Hi Leslie, I'm so glad you reached out! Even though small groups, play, exploration, etc. should wholly dominate the day, Whole Group/Circle Time in the morning is so important for community building! However, as it was pointed out, it's important to emphasize that whole group is more successful when your goals and duration (10 minutes is a great recommendation!) are planned intentionally and appropriately for your particular group of kids. Engaging children with fingerplays, motion songs/rhymes, and interactive responses make Circle Time a fun, shared experience (yes, including all of the teachers!) Reading picture books with a whole group IS a wonderful way to share the love of reading with each other, when the children are invited to participate (repeat dialogue, respond with gestures or facial expressions, predict, make connections, etc.) The entire book doesn't need to read in one sitting-- cliff hangers are a great way to bring everyone back together later in the day. The fact is, the ability to attend in a whole group setting is an important one as they grow both in and out of school-- why not make it a joyful and desirable experience now!
To your question about seating recommendations, I love Sharlene's suggestion about building in student choice. Many of the teachers at my school use SitSpots or Carpet Markers (you can find them on Amazon). They are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors and amounts to allow for choice and flexibility as needed.