Activities to build participation and community

There are thousands of different circle activities you can do! Here are just a couple that we have used:

We hope that others will join this Wiki and add to the content here.

Fill My Bucket Fridays

After reading the book, Fill My Bucket, to your class. Take time at least once a week to let the students practice saying things in the circle that fill their buckets. (Appreciations and affirmations)

Mix it Up!

Students often sit by the same kids everyday in circle. This is a fun way to mix it up a bit. Say something like, “if you have a dog, stand up.” Everyone with a dog at home will stand up. These kids are then asked to switch seats. Continue with other comments like “if you have a sister, stand up” etc...

Participation Treats

If you are struggling to get students to share or participate in your circle, have a bowl of little candies or fruit. This bowl acts as a talking piece for the day. As it goes around, anyone who participates in the activity may take a candy. Or an alternative activity is to send the bowl around first, and each student that wants to participate today takes a candy. They may eat the candy once they’ve participated in the circle.

Emotion Cards

This activity helps students learn how to check into circle. It can also be used at any time during the year to help build their vocabulary. Have a bunch of pictures with people displaying different emotions. There should be enough pictures for each student to have one. Spread them out in the circle and have the students pick a picture. Explain that today in circle, they are going to ‘Check in’ for a person in the picture. This activity works best if the students have a paper with many different emotion words to help build their vocabulary. (purchase emotion cards here)

I Can Listen

This is a great strategy to teach students why it is important to listen to each other. Have the students partner up. One partner leaves and goes into the hall. An adult or EA tells these students that their job is to tell their partner about their best friend (or any other topic/story). The adult or teacher in the classroom tells these students that they need to act bored and tired while their partner is speaking to them. Allow students to role play and then have a classroom discussion about how it felt to be ignored.Now have the students switch roles. Have the partner that stayed in the room leave into the hall. Give these students a topic to talk about such as “My best day ever...” . Have an adult in the room explain to the kids that their job is to interrupt their partners stories over and over again. Allow students to role play and then have a classroom discussion about how it felt to be interrupted.

String Game

Bring a ball of yarn. Start off by giving someone a compliment, and rolling the ball of yarn to them. The new person with the yarn gives another compliment and sends the ball of yarn to the next person. In the end, talk about how connected everyone is in a community and how each persons roles/skills/characteristics etc... are unique, but crucial to the community.

Remember When

Tell the class to think of a time when you ___ (ie. Think of a time when you felt like you didn’t belong or were left out. Think of a time when you were devalued. Think of a time when you felt proud of something you accomplished. Think of a time when your friend was being picked on) - Have the students go around and tell what happened and how they felt in those moments)

Characteristic Cards

Have positive characteristic words written on cue cards (ie. confident, caring, safe, thoughtful, etc...). It’s good to have 30-40 cards. Spread these cards in the center of the circle and tell the students to pick a card that they think represents themselves. Have the kids go around the circle, one at a time, and pick up the card that represents them and explain why. They then put the card back. Example of Cue Cards -

Alternative Characteristic Card Activity

Using the same characteristic cards, spread them out in the middle of the circle and tell the students that they should pick one that represents someone they know, or admire, or someone in the circle, or school.

Alternative Characteristic Card Activity #2

Created characteristic skill cards with words that are often seen as ‘weaknesses’. (ie. Messy, disorganized, procrastinator, mean, bully, poor listener, discouraged easily, quitter, poor loser, etc...) Have students pick a card of a characteristic that they have that they would like to work on. This activity needs a lot of trust and maturity from the kids to develop mature answers that everyone will respect.