View Full Version : Circle time

07-31-2012, 08:16 AM
Does your family do circle time in the morning? I'm planning on it, but I'm curious what sorts of activities
you do during circle time. I was thinking about doing secular character training (by way of books with characters
who demonstrate a specific character trait) as well as poetry reading, listening to music, and singing songs.

Aside from that, I'm stumped for ideas.

What sorts of things does your family do during circle time?

07-31-2012, 11:51 AM
i did something like that a few times, but got over it. first we were doing poetry, then we were doing songs from a UU song book. it was kinda nice, but i got tired of forcing the boys to do nice things?

08-01-2012, 03:05 AM
We have tried to do stuff over breakfast before, but it didn't work too well. At that time we were having a lot of trouble trying to get the kids to eat like humans, so we'd be sitting there trying to study a virtue and I'd be saying things like "Now, who can tell me how we show Consideration? Excuse me, don't talk with your mouth open! Slow down! You've got too much on your spoon!" etc. It just because one more thing to stress over in the morning. What we do now in the morning is start the day with classical music, a different composer each week. It's relaxing because they can listen while doing other activities. We also do something else that we call Circle Time, and it's basically anything that I want to do with all the kids at once for a short time: usually some kind of game, or practicing reciting things. We don't do a huge amount of poetry or anything like that, but we get them to practice saying all their details (full name, date of birth, address, phone number, parents' names and numbers) or information like months of the year, planets, states of Australia etc.

08-01-2012, 10:20 AM
[...] What we do now in the morning is start the day with classical music, a different composer each week. It's relaxing because they can listen while doing other activities.[...]

I really like what you're saying here. I think it could be both a tranquil sound to hear during the school morning and a gentle aural reminder that school's in session. That's beautiful.

08-01-2012, 11:52 AM
No. It's one of those things that I think sounds nice, but just doesn't work with my brain. Kinda like lapbooks.

08-01-2012, 04:04 PM
Not really. I may have done some activities with dd that some would include in a circle time but I didn't think of it as circle time or call it that.

We would talk about what the date was, what the weather and temperature were, make the date number with coins, write down some positive thing dd thought of, and share a joke.

08-01-2012, 09:06 PM
For awhile we were doing a sort of Quaker morning ritual circle time - starting the day with stillness and silence - just about a full minute. And I *really* liked it and I liked the effect it had on all of us to begin in silence. Then we would check in for just a moment - often the kids would share dreams - and we'd dive in. But somehow, it was just hard to maintain. I should go back to it.

When the kids were in kindy, we had a set of morning rituals that was like circle time - we had a vocabulary page a day thing and an art a day thing and we would look at the clock too, I think to work on telling time in a basic way.

Emily Cook
08-26-2012, 01:46 PM
We used to do a sort of Circle Time. We started the morning with poetry, worked on any memory work, sang a song, artist study, and sometimes read a picture book (especially if it was a holiday or special day - A Picture Perfect Childhood is an awesome resource for this!). We haven't done it in ages though - I've been considering adding it back in, but I don't want to call it Circle Time as it sounds babyish. Maybe Morning Time? Or, Morning Greeting? Hmmm....

Farrar, I LOVE the idea of a full minute of stillness and silence. I might have to try that too.

08-26-2012, 04:16 PM
We tried it last year but things got hectic and it was the first thing to go. We are doing a variation of it again this year using Brain Gym (recommended by the girls' therapists) followed by a fable reading and discussion.

08-27-2012, 11:58 AM
I admit to having a bad taste in my mouth about 'circle time' because at the preschool my daughter went to, it was great, and "circle time" was minimal compared to free play, but in the intervening years, 'circle time' has grown to 2 times per 2 hour class, such that the kids barely have any free play time at all, and are being micromanaged within inches of their lives. So I cringe now, at the idea of circle time, because my son hated how he was required to break down, destroy, and put away any cool thing he had been building, just to sit in a circle and do what he was told, for another half-hour out of his day.

So I have no intention of recreating circle time at home. Teaching them to sit down, shut up, and repeat after me, is not my modus operandi for homeschooling.

But, that said, I have had good results by sending him out after breakfast at the table, to run up and down the sidewalk until he feels better. So I guess the breakfast table (and dinner table) are our familial versions of institutional 'circle time'. I just have to admit that they way that used circle time at his preschool, to require far more sitting and prattling off memorized facts, than is healthy for any 4 year old, gave me a bad reaction even to the words 'circle time' such that I would go out of my way to avoid calling anything we do together as a family, that.

08-27-2012, 12:57 PM
I must confess that when I think of circle time, my mind goes off on silly tangents - one child and one adult = line time? two children, one adult = triangle time?

We usually start our school day with a read aloud. We include topics typically covered during a circle time via informal conversations or as part of academic subjects.

