Joseph, William, and I have a special routine for the beginning of our “school” days. No matter how much or how little we school each day, we always, always start out the same way. When I first decided to blog about this time, I wasn’t sure what to title my blog. Then the term “circle time” popped into my head. Lingo from my days as a school teacher.
At first, I thought to myself, I don’t think I can really call the beginning of our day circle time…after all, there’s just me, Joseph, and William. We hardly form a circle unless we’re sitting knee to knee and that would require William to actually sit still for more than 15 seconds and even then, that would be a tiny circle. But in essence that’s what the beginning of our day is…circle time…the time of our day when we all gather round to enjoy various activities together such as calendar, reading, praying, sharing, singing, laughing, dancing…or, as it is formally defined by wikipedia, a “time that a group of people are sitting together for an activity involving everyone”.
So here’s a little peek into our morning circle time…
- Calendar: We use the Carson Dellosa calendar/weather pocket chart. I chose this one because it is bilingual…the reverse side of every card has the word in Spanish, which makes for easy review and practice. So each day, we identify what today is, what tomorrow will be, what yesterday was. We mark the weather, identify the season, clap the days of the week and months of the year and practice spelling them, practice counting patterns, etc. We practice common questions and answers that preschoolers need to know (but are sometimes so obvious to us as parents that we forget to teach them!)…his name, his parents’ names, his address and phone number, his birthday. We practice some of the basics of his catechesis…what is he, who created him, who is Jesus, why did Jesus die, etc.
- Prayer: After we’ve finished with the calendar, we easily transition into prayer time because we use the prayers from Give Me Grace by Cynthia Rylant…I typed them up and added my own illustration to each one, laminated them and hung them on a hook (if you don’t have a copy of this book, get one! It has a prayer for each day of the week…so simple, yet so heartfelt for children). Joseph pulls off the prayer for whatever day it is and we pray that first. Then we pray the Angel of God prayer and a Hail Mary. Finally we add other prayers and words of thanksgiving depending on what’s in our hearts each day.
- Songs: Next we sing our Month song. I used the month songs from Chicken Soup with Rice (can you believe it…that is how I learned the months of the year…when I was in Kindergarten, my teacher used a huge chart reproduction of the book and each morning during “circle time” we sang the entire song/book), blew up each page, laminated them and hung them on a hook under our days of the week prayers. Joseph leads us in the Pledge of Allegience and the Star Spangled Banner. We sing whatever else is on our minds including a variation of The More We Get Together that I got from the Little Saints Preschool program.
- Fingerplays/Felt: Depending on what we’re studying in “school” that week, I usually try to do a few fingerplays or some felt board fun during circle time. I love the book The Complete Book of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Fingerplays and Chants by Jackie Silberg and of course, we adore Wee Sing Fingerplays. I also use Little Saints as a reference because it’s organized by theme so it’s easy to find a fingerplay to go along with whatever we’re learning. As for felt, we have lots of different felt sets that we use ranging from the basics like colors and shapes to more elaborte storytelling sets.
- Poetry: I typically find a poem that goes along with what we’re learning about that week, usually using Little Saints as a guide, but you could just as easily pick up The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist or Favorite Poems Old and New edited by Helen Ferris and choose a poem. Read it every day that week and your child will have it memorized in no time!
- Posters: We have a pile of posters that we choose from each day…the kind of posters you buy at the education store (and of course, get laminated for extra long use!). Our posters range in topic from instruments to cloud types to short vowel sounds and everything in between! Little kids are like sponges, so it’s great to offer them all kinds of information that they just soak up.
- Bible or Saint Story
Tracy at Pinewood Castle has some beautiful, detailed circle time plans if you’re looking for something a little more in depth (and very impressively organized!)