Creating a Circle Time in Your Home (with a vlog!)

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

Do you ever feel like mornings with your young children fly past in a cacophony of chaos? Wake up, get kids dressed, make beds, prepare breakfast, clean up, sit down for school time.

It isn’t always the most peaceful part of the day, and though homeschoolers are not racing out the door to catch the school bus, at times our mornings can still feel….rushed.

That’s why I love having a circle time with my kids–it gives us the chance to start our day with purpose.

Here’s how to create a circle time that works for your family.

What Is a Circle Time?

A circle time is a morning ritual that takes between five to fifteen minutes and works well for children under the age of eight.

Family members (or classmates if done in a traditional school) gather together, sitting or standing in a circle, to sing songs and do activities together. That definition may sound a bit institutional, which is why I resisted having a circle time initially. But trust me, you can create an intentional gathering time that feels natural for your home.

Benefits of Circle Time

As mentioned earlier, a circle time allows your family to start the day in a mindful way. It’s fun and light-hearted. My kids get a kick out of seeing Mommy do the same silly songs and movements they do, so it gives us a chance to begin the day with laughter.

It also provides young children the chance to add movement to their mornings, which is so vital for little people, especially before sitting down to do any type of formal academics. Little bodies need to move!

Parts of a Circle Time

Three parts make up a traditional circle time:

Opening Verse

Many families begin their circle time by lighting a candle. Then proceed to your opening verse. This may be a short poem or Scripture you recite together. Often we will pick one opening verse and use it for the entire week–young children love repetition and it gives everyone a chance to practice and memorize.

Sometimes we will recite one thing we are thankful for that day during our opening verse.

Songs/Fingerplays

The bulk of a circle time is in the middle, typically singing one or two songs together. If the songs have actions (think Itsy, Bitsy Spider) it’s easy for everyone to join in.

Closing Verse

The closing verse allows you to conclude your circle time and then proceed to the next activity in your day. It could be another poem, short song, or Bible verse. We like to end ours with what we call our “good day cheer.”

If you’ve lit a candle you can blow it out after the closing verse.

A Circle Time in Real Time

Of course the best way to learn about a circle time is to watch one, so enjoy!

(And just so you know, I totally bribed my kids with lollipops to ensure good circle time behavior. Not all of our circle times flow quite so seamlessly!)

Add Your Personality

As with anything in life and homeschooling, a circle time only works if you tailor it to your family. Give it your own unique flair and enjoy starting your day with this purposeful ritual.

This post is brought to you by Oak Meadow Curriculum and School. Oak Meadow provides helpful circle time advice and resources in their elementary education materials.

Have you ever tried a circle time in your home? What do you include?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your little moment with all of us! That was bold and brave… I love the anonymity of blogging, and it’s hard to let others into our private family moments, but it is so rich! Loved your little circle time and the great ideas you put forth. I only have two girls and one is only 3 months, so it seems that every moment is circle time at our house, but I love the intentional aspect of it when you involve more kids. Maybe I’ll do this for a play date sometime! blessings!
    Tori’s latest post: Landscape and Memory

  2. Jamie,
    I’ve been following along here and at Steady Mom for ages, but your video of circle time today has turned me into a commenter. Thank you for sharing such a meaningful and simple way for families to begin our days or to regroup through the day.
    Jennifer

  3. A. You are darling, and I love how enthusiastic your kids are (and I’m sure it’s not all because of the lollipops!)

    B. Can you tell a little more about the context? Is this before breakfast or after? Do you come downstairs, light the candle, and do it right away? Also, who decides on the songs and verses? (I’m assuming you). Do you tell the kids that morning, or do you do the same ones for a week?
    Two Chicks and a Hen’s latest post: Learning to Finger Knit- Finding Teachers in Your Community

  4. Jamie, this was lovely! Can’t get over how big everyone is. Are those clothes I’m sending still fitting? :)

    I can see how a bit of focused time like this allows for a touchstone moment to help move through the day.

