Title "5 Types of Storytime Seating" on colourful background

Circle time. That point when the entire class gathers around the teacher for songs, stories, and activities.

This can be a tricky part of the day for the teacher, as the children wiggle and get distracted by their friends. Different seating arrangements can help eliminate certain distractions. Also, different seating arrangements work better in different environments and with different budgets. Here are some pros and cons of 5 unique types of storytime seating for preschoolers that I’ve used. 

Note: the images included are for your reference. They do not indicate any partnership with or recommendation for those specific carpets and/or companies. The links are not affiliate links.

  1. Small carpet (with no individual spots)

  • This could be any rug you have around that is big enough for all the children to sit on. I have seen blankets or bamboo mats used as well.
  • Pros:
    • Use what you have, rather than buying a new expensive rug
    • Can fit a large number of children on a smaller space since there aren’t individual spots to sit on
    • Gives the children a defined area to sit during storytime
  • Cons:
    • Beware, rugs with very colourful designs can make it hard to spot toys, thus making clean up difficult and stepping on toys more likely
    • Children may jostle for position and argue since there are no boundaries providing needed personal space
    • Children are likely to crowd into multiple rows causing added distraction
    • Children have a hard time seeing what the teacher is holding since they are not arranged well
  1. Carpet with multiple rows of individual seating spots

  • These carpets can be square or designed to fit into a corner like a slice of pizza. Often, if all the spots are filled, you will end up with three rows of children directly behind each other.

Preschoolers sitting on corner circletime rug Children sitting on large classroom carpet

 

  • Pros:
    • Typically specifically designed for school type settings
    • Often high-quality carpets that will last several years
    • Often include an educational element such as shapes, or numbers
    • Children have specified spots to sit on with the goal of having the seating well-spaced – not too close and not too far
    • Multiple sizes designed for different numbers of children are available
  • Cons:
    • Often expensive
    • May be hard to clean
    • Can cause difficulties with children kicking those in the row in front of them
    • Back row of children often are not as attentive to the teacher
  1. Large oval or rectangular rug (with seating spots)

  • These are very standard storytime seating for preschools to have. There are many different designs from letters to woodland animals and more.Children sitting on rug for circletime
  • Pros:
    • No back row of children meaning the teacher can see all the children and the children are not distracted the same way as those with multiple rows
    • Many beautiful designs to choose from, including educational themes
    • Are large enough to accommodate many children
    • Individual spots on the rug for children to sit on
    • Typically specifically designed for school type settings
    • Often high-quality carpets that will last several years
  • Cons:
    • Your classroom must have a large open space to set this rug
    • Difficult to find a place for the teacher to sit where all the children can see (some may be behind another child along the side)
    • Depending on where the teacher sits, some children will be sitting a considerable distance from the teacher making it difficult to see what the teacher is holding, or for the teacher to hear the child talking
    • Most are very heavy if you have to move them
    • Can be difficult to clean
    • Typically expensive
  1. Individual story spots or carpets

  • Story spots come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. They may be individual sized squares of carpet, or circle shaped cushions. They could even be laminated pieces of paper. The thing that makes them all fit in the same category is that they are one spot per child and that they are movable.Child sitting on story spots
  • Pros:
    • Spots can be rearranged to whatever shape fits your space.
    • Can be stacked on the shelf during playtime allowing more space for toys
    • Might be machine washable
    • You choose how many to use rather than always having 12 spots if you only have 10 children.
  • Cons:
    • Spots are not secured to the floor allowing children to move them around which can be distracting
    • Creates an extra task for the teacher (or children) to set them up and put them away every day
    • If used on hard floor, the spots may be slippery if stepped on
    • Can be expensive
  1. Tape

  • Rather than buying a rug, take a roll of masking tape and put it on the floor in a large “u” or semi-circle around the teacher’s chair. The children will sit on the tape. (Alternatively cut pieces of paper and use clear tape to secure them to the floor)
  • Pros:
    • Inexpensive
    • Can be placed in any shape, according to your needs
    • Can adjust length of tape to accommodate any size of class
    • Children do not argue over getting their favourite colour or letter
    • No second row (unless you want to make one)
    • No heavy rug or stack of story spots to deal with
  • Cons:
    • Children may pick at the tape and pull it off
    • Lack of individual spots means the children sometimes sit too close to each other causing irritation
    • Leaving the tape down for several weeks, or during deep cleaning, may leave lines on the floor
    • Tape will need to be replaced from time to time as it wears out or the children pull it off
    • Not ideal on hard floor as it does not protect children from hard surfaces or cold floors

That’s a long list of pros and cons to consider. If you were to ask me which storytime seating for preschoolers I prefer, I would likely say using tape is my preference. However, this, of course, depends on the program and the space available.

