Thursday, February 18, 2016

2016 Circle Time (Beta)

This post is going to be long.

I posted a screenshot of what I anticipate and hope our 2016 Circle Time to be on Instagram and was surprised by the immediate, specific, and detailed questions. (And I've already moved a couple of things around since then!)

When I suggested that I could write a blog post, it was immediately met with, "Yes, Please."

A few caveats: 
1) We've been doing this for a *long* time. 
2) We've added and added to Circle Time over the *years.* Sometimes we've I've added too much and then we I have to pare things back. Sometimes we replace something that's been working to meet a more immediate need (multiplication facts FTW). 
3) There are seasons to Circle Time (or whatever you call it - GroveTime).
4) If you're just starting out, seriously do not try this schedule at home. My kids are 8.5, 10, and 11 and have been doing Circle Time for 6+ (I'm not really sure) years. They have a lot of practice. And they still don't sit still.

What changes am I making? 

I think first I need to explain why I'm making changes. Circle Time has gone well - maybe the best it's ever been - this Jan-Feb term. Brandy says, "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It." 

I have been encouraged by Pam Barnhill of EDSnapshots that Circle Time should be a delightful searching out of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Her Your Morning Basket resources are worth their weight in gold.  I'm not a fun mom, but felt like we needed to add some beauty to contemplate and participate in during Circle Time more than we needed to read AmblesideOnline selections during this time.  

Pam's fourth R of Circle Time is Relationships and I haven't felt like our Circle Time is building relationships like I want to. That's where our Circle Time is broken. We're always in a hurry, rushing to get through to the next part and never have time to discuss, wallow, or enjoy the ideas we're dealing with together. So, We're going to make space for that by leaving the last half-hour(ish) open for what I'm calling the "Beauty Loop" and a fun readaloud. 

That's the biggest change. No, I don't know where those AmblesideOnline readalouds are going to go. I want to start school at 9, be done at 2, have recess and have lunch and do all the things. Ugh. Something's going to have to give! I don't think it's going to be Circle Time, though. I really like the look of this plan.

I've also decided to loop Memoria Press' Grammar (which I love and am not changing) with Classical Academic Press' Writing and Rhetoric (which I dropped last year while I recovered and have missed). 

Much else is staying as it has been for the last year. I've explained the different parts in italics below and added links where I think necessary. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments!

Images from my Circle Time Binder ... I use Post-it Tabbies extensively ...
  1. Doxology (MWF) Gloria Patri (TR) - We alternate between these to open Circle Time. Our church doesn't use the Gloria Patri, but I love it and think the children should know it. This isn't really a loop; we do the Doxology on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We do the Gloria Patri on Tuesday and Thursday.
  2. Psalm 119 Loop - We read through Psalm 119 one section a day. Since Psalm 119 is all about the importance of God's Word, why and how it directs our paths, and how we can trust it, I think it is an excellent opening to our studies. First things first.
  3. Bible Reading - We read the AmblesideOnline selection(s) for that week. 
  4. Prayer - I take prayer requests. We pray together.
  5. New Hymn: My Song Is Love Unknown: #182 - This is the hymn selection for March 2016 from AmblesideOnline. I now choose hymns by 1) Ambleside Selections 2) It's in our hymnal 3) I have accompaniament for them on CD, and if not 4) I choose one we sing regularly in church or that the children like. I select these each year.
  6. Bible Memory - We choose a passage and work on it until we know it, then we choose a new passage. Generally we do long passages.
    1. New Passage: Romans 8 - We've been working on this passage for a while and I expect to be done with it at the end of the term. We recite it once per day.
    2. Review Passages Loop - We cycle through these one passage per day.
      1. Genesis 1
      2. Psalm 130
      3. Psalm 1
      4. Psalm 100
      5. Matthew 5:1-12
      6. Philippians 2:1-18
      7. Colossians 3:12-17
      8. Psalm 25
      9. John 1:1-18
  7. Catechism - We've been working on the Catechism for Young Children for YEARS. I divided the catechism up by pages then the pages by sections. We do one section a day. I think we're done after this term and will begin the Westminster Shorter Catechism next term. 
    1. Section 1
    2. Section 2
    3. Section 3
    4. Section 4
    5. Section 5
  8. Old Hymn: Loop through, see notebook - We review one hymn per day from the list linked previously. 
  9. Habit/Motto: Laying Down the Rails Book 1 - Originally this slot was for my eBook, but we finished that and acquired the Laying Down the Rails books and the children like these. So we do them.
  10. Nature Study: Garden Flowers/Weeds - We read the section from Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study (a paragraph or so a day) and perhaps other living literature we can find. I'd like to beef this up a bit, and have some ideas, but maybe not this term. Gardening in Ohio in March is a bit of a joke, too ... 
  11. Poetry - We read the AmblesideOnline poet assigned to our Year and Term, generally from the books they make available for Kindle. Then we continue working through IEW's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization (Wow, they're updating it and it's pricey!) This is the first curriculum I bought. We work on one new poem and one review poem every day. 
    1. Ambleside Term Poem
    2. Current Memory Poem
    3. Review Poem
  12. Language Arts Loop - This is all kinds of new. I don't entirely know how it will work. M-girl wants more in-depth grammar including diagramming. I want Writing and Rhetoric back in our lives. Studied Dictation needs to happen here, too. So I think we'll add it and see. 
      1. Lesson Book (an exercise a day)
      2. Sentence Diagram
      3. MadLibs
    1. Writing & Rhetoric – 4 days
    2. Studied Dictation - Daily review. Every 9th day write. - I select a passage and we review it studying the spelling, punctuation, and structure. Then they write it from my reading.
  13. Math: Multiplication table based on die roll on first day of week - I have a 12-sided die that I roll for choosing who narrates a readaloud. We've been rolling daily, but I think we'll make it weekly. We are working on memorizing up to x15, so if we roll a "1" we review the "11" table; if we roll a "2" we review the "12" table; and if we roll a "10" we review the "15" table. This works pretty well. 
  14. Latin Review - We use Latin for Children A (still, I've not been very disciplined at moving us along in this). Every day we chant through the current lesson and one review lesson. We're on Lesson 21. 
    1. New Lesson Vocab
    2. Old Lesson Vocab
  15. Beauty Loop - This is entirely new. Entirely. Each day, in order, we'll work on the assignment in this loop. 
    1. Shakespeare - AmblesideOnline selection except we must finish Taming of the Shrew
    2. Composer Study - Wheeler book or SQUILT
    3. Artist Study - AmblesideOnline selection, SCM Art Portfolio if we have it
    4. Folksong - AmblesideOnline selection
    5. Handicrafts - Counted Cross Stitch?
  16. Fun Readaloud(s) - We've read about half of A Tree for Peter.  We'll probably do another Seredy book and possibly one day a week work on the current literature selection for the term.


