September Circle Time

Our first day of school was on the late side this year, partly because of our Labor Day vacation, and partly because I just wanted to enjoy the last days of summer.  I’ve been steadily planning and gathering resources both for our Waldorf-inspired homeschooling cooperative, and also for Kindergarten with Ella (and Preschool with Everett), and we officially began just before the Fall Equinox.

Our first day of Kindergarten was really sweet, although I have to admit, the first 5 minutes were a total disaster. Everett was crying, Ella was pouting, and I tried to “keep calm and carry on.”  After a few songs we got back on track, and by the time I lit the story candle, we were all having a great time. We worked on a craft – a dragon puppet that we used during our simple Michaelmas celebration at school (inspiration from Mamaroots).  We made the body with a simple fingerknit strand, and hand-sewed the head and tail from scraps of wool felt. With some assistance cutting the felt and preparing the needle and thread, Ella was able to work on this project fairly independently, leaving me to work on Everett’s beloved dragon.

DragonPuppets

The circle I will share below is the same one that I am leading with our homeschool cooperative.  This year we have a group of 10 children, ages almost-three to six years old.  We meet in the home of one of the families, and they have a beautiful, large, Amish built home and farm that is just perfect for our group’s needs.  We have circle time and story in the living room, flow into the dining area for hand washing and snack, and then go outdoors for games, activities, and free play.

Last year I received feedback from some of the parents that their children (particularly the 5 year old boys) needed a bit more active energy in the circle, so I’m working to bring in a balance of high energy movement, quiet fingerplays, active songs, and centering verses.  My resources are Freya Jaffke’s book Celebrating Festivals with Children, Donna Simmon’s Joyful Movement, and the Enki Kindergarten Curriculum.

September Circle
(themes: spiders, apples, seed pods, Michaelmas)

Opening
Good morning dear Earth, good morning dear Sun
Good morning dear stones, and the plants every one.

Good morning dear animals, and the birds in the trees
Good morning to you, and good morning to me!

Verse
As days grow short, hearts grow bright.
Saint Michael with his sword
Shines out against the night!

Fingerplay
Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song
Way up high in the apple tree
Two little apples smiled at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
and down came the apples
Mmm, they were good!

Verse with movement
Here stands the apple tree, strong and green
Here are the apples that hang between
A strong wind blows and knocks them to the ground
Here is the basket to take them all to town

Active Song (sung to tune of 10 little Indians)
Hop on one foot and then the other (x3)
That’s how we hop together

Step and hop and step and hop now (x3)
Soon we will be skipping

Skip and skip around around the circle (x3)
That’s how we skip together!

Fingerplay
In a milkweed cradle, all snug and warm
Tiny seeds are hiding, safe from harm
Open up your wings now and hold them high
Come Mr. Wind and help them fly

French Circle
One of the member’s of our group is fluent in French, and leads a 5 minute French immersion with greetings (Bonjour, Ella!), songs, and movement.

Story
Our Michaelmas story was very sweet, and was drawn from this incredible resource -a free downloadable eBook, entitled An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten.

A Late Spring Waldorf Circle

Friday was our homeschool coop’s final meeting for the school year.  It has been such a wonderful experience for the adults, as well as for the children. There is so much I want to say about how we structure our group, how our school-creating process is evolving, and what we’re visioning for the coming year, but I will get to each of those topics in turn.  Today I would like to share the Circle that we have used this spring, and this week I will share our end of year ceremony.

Each Friday morning, I led the ten children in song, movement, and verse for about 30 minutes.  I gather my songs from the following sources: the wonderful CD “Come Follow Me,” various Waldorf curricula such as Donna Simmon’s Kindergarten With Your Three to Six Year Old, and the Enki Kindergarten package, the Wynstones series, and of course, from many, many generous bloggers who share their own circles online.  I have tried to give credit for each song/verse as best as I am able, but many have been passed on to me orally, and I do not know their original source.

If you have Circles of your own that you would like to share, I would love to learn from them!

Opening Song:

Good morning dear Earth  (pat ground)

Good morning dear Sun (arms up)

Good morning dear Stones, and the plants every one.  (fists walk for stones, plants grow)

Good morning dear animals, and the birds in the trees. (stroke “fur”, flutter hands)

Good morning to you, and good morning to me!  (extend hands out, then to heart)

 

In the Springtime

In the springtime, little bunnies go hop hop (use two fingers to indicate hopping)

In the sunshine, little birdies go chirp chirp (sun arms, then birdie fingers)

Daisies talk to daffodils (make hands talk to each other)

Little children run up hills (run fingers up child’s body to head)

And roll down (roll arms and body down)

 Sprout our Roots (“Flowers Growing” by Jean Warren) sung to melody of “Here we go round the mulberry bush”
This is the way we sprout our roots,  (reach one limb at a time out, slowly)
Sprout our roots, sprout our roots.
This is the way we sprout our roots,
When spring time is here.

This is the way we stretch and grow. [etc]  (reach each arm up to the sky)
This is the way we open our buds. [etc]  (curl and unfurl)
This is the way we bend in the breeze. [etc]  (sway back and forth with upper body)
This is the way we smile at the sun. [etc] -)  (lean face up to the sun and smile)


Tirra-lirra-lirra (Traditional German)

Tirra-lirra-lirra in the spring.   (skip in a circle, clockwise)

Orioles and robins sweetly sing

From the leafy branches we can hear  (skip in a circle counterclockwise)

Tirra-lirra-lirra ringing clear!

I Know a Little Pussy (P. Patterson)

I know a little pussy, her coat is furry grey.   (have kids mime cat movements)

She lives down in a meadow, not very far away.

She’ll always be a pussy, she’ll never be a cat.

She is a pussy willow, now what do you think of that?

