When I was a preschool teacher, I always felt that circle time was the highlight of the day. As a homepreschooling mom, that feeling intensified. It absolutely was the best part of our day–and still is. I’ve heard that some moms object to the words “circle time”…they prefer the words “lap-time” or “mommy time” instead. Whatever you call it, it’s tons of fun.
We actually do TWO circle times a day. One is first thing in the morning (Bible time), and the other is a little later in the morning (our unit study or story time.)
What do we “do” during circle time? What makes circle time different from story time? To me, the difference is the fact that circle time includes more than just stories. Circle time traditionally includes various activities such as calendar, finger plays, music, and story time.
There is really no right or wrong way to do circle time; experiement and see what you and your children enjoy. But to give you some ideas, here’s what we did during our first circle time of the day with all our preschoolers (Note: We do pretty much the same with children of all ages):
1. Worship/music: Hymn of the month, praise and worship songs, Bible-memory songs, or Sunday-school type songs (the calmer ones.)
2. Bible memory work/catechism
3. Bible story and/or devotional.
Afterwards, we do our chores together and then play outside (weather permitting.) Next is morning snack, and then our second circle time. During our second circle time (unit study) we:
1. Do calendar: We sing “days of the week” and “months of the year” songs, add the day’s date to a pocket-chart calendar, figure out the current day of the week and month of the year, and recite the date while pointing to the calendar (“today is Monday, September 21, 2010.”) (We would sing the months of the year song from Greg and Steve’s “We All Live Together” volume 2.)
2. Have fun with finger plays, patriotic songs, folk songs, fun (active) Sunday school songs, silly songs, movement to music, rhythm band, and so on. This is so fun, and gets all their wiggles out before story time starts.
3. Story time
Sometimes we switch things around during our second circle time or add other activities, such as poetry (listening), picture study, or show and tell (my kids LOVE show and tell; it helps them practice their language/speech/oral composition skills); we might even “practice being good” (act out appropriate behavior—see my book!)
Keeping Circle Time Fun
“Short and sweet” is really the trick to keeping circle time fun—as is alternating the more active parts of circle time with the quiet ones. As an overall rule, it is better to leave your children wanting more versus frustrating them with too long of a circle time. Other ideas: Spice up your circle time with felt board activities/stories, Monkey Mitts, puppets, and other musical/finger play/musical props/learning props.
After story time, we move on to the rest of our daily routine.
Circle Time for Older Children
We enjoyed circle time so much with our young children that we’ve simply continued it even when our children got older, with a few tweaks:
-Remember to change your content according to the children’s abilities, attention span, and interests.
-Parents of children who are in grades Kindergarten until grade three or so should recite the flag salute at some time during the morning. We chose to keep Bible first, since it is most important; we’d do the salutes and calendar right before our first “academic” subject of the day (math). Once they learned it, we discontinued it.
-We still use the same basic structure during our second circle time, but we call it “unit study time” with our older kids. Our “unit study time” routine generally runs like this: Drills/recitation (we’re used ABeka’s bird, insect and plant cards to memorize the most common critters/flowers in our area; we’ve also learnied to recognize the major instruments in the orchestra by sight. Other times we’ve memorized the presidents in order or memorized the capitols.) Next is music/singing (once the kids are older it’s great fun to learn longer folk songs and rounds.) Afterward, we read aloud and discuss what we’ve read.
-We usually save our second circle time until Bible, math, and language arts are completed for the day.
-After our second circle time, we might work on a notebook page, a timeline card, an art project or a science/cooking experience that’s related to our unit, or we simply might be done for the day.
I hope this gives you some ideas for circle time at your house!
© 2010, 2012 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.