Friday, October 12, 2012

 Circle Time and Morning Message

Children benefit from Circle Time by gathering with all of the children to enjoy sharing stories, singing and talking with their friends and teacher.
 It is an opportunity to develop early literacy skills, math concepts, scientific processes, and very important social skills such as sharing and taking turns.
It is Scout's turn to jump for her Samach, Noam, Natan, Noah and Josiah are waiting to hear the sound their name begins with (the 3 nun's in a row was a coincidence).
The following is an example of a typical circle time at The Gan.
Once we have gathered at the aleph bet mat, we begin with a song. 
The song helps us to get our wiggles out and our ears ready to listen.
I introduce or review the themes and ideas we are discussing.
 In the coming weeks we will be learning about different habitats on earth. 
First, we need to remember how special Earth is.  
To remind us, we sing our solar system song from last year.We stop at each planet and talk about its attributes.  
We remember Earth is the only planet that:
Dena: It has lots of trees.
Josiah: It grows fruits and vegetables.
Noah: It has living things.
Kian: It’s blue because of the water.
Dena: It has lots of oceans.
Often our circle time discussion continues all day, the children's interest and excitement sustain the conversation. 
While outside Thursday, we were able to again be grateful for how special Earth is when we saw:
Morah Amanda: Look at that!
Everyone: WOW!!!! 
Morah Katie: Where do you think they are going?
Noah: I don't know.
Morha Katie: They are pretty cool, do you think you would find birds on Mars?
Kian: NO!
Morah Katie: Saturn?
Josiah: NO!
Morah Katie: Why not? 
Kian: Cause birds can't live on those places.
Josiah: Bad air.
We move from our theme discussion to revealing the Helper/Leader of the Day.  
It is quite an exciting thing to be the helper/leader; this child helps pass out the Torah’s, collects tzedakah, sets up the snack tables and leads the line.  
The helper also leads us through the calendar.
Updating the calendar is an important part of circle time. 
We are developing early literacy skills such as recognizing that words are made of letters representing sounds.  
When the Helper of the Day points to each day as we sing that word, we are reinforcing recognizing sight words. 

As we discover what yesterday, today and tomorrow are, we learn about the passage of time.  
Each day we add a new number to our calendar, we are building on the linear progression of numbers. 

Daily updating of the calendar provides a good opportunity to recognize connections and patterns, we never seem to be at school on Saturday and Sunday, Tuesday always follows Monday, the numbers keep getting bigger as we fill in the month.
Once we have completed the calendar update, we write a morning message. 
We document who the leader is, this helps the children recognize their friend’s names. 
“Gracie is the helper.”  This sentence provides many learning opportunities.  
One such learning moment  is the wild and crazy rule breakers T-H-E.  I ask the children to help me with the sounds for (t) (h) (e), then we re-read the sentence.
Morah Katie: Wait… the says the, not (t) (h) (e) [I say it phonetically- children always laugh]
what is going on?
Kids: The is a rule breaker!!!
We discover that when certain letters get together they get wild and crazy and don’t say their sounds – 
they make new sounds together.  
These words can be called rule breakers or sight words, we begin to see them as a picture and know when we see the, is, of, you, are….  we don’t say the sounds, we say the wild and crazy word.
We do also have a letter of the day to help  reinforce the phonetic connection between sound and letter symbol.  It is always thrilling when the children can guess my drawing.
Children: b - butterfly !
The letter of the day helps isolate the auditory sound of a single letter,and can a beneficial tool for the child who is detailed orientated.  We then look for that letter in the morning message and the calendar. We see that for words to be created, the letters need to come together.

We have a number of the day.  We look at the numeral, guess whether it is odd or even, and discover the answer by counting.
Morah Katie: Today's number is .....10. If you think 10 will be odd please raise your hands.
Let's find out.
Everyone: (We count as I make marks on the board) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10. 
Morah Katie: Is it odd or even?
Dena: It's even.
Morah Katie: Why, how can you tell?
Kian: They all have a partner.

As we move into the teen numerals, we begin to discuss the idea of tallying. Tallying helps us to begin to group quantities, which introduces us to the ideas of adding and mulitplication.

Circle time and morning message provides an opportunity to help the children develop observation and reasoning skills.
When we look at the daily pattern, the children can see the repetition of the images, they can safely make a guess as to what will be the next part of the pattern, and this in turn helps the children build confidence in their opinions and point of views, and begins to lay the foundation for critical thinking.

We can take the observation skills used to create a pattern and apply it to a scientific investigation.
It is an opportunity for creative thinking, risk taking in our guesses, discovery thorough hands on results.
As a group, we conducted a pumpkin investigation. 
We asked 4 questions, made guesses, and then used our observation skills to answer those questions.
As the year progresses, the morning message will grow to include facts we are learning about, and the helper of the day takes more of a role in writing the message.

Our morning circle time includes our Hebrew songs and lessons.
The children gather their tzedakah and share it.
 We sing to thank Hashem for all he has given us.  We sing Shema, and jump for our hebrew letter.

We conclude our morning circle as the helper of the day takes attendance by counting how many friends are at school.  He/she then invites one freind to help set up the snack tables.
Circle time encourages a feeling of community; we all love singing, we all love listening to books, we all love to contribute what we know and to learn new things.
As we sit quietly, speak at our turn, we show our friends respect, and we in turn know our voice is valued and will be heard.
Circle time provides an opportunity to reach all learning styles; we talk in big ideas and look at the details.

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