08-28-2012, 09:11 AM
Circle time works in our house because it gives me a way to layer some of our lessons so they are appropriate for each child. For example every morning we sing our ABC's- but my 6 year old is already reading at a very high level, so while we sing she signs the letters in American Sign Language.
I read aloud to them all during circle time and find a book that ties well in for everyone. We also do calendar, vocabulary word a day, etc.
We are also doing Song SChool Latin which is a song based approach to teaching vocab. We sing these songs during Circle and later in the day my older dd will do the book work for it. But this way they all get exposure to it and I can cross it off fairly early in the morning. Same with our Art songs which I wrote about here (http://www.teachingstars.com/curriculum/art-appreciation-for-early-elementary/). I can introduce a artist song and later on we can do our corresponding art activity.

08-28-2012, 10:30 AM
I had no idea the phrase "circle time" could have so many strong connotations! I simply meant a time when you all come together with shared activities to start the day, connect, share something culturally, etc.

Now that we've been at it for several days, our "circle time" consists of walks in the neighborhood, charting the day (turning over the day, talking about the day of the week, the month, the weather, and the season, and "showing" the date with currency), reading a picture book, and playing with any new addendum (yesterday it was the cave I made behind our couch to start off a unit on prehistoric people).

09-02-2012, 04:37 AM
I keep trying to do circle time but it never seems to stick. I feel like it is exciting for everyone when we haven't done it for a while and it does really help get us into the school groove for the day, but then the novelty wears off and we all kind of get over it. I think if I was better about changing it up each month or something we could stick with it better. There are some good ideas on here though, maybe I will give it a go again.

09-02-2012, 10:25 AM
Hi Paula! (Love your blog! you have some super creative activities! I wish I could be that organized each day.) We used to do "warm-up" activities in first grade. I created a calendar binder (since we were on the go most of 1st grade). I used Mrs. Meachum's resources Meach Calendar (http://www.jmeacham.com/calendar/calendar.binder.htm). We would record the temperature outside, then graph it. Do the daily Calendar, Count change. We eventually added a paper-clock and my son would tell me the time on it, or I would include a question from brain quest that he had to solve. These were mostly "Math" activities and it worked well since Math was our first activity for the day. We also used the time to go over our daily schedule. Love the idea's of walks in the neighborhood what a great way to start the day!

09-02-2012, 12:07 PM
We've never done circle time. But we're about to start morning baskets (idea from a Charlotte Mason blog). We will have tea and hot chocolate, and sit on the couch reading books from our basket out loud. Also planning to do some Language Arts, Math, and Latin exercises on a small whiteboard. I'm hoping this goes better than starting the day with worksheets.

09-02-2012, 12:09 PM
Our 'circle time' consists of me wandering into the school room and saying good morning. The kids know that anything Mommy says before she's had her coffee - and I never come upstairs without it - doesn't count as human interaction. When I say 'good morning' in the school room, they know I'm starting to function. I like the idea of a quiet minute before we start, though, just to get centered and ready to work.

09-02-2012, 04:19 PM
Does anyone with only one child do circle time? I kind of feel like our whole day is circle time :D

09-04-2012, 02:07 AM
We have what a friend calls a "gathering activity," which I find is a more apt term for what we do--and more applicable for older kids, I think. I figured out a little over a week ago that my guys need a signal of sorts to start the school day (after having had to wait for me to ingest some form of caffeine and calories). So we just grab a couple library books and read one or two of those, then move on to the day's work. It's not academic so much, but just doing something together that gets our brains moving has helped tremendously. I think I may add the alphabet song to it since I have realized my 4yo finally wants to learn the damn thing. As for other things, like date and weather and such, we already discuss that in our regular course of the day, so it doesn't need to be addressed specifically.

I'm hoping to add another gathering activity at the end of most days--hopefully a game of some kind. I just haven't figured all that out yet.

09-21-2012, 10:49 PM
I think circle time is just copying preschool/public school rituals aimed at the need for crowd control in those environments, that for us at least, turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, in real life.

I have an ongoing battle with my ingrained clinging to schoolish ways as a sort of security blanket against the unknowns of new territory (homeschooling/unschooling), though. Can you believe I even made a "word wall" for September, in what was once the dining room, but now the arts/crafts/desk/computer/elevenses room, complete with giant dry-erase calendar, cute little bulletin board cutouts, etc? The funny thing is, I stayed up late cutting out little red and gold apples, writing apple-related words on them, arranging them under the "word wall" graphic, and it was all hubris. I had my daughter write a paragraph about apple-picking, once, based on those words. That's it. Since then, it has just sat there as a cute reminder of how dependent I am on my lifelong conditioning to see externally enforced institutional structures as comforting and necessary. Because anything's easier to take, than the unknown.