What is your preferred storytime seating for preschoolers? Can you think of pros or cons I didn’t include in this post?

Muffin packed in preschool snack box

5 tips from a preschool teacher

Do you have a preschooler? Do you pack snacks for them? Then you’re in the right place. Keep reading to discover five useful tips I’ve learned from observing the preschool snack packing techniques of countless parents.

Please keep in mind that each individual is unique. Use discretion when deciding which tips will be useful for you.

  1. Involve Your Child

    • Children enjoy and benefit from having opportunities to choose. Try involving them in picking what to have for snack, but keep the options limited. For example, you could ask them if they want an apple or a banana. Or you could ask if they want white cheese or orange cheese. Be sure that the choices you give them are all ones you are happy with them making.
  2. Limit the Options

    • Deciding how many food options to pack in your child’s snack can be tricky. Not enough food leaves them hungry. At the same time, did you know that sending too many options can cause a child to eat less? Of course, this depends on the child’s personality. Some children become overwhelmed or indecisive when presented with too many options. Sending two or three decent sized food choices is often better than six.
  3. Offer Healthy vs. Unhealthy Options

    • Many parents complain to me that their children only eat sugary processed food. If given the option, the majority of children will eat the sugary and/or processed treat in their snack first. This may leave them with little appetite or no time to eat the healthy options you packed for them. If this is a concern for you, try packing only healthy options such as fruit or vegetables and perhaps some crackers. Most children will be happy to eat healthy snacks, if those are the only options you provide.
    • Note that if the child has learned to expect a sugary snack, it may take a few days for them to decide to eat the healthier options.
  4. Send Two+ Food Groups

    • While we’re on the topic of the options to pack for snack, one preschool I worked at insisted that parents include at least two food groups in the snack. Food groups include: fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, and meat/alternatives. Including options from at least two of these food groups is a great rule of thumb in providing a wholesome snack.
  5. Change Things Up.

    • Rather than sending the exact same snack every day, try changing it up from time to time. This suggestion, again, depends on your child. Some children prefer the exact same snack every day, while others quickly get bored of repetition. Eating a wide variety of food is a healthy thing to do.
    • To keep from getting stuck in a snack-time rut, keep a list readily available, like my 11 Quick and Easy Wholesome Preschool Snack Ideas.

Have you tried any of these tips, or do you have others to add? Leave a comment.

Child wearing winter clothing: coat, mittens, hat.

 

This is one of my favourite winter preschool songs. My preschoolers enjoy its full-body actions and snowy day application. I recommend it for children ages 2-4.

It’s cold outside today, it’s cold outside today,

Brr, brr, it’s cold outside, it’s cold outside today.

 

I put my coat on, I put my coat on,

Brr, brr, it’s cold outside, I put my coat on.

 

I put my snowpants on, I put my snowpants on,

Brr, brr, it’s cold outside, I put my snowpants on.

 

Boy in winter gear sledding

Additional verses:

  • I put my boots on
  • I put my mittens on
  • I put my scarf on
  • I put my hat on

Actions:

  • As you sing “I put my ____ on” move as though putting that item on.
  • When you sing “It’s cold outside today” and “Brr, brr, it’s cold outside” hug yourself tight and rub your hands on your arms as though cold.

 

This song can be sung sitting or standing. I like to sing it standing up because the actions then become full-body. Pretending to put on boots and snowpants provides a good opportunity to encourage children to reach for their feet and stand on one foot. Many of the actions encourage hand-eye coordination and body awareness.

