When I first heard of the concept of "circle time" as they might have in a preschool environment I wondered if I could turn that into something we'd like.
It took a bit of jiggling around to find a comfortable fit, and I took on board advice from another mum who'd tried it and found it raised her blood pressure too much trying to get her children to join in.
But here, in case it sounds like something you'd like to try with your children (all ages, just adjust it to suit) is what we have been doing on and off for a few years now.
First we sing a song to mark the beginning of Cozy Time - just a little ditty I made up.
Then I launch straight into some finger plays, poems, songs etc. Something like this:
Here is a tree with its leaves so green
(stretch arms out)
Here are the apples that hang between
When the wind blows the apples will fall
Here is a basket to gather them all
(pretend to hold a basket on your hip and gather apples)
(Mime appropriate actions)
High in the tree a little nest
Climb up softly, look inside
Hungry baby birds with their beaks open wide
I'll watch the little birdies grow, day by day
Until they spread their wings and fly far, far away
A little brown rabbit popped out of the ground,
(right index fingers pops up)
Wiggled his whiskers and looked all around.
(right index finger wiggles)
Another wee rabbit who lived in the grass
(left finger up)
Popped his head out and watched him pass
(right hand hops over left (wrists crossed)
Then both the wee rabbits went hoppity hop,
Hoppity, hoppity, hoppity, hop
(both fingers hop forwards)
Till they came to a wall and had to stop
(both fingers stop suddenly)
Then both the wee rabbits turned themselves round,
And scuttled off home to their holes in the ground.
(hands hop back and finish in pockets)
Five little peas in a pea-pod pressed
(clench fingers on one hand)
One grew, two grew, so did all the rest
(raise fingers slowly)
The grew and they grew and did not stop
(stretch fingers wide)
Until all of a sudden the pod went POP!
(clap loudly on POP)
(Heaps more fingerplays, songs and game ideas can be found in my soon-to-be-published book "Adventures In Natural Learning - Handbook")
This morning we were having Cozy Time and I watched our 18 month old toddling around the room, participating when he wanted to/ when he could. I noticed that the children needed something they could move around to, stretch their legs and arms, so I started to sing "My pigeon house I open wide and set my pigeons free ..." Our toddler was suddenly very interested and watched two other boys who decided they'd join in with that one. I was reminded once again how easily and joyfully a little child can learn things when there is no EXPECTATION on them to pick it up.
We often play some very simple games such as "Touch the ..." where I will name perhaps four or five items in the room, the child must repeat each item and then go and touch it. Great for the brain. This game can be extended by saying "Touch glass, wood, metal ..." etc or colours. It truly is a game - not trying to force teaching. And if the children arn't enjoying it, then it stops.
Another favourite game is when I gather random items from our junk drawer and put them on a tray. I point to each item in turn and name it "scissors, glue stick, paint brush, wooden bead, little horse ..." and then each child has a turn to close their eyes and guess which one or ones I have taken away.
So we play a few games - maybe a bit of baby sign language, or NZSL, a bit of French or German ... easy stuff, then I wind up by singing our final song, and a saying a prayer.
Something may come up when a child asks a question or shares a thought they've had - quite naturally, nothing forced.
So that's our Cozy Time - it doesn't always work, and it doesn't always run smoothly, but I bring it in from time to time because it's actually quite fun when the children co-operate.
If your children have neurostruggles and neurochallenges then Cozy Time can be rather a stuggle and a challenge for a mummy.
If your children are neurotypical then Cozy Time would be fantastic and rather easy and fun!
When I finished Cozy Time this morning I somewhat wearily went into the kitchen where our 20 year old was making himself a snack before returning to his work. "Well done" he said quietly. xxxxxx Love him.