Circle Time Games

I have compiled some of my favorite circle time games. I made this list for the Educational Assistant that covers my class for my prep coverage. The kids enjoy these games a lot.

Doggy, Doggy Where's Your Bone
Seat the children in a circle. Have a child lay down in the middle of the circle with a bone by them. The child in the middle is the doggy and must have his/her eyes closed. The teacher points to another child. That child must sneak the bone and return to his/her place without making any noise. He/she places the bone behind him/her.

Then all the children put their hands behind their backs and say, "Doggy, doggy, where's your bone? Somebody stole it from your home. Wake up doggy." The "dog" opens his/her eyes and gets 3 guesses to find out who has the bone. The child who has the bone is the the next doggy.

Hot Potato
The children are seated in a circle with some lively music playing. The game starts when the children begin passing the potato to the person beside them in the circle. When the teacher stops the music, whoever is caught holding the "hot" potato moves outside the circle. When the music is restarted the children start passing the potato again. When the music is stopped again that child moves outside the circle again. Repeat until there is only one player left. Encourage the children who are "out" to cheer on the others as they play.

Another version is Snow White's Poison Apple.

Twenty Questions
One person thinks of something which falls under the category of animal, object, or vegetable and then tells the other players which category is correct. The players then take turns asking questions which can be answered with a YES or NO. For instance, if the category is animal a player might ask "Can it fly?" or "Does it have four legs?" You can have a score keeper keep score of the number of questions asked with tallies on a whiteboard. After 20 questions are asked, if the players have not already guessed the answer, each player gets a last chance to make a guess. Afterwards, a new player tries to stump the group.

Buried Treasure
You can use this one with sight words but it can also be used for numeral identification, letter identification or any other skill. To play the game, display 4 or more flashcards in the pocket chart. First, check that the children are familiar with the words. The children then turn their backs and close their eyes. Then hide a small counter/paperclip/coin behind one of the cards. The children turn around, put up their hands and the chosen child then must ask in a sentence, "Is the buried treasure behind.....?" Pull the card out and answer, "Yes/No the buried treasure is/is not behind ......" If the answer was no, the card is put back into place and another child is called upon until the treasure is finally revealed.

Seven Up
Seven students are chosen to be in front of the class. The rest of the class puts their heads on their desks/tables. The seven children go out and each touch a person. The person that is touched would stick up his or her thumb up. The seven return to the front after they have each touched a person. Then the seven would say "heads up seven up" and each student gets one chance to guess which of the seven touched him/her. If he/she guesses right,they change places. If he/she does not, the same person gets to stay up.

Honey Do You Love Me?
Players form a circle with one player in the middle (it). The middle person must approach players in the circle and ask, "Honey, do you love me?" The person being questioned must answer, "Honey, I love you, but I just can't smile." If he/she does smile or laugh, he/she becomes "it" and the previous middle person joins the circle. The person who is "it" is not allowed to touch other players, but may make as many funny faces as he/she wishes.

Poor Kitty
Children are seated on the floor or at tables. One child is the kitty. That child crawls up to another child and meows. That child has to pet the kitty on the head and say "poor kitty" without laughing or smiling. If he/she laughs or smiles, he/she is the kitty. Each kitty has 3 chances.

I Spy
Teacher or chosen child chooses something in the room. that person says, "I spy with my little eye something that is (a color, stretch out a word, you use to..., starts with the letter__, etc.). call on students to guess what the item is.

Simon Says
Tell children that you will give directions for them to follow. If you say "Simon says" first, they should do it. If you do not say "Simon says" first, they should not do it. Tell children to listen carefully and follow directions.

Start the game with "Simon says, put your finger on your chin." Help any children who are having difficulty by pointing to your chin and putting your finger on it. Continue with commands that include up, down, and out.

Once children are comfortable following one-step directions, give them two-step directions to follow. For example, ask them to stand on their right foot and hop in place.

Teacher Tip: Experienced players of "Simon Says" are often "out," or excluded from the game, when they make a mistake. Young children and English Language Learners should keep playing even when they make mistakes, so that they can improve through play.

Bubble Gum
Everyone would gather in a tight circle and make a fist with both hands and hold their fists out in the center of the circle. Choose a child to be it. it is the counter. The counter would take one of her fists and tap everyone's fists as the group says this rhyme: Bubble gum, Bubble gum, in a dish. How many pieces do you wish? The child taps both fist separately.

Whoever he/she taps last says a number between 1 and 20. Then the counter would again tap everyone's fists as he/she counted to the specified number. Who ever he/she lands on had to take his/her fist out of the circle and place that hand behind their back. Then the counter starts all over again with the "Bubble gum, Bubble gum...." and repeats the process. Once both of the fists of a child were tapped last, that child is out. And this went on until it narrowed it down to one-the winner. All children should stay in and say the rhyme and cheer on all of the others.

