Friday, September 28, 2012
Circle Time & The Talking Mushroom
A couple of years ago I had another teacher observe my class and give me feedback. I highly respect this woman and have made many of her methods part of my approach. One bit of feedback to me was that during circle time, and during the reading of a book, I needed a better way to help the children in the class to learn respect for the person talking or reading, and a pleasant way to inspire the children in waiting a turn to speak. In short... To practice grace and courtesy when we have something that is burning inside ourselves and we want so badly to share it. She then left me with these thoughts to come up with a solution of my own.
I knew whatever I used it had to be special. I wanted something they could hold that was small and preferably soft. I rummaged around in a couple of drawers and found this little mushroom from IKEA. When I held it in my hand it felt so pleasing that I was sure the children would love it.
I presented this as our TALKING MUSHROOM and explained that whoever is holding the talking mushroom will have a turn to speak. We all get the chance to listen to the person who is holding the talking mushroom and take our own turn if we feel that we have something important to contribute. Part of this discussion, that we do at the very beginning of every year, is to explore how we feel inside if someone talks over us. No one likes the way it feels. Everyone understands the desire to be listened to and to speak uninterrupted.
Our Talking Mushroom has been a sensation ever since. We make it a part of Circle Time and other group discussions.
Sometimes a discussion about a subject, book, project, or presentation will be so exciting, or bring up so many memories, that children will start talking over each other (much more at the beginning of the year). When this happens I will take the mushroom out of the little basket that is it's home. I will hold it in my hand and frequently that is enough to remind the children that we make it a point in our classroom to take turns respecting each other when we have something important to share. I do a presentation early, early in the year about quietly raising our hand as a way to show courtesy when someone else is talking.