I'm beginning to do a little "structured/planned" home school beyond our usual home rhythm with my three year old (also have a 20 mo old who will be joining in on the fun), and wanting to incorporate a circle time after breakfast.
Wondering what those of you that do a waldorf-type circle time include - theme? hand play (do you switch it up daily or do the same one)? read/tell story? songs?
Any suggestions of examples of your circle time would be much appreciated!
Until this Fall we've never done a circle time because dd was not open to that at all (she used to get very upset if she wasn't the one to lead things). With kindy this fall I was going to try and do a circle. This is what I had in mind for us:
Opening Song (Glory Be to God, Waldorf tune)
Opening Verse (for us this is a prayerful verse, as we are Christian)
A Seasonal Circle song I made up called "The Year Goes Round and Round"
Flannel Board Story (this will change weekly) and most of the stories come from Enki Kindy or Little Acorn Learning
Seasonal Song and Dance---this we will do to one of the seasonal songs from the Come Follow Me CDs. The point isn't for us to sing it so much as just have fun free dancing to it.
Daily Handwork or Special Seasonal Game
Simple Seasonal Song (we will sing this with me accompanying on the autoharp)
Weekly Seasonal Poem or Fingerplay (I may just read a seasonal poem each week--haven't decided)
Closing Prayer Verse
I've also used Seasons of Joy for inspiration. So we do use a 'theme' for each circle time, something seasonally related, like flowers in spring, or the colours of the rainbow, or rain, etc.
You are actually supposed to do pretty much the same thing for a whole week or two at a time before "switching it up". This is how kids ge to learn, know, and love the stories and songs you're doing. So when you do it the first day, you don't worry about "teaching it" to the kid, you just show it to them, maybe do it a couple times, maybe they start trying to do it with you and maybe they don't (depending on what it is)... then over the next few days, they start participating and interacting more.
I remember some of the songs we were doing in the early spring for our circle time. One was "Winter goodbye, winter goodbye, you may no longer stay, springtime is on its way, winter goodbye, winter goodbye", it has a real pretty melody. Well, winter was LONG in leaving this year. Several weeks after we'd moved on to a different springtime circle theme, she was looking out the patio doors at the SNOWSTORM, and started impromptu singing "winter goodbye", and talking about how winter wasn't listening so she needed to sing it LOUDER and proceeded to almost YELL-sing it again... it was soooo cute and so funny. That wouldn't have happened if we 'changed it up' every day; she'd had the chance to really internalize the song.
I remember when I was learning about Waldorf ideas in homeschooling, I thought that 'circle time' was one of the sillier notions. But I did give it a try, and golly she LOVES it. Even if we're not doing a lot of 'pure' Waldorf otherwise, we're going to keep with the circle time!
A typical circle time for us starts with lighting a candle and reciting the candle poem, then we'll do a bunch of shorter poems, songs, and fingerplays, anywhere from 5 to a dozen (as the days go on sometimes I'll cut out a few if they're obviously not resonating with her as well, or I'll tell her we're going to pick between 2 of them to keep for the next circle times). There will often be a more active one in there towards the end, one that involves running around or something like that. Then we'll have the longer story, where she just sits and listens to me read it -- or, as the days go on, we might act out the story with playsilks while I read it, or have her draw from it, or other stuff like that as she gets to know it. Again, the repetition of the same story for at least a week is part of the whole point. :)
My daughter is 4.5yo, so a bit older than yours, so sometimes I also give her a bit more say in what we're doing. Like, I'll ask her if she wants to keep doing the same circle time again or if she wants to move on to a new one -- and if she does want a new one, does she want it to be about seeds, or about animals? Or whatever. The 'rainbow' one we did was actually her idea, I pulled songs and poems from various sources, used playsilks with the fingerplays, it was a biiiiiiiiiiiig hit!!!
We've been Waldorf HSing for 10 years now. Wow, hard to imagine. Anyway, over the years circle has meant many different things. The main thing to keep in mind is that it's original intent is to be a coming-together time. At the schools, the students are coming from different places and home situations. Circle is supposed to pull everyone together and get them inspired for a fulfilling day.
At home it has meant a time to reign the kids in and get them inspired to do some schoolwork together. Like everything in Waldorf, it's a transition - in this case from home life to school time. We usually do a walk/talk with a poem now. In bad weather, it might involve Nerf basketball. (My HSing son is twelve and in Jr High.) When he was in kindergarten, we had a weekly group and would do a full circle with songs, recited verses, storytime and games. Most of the time circle has been in-between those two extremes.
The main thing is to make it pleasurable and to involve everyone actively. Don't make it too complicated that you stress out about it. And repeat it a LOT. Even now, we repeat the same poem every day for three weeks (the length of the Main Lesson). When they were young, we might change one element of the circle each couple of weeks, but most of it would stay the same for a season.
I think the finger games sound lovely. Three Little Kittens was always a very popular one when they were little at my house. I would add a short walk or maybe an indoor activity as well. Somehow, physical activity can help the kids to calm down for a story or craft if you transition smoothly.
One helpful tip: spiral in. That was taught to me by a Houston/Austin Waldorf teacher years back and has helped a lot. If your kids are already active, meet them at that state with a whole-body movement game, like Simon Says or Red Light/Green Light or a short, indoor adventure course, then follow with maybe a song or two while going in a circle, then the finger games, and finally a sit-down time. Keep the stories, sit-down activity short and using puppets or some other prop. For some kids, the only way to keep their attention during storytime is to serve a small, light snack. Their hands are busy while they eat. Finally, have everyone stand and sing a song. That's the end of circle and might lead to craft.