Gathering children for group time is probably one of the main transitions throughout the day in early childhood. There can be quite an art to a successful transition, and knowing what your group will respond to on a particular day is the work of an experienced educator. Below are some strategies you may want to use to signal a transition for group, or to use during group time.
Do you have access to percussion instruments? Playing a rhythm on the drums, tambourine or even a wood block is a great way to gain the attention of children and encourage them to come and join in the group time. Children will quickly pick up on the cue and you may even want to share around the responsibility of playing the instrument.
Play a movement song
Movement song are a great way to begin group time as children get excited and want to be involved. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes is a classic song with a lot of actions to get children moving and engaged. There is a high level of success for varied ages to experience during this song as it is familiar and easy to follow.
Also, on the CD Jumping Jelly Beans, Gen Jereb has a great track called "Row The Boat". This is a fantastic partner game/song as children are encouraged to work together rowing through the water. Your children will love looking around seeing their friends rowing and try and work with their partner to row faster. Be careful, they might even see a shark!
Every child loves holding something in their hands during group time. You could use one prop, such as a talking stick. Whoever is holding the talking stick has their turn to talk. Or, you could have each child holding a prop, such as a piece of felt for the story. They will each have a turn to contribute to the story and place their prop onto the felt board.
You could also have a box of fidget toys which every child can have access to. In this scenario, the prop they are holding might not relate to the group time, however, it will help each child to focus and maintain attention.
Your aim is for each child to be asking themselves "What amazing things will happen at group today?" as they make their way towards you.