Circle time at the beginning and the end of the week is a corner stone of Restorative Practice and is key to creating a school culture that nurtures a restorative ethos.
This teaching tip is full of inspiration for activities to do in your Circle Time activities. The exercises and questions should be different each time you do circle time with your class. Please see our ‘How to use Circle Time to create Restorative culture’article for more information about what Circle Time is and to deliver it.
Circle time questions
-Do you prefer x or y?
-What is your favourite…?
-What do you like / dislike?
-If you had £1000 what would you do and why?
-How would your best friend describe you?
- Give me an example of when someone has been kind in your life?
-What is your passion?
-How do you want to contribute to the world?
-How can we support others in school?
-Share an example of when you did the right thing when others were doing the wrong thing
-A time when you were scared but you did it anyway
-A time when you laughed a lot
-A happy memory
-What did you used to do when you were little?
-The best day of my life was…
-One thing I couldn’t do a year ago…
-My favourite part of school is…
-One of my goals this year is…
-Something I can’t do but want to be able to do by the end of the year is…
-share an example of when you had to persevere to achieve something
Behaviour / Conflict
-One thing that makes me annoyed is…
-Imagine you are in conflict with a person who is important in your life. What values do you want to guide your conduct as you try to work out that conflict?
-Say a different school rule and why we have it
-Share a time when you were upset but then someone made you feel better.
-How can you show respect to people?
Circle time games
Getting in a circle: “Everyone with blue eyes join the circle”, “Everyone whose favourite ice cream is strawberry join the circle”, “Everyone who is wearing shorts join the circle” etc…
Clapping game: Going around the circle one clap continues the direction, two claps changes the direction back.
Pass the Keys: one child stands in the middle of the circle blindfolded. The other children pass a large bunch of keys around the circle. When the child in the middle thinks they know where the keys are they shout ‘stop!’ and point in that direction.
Hedgehogs: Move around the room to the music, when the music stops children curl up on the floor like hedgehogs. Put a sheet over one child, the others stand up and guess who is under it. Return to seats and share a round to say what we like about the captured hedgehog.
The lining up game: Without help, the children need to create a circle in: register order, birthday month order, alphabetical order.
Storm: Teacher starts by wiggling fingers on their laps for the rain, this passes around the circle until everyone is wiggling their fingers. The leader then changes the action to other aspects of the storm, e.g. wind – arms waving, thunder – slap knees. End with the sun - mime a circle.
Help!: One person in middle calls out ‘Help, help! Others reply ‘What’s the matter?’ first person makes up a situation: e.g. fallen out with my friends. Others reply ‘Who do you want to help?’ first person makes up random criteria: e.g. tallest, kindest, the best listener, the most helpful person. Others nominate person to help, they swap places with one in middle.
Spot the pupil: The teacher shares information about a pupil in the group, (focussing on their strengths) – everyone else has to put their hands up and guess who is being discussed.
True or False: Each pupil says one true and false fact about themselves and the rest of the group have to guess which one is true.
Last one standing: All the children start sat down. Remove one of the chairs so one of the pupils is standing up. Say “everyone with blue eyes swap seats” and everyone with blue eyes has to find a seat on the opposite side of the circle. The last person standing stays in the middle and comes up with the next question.
Shopping list: ‘I went to the shops and bought…’ each child remembers the previous items and adds one of their own.
Birthday run: Call a month of the year, children whose birthdays are in that month, run around the circle back to their original chair.
Words: Start with a word and 2 claps in between, the next child must say a word associated to the start, e.g. tree, clap, clap, leaf, clap, clap, caterpillar…
Musical islands: Place large sheets of newspaper on the floor, when the music stops all feet must be on the paper. Slowly take the pieces of paper away.
Guess who’s voice: A child leaves the room while someone is nominated. When the child enters the room they stand in the middle of the circle, the nominated child says the name of the school, trying to disguise their voice. The first child tries to guess who spoke.
Seating Changes: Someone goes outside, 2 people in the circle swap places, and the outsider tries to guess who has moved.
Feelings: Child takes a feelings card and an action card, e.g. eating dinner – excited. Child acts in appropriate manner, others guess. Children could make up on feelings and actions.
How do you do?: Play music, children move around the room. When the music stops children greet each other (any culturally appropriate greeting) then ask each other one question, eg what do you like doing? What is your favourite colour?
‘Caring Ways’: Teacher tells a pretend story that the boy or girl beside you has fallen in the playground. What would you do/say? In turn, starting with teacher as role model giving evidence of verbal and physical sympathy (e.g. patting child ‘there, there’), turn to next child and show sympathy. Pass round circle.
Musical thoughts: Play a piece of music while children sit in silence, eyes closed. Teacher says ‘Think of what you see in your mind’s eye.’ Children put up hands to tell what they saw.
Buzz Game: Children number around in circle – 1 - 2 - 3 - buzz, 5 - 6 - 7 - buzz (i.e. mustn’t say multiples of 4). Whoever misses buzz starts again. Very good for learning tables.
Fruit Basket: Children are named oranges or apples. Oranges change seats when teacher calls ‘Oranges’, apples change seats when he/she calls ‘Apples’.
123: In pairs, pupils say one number each: ‘1’…’2’…’3’…’1’…’2’…’3’… Then replace the number two with a clap. Then finally replace the number 3 with a clap on your legs. It is harder than it sounds!
Simon Says: The teacher say an action “Simon says jump in the air” and the pupils copy. If the teacher gives a command without saying “Simon says” before it, the pupils mustn’t copy or they are out.
Miming emotions: Each pupil whispers an emotion to the pupil next to them. They need to mime it whilst everyone else guesses.