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    Circle Time 2010-2011 Term I …and More…

    August 23, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    In honor of today, this first day of school, I’m finally posting my plans. Good thing they’re ready! I’ve changed a number of things, and I think I’m going to be pleased with the results. All of this summer reading did what I hoped it’d do–it changed me and, I hope, made me a better teacher.

    First, here’s our Circle Time plans for Term 1:

    Circle Time Weekly Schedule 2010-2011 Term 1

    This is the last time I’m using this format. A friend of mine starting transferring it over to a spreadsheet, and I love what she’s done with it and intend to follow in her footsteps for next term.

    I’m continuing what I began this summer, which was reading one short Bible story each day, and requiring narration from my oldest. I require my daughter A. to remember something from the story, and she is to speak first because listening to a narration causes her to forget, or to rely on the narration for her information.

    Instead of manners this term, a friend and I wrote a short course on the seven virtues. It’s just introductory; a little devotional study. But I think it’ll be great, and it will serve the same purpose as manners in that it will offer correction to the heart and behavior.

    We have decided not to enroll the children in Awana this year, for a variety of reasons that I won’t explore. Two out of three children are relieved by this. I won’t say that I think this is a perfect decision, but there will be some benefits. I have had a love/hate relationship with Awana, and one reason for this has been that it appropriates all of our memory work unto itself. We did great on catechism this summer, and I am pretty sure it is because we aren’t drilling for Awana. I have wanted to have a much bigger variety for our memory work, and now I can, without negatively impacting my children’s performance at Awana.

    So, we are memorizing a verse to correspond to each virtue. We will also add to our Children’s Catechism work. In addition, I was very inspired by Cindy–not just her interview, but also by rereading her archives–and I decided to begin poetry memorization. We are starting with one of our favorites, Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson. I have a list of four poems to keep us going, and three are from A Child’s Garden of Verses {Bed in Summer, Whole Duty of Children, and The Cow}. In addition, we’ll do Alexander’s The Beggar Boy, which is in our copy of The Oxford Book of Children’s Verse. {I have no idea how long this will take us, but I suppose the only way to find out is to begin.}

    In the past, we have sung one song per day, and used Tuesdays to work on our new songs. I have decided that in addition to reviewing one song per day, we will sing whatever we learned on Tuesdays. The extra practice should cause us to learn more songs, and faster. I have printed up a “family hymnal” for us. This way, my husband can grab it and be sure that our children can sing them all. I usually ask him what songs he wants them to learn, so he should enjoy seeing some of the fruit of these labors.

    For the virtue study, my friend found a collection of old letters to give to our boys as additional reading. Not every letter corresponds perfectly to a virtue, but many of them do, and we liked the content {of all but two}. The letters are from an older brother to a younger brother, and since neither of the boys receiving these letters once or twice per week have an older brother {they are oldest children}, I think it will be interesting. Hopefully, they will enjoy the feeling of having an older brother, if only for a few minutes per week.

    For artist/picture study this year, I am going to go all-out Charlotte Mason and try visualization. This is where the children look at the picture and try to recreate it in their minds. In the past I have done Art Narration, but I feel compelled to try visualization and see what happens.

    I am still doing Song School Latin, mainly at the request of my three-year-old, who adores it. This year, however, my oldest won’t be doing the book work. {Charlotte and Comenius both have me going backwards on formal grammar.} Instead, he’ll be doing Rosetta Stone Latin whenever he visits my parents

    I am still toying with my Average Day Chart. I cannot decide if O. is ready to drop his morning nap or not. This morning, we had Breakfast School with our friends {because the first day of school ought to be fun, so I hear–and it was and I’m hoping this is a new tradition}. O. was very whiny by 10am, even though we were outside, and he had previously eaten seven pancakes and four sausages. I had thought that having Circle Time outside was going to solve the Toddler Problem for me, but this had me second-guessing myself.

    Maybe he still needs his sleep.

    But, if he takes a morning nap, then he won’t be going down for an afternoon nap until around 2:30, which changes my afternoon schedule a bit.

    For now, I am assuming that he will be ready to drop a nap in a week or two, and printed up an Average Day Chart that will work for that time in the future. For now, we will modify it as needed to suit the toddler. Here is what I’ve got:

    Average Day Chart 2010-2011 (1)

    Another new thing I’m doing this year is giving more responsibility over to my eight-year-old. I have read everything to him for Ambleside until now, even though he was perfectly capable of reading them alone. He was an early reader, and I didn’t want him to miss out on being read to a lot just because he began reading at three. But now, he is ready, and I think he needs to explore working on his own a little more.

    Every Monday morning, he receives a clipboard with a week’s worth of assignments attached. This means articles he needs to read, cursive worksheets, math sheets, and so on. Each day is paperclipped together so as to minimize the confusion, plus I’m neurotic and put a little M Tu W Th removable tabs on them. On top of all of this is a weekly assignment sheet. Here is an example:

    Weekly Schedule

    Okay, so I just noticed this says “Weekly Reading Schedule.” Well, it started as a reading schedule and grew and grew. Charlotte Mason wrote that children should have read two full gospels by age nine, so my husband broke Matthew and one other gospel {don’t remember which} into chunks, and he will read them daily until he has read it all. He is not ready to do all of Ambleside on his own, but he is ready to do some of it, so he will read one alone and narrate to me, one alone and narrate on paper, and I will read one to him and he will narrate to me immediately. Some days are lighter than these early weeks {I always weight it heavy in the beginning, when we are fresh and ready to work anyhow}, and on those days he might do only one or two of those three.