Duck Duck Grey Duck
To play this game, you should have a lot of room for running. It can me played outside or in the commons, hallway, etc.

In this game, kids sit down in a circle facing each other. One person is "it" and walks around the circle. As they walk around, they tap people's heads and say whether they are a "duck" or a "goose". Once someone is the "goose" they get up and try to chase "it" around the circle. The goal is to tap that person before they are able sit down in the "goose's" spot. If the goose is not able to do this, they become "it" for the next round and play continues. If they do tap the "it" person, the person tagged has to sit in the center of the circle. Then the goose become it for the next round. The person in the middle can't leave until another person is tagged and they are replaced.

Button Button Who's Got the Button?
A child is chosen to be "it" and hides her eyes as a button is given to a child to hide in his lap or behind his back. "It" then has three chances to guess which child has the item. (All children hide their hands in their laps/behind their backs like they have it.) For animal themes, select an item that goes with the animal. If you're doing a character theme like Cinderella it would be "Slipper, Slipper, Who's got the Slipper".

Lost the Thimble
Select one child to leave the room. Hide the thimble in the room is a visible, but not too obvious spot. The child comes back in the room and tries to find the thimble. The other children give the hunter clues by saying, "You're getting hot, if he's getting close to the thimble, or, "You're getting cold." if he's moving farther away. Once the hunter finds the thimble, he/she can choose the next person to search for the thimble or the teacher may choose. For extra fun, let the children act out "hot" and "cold" by fanning themselves for "Hot" and pretending to shiver for cold.

Cobbler, Cobbler Mend My Shoe
The children should sit in a circle. Select one child to sit in the center and close his/her eyes. Using any shoe, the children in the circle pass the shoe as they recite this rhyme. "Cobbler, cobble mend my shoe. Get it done by half past two! Stitch it up and stitch it down. Now see with whom the shoe is found."

When the class has finished the rhyme, the child left holding the shoe quickly hides it behind his/her back. At the same time, all of the other children put their hands behind their backs. The child in the center then opens his/her eyes and tries to guess who has the shoe. He/she gets 3 guesses. The one who has the shoe gets to go into the center and try to guess.

Another version would be to have the child that is "it" lays in the middle of the circle with his/her shoe next to him/her. his/her eyes are closed. The teacher chooses 1 child to sneak up and take the shoe. the class says: "Diddle, diddle dumpling, my son John. Went to bed with his trousers on. One shoe off and the other shoe on. Diddle, diddle dumpling, my son John. Wake up John."

A Tisket, A Tasket
Have the children stand in a circle. Choose one child to skip around the outside of the circle holding a basket as the other children sing, "A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket; I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I lost it. I lost it, I lost it and on the way I lost it; A little child picked it up and put it in their pocket."

Just as the rhyme ends, the skipping child sets the basket down behind another child in the circle. This child must turn around, pick up the basket and chase the first child around. He/she tries to tag the other child before he/she runs back to the empty space in the circle. If the second child tags him/her then the first child must repeat the steps. If the first child makes it to the empty space before being tagged, the second child then skips around the circle looking for a place to set down the basket.

Another version is Drop the Handkerchief. Instead of a basket, the child drops a handkerchief behind another child. There is no song to sing.

Chase the Cat
Have the children form a circle. Choose one child to begin passing a stuffed cat around the circle. After a few moments, let another child start passing a dog in the same direction. The passing becomes faster and faster as the dog tries to "catch" the cat. The child who ends up with both animals goes into the center of the circle. When there are too few children left to easily pass the objects around the circle, it's time to start a new game.

For extra fun, encourage the children to make the appropriate animal sounds, meowing or barking as they pass around the dog and cat!

Cookie Jar
Seat the children ina circle and have them pass the cookie behind their backs while they chant: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? (all the children)
______ stole the cookie form the cookie jar. (teacher says the first name, use photo or name sticks to choose name)
Who me? (child whose name was called)
Yes, you. (all the children)
Couldn't be. (child whose name was called)
Then who? (all the children)
________ stole the cookie from the cookie jar. (teacher names another child)

This chant repeats for each new "thief" that's named. If a child has the cookie when his/her name is called, he/she must go into the center of the circle.

Who Wants to Be a Smarter Kid?
This is trivia question game. You can use the question cards from or kindergarten Brain Quest cards with simple questions on them. It is played like "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" The teacher can ask the chosen child a question. If he/she doesn't know the answer, he/she can "phone a friend." He/she can pretend to call another child (use a play phone) who has his/her hand raised to help answer the question. Available to purchase from