volunteers to be the Honey Bear and lies face-down in the middle of the circle. Bells or a similar musical toy are placed on their back, representing the honey. Everyone sings the honey bear song; “Isn’t it funny how a bear likes honey, buzz, buzz, buzz, I wonder why he/she does. Go to sleep Mr/Mrs Honey bear, don’t peep Mr/Mrs Honey bear” (most likely available online). While the song is sung, the adult points to a child who must take the bells off the child’s back, they then sit back in the circle and hide the bells behind their back. All children place their hands behind their backs and say, “wake up Mr/Mrs Honey bear, someone stole your honey!”. The child with the bells must gently jingle them behind their back, while the child in the middle uses their sense of sound to identify who the honey thief is!

Photographer: Joanna Kosinska | Source: Unsplash

9. Counting round and round

Sitting in a circle, the practitioner starts off by saying the number “1”. The child next to them then continues with “2” and the child next to them says the number “3” (you get the idea!). Following round the circle, the children must say the next number in the sequence, seeing how far they can get. For more advanced ages, see if they can do the same game but by counting backwards.

10. Hot potato

A ball will be needed for this game. Once seated in a circle the adult will show the children the ball and explain that it is actually a hot potato! The children must pass it all the way around the circle but, as it is a ‘hot potato’, they must do it quickly to avoid ‘burning’ their fingers. Once they have completed the task, they can then attempt to pass it in the opposite direction. Once the potato has ‘cooled down’ they can then try and pass it round using their elbows, their feet or only their pinkie fingers.