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow SCAT!   (Lower body on each meow, and then jump up and out on scat!)

 

Dig and Hoe (Unknown)

We dig and we hoe (gesture digging with a shovel or trowel and swinging a hoe)

We dig and we hoe

To help our little gardens grow!  (sub out the word gardens for different flowers)

Grow, grow, grow gardens! (start low and grow taller, end with a big jump!)

 

 Pony Song (Unknown)

The little grey ponies they play in the barn (parents make a corral with their joined hands, and ponies play in the circle)

They play in the barn, they play in the barn

The little grey ponies they play in the barn

They come to the barn to play

The little grey ponies jump over the fence (parents lower their hands/arms so ponies can jump over the fence and gallop outside of the circle)

Jump over the fence, jump over the fence

The little grey ponies jump over the fence

They gallop they gallop away

The little grey ponies come back to the barn  (ponies come back to the circle, jumping over parents arms)

Come back to the barn, come back to the barn

The little grey ponies come back to the barn

They’re hungry, so hungry for hay (parents make feeding troughs with their cupped hands and ponies eat.  Then ponies take a nap until the rooster crows, then start again!)

 

Oats and Beans and Barley (Circle game from Christopherus’ Joyful Movement)

Oats and beans and barley grow.   (join hands in a circle, walk around)
Oats and beans and barley grow,

You or I or anyone know how oats and beans and barley grow.

(One child moves to center to be the farmer)

First the farmer plants the seeds,  (open arms as if scattering seeds)

Stands up tall and takes his ease, (fold arms and stick out one heel)

Stamps his feet and claps his hands,   (stomp feet, clap hands)

And turns around to view his lands.   (turn in a circle)

(Repeat chorus)

 

 Closing Verse:

There’s a heart in my hands (hands together)

I hold it very near (bring to chest)

I share it with my family, and all my friends right here (gesture open)

Today our hands were busy (hands turn over)

Tonight we all shall rest (hands to face, as in sleep)

And every day I strive (one hand up, other hand across body)

To do our very best (slowly lower raised hand)


Closing Song
(Mary had a little lamb tune):

Now it’s time to say goodbye, say goodbye, say goodbye

Now it’s time to say goodbye,

Circle time is over.

 

Late Winter Waldorf Circle Songs

One of my favorite times of the week is Friday morning, when our little Waldorf homeschooling cooperative gathers together.  Six parents and eight children crowd in a tiny living room to share songs, stories, snacks, and crafts.  Our older children are 4-5 years old, and a few of us also have 2-3 year old children in tow.  So, we’re in essence creating a mixed ages kindergarten.  It works remarkably well.  The younger kids follow right along with their older siblings, with occasional breaks for cuddling or nursing.

Each parent is responsible for a portion of the morning’s activities, and I am generally the leader of the circle time, which consists of a few verses, some fingerplays, and lots of singing. (Of course!  So perfect for my Musical Theater-loving self!)  I try to create about 20 minutes of circle activities, balancing some new material with old favorites that the kids know by heart.

I thought I’d start sharing some of my favorite songs (and movement suggestions) here on the blog.  I’d love to hear some of your favorite seasonal songs for children!

Late Winter Circle Songs:

The North Wind Doth Blow (Traditional)
The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow,  (swing body, arms wave side to side rhythmically)
And what will the robin do then, poor thing?  (bird hands)
He’ll sit in the barn, to keep himself warm,  (sit down, fluffing wings out)
And hide his head under his wing. Ah! (hide head under arm, open both arms on AH!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the dormouse do then, poor thing?  (little mouse hands near mouth)
Rolled up like a ball, in a nest snug and small,  (curl up into a ball and sleep)
She’ll sleep ‘til the warm weather comes.  Ah! (jump up, arms up on Ah)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the squirrel do then, poor thing?  (hold a nut)
She’ll climb up a tree, and look out to see,  (pretend to climb, look out)
And nibble on all of her food. Ah!  (eat food, arms up on Ah!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the raccoon do then, poor thing? (mask)
He’ll waddle around, leaving prints on the ground,  (waddle around yourself)
And find a warm burrow to sleep. Ah!   (curl into a “burrow”, jump up on Ah!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the rabbit do then, poor thing?  (ears)
She’ll jump and she’ll hop, she won’t want to stop,  (hop around)
‘cause that’s how she’ll keep herself warm.  Ah!

 

Gnome Series (adapted from Wynstones)
(sing) Listen closely to the sound!  (put ear to the ground and listen)
Listen closely to the sound!

(Chant rhythmically) Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

 Is it the squirrel scampering so? (holding a nut)
Collecting acorns to and fro?  (scampering movement to left and right)
No! It’s not the squirrel!  (wave finger)

Then…Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

Is it the giant so big and bold?  (arms up like showing off big muscles)
Stomping around in the winter cold.  (stomping)
NO! It’s not the giant so big and bold!  (wave finger)

Then….Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

Listen closely to the sound! (put ear to ground again)
Listen closely to the sound!

Behold the dwarfs inside the hill–
Their tiny hammers are never still.
They sing and work deep underground,
And as they tap the rocks resound:

Crack, crack, the rock we hack (begin to pat ground)
Quake, quake, the mountains shake (get a bit louder)
Bang, bang our hammers clang (louder still!)
In caverns old, we search for gold!

 

Chickadee (May Morgan/German Folk Song)
Trees are bare, everywhere  (arms in a V)
Snow is deep and skies are grey.  (circle arms over the “field of snow”)
Yet one bird can be heard on the coldest day.  (bird hands)
Listen close and he’ll reply, (hand to your ear)
Cocking up a rogueish eye:  (put fingers up to eye like you’re lifting eyebrow)
Chickadee!  Chickadee!  Chick –a-dee-dee-dee!  (bird hands fluttering away)