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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Circle Time: Poetry, Music, and Movement

Circle Time was introduced as a part of our home school back in August, and it has quickly become one of my most cherished parts of our school routine. Our Circle Time combines music, poetry, and movement. It gives us a regular time to sing, giggle, and play together.

Our Circle Time Routine

My children and I have Circle Time once a week in our living room. It lasts 20-30 minutes. Our routine is as follows:

Light Candles - We begin by lighting candles, one for each child.  My children particularly enjoy having candles as part of our Circle Time, and I feel like the candles add an element of reverence to our time together. (Obviously, the candles need to be placed in a safe location where they will not be in the way of the Circle Time activities.)

Sing Hello Song - After lighting the candles, the children and I sit in a circle and sing our Hello Song. This is a song that my children remember from years ago when my daughter was taking a Kindermusik class. This particular song includes singing hello to each person present and incorporates the weather of the day.  The lyrics are:

  • We sing hello, hello, hello, it's a happy sunny day,    {change the weather to fit the day, such as "cloudy, rainy day"}

  • We sing hello, hello, hello, we sing in a special way, 

  • We sing hello to [insert name here]; Hello [name]    {this line gets repeated once for each person present}

  • We sing hello, hello.

Recite Family Mission Statement - Following our Hello Song, I recite our Family Mission Statement (which was developed a few months ago when I was reading A House United: Changing Children's Hearts and Behaviors by Teaching Self Government). Reciting our Family Mission Statement during our weekly Circle Time is a good reminder for all of us.

Alternate Between Poems, Movements, and Songs -  Next the children and I alternate reading poems, engaging in movement, and leading songs. 

  • Poems - I read poems from Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls (which is a great compilation of poems about a wide variety of topics including childhood, the seasons, and family). My children like to hear some familiar poems, so there are a few that I read week after week (which change with the seasons). I also like to include some new poems each week, including poems that stretch their comprehension (such as those by Shakespeare) and silly poems that leave everyone giggling. One poem that my children particularly enjoy every week is Hiding by Dorothy Aldis. They hide under their playsilks while I read and then I quickly reveal them during the last line.

    • Movements - Our movements include old classics such as Ring Around the Rosie and pretending to be various animals/insects while we sing songs about such creatures.  

    • Songs - We each take turns leading the group in a song. Each of us is allowed to sing a song of our own choosing, and the leader of each song leads us on a journey through the house while we sing. We each hold onto the end of a playsilk being held by the person in front of us, and the leader has fun finding ways for us to march, dance, or stomp along with our music. My kids especially love to sing songs they've learned from our old Kindermusik CD's.

Blessing for the Day - Once we are done with our poems, movements, and songs, I read a blessing for the day by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

  • For this new morning with its light

  • For rest and shelter of the night

  • For health and food, for love and friends

  • For everything thy goodness sends.

  • We thank thee, dearest God. Amen.

Blow Out Candles - Lastly, my children blow out their candles and we move onto the rest of our day.

Tips for a Hesitant Child

While my daughter is always up for anything fun and new, my son often takes a little while to warm up to things.  In order to make our Circle Time a success, I purposely set about making it something that he could enjoy with us by doing the following:

  • Allow for planning ahead - One of the things that can make my son slow to engage in new activities is the fact that he tends to plan things ahead of time.  If his plans are interrupted, my son gets stressed out and may resist doing something that wasn't part of his plan. I helped my son be ready for Circle Time by mentioning that we were going to have it a day in advance, and specifically mentioned that it would be happening in the morning after chores. 

  • Inspire, not require -  While I really wanted both of my children to participate in our Circle Time, I knew that forcing my son to do so would negate any potential benefits. I had to decide ahead of time that I would be okay with whatever my son decided and would not push him into joining us.

  • Choose songs and poems that touch on the child's interests - In order to make it most likely that my son would want to participate in our Circle Time, I made sure that the first few times we used poems and songs that he would naturally love. Because he is very interested in vehicles of all kinds, we sang The Wheels on the Bus and read poems that included transportation themes. 

  • Make Circle Time a safe place - My son does not like to be the center of attention in group activities, and this can even extend to activities within our family. I made sure that my son was not forced to sing along or lead songs during our Circle Time; eventually he chose to do those things in his own time. In this way, our Circle Time became a safe place for him to be himself without any judgements or reproaches.

  • Giving a gift - A dear friend had a great suggestion for making our Circle Time a success: gifting my children each with a beautiful playsilk during our first Circle Time. Since then, these playsilks have become an integral part of our Circle Time.

By letting my son be the one to decide when and how much he would participate in our Circle Time, it has now become something that he enjoys as much as his sister and I do. I love that Circle Time allows me to share the beauty and fun of music and poetry with my children.

How do you include music or poetry in your home? Do you have a child who is hesitant or resistant to participating in formal activities?

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