So yes, I lasted about a week at being totally on target, ritualized, with constant direction at breakfast, cleanup, then reading from a text, calisthenics, ...in essence, circle time. Then I realized that anything that doesn't grow spontaneously in our daily ritual, isn't likely to be sustainable, and gave it a pass.

We're a work in progress, but my son's major complaint about his preschool experience, was circle time. He HATED it. Called the songs and hand gestures embarrassing, and outright stood on his right to refuse to participate, when he was in actual preschool.

So, no circle time for us. However, we do enjoy something that feels at least as cozy and ritualized: morning hot beverages, sipped meditatively before breakfast, while my brain comes online and while they do whatever turns them on, whether a morning jog outside (my daughter finds that especially energizing) or a rousing episode of "Bo on the Go" for the toddler (so I can have my morning beverage in peace before the daily grind begins!).

It works for us so far. Probably we'll be totally different in a few weeks.

09-21-2012, 11:03 PM
Morning time in our house is a bit different than most, thanks to my fibro. It takes me a bit to get going in the morning, so my son usually has breakfast and watches some sort of educational video, right now it's either Magic School Bus or Dinosaur Train, while I shower and eat breakfast, so I found having some sort of morning ritual does help us transfer mentally to "school time."

We do the calendar, day, months, seasons, weather, and then whatever memory work we are doing - currently address and phone number and scripture. I want to add in a little bit of poetry or song, but I'm still figuring out what works best for our family. Scholastic had some teaching content by poetry books during their last dollar sale that I purchased, as well as one on finger plays and songs. He's still in kindergarten so I figure at least some of circle time should just be fun stuff instead of just content all the time.

09-28-2012, 10:44 AM
DS is starting Oak Meadow next week, and I just read about their concept circle time. I had to giggle at the pp who mentioned lines, triangles, etc. as my sort of rebellious mind did something similar. :-)

My thought is that I like the *concept* of some sort of ritual, but when I think about how our mornings already begin, a more formal circle time seems....artificial. We already have a routine, so I hope it isn't going to matter if we're up at 5am singing RHCP or Michael Jackson or Dan Fogelberg..lol...really....while I make coffee and DS is already firing away a gazillion questions. I think the reality of our circle time is that instead of getting dressed and driving to public school, we'll just transition into more formal school work after our usual am nonsense. :-)

09-28-2012, 02:37 PM
"Circle time" in our home is when we ground and center. Something especially needed during the full moon. We do a "presentation time" before we start any formal type of activity, where they need instruction. Or if I am introducing a new environmental aide or theme. Our calendar is more of a "hey mom what day is it" event.

09-28-2012, 03:03 PM
Our calendar is more of a "hey mom what day is it" event.

LOL - this is us. I'm enjoying this thread. We are desperately in need of a morning ritual that is more pleasant that the daily struggle over who's turn it is to go feed the chickens. :)

11-01-2012, 02:26 PM
We already have a routine, so I hope it isn't going to matter if we're up at 5am singing RHCP or Michael Jackson or Dan Fogelberg..lol...really....while I make coffee and DS is already firing away a gazillion questions.
This actually sounds like an awesome morning ritual to me... Get some loud music pumping and try to get everyone to dance around for a few minutes before breakfast.

Actually... this was my family's Saturday morning ritual when I was growing up. My dad was home then, so he'd turn up some 80s rock as loud as the stereo would make it, and we'd all wake up to pancakes and Steve Perry rocking out. It was pretty sweet, and everyone woke up in a really good mood.

11-03-2012, 04:20 AM
Yes. The 2-1/2 year old is the most enthusiastic participant, and it's voluntary, and almost every day, everyone ends up joining in. We get out our box of instruments and play along to a few songs. We have a pocket calendar and we go over what's going on that day, and the kids like picking out the picture that describes what we're doing or what holiday it is, and what the weather is like. They weren't very interested in the days of the week until I made new cards that have pictures of the gods the days were named after. Now they're pretty excited about announcing, hey today is Thursday Thor's Day! I used to also try a poem but they weren't into it. The whole thing lasts about 20 minutes, unless they want to go back to more music, and that can last an hour. The 7 year old is most likely to opt out after a few minutes, but he is less into group activities.

11-06-2012, 09:39 PM
My kiddo loves music, so we actually start by dancing/marching and singing along to our song of the week. I usually coordinate it with our poem or story, which is how I lead into sitting-down activities.
His favorite songs of the week so far have been "Rockin' Robin," "Be a Good-Deed Doer," and "Tell the Truth," and the one he has best learned the lyrics to was "The Farmer in the Dell." This week it's "We are the Dinosaurs." Anything without a good beat has been a flop, but for us, a song has been a much better way to start school on an interesting note than talking about the date.