Excerpted from Actively Engaged:Theater Games as a Dynamic Teaching Tool in the Classroom, written by Priscilla Kane Hellweg and due out in 2016.
Notes: Circle Switch is often the first activity I do as a guest artist in a classroom setting, because it is immediately accessible, fun, and a great way into non-verbal communication. I describe this game as an example of a creative sport – in order to participate you need to be ready (with hands out of pockets), focused (standing with both feet on the floor, not leaning on a desk), and willing (to participate and do the best you can).
I often say that it’s a way for me to get to know each student. By playing this game, I’ll be able to see how well they work together, follow directions, and handle a challenge. The game provides an opportunity to see the students interact non-verbally, make quick decisions, and work as a team. This is a great icebreaker for adult groups as well. It’s fast and infectious, and everyone can find his or her way in.
Object of the Game: To have a group of people walk across the circle as fast as they can without coming into physical contact with each other.
“Circle Switch will be good for so many of our students who have difficulty controlling their bodies in space.” ~ 3rd grade teacher, Holyoke
Recommended for: Groups in Grades 2 - Adult. Room set up: A cleared space with room for group to stand in a large circle. Materials Needed: None Time needed: 20 minutes Skills Development: Quick decision making, Energy and Physical Control, Focus, Intentionality, Non-Verbal Communication, Physical Discipline, Spatial awareness, Team Building
With the group standing in a circle, count off by twos – one, two, one, two, one, two. (In groups of 40 or more, I ask them count off by threes or fours, to create smaller groups of players.)
On the word GO (One, Two, Three - Go) ask all of the “number ones” to walk across the circle as fast as they can, and take a spot on the other side. All of the number twos should remain in place, which will give the number ones a place to go.
Explain that there are two guiding rules to playing Circle Switch: No Running, and No Bumping. Players walk across the circle as fast as they can WITHOUT running, and they do this WITHOUT coming into physical contact with anyone else.
COACHING NOTE: If you play this with younger children, grades K-2, or with groups of people who have physical or emotional challenges, I suggest you take the speed out. Instead, ask them to walk across the circle and stand in a spot on the other side without making physical contact with anyone. You can always add the speed once they’ve mastered the concept of crossing.
When the number ones have completed their turn, ask number twos to try. Give each side two chances to cross the circle.
Once you’ve completed two rounds, step into the middle of the circle and ask them to explain their techniques. How did they avoid bumping into each other? What did they have to do to be successful in this game? What were their strategies or techniques?
COACHING NOTE: This is a good time to begin to chart their strategies for success. It can become an on-going Theater Skills are Life Skills Chart. I’m often amazed at the succinct, profound statements that evolve.