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Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter
3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4 part 2
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6 | Chapter 6 part 2... | Chapter 7 | Chapter
Chapter Six Continued
'All About Me' and the Circle Technique
Stephanie O'Laughlin Peters
To highlight self-awareness.
15 minutes answering the questions
15 minutes discussing answers
The questions are read out to the children and they are asked to think about them
A question sheet is given to. each child to read through alone.
The class is divided into groups of five or six and they discuss their answers.
A Circle Time is held and each child is given the opportunity to make an 'I learned
. . .' statement
What things did you become aware of that influence the way you behave?
Some questions to answer:
What would you like to have?
What would you like to do?
What do you wish would happen?
What would you like to do better?
What have you complained about?
With whom would you like to get along better?
What would you like to get others to do?
What changes would you like to introduce?
What takes too long?
What makes you worried?
(e) Favourite colours
Make a list of all the things that your favourite colour reminds you of.
Draw these things.
Write a poem about one or some of them.
Class was asked to think about something they treasured. [See Elke Muzik's activity
A particular day was chosen as 'Treasure Day' and they were asked to bring their
treasured item on that day.
Children helped to set up display area with a red table cloth.
Each treasure was carefully displayed and each item was named.
Once the display was completed the children were asked why the item was a treasure,
Do you treasure this because:
it is beautiful
it feels nice
it cost a lot of money
it is rare
you've had it for a long time
it was given to you by a special person
it is new
you've wanted it for a long time
Where is it kept?
Is the cost important?
Is it yours?
Look at the other treasures. If you had that item would you treasure it? Do we all
treasure the same things?
Children wrote down what their treasure was, and why, and then drew a picture of it.
This was shown and read to the class and then placed in their folders.
I planned for this to be a one day activity but I found that two days were needed. One day
was too short. It was such a special event and for various reasons a few hadn't brought
their treasures and they wanted to. Others appreciated the extra time to reconsider and/or
add other treasures. I think it is advisable to have it no longer than two days because it
could easily become just an ordinary 'show and tell' session.
The following activities were provided in the hope that the children would begin to
understand their own feelings by identifying a variety of feelings.
Each child was given a feelings chart: 'How do I feel today?'
Every day for a month they dated one of squares and they drew a face to represent their
feelings: happy, excited; ordinary, normal; unhappy, disappointed.
I found this original chart was not suitable-the children were constantly giving me the
reason for their feelings e.g. 'I feel unhappy because I have a tummy ache'.
The following month a foolscap chart was issued-I found it was easier to fill it in at
a set time each day-because we tended to forget otherwise.
The charts were used during Circle Time e.g. 'I felt ... today when I lost my jumper'.
Once again I found the information both interesting and revealing. At the end of the
month each person completed a summary sheet.
(i) Work in small groups
Look through magazines and find pictures of people. Cut them out, paste them on a piece of
paper, and then write underneath the picture how your group thinks the person is
feeling-angry, sad, happy, wistful, etc. Point out on the picture the things which make
you think the person is feeling angry, or sad etc. e.g.
angry-teeth gritted together, brow furrowed, muscles in jaw clenched
Can you tell how a person is feeling by the way she or he looks? Always? How can you
(ii) Work in pairs
Tell your partner something that always makes you mad--e.g. someone calling you fatty. Sit
opposite your partner and have him or her say your nickname nastily to you over and over
until you feel yourself getting angry. Stop, then both of you sit back in you chairs,
close your eyes and 'listen' to your body. Feet which muscles are tight and
strained-concentrate on one part of your body at a time and see if you can relax it. If
you can, it was tense. You might find that your whole body is tense in anger. Role-play
other feelings-happiness, sorrow etc. Feel which parts of your body are affected. Discuss
this statement: 'If you are relaxed, you can't get angry'.
I think next time I will get a group to fold their paper into eight sections, and write a
feeling heading for each section-it will then be easier to look for a set example of a
feeling. The results of the first activity were quite limited with a lot of happy and sad
(h) A perfect person
Children brainstormed picture words they'd use to describe a perfect person. These
were written on the blackboard.
