Our Circle Time Plans Fall 2015

WARNING: A{nother} very long post! I'm long-winded in real life, too, in case you're wondering.

Here's what our Circle Time (Morning Time) looks like right now. We are in Years 0 and 2 in Ambleside Online. Keep in mind, this is just how *we* do it. Yours probably looks a little different. And it's not to show off how much we do, because honestly, if other bloggers didn't share their ideas, we wouldn't have much of a Circle Time! I'm just sharing what we do to inspire and for my own records.

I'm using the binder system from Mystie Winckler at Simply Convivial. It's pretty much exactly like hers and is based on the Scripture Memory System at Simply Charlotte Mason. (THIS is the video of Mystie walking us through the binder. LOVE.)

I like doing it this way because I don't have to think about it. We just flip to that day's tab (Daily, Even or Odd and Day of the Week) and read through each thing (passage, poem, song, etc.).  It *is* a bit of a process to get the binders ready, but once they're set up, it's really not that much work to maintain them. Really!

A few notes about our Circle Time:
  • We do CT Monday through Friday. It's the one thing I try to do every day. Emphasis on "try."
  • To memorize all we do is read the passage out loud every day. That. is. all. Sometimes I will leave a word out then have the child fill in the blank. Sometimes we'll take turns reading a verse or line. I try to keep it somewhat interesting. :)
  • We are memorizing beautiful things--hymns, Bible passages, poems, etc. not facts, dates and *just* information. I think it's important to hide {beautiful} things in our hearts.
  • If one of us has something memorized, we'll ask the other person to read along while the other person recites it. Oldest loves it when I recite something from memory and she can "check" it! :)
  • We sing a song at the beginning, middle and end of CT. I did that on purpose; again, to keep things interesting. 
  • It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the kids memorize things! It takes me a little longer, however. cough.
  • Before Circle Time we've already read our Bible passage for the day and prayed at breakfast.

Here is our Memory Work:

  • Doxology - First, we sing this every morning and probably always will. I got the idea from Sarah Mackenzie after watching this Scope. I'd have to agree and say that it *does* fix our focus. :)
  • Calendar - the girls trace the date on our monthly calendar.

  • 24 Family Ways by the Clarksons - It's set up to do one Way per week and talk about it all week, but we do one Way every day or so. We'll just keep circling through them. Probably until Jesus comes back.
  • Hymn of the month - Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing - We do one hymn a month and move on whether or not it's memorized. I just want my kids to be familiar with them. We review them all eventually anyway.
  • Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 
  • Passage - Psalm 23 - I've taken the advice of Cindy Rollins and instead of just memorizing Bible *verses* we memorize *passages*. The idea is that by memorizing a passage, you get more of the context. We might still do a verse here and there though.
  • Middlest's Poem (5yo) - "The Tickle Rhyme" taken from New Treasury of Children's Poetry by Joanna Cole
"What's that tickling my back?" said the wall.
"Me," said a small
Caterpillar. "I'm learning
To crawl."
  • Oldest's Poem (7yo)- "Butterfly, Butterfly" taken from The Year Around (we read everyone's poem together, but this way, we do age-appropriate poems for each child.)

  • 'Poet of our Term' poem - "The Lamb" by William Blake (see the beautiful engraving below by William Blake)

  • "I am, I can, I ought, I will" - we are working on the first part right now, "I am a child of God..." (This is a Charlotte Mason motto.)
  • Folksong of the month - Home on the Range
 I try to add a simple picture to each passage. :)

Even / Odd:
Once something is memorized, it moves to the Even, Odd or Day of the Week tab, then I add a new passage to our Daily Tab; about every 4-6 weeks. Presently, we don't have much in these tabs because we're just starting out.

