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In "Moral Tales," a Tapestry of Faith program
Arrange the children standing in a tight circle. Tell the children that this is a trust game called "Circle of Friends." Ask them whether they can agree to play by the rules and keep each other safe at all times. If anyone is reluctant to agree, allow him/her to stand out and watch.
If the group has more than 15 children, cycle the children through the activity in groups of ten to 15. If the group is smaller than ten, adults should join the circle so it has enough people.
Tell the children:
One person will go into the center of the circle. That person in the center is going to lean back as if falling. The people who are closest should reach out their hands and hold the middle person so they lean gently, but do not fall near the ground. Then you will gently push the person back to standing.
Ask for a volunteer to stand in the center of the circle. Try the game. Then add:
Now when (name of child in the center) comes back to the middle, they're going to turn a little bit, and fall back again, so different children will have a chance to catch him/her.
To expand the game, have the child in the center stay leaned back. Instruct him/her to pivot on his/her heels as the others pass him/her around the circle. It is best to have an adult in the circle to demonstrate this process, first, so the children see the readiness, gentleness and care they will need to use.
Do this game a few times. Try to let everyone who wants to go in the circle have a turn.
Then, ask the children to sit down at work tables or in a circle. Guide them to process the game:
You may want to end this activity by making the point that we all want to be treated well by friends and neighbors and strangers alike, and that we should treat others in the same way. This is the Golden Rule. You might also add that the feeling of caring and being responsible for someone is called the feeling of compassion.
A wheelchair-bound child can join the circle. Position an adult next to the child, to ensure that the center child can be gently caught.
Some children will not be comfortable in the center of the circle. If a child is reluctant but wants to try, have everyone in the circle move in very close so that the child is barely leaning at all before being held.
You will need to ask any child to sit and watch who is not being careful or not taking the activity seriously.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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