  1. Looks great! I always love seeing what others do. /)

    1. Thanks, Heather! Me too ... what's going on in yours?

    2. Hopefully I'll have a link up today. I'll let you know- we do a lot of the same things! :) I'm interested in your grammar!

    3. Hooray! I miss you blogging <3

  2. This is great! Got a few ideas here. I love that you get your mottos from Laying Down... And I'm definitely going to add in a reading from the HONS. I don't know why I haven't thought of that before! :)

    1. We're just doing habit study from Laying Down the Rails. If I were doing mottos, I'd use Mystie's (which, in fact, I have.)

  3. Nice to visit your blog. I like your Weekly Amble posts. =) I also love that you have all your kiddos together since they are so close in age. I think that question (about combining) is asked so often on AO's forums and everyone's is afraid. It is lovely to see how you've done this with confidence and a few tweaks and it fits your family so well! God is good. I wish more moms felt like they had the freedom to do as you did.

    We combine with a Form 1 Rotation (everyone in Y3 and under) for everything except history, and it is a sanity saver. Once they are older they each have their own year from AO because they are more independent, but we still keep LOTS together like Shakespeare, Morningtime, etc. I have a wider age span.

    I do have a curiosity question. I noticed you added back in Writing and Rhetoric. Do you use this in place of CM style written narrations? Or do your kids do written narrations AND Writing and Rhetoric?

    I also loved the post on IG today of your kiddos and you snuggled on the couch reading. That is how homeschooling should be. Full of joy! Y'all have the right idea. =)

    1. Thanks for stopping by :) I'm glad you like Our Weekly Amble, I like writing them and find them very helpful.

      We have always done "content" areas together - history science, etc. - because I can't really figure out how not to. When we moved to AO, it was natural to keep everyone together, plus our history lined up exactly where we were in Year 4, so that helped a lot. If we had started from the beginning, we wouldn't have been so combined.

      We do CM Narrations: written and oral. R-girl 1 written per week, the others are supposed to write 1 per day. When we came to AO, we were in the middle of Writing and Rhetoric. I determined at that time to do AO essentially as written (or as closely as we could) but I was sorry to put the progym away, particularly W&R because it is the one thing I miss from before. Since we are starting Y5, we're going to see if we can add this back into our rotation. We're going to go slowly.

      That picture is, unfortunately, rarer than I'd like. I'm trying to regain some of that joy and snuggling - even though it was Legend of Sleepy Hollow which none of the children seem to be enjoying. Our first year of AO took many steps in that direction. I'm so thankful!

  4. This is helpful and gives me some useful ideas. My younger two are 7 and 9. We have "always" done morning time but memorising anything seems to take so long. We mainly just work on Bible verses but the best that we have managed is about a verse a week which seems quite slow. Any hints? Plenty of food for thought here.

    1. Welcome, Sarah Elisabeth! Yes! Bible memory takes a long time here. That list above is like five years of work ... it isn't very long, but I'm pleased with the depth of memory and understanding of the passages. A verse or a short paragraph a week and then review review review.

  5. Wonderful! I like to think we'll be where you are in a few years (in the middle of grade 2 down to preschool/baby years right now!)

    1. You may be somewhere better! Keep at it even on hard days! Carry on mama.

  6. I'm not getting emails for new blog post. It's telling me you have have deactivated that service. Just wanted to let you know in case something has gone wrong.

    1. Oh, no! All my subscriptions are gone! 😭 Thanks for letting me know! I sooo did not deactivate!

    2. Excellent! I hoped I fixed it!

  7. This is a marvel to me. Thank you for all the caveats in the is so helpful to grasp the process behind what you've accomplished and the investment (in years) to get to where you are now. I think it's wonderful that you are reaching for what you sense has been lacking--that wallowing in beauty and see how it can impact the family relationships in a positive way. Always growing, always reaching for better...that struggle matters more, I think, than achieving the end goal. I hope it goes well for you!

    This is quite a substantial blog! I wish I understood how to access these things in a simple sort of way. Please do make mention of these posts on your IG...that seems to be the easiest route for me!

    1. Angela, I'm glad that this was helpful to you to see the process. "reaching for what you sense has been lacking--that wallowing in beauty and see how it can impact the family relationships in a positive way. Always growing, always reaching for better...that struggle matters more, I think, than achieving the end goal." Thank you for this. The changes are more deliberate this time; often they've been based on gut or whim. I hope they work well.

      You can always subscribe via email. Under my profile picture on the upper left is a place where you can do just that. I don't promote it very often, but it's available.

      Thank you for your kind words, they made my day.

  8. How long do you spend total on Circle Time?

    1. We do circle time - now we call it Whatchamacallit - for an hour and a half.


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