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Circle Time in a Minimially Verbal Classroom #2

Do your self-contained students speak in 1-3 word utterances? Here are ideas on how to do circle time!

Circle time!

Last month, I went through how I do circle time in my Kindergarten self-contained classroom. The students there are minimally or non-verbal. You can read the post here.

Today, I am explaining how I do circle in my 1-3rd grade self-contained classroom. Most of these students have verbal skills and are speaking in 4-5 word utterances. They are much more engaged and participatory in the activities (which are very similar to the other classroom’s activities). A few students use the iPad voice output, however, most are able to verbalize their participation.

The iPad app that I use for my mid-tech circle time communication is called Sounding Board (free), and I have downloaded my own images so they match the ones on the board.

Who is here today


    • Social greetings
    • Name identification/labeling
    • categories
    • Multi-word utterances with support

1. I start circle with a little chant. I find the name/picture of each student and staff member and present it to one student. That student names and points to the student/staff. Then everyone is the class tries to say “Hi…. how are you?” The person we are waving to answers, “I’m fine/happy/sad” with or without visual supports.

2. He/she then puts their name card on the boy or girl side of the board.




  • Schedule words: identify and label
  • Multi-word utterances with support

1. I talk through the day’s schedule with the students. We practice creating short sentences such as, “After lunch, we will go to PE.”

2. We review the 3 lunch choices for the day so that students can start thinking about what they want to eat before they get into the cafeteria.


Letter of the week


    • Letter recognition
    • Phonemic awareness
    • Vocabulary
    • Story comprehension
    • Song participation
    • Categories

1. The letter of the week in this classroom is very similar to the other classroom (although they are often not on the same letter!). The class uses a Leap Frog toy to press and practice the letter, letter sound, and alphabet song.

2. The students then get to reach into my letter of the week bag. This causes great excitement for this class as learn after Monday what items are in the bag and want to get the “best” one. We repeat the name of the item multiple times in chant form to work on vocabulary.

3. Next,  we read the Alphabet Book of the week on the iPad. By the end of the week, some of these students are ready to answer comprehension questions with support.

4. We talk about the Core Word of the Week and use the file folder activity to practice using the word.

5. We finish up the “letter of the week” with a song. I choose the  Alphabet File Folder Song  that on the  letter of the week. The students choose a verse and placing it on the Velcro and sing the verse to work on verbal participation and categories.


Weather and Clothing


  • Vocabulary (clothing and weather)
  • Sequencing
  • Choosing weather appropriate things to wear
  • Prepositions “in”, “on”

1. The students look out the windows and determine the weather. Using the Seasonal Dress Up File Folder, we then place that weather picture “in” the sky.

2 A student is then chosen to decide what he/she should wear first. The student puts that clothing item “on” the girl or boy. Then another child is chosen for what to put on next. Finally one child is chosen to explain what to wear last. We work on sequencing that way as well as weather vocabulary!



Oral Motor Song


  • Imitation
  • Basic concepts
  • Vocabulary

I usually do not have time to do the Oral Motor Song. But the kids love it when I do! In these songs, the lower level students are practicing imitating noises and the higher level students are learning about adjectives and basic concepts such as “big, small, fast, slow, in , out”. I made up most of these songs and there is no magic to them.


As you can see, I’ve adapted the same concepts and materials from my Kinder class, to a pretty different group of kids. It is fun to watch these kids soak it in and participate!


Make sure to check out ALL of my circle time posts!

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