Tree Circle

Strong community is the foundation for social emotional learning.

We are not islands. As human beings, we need each other to achieve our greater purpose. Creating an environment of community in and outside of school, is one of the most important things adults can give to children.

Community Circle and Tree Circle from the Yoga Calm® Curriculum are two activities to support community building initiates.

Community Circle

I like to begin the topic of community with a guided visualization. Students are prompted to imagine a party and all of the important people that they would see in the room. I encourage students to think of people they see on a daily basis (bus driver, teacher, classmates, siblings, parents) and also people they only see one in awhile (extended family, family friends).

Then, students write their name in the center and fill in the rings with all of the community members they imagined in the visualization. Usually, students will write immediate family in the inner circle and work outwards to place acquaintances in the outer circle. However, I try to keep these directions open ended to allow for various family structures.

For an added element, I had the students watercolor on their circles. We have talked a lot about color and how different colors represent different emotions. I encouraged them to find colors that made them feel safe and supported.

Community Circle Worksheets

After that, I hung these works of art in their lockers. The intent is that everyday they are reminded that they are surrounded by many people that provide love and support.

Tree Circle

Finally, we went outside, in our Peace Garden, and did silent Tree Circle. Students begin by each finding tree pose. Using cuing language found in our Move Mindfully® Card Deck. Then, they reach out with an open, flat hand and press into their neighbors palm. Sometimes students will want to interlace, or hold hands, but I prompt pressure with an open, flat hand. This pose embodies the idea of support. Push too hard, and you both tumble. Push too light, and your neighbors do not feel grounded. However, if both partners can provide the same amount of pressure, it creates an incredibly stable base. As a circle, if just one partnership is not supported, it impacts everyones balance. We are all connected.

You can extend the Tree Poetry lesson from our Teachers Pay Teachers store to include descriptions of all the trees together. The forrest. How is the class like a forest?

Looking around the circle at the different faces, these children represent different races, different languages, different cultures… yet we are all part of the same community. A community that holds each other up.

tree circle
How have you discussed community with your students? Please leave a comment.

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

13 replies
  1. Lexie K.
    Lexie K. says:

    Love being IN the circle and being: quiet and intentional. To take time to look at each face, and to realize and feel the connection.

  2. Tiffany Johnson
    Tiffany Johnson says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Such a beautiful lesson for a time in our history that is currently lacking a lot of beauty. We all need to remember to breathe, look around, and enjoy the diversity and rich flavor we all bring to the communities we create. So much is right in our world, we cannot get stuck focusing on what we feel like is “wrong”.

  3. Lori Beck
    Lori Beck says:

    Thank you for this! I love the community circle, I need to focus more on this (finding those that provide us with peace and support!)

  4. Lynda Kelley
    Lynda Kelley says:

    What a beautiful lesson. Children need to know that they are part of a community and that the members of their community will keep them as safe as possible.

  5. Becky Hanson
    Becky Hanson says:

    This is such a simple, yet very powerful lesson plan. I have a student who is very afraid of having to leave the country. I have been reassuring her, but having her classmates stand with her in a circle will add one more layer of assurance of her sense of belonging in our 3rd grade community.

  6. Susan Johnson
    Susan Johnson says:

    I use the community circle activity sheet each year in my classroom (upper elementary) as an introduction to our sense of community unit! It’s very effective and so simple!


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