Saturday, June 2, 2012

Morning Circle

It's about 9:30 AM...
The toys are back in their homes...
I'm standing at my spot in the living room with my hands outstretched to either side; an invitation to join.
It's a transition time, and through song and gesture, it works.
"Let us form a ring........."
...It is time for our morning circle!
Creating a circle which serves the age-diverse children in our group is one of my most challenging endeavors. When everyone is engaged, it is incredible and something to really look forward to.
I've had a few circles (We do the same seasonal circle for about one month) that haven't gone over as well, and it's disappointing, but something to learn from.But, why do a circle to begin with? What is the point? What are we hoping the children take away from this time together?

Easter Circle, 2012

Circle (or, "morning ring", as we sometimes call it), is a time to join together and experience movement, gestures, and words. This is the time where we experience slow and fast movements, quiet and loud, somber and joy. We experience singing, counting, rhyme, rhythms, eye-hand coordination, and many gross motor skills. All of these things have been proven to help with all aspects of brain development. A circle happens for a real reason-- not just because we "feel like we have to do it".

  We have a moment where we are all joined by our hands and this is us coming together, as a group, as a family of sorts. It is a good moment. We begin by affirming our space; "I am here" with a simple verse accompanied by simple gestures...

  "Down is the Earth,
 Up is the Sky,
Here are my friends,
and here am I"

We follow with 3 or 4 seasonal songs, many of which I have found in the Naturally You Can Sing collections, resources from the intro. class I took at Sunbridge, or other various books. The songs are linked together through a common "theme" (currently, our theme is Summer animals or surroundings). The songs transition from one to another smoothly by the use of verses or poems....
Ideally, I don't introduce a brand new circle with all songs and poems being totally new. I try to build on what we have, changing a song or verse gradually until the circle becomes something different. The only time I have introduced a circle with 100% brand new material was transitioning from Thanksgiving/Harvest to Advent.

Here's a look at our current circle:

(beginning with our songs/verses after joining together and reciting our "I am here" verse..)

(Buzzing noises as we begin to walk in a circle)


Zum, zum, zum;
Listen to the bee's song,
Hum, hum, hum.
The big bees zum,
And the little bees hum
Zum, zum, zum, zum, zum
"I'm busy, busy, busy," said the bee.
"I won't be home for supper, or for tea.
It takes hours and hours
To visit all the flowers.
I'm busy, busy, busy," said the bee.
Little bees work very hard
Making golden honey
Taking nectar from the flowers,
When the days are sunny.


What do you suppose?
A bee sat on my nose!
Then what do you think?
He gave me a wink
And said "I beg your pardon,
I thought you were the garden!"


The sun is hot,
water is cool...
a great place to be
is sitting in a pool!


A  little green frog once jumped in a pool
The sun was hot but the water was cool
He jumped in the pool the whole day long,
singing his dear little, queer little song...
Quaggery, Quaggery, Quaggery dee,
No one was ever as happy as he!
(repeat 2x with accompanying gestures and motions, such as forward, backward, and sideways jumping. This is mostly for the older children, aged 5 -6 1/2. The younger children are pleased to "just" jump up and down! Every child's experience is different...)

A caterpillar crawled to the top of a tree,
"I think I'll take a nap," said he.
Under a leaf he began to creep,
To spin his cocoon,
And he feel asleep. 


Caterpillar wind about,
round and round and in and out
And when you're fed,
you spin your bed...
Now go to sleep..
deep,deep sleep...

(at this time, the children have taken the cue and lay on the floor. I come around and cover them with a colored silk...I repeat this song several times until all children are covered and resting....lastly, I cover myself and rest along with them. There is a time of silence, about 12 seconds...then I resume singing...)

{continuation of song, somewhat louder}

And as a caterpillar dies,
 you waken as a butterfly....

(at this time, the children wake and begin to fly about the room with the silks held behind them as a pair of wings. It is joyful!!!)

The children seem to truly enjoy this as they wake and fly...


Butterflies, Butterflies,
Now fly away to the blossoms!
Fly red wings!
Fly yellow wings!
(insert colors of silks)
Now fly away to the blossoms!

