"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 10:10

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Circle Time 2013-2014

 The first part of our school day is Circle Time.  The bell is rung, and we all head to the basement, where we gather together to nourish our souls.  Here are the elements and order of Circle Time:

We start off with corporate prayer.  I have printed off a handful of beautiful prayers from the 1962 Common Book of Prayer.  Every day a different girl gets to pick what prayer we will recite together.  Then, everyone chooses a request from our ongoing prayer list (ministries we support, pregnant friends, sick friends, family members, and specific requests we receive) to pray for.  We go around the circle praying for those items, and I finish with whatever items were not chosen by the girls.

We read one psalm each day, rotating through Psalm 1, 23, 51, 95, 100, and 127.  I wanted to include a variety of Psalms, with different themes yet a small enough number that the words of these psalms become entrenched in their hearts through the repetition.

We read either a fable, Shakespeare story, or fairy tale each day.  One day we read a fable, the next we start a Shakespeare story, and so on.  The Shakespeare and fairy tale stories are both too long to read in one sitting of circle time, so they are often continued the next day.



Michael Clay Thompson's English Series
This year I hope to read through Grammar Island, Sentence Island, and Music of the Hemispheres.  We do not do a lot of discussion or any activity with these books, but simply treat it like a storybook read aloud.

Everyday we recite a new poem together.  Some days we may read it through just once, other day we say it over and over.  Once we know it by heart, we move on to a new poem.  Each day we also say a review poem together, systematically working through one review poem per day.  The review poems are poems that we learned in previous years, but want to keep alive in our brains.  I try to include fun poems, serious poems, short poems, and longer poems in the mix for everyone to be able to enjoy.  Our new poems for this year are:
Little Things by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer
Grungy Grace by Jack Prelutsky
Sick by Shel Silverstein
In Flanders Field by John McCrae
St. Patrick's Prayer
Always Finish, author unknown
Mr. Nobody by anonymous
Snowball by Shel Silverstein
The Builders by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Timeline Cards
Each day I read aloud two Classical Conversation Classical Acts and Facts Cards, working our way through the entire timeline of world history.  Some days we have a lot of discussion about these, including what certain words mean, what history sentence they remember coinciding with that card, what the picture on the front of the card is showing, where in the world this would be taking place, why this happened, what happened previously in history that would contribute to this, and so on.  Other days, I simply read them and we move on.

New Classical Conversations Memorization
We talk about and work on the new CC work we learned in the previous week's class.  The girls share what they did in their class to learn the material.  Then, we read the facts together, sing, use hand motions, trace geography places on maps, and whatever else is necessary for me to drill the information.  They have a copy of the Foundations Guide Cycle sheets in their binders.  On Thursdays, we play a review game together for the new work and they receive candy for successfully reciting the information.

Classical Conversations Review
They view the online tutorials for the previous 6 weeks' information.  On Monday, they watch math and english.  On Tuesday, they watch history and science.  On Wednesday, they watch latin and geography.

We are learning "Love Divine all Loves Excelling" and "All Creatures of our God and King" this year.  We sing a new hymn everyday, except the last day of the week when we sing a review hymn from last year.

Things I've learned about making Circle Time a joy more than a burden:  
It is the first thing we do everyday.  There is no question about whether it will happen or not.
It lasts anywhere from 40 minutes to over an hour.  I try not to rush it, but savor it.
I make a binder for each child, with all the memory work in it for the year.  Cora cannot read yet, but she has her own binder.  This makes her feel included.  For the older kids, I think it helps to read, view, and say the information.
Every sheet is in a page protector.  These binders get a lot of love from busy hands, so I want to make it as sturdy as possible.  I use a brightly colored sheet as a divider between the section.  Then I can instruct my non readers to turn two pages after the specific color so we can all be on the same page.
I spent a fair amount of time formatting the sheets in the binder to look appealing.  I don't want too many words on a page so it is not intimidating.  Yet if possible, I want an entire poem or prayer to fit on one page for convenience's sake.
I do all the printing and assembling of the binder at the beginning of the year, before school begins.  Then it is just pick up and go.  If has to be easy for me to use and continue to use for it to happen.  Towards the end of last year we reached a point where I needed to do additional printing for the binder.  Because of that, circle time fell off the rest of the year.
I would normally include Bible reading in Circle Time.  But, Daddy has been reading "The Golden Children's Bible" to us immediately after supper before everyone gets up.  We have tried this at different times over the years, but for some reason it seems to be effective now.  He reads a story, asks questions, and we discuss.  I love it.