Activity time: 8 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the poem by Edwin Markham
Preparation for Activity
- Create a wide open space for a standing circle.
Description of Activity
Have group stand in a circle without chairs. Read aloud this poem by Universalist Edwin Markham:
He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.
Ask what the children think this poem means. Allow some responses. Affirm that the poem is about a person who told the writer he could not belong; he was not allowed to join in the circle. Point out that, by being smart (“wit”) and loving, the writer of the poem drew a new circle to include everyone.
Say something like:
We are going to play two games about this poem. First we are going to draw a circle that shuts someone out.
Ask for a volunteer to be the first person who gets shut out. Have the person leave the circle and tell them their task is to try to get back into the circle using any means except harm to achieve this goal. IMPORTANT: Do not give the people in the circle instructions on how to behave. Part of the learning is allowing participants to decide for themselves how they will respond to the situation. The only rule in the game is that physical harm and destruction of property are not allowed.
Give the person on the outside no more than a minute to try to get into the circle. When that person has successfully gotten into the circle or is unable to do so after a minute of trying, ask for a second volunteer to try it.
After a few rounds have everyone rejoin the circle and sit down. Ask the group:
- What did it feel like to be outside the circle?
- What did it feel like to be inside the circle with someone on the outside?
- What worked or didn’t work in getting into the circle?
- Were there any other things someone could have tried to get in? (If no one tried simply asking to be let into the circle, point this out.)
- Did the group try to keep people out or were there people who were trying to help the outsider get in?
Remind everyone that this was just a game and that the parts they may have played were part of a game.
Including All Participants
If someone in the group is often excluded by other children, do not place that child on the outside of the circle. Do not create a situation that might promote real, hurtful exclusion.