We have known about the benefits of Circle time for awhile and like all the great things we learn it is important that we regularly have revise and refresh on the things we have previously learnt. That is why today’s session with Marg was so great. She took us through the benefits of circle time and then outlined a couple of really useful activities that can be conducted in circles.
Why Circle Time?
We discussed that many of of our students have hectic mornings, with the rush of getting to school every morning some students never even hear anyone say the simple words of “good morning” said to them. By starting the day in a circle it gives everyone a chance to be both heard and acknowledged.
The circle is a great tool some of the key features of a circle that we came up with as a staff were:
-It allows really good eye contact, everyone can see everyone else.
– Everyone is equal, there is no front, back or middle.
– it encourages everyone to get involved, there is much less opportunity for kids to opt out of an activity or discussion.
– Less opportunity for distraction, when you are in a circle the is no desks, or supplies to play with all that is in front of you is everyone else in the circle, your chances of engaging everyone are greatly increased.
-There are no corners!
Activities to lift the mood!
As discussed earlier many kids are coming to school after the craziness of getting dressed, gobbling up breakfast, packing their schoolbags, dropping siblings off at schools etc. Many students can turn up at school feeling pretty flat and not necessarily excited about coming to school. We practiced quite a few different activities that have the potential to lift’ students in the morning. Here is a summary of some of the circle activities that we were shown:
The name game: A really simple activity all that is involved is students saying their name and we go around the circle, this can then timed to add a little bit of a competitive nature to it. It can be reversed etc. This activity allows all the students to hear each other’s names regularly it was remarked that there is times where students actually have been around each other in classes etc and that still they don’t know each
other’s names, this game eliminates this.
Change spots if…
An old BSPS favourite you simple sit in a circle and start with a a statement, for example: change spots if you play a musical instrument. It gets kids sharing information about each other without even thinking about it. After you have done this a few times all of a sudden everyone in the class knows heaps about each other, helping to build a great classroom culture. Take a seat away and leave a student in the middle for a friendly competitive edge.
Wilson McCaskill Games
Marg also mentioned some of Wilson McCaskill’s great work on using games to promote social and emotional wellbeing in students. Here is a video of one of Wilson’s games (Picadilly Circus) that can be used in a circle:
Good morning and high five!
This one allows everyone to be acknowledged by someone in the morning, quite simply all you do is to turn to your neighbour say good morning followed by their name and give them a high five. This pattern continues around the circle until it gets back to the start. The high five component encourages eye contact, because quite often high fives are conducted at eye level.
Ways of ordering the circle.
If there are no directions as to how to sit in the circle what we will find is people sitting in friendship groups, this has the potential to devalue the circle. There are different ways you can order the circle, these are some of the ways we can come up with:
- Hair colour
- Size of shoe
- Distance from the home to school
- What time you went to bed and stayed there
- Distance from birthplace to current location
There are probably hundreds of other ways you could order children in a circle, ones we probably stay away from are height and weight as some kids are a little sensitive about these areas!
This activity involves finding connections with each other. So if two people find a connection with each other for example they both play soccer then they can stand next to each other, then one of the two must find a connection with someone else in their group. At first you are likely to get a lot of physical attributes like we a re both wearing a blue jumpers, after doing this activity a few times kids will open up and start to form deeper connections with each other.
Great Texts for Circle time:
Marg went through some great texts to use when teaching social and emotional wellbeing in students and suggested that circles are great places to share these texts.
How to lose friends