How are you feeling today? Circle Time in Infantil IV

23 outubro de 2017

By Katy Chase


Circle time is the most important thirty minutes that I spend with my Infantil IV students each day. We begin with the same question: How are you feeling today? The students can choose to share one or two facts about their day, weekend or how they are feeling. They can talk about anything, happy or sad, good or bad, silly or serious. I have used circle time to help build fluency in my young students from the very first day of school. Keep reading to see what this looks like in action!


During the first three weeks of school, we want to make our students feel as comfortable as possible while they learn to connect to their new classmates, teachers and routine. I welcome students that have already had two years of English in Infantil II and III and students who have never spoken English in their lives. During these weeks, my only expectation during circle was that the students would understand the question “How are you feeling today?” and some very simple vocabulary. They needed to know happy, sad or so-so/just OK. For students who were brand new to English this year they only needed to show how they were feeling with their thumbs and the rest of their response could be in Portuguese. I would translate each of their answers so that they could hear their own words in English.



During the first semester, students started gaining more confidence and independence with the English language. They were eager to express themselves with more than just three options and so I introduced a double-sided emotions chart with eight new options. At first, the students would point to the emotion they identified with until slowly they learned to master the new vocabulary. Eventually they began to answer the question and gave a reasoning behind their choice.

By April, I stopped asking the questions and the helpers of the day asked their classmates how they were feeling. Most students were saying “Eu sinto happy porque..” and finish the rest in Portuguese. I continued to translate everything they said in English to help them learn more vocabulary. By the end of May, I noticed progress in many of my students as certain phrases become memorized. Answers were 50% in English and the most common answers were “Happy because mommy is going to pick me up.” or “Sad because I miss daddy” or “Happy just because”.



            After the winter holiday, my students came back to school relaxed and ready to share all of their exciting vacation stories. Their confidence had improved dramatically and they began to speak with more fluency. As August, passed I found myself translating less and less during circle time. Students now understand the routine and the helpers ask all the questions so my assistance is no longer necessary. When basic mistakes are made, the children are quick to help each other to find the right word without my help.

By September, 70-100% of all interactions in the circle were in English. Students would ask me how to say certain phrases in English before we sat down so that they could be prepared when it was their turn. The best aspect of circle at this stage is that the children are communicating with each other only in English. Often they exercise English only with the teacher and no one else. Repeatedly speaking with friends in English helps them to associate English with friends rather than just the teacher. I began to notice them practicing the questions with each other during line or at the playground!

However, the biggest benefit of consistent circle time is greater than learning English. Circle time helps to teach young children about social emotional skills. By repeatedly asking children how they are feeling they learn to identify and name the emotions that they are feeling. This can be surprisingly difficult for children between 4-6 years old. Circle time creates a safe classroom environment where students know they are understood and valued. They grow to understand each other and their teachers better. My students love and anticipate circle time because of its simplicity and the opportunity to cheer each other on as they gain fluency in English.


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