Then they drew what they thought a perfect person would look like and wrote words
to describe their perfect person around their picture.
A Circle Time was held and they shared their views with the class--I think a
perfect person would be ...
Children were given a few minutes to change their words or add words.
The work was put into the 'All About Me' folders.
At a later date they referred back to 'A perfect person' and talked in groups about
what could be changed and couldn't be changed, i.e. can change being generous; can't
change being tall.
I found the results of this activity to be most revealing-looking at their drawings was
fascinating but when they described their 'perfect person' I was amazed at their
perception and honesty and I really learnt something! They approached this activity with
confidence and they were definite about their choices. There were no changes.
(i) I would like to be
Children were asked to consider what kind of person they would like to be. (This
needs to be explained because I found that the immediate response was 'fire engine driver'
Words were listed on blackboard, read through and discussed.
Children wrote down their choices, read them during Circle Time: 'I would like to be .
. . ', and their work was put into their 'All About Me' folders.
During Circle Time one child said she was feeling embarrassed because when she had read
out that she would like to be strong some of the boys had laughed.
Two boys then made the statement 'Girl's aren't strong!' A discussion was held. It was
noted that some girls in the school could run further in cross country, played touch
football as well as the boys, there were women weight lifters and wrestlers etc. I was
surprised at how irritated and frustrated I felt by the reluctance of the two boys
concerned to listen to any different ideas.
The results of this activity were put through a computer for group analysis.
Four definite groups were evident:
Group 1 Truthful/kind, helpful, considerate, happy, healthy, clever, friendly (ten girls
Group 2 Kind, happy, good-looking, good (two girls three boys)
Group 3 Kind, strong., good-looking (two girls three boys)
Group 4 Brave, strong, rich (one girl two boys)
(j) I am
Have the children think about words to describe themselves.
List these on the blackboard.
Ask the children to write a poem about themselves called 'Me'.
Words for the poems should be chosen from the blackboard. Additional words can be added if
Children decorated their poems and then read them to me.
A Circle Time was held and children read their 'Me' poem to the group. They were asked
if they wanted to change any of the words. Two children wanted to leave out 'rich' and one
child wanted to change 'poor' to 'fair-haired'. When asked why they wanted to change they
said they felt awkward, embarrassed or it didn't seem to be the truth when they read it
3. PHYSICAL ME
As children develop an awareness of their physical characteristics they form a base for
viewing both emotional and social aspects of themselves.
Children have photo taken in March, July and November.
What do you think of your photograph?
What do you like?
What don't you like?
Can you change the way you look?
If your answer is Yes, how can you change the way you look?
Compare the photos. Have you changed? What is the same? What is different?
Children were very excited seeing their photos and they loved showing them to each other.
I displayed the first term photos for a few days so that everyone could see everyone
However, when I received the July photos I asked the children whether they wanted their
photo displayed or whether they wanted to put it straight into their 'All About Me'
folders. All but three chose the latter. They were obviously proud of their photo and more
than willing to show it to others but the folder was the special place for them.
Many people commented on how open-faced and happy each child looked.
4. SELF AND OTHERS
(a) Easter pictures
To introduce and/or increase the children's awareness of group dynamics.
2 m of black shade cloth, material scraps, wool, pins, tapestry needles, cotton wool,
twigs, leaves, paints, paper, cardboard, textas.
Random groups of five or six children using the Name Tin.
Children were told that they were to work together to produce an Easter picture
that each group member agreed on. Groups then asked to discuss and decide: What is going
to be in the picture?
What materials are you going to use? Who is going to do what?
After the discussion they were asked to remember that each person was responsible
for making sure that everyone in the group was happy and involved.
While they were making their Easter picture the class was often asked to stop and
the children were asked to think about the following:
What are you doing?
Is anyone left out?
Are you being thoughtful?
The class was also asked to stop and talk about what was happening.