 

Tips:

  • Encourage the children to guess, based on your actions, which item they will put on next.
  • Keep this song for especially cold days when the children arrive bundled up. This gives the song real-life application.
  • Use this song as a high excitement song to help burn some of the pent up energy which often exists on days too cold to go outside.

What is your favourite winter preschool song?

11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - Inexpensive and Healthy Ideas by teacher S. J. Little

I get it. You’re busy, and you’re on a budget, but you still want to pack a wholesome snack for your child. What follows are some ideas for quick, easy, healthy preschool snacks that won’t break the bank.
As a preschool teacher, I’ve seen countless snacks sent with the children in my class. Some are fantastic while others are, well… not so beneficial.
Before I continue, I’d encourage you to be familiar with your preschool’s snack policy. Most likely it includes being peanut or nut-free. It may also include other things.
Disclaimer: The following suggestions are to be used at viewer discretion as every child and preschool is unique.

Fruit and Vegetable Snacks

    1. Fresh Fruit/Veggies
      • A classic for excellent reason! Sending fresh fruit or veggies for your child is super healthy.
      • I recommend cutting the fruit for your child rather than sending the fruit whole, unless you expect them to eat the whole thing. I have had many a time when a child eats one or two bites of an apple or banana, then throws the rest in the garbage.
      • When cutting fruit, and with small round foods such as grapes and cherry tomatoes, be aware of their potential as choking hazards.
      • Possible fruit or vegetables: banana, apple, orange, peach, Berries - 11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - S. J. Littlepineapple, grapes, berries, melons, carrots, celery, cucumber, tomato, snow peas, bell peppers, and so on.
    2. Frozen Veggies/Berries
      • Recently I discovered a forgotten bag of green beans in my freezer. This quickly became one of my quick and easy go-to preschool snacks.
      • Put a small handful in the microwave for a minute or two. Let them cool briefly, then stick them in a container.
      • I like to add a touch of salt and oregano to spice it up, but that’s optional.
      • Possible frozen items: green beans, broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mixture, peas and corn, berries, Brussels sprouts, or anything really.
    3. Cooked Veggies
      • This is another of my favorites. It’s healthy while still being quick and easy. My favourite is broccoli. I take enough to fill my small snack container, cut into easy finger-food size, then stick the pieces in the microwave with a touch of water for a minute. The microwave softens the broccoli so it’s easy to eat without dipping.Broccoli - 11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - S. J. Little I often add a touch of salt and spices such as oregano or coriander.
      • Possible veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage (in small portions), among others.
    4. Dried Fruit
      • I enjoy dried fruit. However, use your own discretion as to how healthy or not these are. Store-bought dried fruit may have additives or could be a concern if your child’s teeth are not being brushed well. However, they are certainly healthier than many other options.
      • Possible dried fruit: raisins, banana chips, cranberries, dates (pitted), mangoes, apricots (pitted), etc.
    5. Applesauce
      • Individual applesauce cups can be a healthy option, especially if you get the unsweetened kinds. However, be sure your child is comfortable using a spoon by themselves before sending this snack with them.