(This is a beautiful song! I look forward to singing it all morning long. Upon further research, I found out that it is a traditional Indian song.)

I then go into a sort of narrative as the children fly around the room...
I talk about butterflies drinking nectar and find a "flower" (really, anything in the room) and "drink". 
 After the butterflies have flown all day long and have had good long drinks of sweet nectar, it is time to rest their wings....

{song, repeated}

Now we rest our hands and head and feet....

The children find a spot to rest as I make my way over to my rocking chair.
We rest in silence for a few moments, which is especially wonderful during the warmer months when the front door is wide open. We hear the birds chirping, lawnmowers, cars driving by...the sounds of a neighborhood.
After this time, I begin a slow and soft seasonal song.
Right now, I am singing...


Springtime, goodbye..
Springtime, goodbye...
You may no longer stay,
Summer is on its way...
Springtime, goodbye..
Springtime, goodbye...

After 2 or 3 repetitions, I reach for the hand washing bowl and the children are called over one by one through a song.After hands are rinsed, that child receives a job to help set the table for snack (bringing the cups table, wiping the table with a rag, bringing the bowls to the table, bringing the candle snuffer to the table--they love this one, as I keep it up on a higher shelf. A few children could not reach it in the past months. These children can now stand on their tiptoes and retrieve it!!

The beginning of our snack is almost like the conclusion of our morning circle.
I hope this has been somewhat helpful!
Here is a list of resources I have found to be fantastic:

*Nearly all of the songs I use are in the "mood of the fifth" or pentatonic. Pentatonic music and songs (based on the pentatonic scale which has five notes, instead of the usual seven) are used in waldorf schools up until 3rd grade - when, according to Waldorf pedagogy, children have developed an inner emotional life that makes the major and minor scales more appropriate for them. One beautiful and important aspect of the pentatonic scale is that all notes harmonize with one another. Therefore, only harmonic sounds are made when children are playing instruments and improvising together or alone.
Some examples of pentatonic instruments I use include a kinderlyre and a addition to voice, of course:) 

yes, an unrelated photo, but I couldn't resist.


  1. Wow, your circle is truly inspiring. Love the caterpillar/butterfly song and use of the silks. You must put so much work into this, how luck the children that attend your play garden are. Jolene

  2. Hi, I have just found your very beautiful inspiring.
    My little boy goes to a waldorf 'steiner' kindergarten but due to financial reasons he will leave this summer and I am going to home ed in the waldorf way so thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas :)
    Blessings sue xx

  3. Oh, I just posted a long reply and it disapeared :(
    Beautiful blog :)
    Blessings sue xx

  4. I love this post, it takes me right back to when my boys were young. I always loved the idea that when you hold hands in a circle and face inwards, when you all move to the left you are leading with your hearts :-)
    Thanks for sharing your morning.

  5. I think my comment disapeared too, not sure? I wanted to say I loved this post, it reminded me of when my boys were little. I loved the idea, that when you face inwards to the circle center and move to the left, you are leading with your hearts :-) Thank you for sharing your lovely mornings

  6. lovely, and so informative, I love these posts, thank you and take care.

  7. Your play garden has such a lovely , joyful atmosphere. I have been so inspired by the way you do things. I'm going to use these rhymes and songs with my little ones :)

  8. your morning circle sounds and looks like such fun! You have a wonderful way of describing things that shares your passion so well

  9. Just found your comment on my own blog last autumn! I really have to check comments more. I love your blog and will become an avid follower. you say we met at the Waldorf School in Philly? Anyway, blessings on your work and beautiful program

  10. I love the flow of your circle time--some of the songs and verses are familiar to me, others new. I wonder what are your main resources in piecing together such a beautiful tapestry? I have learned many of the songs I sing from Candy Verney's singing day and year cds, but am always wondering where the beautiful stories and movement games come from.
    And regarding your childcare for W. dilemma, I am hoping that the perfect answer comes..perhaps someone whose home is open as yours is for such exceptional childcare would be just right. Your assistant?

  11. Hello! Is there any way to find the tune for the beautiful butterfly song? Thank you!


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