“Teach your children that it is in sharing the most, not gathering the most, that the most is received.” – Neale Donald Walsch

December and January can be a busy time of the year for families and children. Needs and wants are exaggerated and taking turns may be a problem. In Kinderpillar we work to encourage children to learn the joys of sharing and taking turns. Let’s take a look at some reasons why and fun ways to learn all about sharing and caring.

“It’s MY turn!” How many times have you heard that sentence come out of your sweet little one? If you are like most teachers and parents you have found that learning to take turns speaking and sharing is a major skill children learn in preschool and kindergarten. Any time you get children together (in school or with family) is the perfect place to practice, practice, practice this essential skill.


Have you ever waited in the grocery line and wondered if some people ever learned how to take turns in school?! Taking turns is a LIFE skill. It is one of those little skills we teach in Kinderpillar that can have a BIG effect on a child’s life now and throughout adulthood. This is because the simple practice of taking turns involves so many social and emotional skills. In order to take turns children need to learn how to self-regulate or control their desire to be noticed and to interrupt others. They learn to wait and listen. This takes patience… a skill that young children are just learning to master as they move from the egocentric ME stage to a more group conscious US stage. Of course at the core of all these skills are the basic human values of politeness, cooperation and respect.

Learning to take turns does take practice but is not difficult to learn. Even babies learn how to do it when they begin to babble back and forth with their caregivers! Keep it light and fun and children will catch on quickly.  Here are some fun fingerplays and games you can use at home and in school for teaching children how to take turns and share!


Fingerplays work well as a way to get children’s attention without resorting to raising your voice. They can serve as quiet (and quieting!) reminders of your turn taking expectations. The first fingerplay can be used in a group of children. It helps set the stage by emphasizing how it is important for the flow of the group to take turns.

  • First…invite children to all talk at once. (Yes, really!)
  • Then ask children to raise hands and take turns.
  • Ask, Which sounds better?

As you introduce this fingerplay invite children to talk about their feelings about waiting for a turn. Then say and do the fingerplay together. You probably will need to familiarize children with the phrase “to and fro” but once they get it they will be using it all the time!

Whose Turn Is It? (A fingerplay for taking turns)

Whose turn is it? We want to know.

(Wiggle first fingers of each hand)

Now and then time moves so slow.

(Lay fingers together like they are sleeping)

We wait and wait for our time to go.

(Tap fingers together showing patiently waiting)

But “to and fro” makes meeting flow!

(Show fingers taking turns and flowing along like a river!)


Show children how to quietly raise their hands if they have something to say. A great reminder about silent hand raising is to show children how to put one hand in the air and the finger of their other hand over their mouth in the “Shhhhhh-motion”. Use the fingerplay as a reminder when children get talking all at once!

Please raise your quiet hand       (raise one hand)

No need to do some flips

Shhhhhh says your other hand

Finger to your lips (Put first finger of other hand at lips)


Please raise your quiet hand(raise one hand)

No need for yells or yips

Shhhhhh says your other hand

Finger to your lips(Put first finger of other hand at lips)


You can help children remember whose turn it is to talk by using a soft ball as a tactile and visual reminder to use along with the fingerplay/song. Explain that the ball is a “talk” object. Who ever is holding the ball can talk and the rest look at him/her and listen.

Take Your Turn (Tune: Farmer in Dell)

 I roll the ball to you.

For it’s your turn to talk

You may have some things to say

Let’s listen to your thought!

You can practice this by asking a simple question (such as What is your favorite color?) and inviting children to silently raise their hands if the want to answer the question. Roll the ball to a child who has a quiet hand raised. Remind children that you will only roll the ball to a child who is silently raising her hand. After answering he rolls the ball back to the teacher who then rolls it to another child who has their hand raised. Eventually children learn to roll the ball to the next child who has his/her hand raised.  Use a wide variety of fun questions to play this game and play it frequently. The time you spend now learning how to raise hands, take turns and listen will make a big difference throughout the year.

Add a Sign
Non-verbal cues can help children remember the rules of taking turns at group time. Teach children a sign from American Sign Language as a turn taking reminder. The sign for TURN is an L handshape which moves from the thumb facing the body to the thumb facing someone else to represent the concept that the speaker has finished her turn and it is now someone else’s turn. You can move the hand back and forth in this shape to remind children to take turns!

Listen and Move

Turn taking takes strong listening skills. Here is a fun addition to your fingerplays and songs. Invite children to silently move their fingers as you say a favorite fingerplay such as Hickory Dickory Dock. The listening trick is that they have to stop moving as soon as you stop talking.  Stop in the middle of a sentence (or word) and remain quiet for a short while as you see how long it takes children to stop moving. Stop and start saying the fingerplays together to practice listening. Children can take turns being the leader too!

Great Turn-Taking Activities Throughout the Day

Children also need to learn how to take turns beyond your circle time. Here are a few games to use throughout your day to emphasize the art of turn taking!

  • Add it On-Invite children to cooperatively create a mural together by taking turns adding something to the picture. Children will have to wait their turn as they watch each child add their own creative touch to the painting!
  • Add a Prop-Sometimes waiting for a turn with a favorite toy, learning center or the computer can be very difficult for young children if they don’t see when their turn is coming. You can use a paper laundry line as a visual prop. Write children’s names on the back of pieces of paper “clothes” and hang on the line without their name showing. Starting left to right, turn the first piece of clothing to reveal whose turn it is! When all the clothes have been turned around (and everyone has had a turn) turn them back and start over again. You can also do this in reverse and show the children’s names so that they can count how many people are ahead in line!
  • Add an Instrument -children love to play instruments along with their favorite songs and fingerplays. Each time you do a verse of the song, invite children how have a particular instrument (such as drums) to play along while others listen. In the last verse invite everyone to play together again. This takes strong listening skills and patience!
  • Add a Board Game-Card and board games are an excellent for practicing turn taking. To play these children have to wait, pay attention, share, take turns as well as learn how to deal with winning and losing. Simple games such as Go Fish, Chutes and Ladders and Candyland all provide a laboratory for learning turn-taking skills children use in group time and life!

Remember: Turn-Taking Is a LIFE SKILL

Just look at all the skills needed to take turns! Celebrate each and every one as children learn to take turns.

  • Self-regulation
  • Control the desire to interrupt
  • Patience
  • Listening
  • Waiting
  • Cooperation
  • Politeness