    You are creating such a safe environment for your children, filled with all sorts of wonderful memories.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Inspirational Settings

  5. My children (2, 3) came over to watch the vlog with me just now. They were waving and saying hi to your children.
    After reading your book and discovering your blog earlier this year, we implemented a circle time/ happy day dance to our morning. It comes after we’re are ready for the day and before we head down for breakfast. They love it and if we miss it (rushed out the door or something) they get very upset.
    Thank you for sharing. Chloe was delighted to see someone else doing a Happy Day Dance :)
    Jenn @ Beautiful Calling’s latest post: Tot School- A Washington Field Trip

  6. Do you use Oak Meadow curriculum? After two years of exhausting searching for the right curriculum for us, my husband and I have settled on Oak Meadow.I’m very excited to start it next Autumn. I am, however, searching for a Bible supplement. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Bethany
    Bethany’s latest post: smells and memories

  7. Thank you! Very fun to watch! ;)

  8. I love your vlog, Jamie! Thank you for sharing that with us – your children are precious!

  9. Hi Jamie,
    I teared up watching your video; it was so beautiful. I’ve always done a different version of circle time: soft music playing while Cricket (2+ years) and I eat breakfast, talk about what we did yesterday and talk about what’s coming up for the day. Then we sing and dance together. Before I watched your video, I asked Crick if she wanted to watch it with me. She sat on my lap and wanted to watch it over and over again. Then she wanted to do circle time. We formed a little circle with her favorite doll. I thought she wouldn’t get the concept of “thankfulness” so I said what I love (Daddy and Cricket) and then asked her what she loves. She said “Nana Lilly” – her 94 year old grandmother! I’m going to talk about “thankfulness” during the day today. Thanks for this, Jamie.

  10. Thanks for the inspiration. At church yesterday we were challenged to pray once a day as a family for other families in our church who are struggling, what a great way to begin this. Love the candle. We will be starting this soon.

  11. Amazing, Jamie. Loved, loved, loved seeing your kids and you in action!

  12. Jamie, thanks for inviting us into your home! I loved seeing you and the kids (and Lucy sat on my lap watching and grinning)

    Circle time is something that sometimes works very well at our house and in some seasons does not. It was helpful to get a peek at what another real homeschooler’s circle looks like. It has actually got me wondering if part of the reason it doesn’t go smoothly at our house sometimes is due to the length of circle I’ve been planning (sometimes 15 to 20 minutes).

    Your circle was lovely, got the kids moving, and yet had clear transitions from times of reflection (being thankful, blowing out the candle) to activity. LOVED how you all hold hands, too. Hmmmmm …. you’ve got me doing some thinking now …

    thanks for the inspiration! It was great to see and hear you :-)
    You’ve got adorable children!
    Kara @Simple Kids’s latest post: A Simple Gift Giving Philosophy- Want- Need- Wear- Read

  13. Thanks for sharing! I like that you guys didn’t do any sitting. :)

    I just tried ‘Circle Time’ with my 7 yo & 3 yo. We have our own “Happy Day” song that I have sung to my oldest since she was a baby, We changed it up for this. I think they both had fun.
    We will try this again tomorrow. Now I need to dig up my list of action/fingerplay songs.

    • that’s true – I’ve always envisioned circle time as sitting down – I like that this one was standing up and moving. I think that might actually work with my four silly boys!
      Leslie’s latest post: Crazy Storm

  14. oh my, i love the circle time and especially the video.
    the sleepy time gal’s latest post: a new week

  15. Thank you for sharing this! What a great way to start the day together gently!

  16. So, did you have a super duper day? That was my favorite part! I may need to add that, I like how it blesses the kids towards a good day from the start.

    Thanks for the post.
    Amy
    Amy @ Missional Mama’s latest post: One Raffle- One Auction – Helping Many Orphans

  17. I teared up also. Children and their enthusiasm are so beautiful. How they inspire and teach us. Thank you for vlogging, it really added depth to this post. Have a blessed day.
    Lynda’s latest post: A Shining Blog

  18. I thought I’d just pass along that we do a similar singing time in the middle of our homeschool morning. Our day starts just after chores so the children have already been bustling about. Then we begin with their hardest subject (math), finish with handwriting/cursive, then gather for singing time (finger rhymes, silly songs, hymns, etc.). Afterward we finish the morning with the rest of our subjects (read-aloud’s, geography/art/science/whatever is slated for that day). It provides a nice break in between as my children age (9,7 & 3), with outdoor play or P.E. wrapping it all up. Thanks so much for the visual observation opportunity! Just like our children, many of us are visual learners too!

  19. Thanks for this- we could do the same with morning prayers with dad before he goes off to work
    priest’s wife’s latest post: More Books to Read Again 7 Quick Takes

  20. loved this – thank you so much for sharing on a vlog. That is BRAVE! I love what you do! We had such a horrendous morning this morning – very rushed, everyone was tired and grumpy and we left the house in a tip to get everyone to school on time. We used to have a cuddle – just a 3 min reflection on the sofa before we left the house – and we are so going to start that again – it makes for a much calmer departure. One question – is it always that light in your house in the morning??? Our mornings are dark, cold and miserable at the moment – and I always light 3 candles in the kitchen before starting breakfast prep. I love light – and we do not have enough of it at this time of year!!! So I am coveting yours!

