Amber Wyatt, Instructor
Communication is a major part of early childhood development. Unfortunately, some kids struggle to communicate with each other in the classroom. From the iPad to the television, there are plenty of distractions and many children do not spend as much time speaking directly to peers as they used to. This means we need to start finding new, creative ways to engage our students.
One of the best ways Talk to the Camera has found to keep the kiddos interacting is sitting in a circle. We have an activity that takes place at the start of each class, we call it “The Name Game”. In “The Name Game” we go around the circle taking turns introducing ourselves. We give our name, where we’re from, and one interesting fact about us.
I have seen a change take place in the atmosphere of the classroom following the game. Afterward, students are interacting more freely and sharing ideas. A key element to “The Name Game” is sitting in the circle with the kiddos! I introduce myself too, I share a personal element of my life just as my students do. I have noticed in classes where I didn’t participate students spoke softer, shared less and hesitated when their turn came around.
Improv games help too. In the improv games, I really get to know my students. This is the part where I see them come out of their shells, and unique personality traits start to show. We have a lot of different improv games to play. One of them is a variation of “The Name Game” that includes an action such as a jump, a spin, a clap, etc. that the student uses to express themselves after stating their name.
Another game is called “Sing Song Ping Pong”. With this game, I divide the class into two groups and sing any lyric from any song. Team 1 then has to sing a lyric using one of the words I just used. Team 2 will sing a lyric using one of the words Team 1 used. We go back and forth in a circle until one of the teams is stumped. This game is really good for my older students because these guys know a lot of songs!
“Red Ball” is an improv game where students pretend to pass around an imaginary ball around a circle. First, we spend some time deciding on the characteristics of our ball (the size, the weight, the texture). Each time a student gets ready to pass the ball they say “Red ball”. When a student receives the ball, they say “Thank you red ball!” I love this game because it establishes a respectable environment in the classroom.
There are so many benefits that sharing in circles have. At Talk to the Camera we aim to promote self-awareness and active listening in a positive climate where students can feel free to express themselves while learning new skills. Communication is a crucial part of these circles and when we establish the importance of engagement kids becomes better students in our classrooms.