  • Even: Family Way #1 - "We love and obey our Lord, Jesus Christ, with wholehearted devotion."
  • Odd: empty. I'll probably move Psalm 23 there soon.
  • Mon: The Lord's Prayer - Matthew 6:19-13 & Catechism Questions for Commandments 1 & 2
  • Tue: Ooey Gooey (Middles't last poem) & Questions for Commandments 3 & 4
  • Wed: Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne (Oldest's last poem) & Questions for Commandments 5 & 6
  • Thu: Questions for Commandments 7 & 8
  • Fri: Questions for Commandments 9 & 10

To clarify, if it's Tuesday, the 24th, we do the "Even" and "Tuesday" tabs.

That means we only do four more things that what's in our Daily tab each day, including the hymn and folksong at the end...

Hymns & Folksongs:
Lastly, we have "Hymn" and "Folksong" tabs where I put all of the hymns and folksongs we've ever learned. We review one of each per day. (again, Mystie's idea)

Circle Time Reading:
Then, if there's time (if not, we do it later in the day), we do our Circle Time reading.

We read them in a loop which means if we miss a day we just move on to the next book in line. We don't play "catch-up."

I'm hoping to add more readings to CT, but right now, with my kids being so young, I aim to keep it as short as possible without missing out on the good stuff!


So that's our Circle Time these days. I really, really love the binder system. I've been working on a plan like this one (video from Mystie. Again. That girl is so organized!) but I've dropped the ball on it. Maybe I'll have it done by the time school starts in the fall of 2016?

I know this might look complicated, but it's really not! I promise! It takes all of the guess work out of what to do when. And I love that it allows us to review all of the past things we've learned without having to think about it. (have I mentioned that I like not having to overthink it?)

It usually takes 45 minutes or so. And to be honest, the girls love doing it. There's something about having their own binders and flipping to the next "thing" that keeps them engaged. The only problem we really have is keeping Littlest busy and included. :)

I also love this Circle Time plan from Stacy at With Great Joy.

Another great resource is this talk from Brandy at Afterthoughts CT, Memorization and the Soul. If you're not sure why memorization is such a good thing, I suggest listening to that! :)

Thanks for letting me share my plans with you! But they are just that--plans. Things don't go as planned sometimes, but that's why I love the binders. If we miss something, it's easy to get back on track. 

Do you use binders in your Circle Time?


  1. Hi Catie,
    I love hearing about your circle time! It sounds like you are really covering a lot there! And so encouraging too. Question....where did you get those "our family way" coloring sheets in your binder? They look awesome!
    Catherine in KS

    1. Hi Catherine! How are you? :)

      Those are taken from Clay and Sally Clarkson's 24 Family Ways book. I love it! (It's not very Charlotte Mason-y, but I have a friend who CMizes it, so you can do that if you want to. :) We don't, because my girls actually *like* answering the questions and reading the story to go along with each Way. :)

  2. Love this post!!! It's great to see how others are doing it! I can live an organized life vicariously through you! ;)

    1. Thanks woman! I love these binders. *sigh*

  3. This is how I *want* to do circle time (with the binders, I mean). Ours is actually quite similar, except I hang our current Bible passage and hymn to memorize on the wall. That, and we still split circle time into two parts to make it easier for little boys. :) We do Bible, hymn, and catechism memory work right after breakfast, also SA's Bible narration and Pilgrim's Progress (for narration, I get out a pencil and paper and I draw what they tell me --with stick figures, I'm no artist.) Then we do poetry, music appreciation, or picture study at morning tea time, and that's when our "school day" really starts.

    1. Hi Nelleke! (have I told you how much I like your name? :o) Have you posted about your CT before? I'll have to search on your blog, if you have. It's so helpful to see what others actually do. I've tried to take the advice of older, wiser moms (like Cindy Rollins) and make sure we're getting the Good, True and Beautiful things in our day BEFORE the skills (math, copywork, etc.) I try to remember that those things they will eventually learn (I wonder how that actually plays out though... I may have to ask on the AO forum), but the good ideas are what will carry them through.

      That said, we've started doing math RIGHT AFTER Circle Time, otherwise it doesn't get done! Ha!


Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's encouraging!