Other Snacks

    1. Leftovers
      • Have leftovers from a meal your child enjoys? Why not send them along as a snack. Just be sure your child is able to eat the leftovers independently, whether that means using a spoon or whatever is needed.
      • Options: pasta dishes, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, pizza, pancakes, perogies, or rice with lentils or other sauce, to name a few.
    2. ProteinProtein - 11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - S. J. Little
      • It’s often a good idea to include a source of protein in your child’s snack
      • Protein options: cheese, cream cheese, slices of meat, pepperoni sticks, scrambled eggs, a hard-boiled and shelled egg, and so on.
      • Beans, hummus, and yogurt can also be included for protein. I’ll give more ideas regarding those below.
    3. Hummus
      • Hummus can be sent as a dip for veggies, or spread on pita bread, a tortilla, or a slice of bread.
    4. Yogurt
      • Fruit yogurt is another good and common preschool snack item. I discourage sending yogurt tubes as those easily make a large mess when squeezed. Individual yogurt cups, or pouring a small amount of yogurt into a reusable container works well if your child is confident using a spoon. Yogurt drinks are also decent options.
    5. Beans
      • This one might sound weird, but don’t cross it off the list too fast. Next time you dump a can of chickpeas or black beans into something, eat a few plain. I knew a child who enjoyed snacking on chickpeas. I would only give beans in small amounts, and along with other snack items. They are a simple healthy addition to preschool snacks.
    6. Crackers/Cereal/Bread
      • While I don’t recommend sending a snack consisting entirely of these sorts of foods, having some along with fruit, veggies, or other foods can make a snack feel more complete and filling.
      • Crackers – there are many types of crackers available. Some are far healthier than others. Check the ingredients for things such as artificial colour or flavouring. For a bit of variety, try rice crackers, pretzels, or plain graham crackers.Dry cereal - 11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - S. J. Little
      • Cheerios or other low sugar cereal that can be eaten dry is another option to consider.
      • Pita bread, tortillas, naan, and chapatis are among the many types of breads you could send with your child. Perhaps spread a little cream cheese, jam, or hummus on it to add flavour. (Be wary of chocolate spreads as they often contain nuts.)
      • Raisin bread – buy or make your own. Cut a slice, butter it, and place it in a container for snack. With store-bought raisin bread, I prefer to toast it lightly before buttering.

I hope this list has given you some more snack ideas that are practical, affordable, and easy to do, while being wholesome and healthy. Do you have a favourite preschool snack for your child? Comment below.

There are endless ways to help at your child's preschool. Here are 9 unique ideas to get you started.

There are endless ways to help out your child’s preschool

Another school year is upon us. My, how time flies! As I prepare to welcome a new group of students, and you send your little one off to preschool, here are a few suggestions of helpful ways you could volunteer to support your child’s teacher.

Note that different teachers have different things that they prefer to do themselves, or different licencing rules, or needs in their class. If they say no when you offer to help, accept their answer.

1.  Make playdough9 Ways to Volunteer for Your Child's Preschool - S. J. Little

  • Preschoolers benefit in many ways from playing with playdough. Their hand muscles are strengthened in preparation for writing, their creativity is engaged, and teachers can use it as a chance to practice social and language skills. However, playdough costs money, and, with so many little hands touching it, playdough certainly does not last forever. Most preschool teachers I know would be grateful if you offered to make a batch.
  • Tips:
    • Your teacher may have a favourite recipe to share with you.
    • Making the playdough can be done with your child (depending on the recipe), which can create fun family time and an opportunity to teach them to get excited about giving something away.

2.  Craft prep/cutting

  • Preschool teachers spend hours cutting paper in preparation for crafts and art projects among other things. However, I have to warn you on this one. Some preschool teachers can be extremely particular about the quality of cutting, others hardly care. Take a few weeks to watch what sort of arts and crafts your child is making, and the quality of cutting the teacher is doing. If you think you can match it, ask your child’s teacher if they would be interested in your help.
  • Tips:
    • If you take something home to work on, be sure to get it back to the teacher at or before the agreed time.

3.  Donating your skill/expertise

  • Sewing
    • Is sewing something you enjoy and have decent ability in? Tell your child’s teacher. She may have a cloth doll or a dress-up costume in need of a few stitches. Alternatively, offer to make a few simple costumes for the dress-up corner such as a couple of tutus or capes.
  • Computer skills
    • Not all preschool teachers are skilled with computers. If your child is at a small preschool, an offer to help polish their website, etc. may be eagerly received.
  • Community Helpers
    • A common preschool theme is community helpers. This includes individuals such as firefighters, police officers, doctors, dentists, vets, and librarians. Even construction workers and bus drivers could be included. If this is you, and you enjoy talking with preschoolers, ask your child’s teacher if they would be interested in having you talk about your job for a couple of minutes in class. This would be especially beneficial if you have some sort of items to show the children or even to let the children touch.

4.  Donating resources

  • Wood
    • Does your job involve working with wood? What may be scraps of wood destined for the garbage bin to you, may be treasures to your child’s teacher. I once had children make a keepsake craft out of donated flat baseboard. It was a hit!
  • Boxes and paper9 Ways to Volunteer for Your Child's Preschool - S. J. Little
    • Does your job involve very large cardboard boxes? Rather than throwing out or recycling a large box, ask if your child’s class could use it. Do you often have stacks of unused, clean paper to get rid of? Offer it to your child’s teacher. Even if the papers are too small for your purpose, many teachers would welcome papers as small as, say, 3″ by 3″.