Find out if each group member is happy about what he/she is doing. If someone is not happy
what are you going to do about it?
If you are not able to solve a problem let the rest of the class know and we'll try to
What does each group member think about the picture at the moment?
When the pictures were completed they were hung up and the class had a 'quiet time'
just looking at them. When asked for general comments about their own group they said:
I'm really pleased with our picture.
It's better than I thought it would be.
I think we've got too many Easter eggs.
I like our Easter bunny.
Our Easter bunny is too small.
The following day the class was asked to think about the following: Did you
enjoy the activity?
Was there a leader?
Was anyone helpful?
Did anyone have good ideas?
Was there someone who didn't help very much?
They were then given a worksheet to complete and asked to complete it on
Once their sheet was completed they showed it to me and we read it through. Where
applicable I added names of children for them, i.e. who they thought was the leader etc.
Children went back to their original Easter picture groups and read out their
I think Prue was the leader.
I thought Max wasn't helpful-he kept cutting up Easter eggs that were too small to put on
Groups were then asked to let the rest of their group know if they disagreed with
anything that had been said.
Children came to me with any requests for changes and I made the change in blue so
that it could be noted at a later date.
A Circle Time was held to talk about their feelings:
I felt pleased when Prue said I had good ideas.
I felt upset when Jim said I didn't help very much.
Feedback sheets were put into the 'All About Me' folders.
I recorded the information from the feedback sheets onto a master.
As soon as the children were told that they would be working in groups they grabbed their
friends so I was surprised when they readily accepted the groups selected by using the
They really co-operated with each other and although they took a long time to complete
their pictures (three I hour sessions) I was very pleased with the results.
When they started to fill in their worksheets they were hesitant and I immediately
thought I had gone 'too far' and it was going to be too difficult for them. However, after
5 minutes or so I realised that they were going slowly because they were considering the
questions very seriously! I was amazed with the results; they accurately matched my
observations of the activity and my knowledge of the children.
Everyone was willing to tell me what they thought.
Next time I will add a couple of empty boxes for them to put in their own words.
to find out whether once we recognise and understand others' differences we change
our original opinions.
two aquariums and snails
Children wrote down what they thought about snails and this was filed in their 'All
About Me' folders.
Each either found or was given his or her own snail to look after for 2 weeks,.
They named their snail and marked the shell using nail varnish or texta. Their snail was
registered in the Snail Register, e.g. 'My snail's name is Freddy. His mark is a red
circle. He is in jar B.'
Children observed and cared for their snails for 2 weeks and during that time we
found out about snails and made up a class book.
We found that:
_ When there are not enough enemies the snail becomes a pest.
_ A snail was still alive after being frozen for 11/2 years.
_ Land snails have four tentacles or horns; the two top ones are his eyes, the two lower
_ Some snail shells are turned into jewellery. The bright colours, shapes and patterns
make them popular.
_ Snails lived in warm seas 500 to 600 million years ago.
_ The parent leaves the eggs and the baby snails hatch and look after themselves.
_ Most snails have a single coiled shell; some have no shell at all.
_ Snails lay their eggs in the ground. The eggs are safe from birds and beetles.
_ Some desert snails bury themselves in the sand and only come up when it rains.
_ We can find land snails in damp places.
_ The giant African land snail can be 23 cm long.
_ A snail has 25,600 teeth.
_ The French people eat about 600 million land snails a year.
_ Snails can eat through cardboard and wooden boxes.
_ A snail can pull something 200 times its own weight.
_ A snail can be found in the depths of the sea and on the tops of mountains.
_ A snail can sleep for 3 or 4 years without eating or drinking.
_ Snails are famous as food.
_ Snails can carry disease and some are deadly.
_ Enemies of snails are humans., snakes, frogs, birds, mice and turtles.
_ Snails breathe air through a special hole on the right side of the body.
_ Snail shells are sometimes used as money.
Two weeks later, after the snails had escaped a couple of
times and after a snail race, children completed a feedback sheet.
