Living Arts Weekly: An Ocean Circle

August 6, 2023

Today’s article is from our friend and colleague, Pamela Perkins, who shared a story with us last week. Here we have an Ocean Circle that is perfect for summer time programs, or extracting verses from for sharing with your little ones any time. She says it is an adaptation of a verse and circle from one of the Waldorf conferences back in Hawaii, but it can be translated to any place… The movements and gestures, and use the ocean drum, etc. are her own creation.


Ocean Circle

I pick up my ocean drum and gently start tilting it back and forth …. the sound brings the children over, initially out of curiosity, then because they love this circle! Once they are clustered near me, I invite them with a round arm gesture to form a circle, or use words initially, so that we can get ready to go on an adventure. I’ll put out the questions, such as “Can you guess where we will go on our circle adventure today? or “Has anyone ever gone to a beach?” I allow for a few responses, then begin to tilt the drum again…”Is everyone ready?” We may pretend to put on our shoes, or jacket, etc.  depending on the weather. Then ….

Let’s go down to the ocean!                      

Let’s go down to the shore !    (Sometimes I repeat the first 2 lines)

Taking BIG steps, and little steps,

BIG steps and little steps,

BIG steps, and little steps,

BIG steps, and little steps

And now we reach the shore (beach).

If we have a lot of big energy in the group at first…I might interject comments about the rocks, or mention the seaweed is slippery…or use this variation:

Taking BIG steps, BIG steps , as over the rocks we go !

BIG steps, BIG steps, as down to the shore we go !

Taking small steps , teeny steps, as over the sand we go!

Small steps, teeny steps, as down to the shore ( beach) we go.

Ah, here we are at the shore (beach)    

I ‘shade’ my eyes and look s-l-o-w-l-y out over the  imaginary ‘horizon’….then use clear gestures that I keep consistent for each type of wave. Really have fun with these movements and take time to enjoy each, and allow for some giggles and wiggles

I look out over the water and I see …

Big waves, and little weaves

That dance o’er the ocean blue;

Waves that you can jump over…

Waves that you can  splash through…

Waves that rise up and form a great water wall,

And waves that swell so gently, they scarcely move at all !

Waves that ROAR !!!

And tiny little waves that tiptoe to the shore.

Now I’ll find ways to draw energy and attention in and settle everyone down on the floor…I might see a shell, or have a smooth beach stone in my pocket, or stoop to ‘discover’ a crab or starfish …. This is the initial part of a longer circle, that I gradually add to over a few weeks…or simply use as an opener to a story for that day.  General rule of thumb for circles: create a ‘breathing’ between expansion and contraction; loud and quiet; gestures large and small; utilize various directions: up/down, left/right, forward/behind.

This leads into a song or puppet play, poem or story, and whatever else I have added to the circle experience. When the circle/story time is complete for the day, I end with comments such as “ I am tired, or I’ll yawn, or mention that I am hungry and ready to go – for a snack/lunch/back to our playroom etc. “ I will stand, and we will retrace our steps and ‘end’ back once more in our room . I then use a closing verse, to gather the energy up before we transition to the next part of our day.

Let’s pick up and put on our shoes /stand/brush the sand off our shorts, etc. 

I just say what seems to fit the day ….

It is time to leave the ocean !

It is time to wave goodbye to the shore …

Now we head back taking:

Small steps, teeny steps as over the sand we go

Small steps, teeny steps as back to our room/school/etc. we go !

Oops, now we need to use our strong legs to take

BIG steps, BIG steps as over the rocks we go…

BIG steps, BIG steps as over the rocks we go…

We might encounter a giant rock here and there, and then we need to very carefully take a few really GIANT steps! before going back down to BIG steps…

Now we are back where we began

And In our room together stand 

I smile and gather them with my eyes as I say a closing. I will stand and cross my arms over my heart/ chest, a gesture of pleasure and thanks…

Our circle time is at an end

Quietly we stand among our friends

Listen now as I sing to you –

Then you will know just what to do!

Lastly, I sing a transition song as we move to the next activity or part of the day. 

We hope you enjoy Pamela’s Circle and thank you for stopping by this week. If you would like to share your experiences working with children in a LifeWays home or center, please feel free to contact our Blog Coordinator, Acacia Moore at She would be thrilled to work with you to share your wisdom and experiences on the LifeWays blog.