  21. LOVE LOVE LOVE the vlog!!! I have been following you here and at steady days and always get so much inspiration from you and your family. We have been doing a circle time for about a month now and since my children are 3 almost 4 and 18 months it’s very short. We sing, dance and then talk about the day of the week and what we’ll do during the day.
    I love the idea of using an opening verse and I’d love to light a candle, since we do that at our church and sunday school but I’m nervous about my little one. But I noticed your candle was off to the side so maybe we could just have it up higher.
    I’ve definitely noticed that it does help set the tone for the day.
    Thanks again for sharing. It was a beautiful video.

  22. I love this. I’m not a home-schooling parent but I think that any family could benefit from this becoming a part of their morning routine. I think tomorrow morning I’ll light a candle at breakfast and come ready with a quote/thought and then invite the thankful discussion.

    I really appreciate you sharing this. It’s a wonderful idea.
    Ali’s latest post: Around Here Weekend Words iPhone Photos

  23. That was really cute! I used to do circle time when I did family childcare for the past 5 years. My kids are very used to it but since I stopped doing child care and started homeschooling we haven’t done it. This makes me think it would be a great way to start our day and I think the kids would probably get back into it too. I know they miss those daycare days. Thank you!
    Melodie’s latest post: Parenting Insights Gained From Being In A Wheel Chair

  24. That was super cute- loved the vlog! And great, simple ideas, too!
    Leslie’s latest post: Crazy Storm

  25. I love seeing a circle time in action! I was always really intimidated by an at-home circle time until a Waldorf teacher I know told me, “don’t try to make it how we do it at the school.” That gave me the freedom to “do my own thing” with circle time, and now we all enjoy it so much more!

  26. this made me all teary too! was wondering if you would do a post of “resources” for circle time…I know ZERO finger-plays!
    Aimee’s latest post: What I Wore Wednesday

  27. Oh! I want to go do a circle time right now! Thank you for sharing and for your inspiration!
    Jimi Ann’s latest post: SUNRISE for Sweet Shot Tuesday

  28. This is so helpful for me! I’m brand new at homeschooling my 1st grader and we have been kinda in a deskwork slump lately. I REALLY want to mix it up and have as much creativity and fun in our day as possible so this is such a great idea on how to start off the day with smiles. I also plan on homeschooling my two younger children (ages 2 and 4) so I’m going to start doing this all together. Thanks!
    Harmony’s latest post: What is Your Lifes Anthem

  29. Thanks for sharing this…I have been trying to figure out how to relieve that rushed feeling in the morning and I love this idea.

    This might seem like a silly question but I have a 5 year old and a 20 month old…do you think circle time would work for us? Sometimes they don’t wake up at the same time, with the younger one sleeping later do you think it could still useful?

    • Hi Sabrina – I would just try it and see how it goes. I’m sure you could devise a version that works for you guys, in spite of the age difference.

      Or maybe you could do it at a different time of day! Just take the concept and make it work for you.

  30. This was awesome. Thankyou for sharing Jamie. We are on our own homeschooling journey now and I am relying on God to show me what to do. You are inspiring. Blessings, Renelle
    Renelle’s latest post: Natural Learning and Charlotte Mason

  31. My daughter keeps asking to watch this over and over. Guess she likes it! :) Thanks for sharing. She’s only 2, but I’m hoping we can start something like this for our morning routine.

  32. Hey Jamie-

    I’ve actually written a Circle Time planning book (http://www.preschoolersandpeace.com/stuff/), chock full of lots of ideas for any length of Circle Time. And many, many more ideas here on my blog:

    http://www.preschoolersandpeace.com/pandpblog/category/circle-time

    It’s truly the best part of our day, except when dad comes home ;)

    ~Kendra
    Kendra’s latest post: 10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas- Day 5 (and a contest!)

  33. Emily Woodall says:

    Oh, I just loved this! Thank you so much for sharing…please do more vlogs!!! That was very inspiring:)

  34. Hello from another Jaime! LOVE this- we’re just beginning our homeschooling journey and I’m very much looking forward to Circle. Any chance you could share thoughts on where to find your favorite opening verses and “good day cheers”? Thank you!! We have TONS of poetry in the house- but would love to hear from others.

  35. I love this! Circle time with one kid wouldn’t be quite the same, though. I’m trying to figure out how to start some nice little routines with my four-year-old, who resists anything as long as he can see that Mommy has a goal in sight!

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