Practical circle time activities
The following are examples of how personal and social development can be included within circle time activities. The activities should be based on the children's own experiences
and can be adapted to meet the needs of the children
1. Making circles – children work co-operatively to make circles
- Try different circles- standing shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, holding hands,a stretched circle, a close circle, a sitting circle, or a spinning circle. Dance to music, when it stops ask children to, silently make a circle with their arms by their sides.Ask them to take responsibility for their own actions in order to make it work, not anybody else's. Time the circle-making to see how quickly a calm circle can eventually be achieved.
2. Starter activities for turn taking, co-operation and attending
- Pass round an object - Each child in the round says his/her name. In the next round say your name and the name of the person you hand it on to. Roll a ball across the room, name the person you send it to.
- Animal cards - Choose your favourite animal, or the one you would choose as a friend. Invite children to say what it makes them think or feel.
- Sentence completion – Start a sentence for children to finish for example 'Today I hope…'
- Pass the sound - This could be one clap, or a short clapping rhythm, an animal sound, a musical instrument. Change the pattern after each round.
3. Listening Skills - essential to positive circle time.
Throughout the round children need to give full attention to each person as they have their turn.
- Paired listening - turn to a partner and have one or two minutes to act as speaker and then listener. In the round say one thing you have learned about your partner.
- A story round - start off a story about an object (a toy bear, a crystal, a magic stone). As the object is handed on each person adds a sentence to the story. No pressure to speak but a requirement to attend and listen.
4. A Supportive Group - this creates a safe environment to deal with more challenging issues
- The friendly circle - pass round the hand of friendship, the magic touch, a hug or a back rub. This creates a friendly circle.
- Start special time - Say one thing you like about the person next to you.
- Build a positive profile for one person. Record positive comments for that person to keep.
- Book-making - The books can be made in circle time with the leader taking notes. 'How to make a friendly circle', 'How to make a happy room'...etc.
- Rain - Each person copies the person on their right. Changes are initiated by the leader throughout. Quiet and gentle clap, building up to a louder slow clap; then a fast loud clap with feet banging, reversing the process to return to a calm quiet clap.
5. Sharing - thoughts, ideas and feelings
- Use cards that show 'feelings faces'. Children choose a card to show how they are feeling. Next, those who want to can say more about their feeling. Avoid making value judgements about any feelings. Just accept each one.
- Set personal goals and make 'I will...' statements. Review in a later circle time.
- Discuss friendship - qualities of friendship, ways of building positive relationships.