Circle time is big in the Making a Difference pack: short, sharp bursts of it with specific aims. During my visit to Newtown Infants, the Year 2 teacher had adapted an activity that she called Supergirl and Superboy. "Think of someone in the class who's a supergirl or superboy and tell us why they're special. " Ben chirped, "Todd, because he's kind and he always be's nice to me." Todd basked in his glory for a second or two. Then Kylie chimed in, "Adam, because he's a good skipper."
Thereafter came a steady stream of glowing little testimonials before the teacher asked them all to come into class tomorrow thinking ofsomeone else on which to bestow the title superboy or supergirl and why.
A variation on this was happening in the reception class, where the teacher asked each child in the circle what they liked in the classroom. "I like when we get Sandy the hamster out," said one little boy. "But he's not here, " he continued brightly. "He's dead." The girl sitting next to him was similarly untrammelled by grief. "Why can't we call the next one Georgie?" Down the corridor, a mixed Year 1 and 2 group included four children of low ability doing a co-operative drawing. It was of them encircling a rock pool. There was a high level of collaboration on details of each other's characteristics, each child adding bits here and there, raising their awareness of each other and also teaching them tolerance and patience.
Next door, a Year 1 teacher had amalgamated several ideas from the pack into one activity. It demanded their using their powers of deduction in an English based group exercise. The teacher had written onto index cards comments that each child had made about another child in the class. The aim was to get them to match the description with the child being described.