Friday, December 18, 2009

Circle Time for Older Grades?

By Kristie Burns
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I have to admit that as the children grow older I miss the little finger rhymes and verses from our old circle time days, I miss the sweet puppet shows, the dress up box and playing daily with our Ostheimer figures. However, lately I've started to realize that we never did really give those things up - we just modified them and they grew into different things! Here are some examples of what has happened around here now that my kids are 11,13, and 15!

Circle Time
Circle time has now become "family meeting" time. Every Wednesday and Sunday we have a family meeting. This is a time to share a verse, a story, ideas on how to improve things around the house, a request to other members of the family and much more. I try to integrate a story, a verse, and some meditative time into the meeting. We spend some time going around the "circle" talking about what we are thankful for in each person and in each of our lives.

Dress Up Box
The dress up box has now become real-life dress-up. When we go out together my kids and I often plan our trips around an outfit or a theme. If we visit the Renaissance Festival we always dress up, if we go to the Civic Center we wear fancy clothes. If we go to Living History Farms we may dress in clothing from that era. We really enjoy being creative in the way we dress. It is not just "jeans and a T-shirt" every day :)

Puppet Shows
My kids now enjoy going to some more "adult" events with me and are now creating their own "puppet shows" and events! We saw a professional magic show a couple weeks ago, and a Native American Powwow before that. We enjoyed the Nutcracker Ballet together and attended a rock band concert that my eldest was the lead singer in. Along with attending different events, the kids are really starting to get more out of the events. When they were little I might take them to a musical and they would enjoy it and perhaps play-act after-wards. Now, they may get out their guitar and find the music for the musical, ask questions about it, write about it, create something inspired by it or even sound out some of the music on the piano. The kids are also starting to create more elaborate events instead of sitting and listening. They create their own stage shows, plays (complete with script), band concerts, magic shows, comedy skits and even storytelling shows. Both of my daughters help me with the large group cultural shows I perform in the local public school system. One of the favorite workshops I do is called "A Meal in the Middle East". Sofi's favorite part of the show is telling the story to the classrooms. She won't even let me tell the story anymore!

Play Kitchen
The play kitchen is still played with from time to time but now it is the real kitchen that I see the kids in more. They all have their own style of cooking and my son, especially, likes to explore new tastes, new techniques, and new dishes in the kitchen. Sometimes they cook breakfast or lunch for each other and they all have their own dishes they are "famous for" around the house.

Bread Baking
We don't bake bread every day or even every other day anymore however we do enjoy baking a variety of things and we still enjoy baking bread together now and then. It is hard to believe we have been baking bread together for 15 years now!

Nature Walk
I remember the days when we used to take off with a butterfly net and a bag and wander through the woods. Little legs never took us very far but we could find amazing worlds within a few blocks or few yards of forest. Now, we still walk together but now we can go farther and we talk more as we walk. It is a time, not only to connect with nature, but to connect with each other, too. We may explore more advanced concepts in our walks (like identifying specific herbs and talk about the biology of plants and their growth patterns). We enjoy walking through the wooded bike bath TO places - to the grocery store, to the library, to the cafe, and even to the stores. Sometimes the kids go on their own now, or with a friend. My eldest likes to take walks every day - she says it helps her think clearly and she likes all the good energy she gets from the plants. My son likes to ride his bike for long distances with friends. It feels good to him to get all that energy out and he likes the excitement of what he may see on the trails. A few weeks ago he saw a buck and the week before that he saw some fawns.

I would love to hear what transitions other families have made in these areas and how your early childhood experiences have merged into the older years with your children.


Tan Family said...

Kristie, I really enjoyed this post. Our oldest is almost 13, and I've noticed that what we did even just a year ago, is not in sync with him any more. He's growing up! So, we do circle time on Mon. as a family, but on Fri., we do it just with the youngest (he's 6...sometimes 10 year old sister joins). We put the oldest in charge of demonstrating and leading us in activities now, and also allow him more independent time.

Tan Family said...

Kristie, I loved this post! Our oldest is almost 13, so we encourage him to lead and demonstrate more, have more independent time, and he does less with us when it comes to circle time.