They read their findings to the class. We discussed the results and the
feedback sheets were placed in their 'All About Me' folders.
Some of the results:
YES or NO
Did you find out anything
Yes (25) No ( 0)
Have your thoughts about snails
Yes (25) No ( 0)
Did you think you would change your
Yes ( 6) No (19)
Do make sure snails 'escape' a couple of times! Our snails escaped overnight
and they were found all over the classroom. Lettuce was up in the skylight, Nipper was
behind a bookcase and Polly went across the room and under a chair.
We held a snail 'race'. The snails were put in the middle of a circle and we
decided that any snail would win if it crossed the perimeter of the circle- with lots of
enthusiastic encouragement and parsley they all managed to 'win''.
I have been constantly amazed by the earnest approach and the capabilities of the
children. There is no doubt in my mind that younger children can also exhibit 'a depth of
profound thought beyond that we usually expect'-they just need the opportunity to show it.
They cannot afford to feel threatened by the teacher or the others in the class. A
trusting climate is essential.
The question of whether they face the reality of the ME/SELF needs monitoring
constantly. I noticed that the children were often glossing over the facts and accusing
others. They were unable or reluctant to either express their feelings adequately or talk
about a conflict situation.
Questioning helped them clarify feelings and facts, lessened the resentment and fear
and as a consequence they were more willing to face the reality of the situation and their
I was pleased to note during the program that more children were helping and trying to
understand each other. They were also more willing to accept more responsibility for their
New child with mother and younger brother came into classroom for brief visit.
While I was talking to the parent, Emma stopped working, came over to us and asked the new
child and her brother whether they'd like to play with something while they were waiting.
I am really pleased to see that she felt free (that she had permission) to do this.
Children were playing games on the carpet when I noticed Prue was upset.
Prue: 'Charles kicked me!'
Max: 'No, I saw what happened. He tripped and fell on you.'
Prue: 'Oh, I didn't know.' Charles: 'I'm sorry.'
Prue: 'That's O.K. Forget it'
I have often been very tempted (and succumbed!) to be the boss whilst waiting for the
children to organise themselves or sort out a problem! Although the process of developing
skills has been frustrating and time consuming, it has been rewarding and I have
constantly been confronted with the fact that children of this age are capable of a lot
more than we generally give them credit for.
At times I have been disheartened by comments such as 'Class 2's were noisy lining up
for assembly' or 'Did you know that your boys were fighting on the oval?' and I have been
too willing to accept any subtle implications that 'the Human Rights Program you are
running with your class obviously isn't doing any good if this sort of thing still
happens'. Most of the illusion however has been with me thinking that a program such as
this will solve all problems.
During parent interviews in Term 2 parents were asked for their views of the Human
Rights Program so far, whether they had noticed any differences in their child (both
positive and negative) and what their feelings were as parents having a child involved in
such a program.
All the parents who were asked commented favourably on the program. The following
comments were made:
is reasoning out his behaviour
now talks about problems
much more confident
has a mature approach
friends and relations have noticed an incredible change for the better
Many of them said that it was difficult to comment specifically on the program because
it was so integrated with all the other subjects. From what they could see in the 'All
About Me' folders and from the feedback at home they were pleased with the overall
program. A number of parents said they felt inadequate to follow the skills through at
home and that they had come to question and note many things, i.e. whether the demands
they made of their children were reasonable, how they handled conflicts etc.
Many parents felt as if they were 'under the microscope' and exposed!
While developing the program over the past two terms I have learnt to:
let things happen or evolve naturally and not to rush. I had a
tendency to want it all 'together' yesterday!
give children frequent opportunities to explain the situation and/or their
stop jumping to conclusions. (Spend a short time noting how many times you see an
adult or child jump to conclusions-it's often found to be the wrong one!)
avoid generalisations i.e. 'Children like that always . .
keep optimistic! Even if the progress is slow it is still progress!
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Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter
3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4 part 2
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6 | Chapter 6 part 2... | Chapter 7 | Chapter