    I have pretty much told him he has complete freedom–as far as what time to start and what order to do his work in–other than needing to {1} be present at Circle Time and {2} have everything completed in time for our meeting at 1:45pm.

    I want school done by 2pm. Daily.

    E. arises at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. Part of the reason I wanted to give him this independence is because I know he might enjoy working in solitude during those early hours when his siblings are sleeping.

    The end.

    Actually, I’ll end with a list of the resources we’re using for Circle Time this year:

    I think that is all…for now. We’ll see. My Circle Time grows and changes every year. I think it is still my favorite part of the day.

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  • Reply HKB January 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Brandy, is your short devotional book on Virtues available for sharing?

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 15, 2013 at 12:04 am

      I will have to go through my computer files and see if I can find it! Linda and I wrote it together…I’ll let you know if I turn up anything! I think I have a disk from the computer I had before this one, and I bet it is on that…

  • Reply swelb21 November 9, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Random question: Do you guys skip breakfast? That sounds nice if so…Breakfast definitely slows things down and creates another need for transition. (ah yes, and more dishes…we alternate between oatmeal and eggs during the week). Am loving perusing the old and new schedules of yours!!

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 9, 2012 at 5:58 am

      I wish I could say that we skip breakfast, but we don’t. We have almost always eaten it very, very early. These days, I am up milking the goat at 6am, and then head right in to make breakfast. I start our Circle Time while the children are finishing up, which means it usually starts around 7:15 or 7:20am. It is funny to look back and see that we weren’t really even starting our day until 8:30…these days our Circle Time is usually *done* around that time!

      I also used to make very simple breakfasts, but since we began the GAPS diet, I have to make a bigger one. My children are just so hungry now…

    • Reply swelb21 November 12, 2012 at 6:49 am

      haaa oh wow, busy Mama! And then add in GAPS, and you become super busy with all the intricate food planning and cooking. Just be careful how long you do GAPS–my friend and her family did it for too long and it had negative affects…

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you for saying that about GAPS! I have had that opinion–actually, that *most* therapeutic diets are no longer therapeutic after a while–but I find it is controversial to say so out loud!

      I introduced potatoes for myself this past week and din’t do well, but I’m making my homemade sourdough for Thanksgiving and I think everyone will do just fine. There is very little gluten in it due to the double rise, so it is a good bridge food. πŸ™‚

      Unfortunately, I have this feeling my children will *not* go back to simple breakfasts. They probably had undersized appetites and so that is a good thing, but WOW do they eat a lot now! πŸ™‚

    • Reply swelb21 November 13, 2012 at 4:48 am

      Oh good! And wow, you definitely need to share with all of us how the sourdough turns out..I always kill my starters πŸ™

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      If you want to learn how to make sourdough, I highly, highly recommend the sourdough class from GNOWFGLINS. It was amazing, and I have *never* had a problem with any sourdough recipe since–Wardeh (the teacher) explains things well! At the time I took it, at least, her class was also very reasonably priced. I think I was paying $10/month and could go as fast or slow as I wished. It probably took me two months to get through it.

      I have killed a starter more than once, too. πŸ™

  • Reply Kristine September 3, 2010 at 5:34 am

    I meant to tell you that I loved this post! I love seeing other people’s schedules too. I have done ours differently every year. I tend to do better with a general weekly schedule, like your average day, but for a week, and check off the AO readings from the given schedule. I changed our day up this year with the three schooling, and included more with all four in a Together Time (thanks for the suggestion!).
    It usually takes me a few weeks or more to work out the bugs and see what is more reality than ideal, but I am liking this year’s flow so far. I loved your interview with Cindy too, which influenced my planning as well. Thanks for sharing your hard work.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts August 25, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Sara, I really, really like your plans! I love to read the plans of other families in general, but yours were fabulous, and in an easy-to-understand format. Thank you so much for sharing. I think I will bookmark them as a reference for next time I start a Y1!


    Our hourly schedule is from Excel. I just used color and fun fonts and my favorite function (merge cells). πŸ™‚ And please, reference away. All of my good ideas were gotten from others anyhow. Speaking of others, you might want to check out Sara’s plans above. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Jennifer August 24, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Wow, Brandy! I am bookmarking this post. What software did you use to make your hourly schedule? That is so lovely looking. I hope it is ok to reference your hard planning and work while I am attempting to teach my own. Nicely done.

  • Reply sara August 24, 2010 at 2:37 am

    I always like seeing your school plans. I should confess that I used your December school plan to build ours and it was wonderful.

    We are starting AO year one next week. Here’s our plan, if you’re interested. (I hope the link works.)

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