Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Off to Group We GO!
The first step in getting children's attention at group time is actually getting them there! Take a rousing song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and turn it into a "march to group time song." You can start the song by the classroom door and begin marching around the room, picking up children in a train behind you until all children are marching to your group time area.
Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho (a la The Seven Dwarfs)
It's off to group we go.
With a bop in our step
And a rhythmic clap,
(Repeat as many times as it takes to gather children)
When children arrive at group, add a quiet verse to settle them down, putting your fingers to your lips as you whisper this last verse.
It's time to sit down slow.
With a quiet dap (clap)
Put your hands in your lap,
From the author's newest book, Back to School: Best-Ever Circle Time Activities* (Scholastic Inc.; $11.95)
Sing It Three Ways Through!
A simple and fun way to get children ready to listen at the beginning of group time is to take a verse from a favorite song that has hand motions (such as "Where Is Thumpkin?") and sing it through three times. The first time, sing and make the hand motions the usual way. The second, just HUM the song while making the hand motions. The third time through, just use your hands. This helps to quiet and center children.
Look at Me-Look at YOU!
Sometimes, once you have children at group, you need a little song to get their A attention back. Here is a quick one to use.
Look at Me and YOU (Tune: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat")
Look, look, look at me
It's your meeting cue.
1-2-3 Look at me
Look at YOU!
You can sing children's names in a song to support appropriate behaviors during group time. It's fascinating to watch how the other children settle down just to hear their names added to the song.
I Like the Way (Tune: "The Wheels on the Bus")
I like the way that (child's name) is sitting (listening, watching)
And I like the way that (another child's name) is sitting
I like the way that (child's name) is sitting Now it's meeting time
From the author's book, The Great Big Book of Songs, Rhymes and Cheers* (Scholastic Inc.; $21.95)
Songs Throughout the Day
If songs work at group time, they certainly can work throughout the day. Consider applying some of your group time techniques and songs whenever you want to get children's attention. All you have to do is change the words to the song. For example, change the words to "I Like the Way" to reinforce cleanup activities. Use the "Heigh-Ho" song to march children to the playground or off to the library. Any song can be used with modification to engage and delight children throughout the day.