The magic circle

Circle time is intended to serve a highly useful function: providing a quiet, secure period when children are given the chance to sit down and discuss issues that affect them in their everyday lives Help books

Circle time is intended to serve a highly useful function: providing a quiet, secure period when children are given the chance to sit down and discuss issues that affect them in their everyday lives

Help books

It can be difficult to think of new ideas for circle time, but there are plenty of useful reference books you can consult. Forest of Feelings by Jo Browning Wroe and Carol Holliday has been written to encourage children to explore feelings of fear, jealousy, sadness, anger and happiness. The book includes a guide on how to encourage children's emotional development, plus teacher's notes, activities and a circle time script, relating to each chapter. The book has 96 pages and is priced 18.99 from LDA.

Telephone 01945 463441

Helping Children with Feelings by Margot Sunderland and Nicky Armstrong is a series of nine guidebooks with accompanying illustrated storybooks, written for children aged from four to 12. Each guidebook includes comments from children on how they have dealt with the particular feeling and how they could have coped better. Exercises, tasks and ideas are also included to help children to express their feelings and to bring about a resolution.

Titles in this series include Helping Children with Fear; Helping Children with Low Self-Esteem; Helping Children who have Hardened their Hearts or Become Bullies and the latest addition - Helping Children with Loss.

Guidebooks are priced from 14.95; storybooks are 7.95 from Speechmark.

Telephone 01869 244 733

Also available from Speechmark is Group Games, a set of four books that contain activities, games and exercises for groups and individual work. The titles are Dealing with Aggression; Social Skills; Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem; and Relaxation and Concentration. These paperback books are suitable for use with children through to adulthood, priced 15.95 each.

Telephone as before


Collecting a stash of props that lend themselves to the widest possible field of discussion will make circle time a positive experience. Story sacks are a versatile resource and Hope's latest addition - Handa's Surprise is no exception. The tale of Handa who carries a tempting basket of fruit through the forest, meeting fruit-loving animals along the way, is accompanied by a Handa puppet with a detachable basket of fruit, finger puppets, scenery from the story, a game and a teacher's guide, priced 89.95. Telephone 08451 202055

New to LFC is the Feelings Wall Hanging. Made from felt and measuring 510(h) x 450(w) mm, the wall hanging has eight pouches labelled with different emotions and containing a face with an appropriate expression.

The faces can be used as a basis for topic work following on from circle time. Priced 21.99.

Telephone 08458 506507

The Skills for Daily Living range of ColourCards from Speechmark is designed to promote discussion on the subject of the behaviour and activities that are illustrated on the cards. The Social Behaviour set of cards shows examples of good social skills and the lack of them and includes, through gestures and facial expressions, how people react. On one card, for example, a man is holding a door open for a woman who is pushing a baby in a buggy. Each set of ColourCards contains 44 cards, measuring 148 x 210mm, and comes with a comprehensive helpful booklet, priced 26.95.

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Puppets are an invaluable resource and lend themselves particularly well to circle time when children largely need to remain seated and/or work within the group.

LFC has a new range of Feelings Finger Puppets. These polyester cotton puppets depict emotions like happy, angry, surprised and sad through the expressions on the character's faces on the front of the puppet, with the appropriate word printed on the puppet's back. A set of ten puppets is priced 14.99.

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Eduzone stocks a wide range of finger and hand puppets that portray everything from traditional fairytale characters to careers and wild animals. A set of six themed finger puppets is priced 14.95 and a set of ten realistic Careers hand puppets is priced at 22.50.

Telephone 08456 445556,


The children really need to feel physically comfortable and relaxed for circle time which means it's important to provide a comfortable sitting area that helps them to settle down. Hope's new Daisy Chain cushions can be used individually and linked together for group use. Each cushion is flower-shaped and filled with fire-retardant, polyester fibre. A set of six cushions in pink, purple, yellow, green, red and lilac is priced 59.95.

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LFC's Reading by the Book carpet is oval shaped and decorated with illuminated letters on book motifs. Each letter could be allocated to a child before circle time begins to help them find their place and settle quickly. The carpet has a special patented backing to help prevent wrinkling and creasing and is double-stitched around the edges to resist fraying. Available in two sizes 2870(w) x 2057(d)mm, priced 299.99; 3556(w) x 2515(d), priced at Pounds 459.99.

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If you're starting from scratch with circle time you might want to consider the Circle Time Starter Kit from LDA. This pack includes several guide books like Turn Your School Around, Quality Circle Time in the Primary Classroom, 101 Games for Self-esteem and Assemblies to teach Golden Rules; an exemplary video; certificates, badges and stickers; target sheets and notelets with appropriate messages. Priced 150 from LDA. Telephone as before


There is very little previously published research on the effectiveness of circle time in the UK which is why the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) decided to sponsor an independent evaluation of the goals, implementations and learning outcomes. This research included a review of the curriculum materials available and interviews with trainers, teachers and pupils and the results have been published in a book called Going Round in Circles: Implementing and Learning from Circle Time by Monica J Taylor (NFER 20). Telephone 01753 637002

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