I find singing songs immediately quiets the room down. Asking children to do SPECIFIC jobs rather then the general “clean up” is helpful as well. Maybe making some of the children “chair helpers”, block helpers, and so on.
Before you start your Circle Time, say this poem with the children. (It will prepare them to listen.)
Wiggle your fingers, (wiggle fingers) Wiggle your toes, (wiggle toes) Wiggle your ears, (move earlobes back n’ forth) Wiggle your nose, (wiggle nose w/ fingers) Now that we have had our fill, It is time to sit still (fold hands neatly in your lap).
One way to teach children to count and to get their attention is to tell the children that when you start counting 1-2-3 that means that it is time for all the children to come to the table and sit quietly for the next activity. I encourage the children to count with me. Once we have used 1-2-3 and the children have learned it then I instruct the children that we will now be counting 4-5-6 and then 7-8-9 etc. By the end of the year the children have learned to count and it really does get their attention.
Clean Up Freeze…
Play a song as children clean up from an activity of play time. Throughout the song, stop the music and have everyone freeze. Restart the music to get the little ones moving again. Works really well.
To keep toddlers busy and get a clean room, give each toddler a washcloth. then squirt small amounts of shaving cream around the room (on the fridge, on the table, on a shelf, on the wall, etc. ) the toddlers will love wiping the shaving cream and cleaning the items at the same time. they LOVE it.