5.  Field trips

  • Preschools often have a set number of adults needed for field trips and other unique activities. Finding that number of parents willing to come can be challenging. I have had to cancel activities in the past because not enough parents volunteered.

Tips:9 Ways to Volunteer for Your Child's Preschool - S. J. Little

    • Keep an eye open for announcements about field trips or other activities and ask your teacher if they’re looking for volunteers.
    • When volunteering, remember that you are there to watch the children, not primarily to stand to the side talking with other adults.
    • Come prepared. Dress appropriately for the activity.
    • Be aware that some children react unexpectedly when their parent is volunteering. More on that later.

6.  Special events

  • Does your child’s preschool have a Valentine’s party, a picnic day, a Halloween parade, a Christmas party, or a multicultural day? Ask the teacher if they would like a volunteer to help. Depending on the activities planned and the particular group of children, they may say yes or no.

7.  Washing toys

  • Did you know that preschool teachers wash their toys a lot? Some preschools wash toys weekly, others wash them monthly. Whatever the case, if you offer, they may be very happy to accept an offer to help wash some toys, or, based on a variety of reasons, they may have to say no. Note that toy washing is not a glamorous job and is often monotonous.

8.  Donations

  • Depending on your particular preschool program, your child’s teachers may gladly welcome a variety of donations. Many of these items could be donated when your child outgrows them. Be sure the items are in good shape prior to donating and age appropriate. These items could include:
    • Clothes (Keeping extra clothes on hand for when a child has an accident but didn’t bring a change of clothes is important.)
    • Plastic grocery bags (Clean and without holes. These are valuable when a child has an accident, or for a variety of other purposes.)
    • Clean diapers (If your preschool has a non-toilet trained class extra diapers are great!)
    • Toys
    • Halloween costumes (When a child forgets to bring a costume, having a spare costume for them to use is wonderful.)
    • Dress-up clothes, including multicultural outfits
    • Snow pants, gloves, swimsuits (If your school does activities requiring these items, having a spare can be a lifesaver.)

9.  Volunteering in the classroom

  • Now I suspect the first thing you think of when someone suggests volunteering for your child’s preschool, is staying in the classroom as an extra set of hands. There is a reason I didn’t put this first on the list. Every school has their own policy on this: some encourage it, some discourage it. Wonder why? There are several reasons.9 Ways to Volunteer for Your Child's Preschool - S. J. Little

It is always intriguing to me to watch the way a child’s behaviour changes when their parent stays in the classroom for a day. Some children barely change their behaviour, while others can go from perfectly behaved and good at listening, to rolling on the floor in a temper tantrum. Others can go from mischievous to well behaved. I suspect it depends a lot on how the child responds to the parent at home. This is why some preschools discourage parents from staying in the classroom, at least for the first couple of months of the school year. It is not because they don’t want the help, or because they are trying to hide anything, but because sometimes having a parent volunteer is more trouble than help.

  • Tips:
    • If your child cried the first couple days of school (many do), then volunteering to stay in the classroom right away may not be beneficial. If your child has just begun to settle in, your presence may throw that off and slow the adjusting process. Instead, wait until later in the school year to volunteer.
    • The first couple of days of class can be hectic. Some preschools bring in extra staff or volunteers to help. If you have childcare-type experience and your child is not disrupted by your presence, the teacher may welcome your help.
    • Respect your preschool’s policies surrounding parent volunteers. They are there for a reason.

Conclusion

I hope this list has given you food for thought when it comes to volunteering for your child’s preschool. There are endless ways you can help. When you save the school money, by donating items, or save the teacher time, by volunteering for tasks, you enable that time and money to be spent in other ways to provide an even richer preschool experience for your child. However, as mentioned, keep in mind that each preschool is different and may have different needs and policies. What may be a tremendous help to one teacher, may not be welcomed by the next.

On behalf of all the teachers and preschoolers who will benefit from your volunteered time, skills, and/or resources. Thank you!