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Circle time: Good to be me

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By Jenny Mosleyfounder of the Whole-School Quality Circle Time Consultancy

Children need the confidence to be themselves. Circle time is an ideal opportunity for them to develop healthy self-esteem

This article was originally written in the context of the SEAL programme (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning), but these circle time activities could be used within PSHE education, or to address specific issues which arise in your classroom.

Children need to feel confident and happy to be themselves. As a teacher, one of your tasks is to provide an environment where children have the opportunity to experience personal success. They need you to respond with warmth, patience and interest, and to openly appreciate their efforts and achievements.

man with puppet illustration.jpg

Circle time is an ideal opportunity for you to share the secrets of healthy self-esteem. During this time you can teach the children how to see themselves as clever, able children who can do many things that are worth celebrating. Other children can give praise and kindness, so that everyone feels valued and part of a positive and empowering group.

Session 1 Zoo time


To show children that they can achieve something.

Meeting up

Say, A frog moves like this and them jump up and down on the spot. Give different examples, and as you say each sentence demonstrate how that particular animal moves. Invite all the children to copy you. When you clap your hands, every child should run to find a seat in a different place to where they sat before.

Warming up

Using a speaking object, ask each child, in turn, to complete the following sentence: If I were an animal, I would like to be a… You can ask for reasons by adding ‘because’ to the sentence. For example, I would like to be a butterfly because they have beautiful wings.

Opening up

Teach the children the following rhyme:

Pelican, tiger, kangaroo.

All the animals in the zoo.

Have a look see what I can do.

Pass a speaking object around the circle while you all say the rhyme. Whoever has the object when the rhyme ends can mimic an animal of their choice. Encourage the other children to join in the action.

Cheering up

Make a squeaky ‘mouse’ sound and pass it around the group. Call out animal names to change the sound whenever you like, remembering to laugh at the children’s funny noises.

Calming down

Demonstrate a dog panting. Ask the children to take a deep breath, open their mouths and allow their jaw to sag and their tongue to relax completely. Say that they must pant like a dog pants – so their diaphragm and stomach muscles go up and down.

Session 2 Something to smile about


To make others feel good.

Meeting up

Turn to the child on your right and try to make them laugh by pulling silly faces. Tell this child to turn to the child on their right and do the same, until every child in the circle is laughing.

Warming up

Using a speaking object, ask each child to complete the following sentence: I feel happy when… Give prompts, for example I feel happy when I eat a roast dinner or when I watch a film.

Opening up

Have a smiley sticker ready for each child. Ask them to give their sticker to another child – and to smile as they give it. Tell the children that they can only receive one sticker. Ask the children to say something nice when they give the sticker.

Cheering up

All stand still with your feet a shoulder width apart, and move your arms and legs as if climbing a ladder up to the ceiling. Say this rhyme:

We are climbing,

We are climbing up and up.

Repeat the rhyme and then shout, ‘Hooray’.

Calming down

Ask the children to close their eyes and put their hands on their knees with their palms facing upwards and their fingers slightly curled. Using a rain-stick or mood music, allow the children to think about what makes them special.

Session 3 It’s good to be me


For children to feel good to be themselves.

Meeting up

Hold up a puppet. Say its name and pass it round the group, encouraging each child to give it a stroke and say ‘hello’ with a smile.

Warming up

Using a speaking object, ask each child, in turn, to complete this sentence: My favourite toy is… because…

Opening up

Hold up the puppet again and make it say that it is good to be a puppet. Then make it give some reasons why – because it is green, has a big nose, is furry, lives in a nice classroom, and so on. Ask the children to give reasons why they feel that it is good to be themselves.

Cheering up

Play some cheerful music and let everyone play ‘air guitar’ with a smile. Tell the children that they are all wonderful musicians!

Calming down

Show the children how to spend a minute slowing their breathing. Say that you want them to breathe in a feeling of happiness and to breathe out any feelings or thoughts that may be making them unhappy. Ask them to think about doing something that they really enjoy.

Further information

For more resources, or for information on the Whole-School Quality Circle Time Consultancy visit