Circle time is a daily thing in most preschool classrooms. And, it just happens to be one of my favorite parts of the day! But, if I’m not careful, I can quickly get into a rut. And when that happens, things go downhill VERY quickly! I get bored, the kiddos get bored, and behavior goes out the window! So, I’m always looking for ways to keep things fun and fresh! One of the ways I do that is with circle time games that change with our themes. Here are a few of my favorites to play during back-to-school time!


Backpack on the Ground

“Backpack, Backpack on the Ground” is a great way to get your kiddos thinking about letters and sounds from day 1! When I initially introduce this game, I take the lead. I start by teaching my kiddos one of these chants:

Backpack, backpack on the ground,
Pick up a backpack and make the sound!
(We pat our legs to the beat while we say it together.)


Backpack, backpack, they’re not all the same!
Pick up a backpack and say the name!

Then we spread out the backpack cards face down on the carpet. At first, I start with about 5 uppercase letter cards that are in my kiddos’ names. We say the chant together, and I choose one kiddo to pick a card. She gives it to me, and I hold it up. I point to the letter and explain that it is a letter. I say the name of the letter and have the kiddos repeat it. Then I explain that letters stand for sounds. I tell them the sound and have them repeat it. Then we start again! We keep going until they get restless or loose interest. (That doesn’t take very long during the first weeks of school!) So, we revisit this game as many times as we need to over the first few weeks to make sure every kiddo gets a turn!


Back-to-School Syllable Count

Phonological awareness is SO important in pre-k. But, it can also get really boring really quickly if you’re not careful. So, I love to sneak it in wherever I can. Syllables games during circle time are a great way to do that! We sing the little song to the tune of “Shortnin’ Bread,” then a kiddo chooses a picture and we clap the syllables. It’s that simple! When they are really wiggly, we’ll stomp, jump, or hop the syllable to get those wiggles out!


Crayon Hunt

Number hunts are an absolute favorite in my classroom! We actually play this game in the pocket chart. I put the numbered crayon boxes in the pocket chart and hide a crayon cut out behind one of them. We say the chant and the kiddos take turns guessing where it is. It is so simple but SO much fun!


School Bus Shapes

This school bus shapes games is perfect for the beginning of the year! The school bus cards have tires of different shapes, and I usually just start with the four basic ones: circle, square, triangle, and rectangle. I give each kiddo a card then we sing this little song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”:

If your bus has circles, please stand up.
If your bus has circles, please stand up.
If your bus has circles, hold it up and turn around.
If your bus has circles, please sit down.

It’s such a fun way to start talking about shapes from the very first day of school!


I Have a Red Crayon

This colors game is very similar to the School Bus Shapes game. I pick the colors I want to use and pass the cards out to the kids. We sing the little song to the tune of “Mary Wore Her Red Dress,” and everyone who has that color holds their card up in the air. Early in the year I will only use 3-4 colors, and we work our way up from there!


Back to School Circle Time Games Bundle

Those are five of my favorites, but there more in my School Circle Time Games That Teach™️!  The games focus on letters & letter sounds, numbers & counting, shapes, colors, phonological awareness, and more! Just click HERE to go check it out!


Looking for more ideas for your back-to-school theme? Check out some of my other blog posts!

7 Back-to-School Busy Boxes You Can Make Today!

Back-to-School Poems for Preschool

Back-to-School Writing Ideas

10 Books for the First Day of School

How do you use these games in your classroom? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

Back to School Circle Time Games