6 March 2012

How Circle Works (for us)

So, as a sort-of kind-of Waldorf-inspired family, I have been asked to share some verse for Circle. :) Provisos: don't take me too seriously, take this merely as my personal interpretation of Circle, I am NOT some Waldorf guru, and claim only to be an expert on my own children. Also, I apologise for the more twee elements and assure you that whatever misgivings you (and I) may have as adults, children *adore* those precise things we find embarrassing and/or cutesy. ;)

Clark family Spring Circle example 
(singing as I walk around, gathering children from whatever they're up to by lightly touching a shoulder)

Come to the Circle, let's gather round
Come to the Circle, where dreams are found [repeat]

(seated in a circle)

The light opens up and I walk in
The day invites me to begin
I ask the day, "How should I start?"
The day replies, "With a wish upon your heart."

(making wishes)

Dip Dip Dip, my little blue ship Sails across the water, like a cup and saucer
Dip Dip Steady, I am ready
[For this verse, put your fingertips together in front of you, making the prow of your ship which can dip and raise - "I am ready" bring your hands up and together in front of your heart like in a yoga prayer position.] 

(we get to our feet now and do some movement verses)

Here I stand strong (I)
Safe and secure (A)
Surrounded by love (O)
Open to inspiration (U)
[the vowel shapes are positions in Eurythmy, but having zero experience, we use our own movements]


I have ten little fingers, they all belong to me
I can make them do things, do you want to see?
I can open them wide, I can shut them up tight
I can put them both togather, I can put them out of sight
I can hold them up high, I can put them down low
I can fold them together and sit just so
[actions as traditional!]

(then we get a bit more seasonal - it's officially Spring now!)

Down in the Earth, dark warm and deep
The bulbs are fast asleep
Safe in their winter beds
Under blankets of soil
As we return to the light
The sun is growing bright
The bulb children feel his touch
It warms the soil
Soft rains refreshingly fall
The bulbs drink it all
They start to stir and push
Their roots out into the soil
They grow, and grow, and grow
Breaking into the light
They dance in the breeze
Spring is here!
[this is sung, however it is different every time as I made it up - the children are bulbs covered with a playsilk, and they wake up during the third verse and slowly stand on "grow"!]

The fuzzy caterpillar curled upon a leaf.
[finger "crawls up arm]
Spun her little chrysalis and then fell asleep.
["spun" is one finger rotating in the air]
While she was sleeping,
[fist is the cocoon "hanging" under the branch/arm]
She dreamed that she could fly.
And later when she woke up,
[open fist and bring to sit open hand on the branch]
She was a butterfly!
[make butterfly with both hands linked at thumb, and fly away!]

I have a little nest, look inside, look inside
[hands together with fingers linked to the inside]
Ten little birdies with beaks open wide, open wide
[open palms to reveal fingers]
And they grow day by day, day by day
[bring backs of hands together and raise to make "birds" grow]
Til they spread their wings and fly away
[turn hands palm together, link thumbs, "fly" away]

(at this time of year we ALWAYS have to sing Tweedle Dee Dee, too) 

(time for prayers, down we sit!)

God be in my mind, and in my understanding
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking
God be in my hands, and in my actions
God be at my end, at my beginning, and all through each day

(often the Lord's Prayer too)

Peace be with you, peace be with you
The peace of the Lord be with you
Peace be with you, in all that you do
The Peace of the Lord be with you

Some notes on Circle time :)
For us, Circle is that time in the morning where we gather after breakfast, before we start any activity.  It help me gather the children together to transition into a story time or a group activity, it helps me get them together to give instructions about getting ready or to discuss plans for the day or week.  Sometimes, for those latter reasons, it is really the most shortened form of what is above.  For me, it isn't about Perfect, or learning by rote a set of poems and songs, it's about gathering - and transitioning.

I'm relaxed about things being changed or missed out, too.

Generally I bring new things to Circle with new seasons or festivals we are celebrating, and I try to repeat the same Circle more or less for a couple of weeks - but I really don't plan.  Learning a few initial verses and songs was work, for me, and something I felt I never got the hang of in that Waldorf Perfect sense.  But now I find we have a framework of daily verses we all know, and messing with that is no longer stressful - and always fun and exiting for the children.

I don't bother about whether the children are all joining in, or even engaged.  If they wander off and play, I don't mention it, and ignore anything happening outside of Circle (I bring baby in with me, before anyone worries about what on Earth poor little Tali is meant to do while we're doing this)!  Rowan sometimes wanders about or does helpful things like sitting there saying "poo poo and wee wee" while we're in Circle: I pretend she is joining in nicely.  ;)  Jenna is a fidget, too, so I keep it active and I keep it short!  :)

I would urge anyone wanting to implement something strongly Waldorf inspired to start small, and be gentle to yourself and your children.  It may help you learn the verses if you forget Circle for now and start with just using a song or verse at transition times until you have a few already memorised.  What I do looks very little like a Waldorf school,  as I understand it, and that's OK too.  It's meant to serve you, not you it.

And if you just read all of this from pure curiosity, now you know what I'm on about when I say we did such-and-such in Circle!  You never know, one day I might manage pictures - I always intend to take some for posterity...


  1. **cough** Ohhh I may have to pinch your spring poems/songs! ;-)

    Circle time has fallen by the wayside recently, I must bring it back, it is such a lovely way to start the day, and I find it sets the tone for the rest of the day (besides I enjoyed the yoga we did instead of the Eurythym movements)

  2. Thank you for this, I've let circle time slide these last few months this has really inspired me to bring it back. I also use an old 80's book Dancing and Singing games by The kingfisher nursery library, it's just traditional British circle songs and games from my own childhood but the kids adore the book and get very excited when they see it.


Penny for your thoughts? :)