Monday, August 31, 2009

Circle Time

I still can’t decide what to call this part of our school day. Will it be circle time (the ps nomenclature), morning basket, family time? I am taking suggestions…

At any rate, I can’t quite remember how I stumbled on this concept, but after reading about it on a few blogs (see links below) and the 4Real forums, I decided to add it to our day. To be more exact, I thought it would be a fantastic way to begin our day each morning. Getting together with the same set activities each morning would be the hook that lured us into our day, provide consistency, and hopefully provide a “container” for those activities I want to do, but are often so small that I forget them (picture study, memorization, etc)

Enter the new family time board and basket with outline. Each day we plan to cover:

  • Calendar - Review month name. Place date on calendar. Do Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow cards.
  • Weather - Review season card. Change weather wheel.
  • Prayer -  Pray for weekly family. Alternate prayers as learned. Use Christmas Cards to create a family prayer file.
  • Pledge - Recite
  • Singing - Sing weekly song(s). One religious, one secular. Break up songs between other activities.
  • Countdown - Remove link for current countdown. Beach trip, pumpkin patch, Dad home, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc
  • Memorize - Recite memory work. Read new and review from memory box.
  • Sight Word - Review weekly sight word. Play sight word games.
  • Learning - Do activity for this week’s learning. Place value, telling time to the hour, appropriate clothes for weather, sign language ABCs, learn phone number and address
  • Picture Study - Point out/discuss picture. Review artist/picture name.
  • Young Learners Bible Storybook - Do current day’s activity as per curriculum.
  • Sing, Play, Create Activity - - Do current day’s activity as per curriculum.

This looks like tons of stuff, I know, but it will move really quickly. It takes all of two seconds to move the weather wheel and say that it is still summer. The pledge will take all of 15 seconds. Point to our picture study of the week and asking them to name some colors in the artwork will take less than a minute, unless they decide to discuss it more. I have also arranged the activities in such a way that John can drop out of participating about half-way through. The stuff near the end is more for Olivia.

Having put this into practice one day now I can say that it will take some training to make it all happen. We are already implementing Circle Time rules (ie. sit criss-cross applesauce, don’t pull on the board, etc) but that is good because Olivia needs a bit of that to help with other times she needs to sit still and pay attention.

Here is our portable family time board -- helpful for doing this one handed in the living room while nursing a baby ;-).


And on the back, pockets for holding the extra supplies and a velcro attachment for our flag.


And Workbox #1 which includes our binder, memory box, CDs, books and other supplies.



I have tried to plan out as much family time as possible here at the beginning of the year. Not getting stuck waiting for me to plan out the next section is a big key to success I believe. I have printed pictures for our art study through next May, I have prayer families chosen through the end of November from last year’s Christmas cards. I have other items printed and ready to go, songs chosen, etc. I do plan on taking December off (unless the kids revolt in which we may do a shortened version). These are all placed in the binder in page protectors with the monthly plans.

Looking at the board I am also beginning to think it needs a puppet friend to conduct one of the sessions, which would seal the success of family time in my house for years. Maybe I will shop for one this weekend. I will keep you posted on how this works!


Preschoolers and Peace blog – She offers an e-book, but the blog is a fantastic resource on its own.

Wildflowers and Marbles Morning Basket post.

Pinewood Castle offers her fall circle time plans.

Wayzley Academy – The inspiration for the portable circle time board.

Memory system – Simply Charlotte Mason offers this scripture memory system. This is where our memory work will come from each day. I plan to use if for scripture, prayers, catechism and poetry, though.

September Plans – Here you can see or download our family time plans for the month of September.


  1. I *love* your circle time board! And your ideas... I'm eager to hear how this works out for you. :)

  2. I just found your blog from Sunflower's workbox bloglist. I love your circle time board. What did you use for the board itself???

  3. Andria -- I used a presentation board (like for science fair projects) from Office Depot. It was their brand, but I splurged on one of the nicer ones. Good luck.

  4. Awesome Job! I love this idea! :)