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Round the Circle

In this unit designed for kindergarten classrooms, students learn all about the science of the circle in activities that explore shapes, wheels, and movement. Some of the activities are done in stations.

These activities are part of Science World’s Big Science For Little Hands program. They were developed and tested with preschool and kindergarten educators.

Objectives

  • Use the five senses to make observations.

  • Describe how different objects move on ramps (e.g. sliding, rolling).

  • Discover how round objects vary in their movement and corresponding force.

Materials

  • See individual activities for materials.

Background

Here is how a selection of these activities could become a week-long unit of study in a kindergarten classroom.

  • Day 1:
    • Whole group lesson: “Round Things All Around” Mystery Bag. Fill an opaque bag with a variety of everyday items, many of them spherical or round. Have the students sit in a circle and pass around the bag, taking out one item without looking. Do they know what it is and what it’s used for? Is it round? Brainstorm other round things as a class or ask students to draw their ideas.
    • Station ideas: Ramp Rollers (Part 1), String Circumference, Circle Creations
  • Day 2:
    • Whole group lesson: Read Round and Round and Round by Tana Hoban, then give each student a piece of string (or a string of beads, etc) to make shapes with. Ask them what shapes they made. Why is it easy to make shapes with string? Can you think of other things we can make shapes with? (Here is a template for pre-cut shapes that students can then place their string around, then take away to see the outline they created.)
    • Station ideas: Ramp Rollers (Parts 2 & 3), Circle Creations
  • Day 3:
    • Whole group lesson: Read Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban. What shapes were in the story? Discuss the different shapes the students saw.
    • Whole group activity: Pipe Cleaner Prints & Bubbles
  • Day 4:
    • Whole group lesson: To introduce painting with marbles, place paper on a ramp, dip different balls and marbles in paint and roll them down the ramp. What kind of patterns do they make? Try different colours to see if they blend together.
    • Whole group activity: Marble Painting
  • Day 5:
    • Whole group lesson: Set up a ramp and show the students some differently-shaped objects (e.g. square, triangular, etc). Do you think they will roll down the ramp? Why or why not? What if they had wheels? Talk about how some things need wheels to move, because the circle is the ideal shape for movement.
    • Station ideas: Ramp Rollers (Part 3)
    • Whole group activity: Move the Teacher

Other ideas:

Round-themed songs, rhymes and games include ‘The Wheels on the Bus’, ‘Ring Around the Rosie’, ‘Round and Round the Garden Goes the Teddy Bear’, ‘She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain’, ‘The Hokey-Pokey’ and ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’.

Have a ’round’ picnic! Cut sandwiches into circles, or use round bread. Eat round cookies or crackers, or round slices of fruits and vegetables.

Check out some important metal circles – coins! There are a number of ways to introduce kindergarteners to coins. They can make crayon rubbings, sort the coins into different categories, or try rolling them in a ‘coin race’. Do they think the bigger ones will go faster, or the smaller ones? Which ones will go farther? What about a whole roll of coins?

Vocabulary

Definitions for kindergarteners:

spheres – Balls and other round things.

circular – In the shape of a circle.

cylinder – A tube shape.

steep – Going from down near the ground to up high, like a hill, staircase. ramp, or mountain.

ramp – A slanted ground or surface that things roll down.

Other Resources

Shapes:

EverythingPreschool.com | Shapes Theme

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Education Place | Shape-Book Patterns

First School | Shapes Printable Activities

edHelper.com | Shapes Activities

Little Giraffes Teaching Ideas | Shapes Songs & Activities

Ramps:

Peep and the Big Wide World | Educators | Exploring Ramps: Full Curriculum

Peep and the Big Wide World | Parents | Anywhere Activities | Roller Ball

Peep and the Big Wide World | Parents | Anywhere Activities | High Rollers

Literature

For children:

Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes, Roseanne Thong
‘Round and Around, James Skofield
What is Round?, Rebecca Kai Dotlich
The Missing Piece, Shel Silverstein

For educators:

More Than Magnets: Exploring the Wonders of Science in Preschool and Kindergarten, Sally Moomaw & Brenda Hieronymus
Exploring Water with Young Children, Ingrid Chalufour & Karen Worth
Worms, Shadows and Whirlpools: Science in the Early Childhood Classroom, Karen Worth & Sharon Grollman