I have set up two activities to use as routines with a couple of my young learner groups. Any kind of routine at the beginning of the lesson is a good idea with small children, up to about 6 years old, as they know what to expect and therefore feel more comfortable. This is especially important if it is the first time they have been in a language learning situation.
The first is a colour table. The coursebook the children will be using has a colour scheme - each unit is a different colour and the book's mascot turns that same colour. I decided to set up a colour table following the scheme of the book. The first unit is red and I have made the table out of an old cardboard box and a piece of red fabric. After discussing red items with the children, they started to bring in red objects to put on the table. This can produce some unusual vocabulary depending on the items they bring in, but they are usually engaged at this stage and are keen to know the names of their objects in English. When we progress to unit 2 the table will change colour.
The other routine, which I am using with two classes on alternate days, is a calendar. I bought the calendar set from www.latiendadelprofesor.com. It consists of a large sun with the days of the week and a space for each date. The dates come on small cards to stick in the right place. Each lesson the children tell me what the date is and one of them sticks the number on the calendar. The name of the month comes on a nice cloud which is placed next to the sun. There are also cards for "Today is..." and "The weather is...". These make a nice activity for the beginning of each lesson, revising days of the week, numbers up to 31, months of the year and weather. There are also special cards for festivals and birthdays - making it easier to remember all the children's birthdays!