Instruct each person to memorise the person standing to their left and right in the circle.
Announce that anytime and anywhere you call “CIRCLE UP!” the group is challenged to re-form the circle according to its original configuration as quickly as possible.
When the circle has re-formed perfectly, ask your group to call “WE’RE ALL HERE!”
Call “CIRCLE UP” several times in a row, from different locations.
Consider calling “CIRCLE UP” at any time during your program.
Video Transcript for Perfect Circle presented by Nate Folan
So moving forward, and envision this, and if you could just check your immediate left and right to reintroduce yourself, or introduce yourself if you haven’t gotten this person’s name.
(people introducing themselves)
So bringing you back here, knowing exactly who this person is to your immediate left and immediate right is important in this activity. We’re going to call this a “Perfect Circle”, okay? So the next time you hear me call “Perfect Circle!” your task is to as quickly as you can, with regards to safety, reorganize this circle in this exact same way.
The thing is I’m going to move to another place in the room, and you’re reorienting on me at the moment because I’m making the call “Perfect Circle!”, and certainly reorienting in relation to who you’re next to on your left and right and so on.
You might even glance across and see who’s there, just to get a sense, give that little pointer. I see you. Right? So when I call “Perfect Circle!” I’m going to move, you’ll try to reorganize this circle around me and each other.
When we all get to this place, we’re just going to reconnect here, and as you reach out your hands, so this is sort of the end result to this, once everyone’s in their place, you think you’re 100% hands connected, we’re going to raise our hands and say “We’re all here!”
One. Two. Three. We’re all here! Nice. That was beautiful. Maybe one more time, just for practice. One. Two. Three. We’re all here! Sometimes it’s good to do it a second time because you never know. So, “Perfect Circle!”
We’re all here! Lovely. Continue on with this. You’ve got the basics now. This space and how we are, we might invite some creativity, some innovation as we go. So, “Perfect Circle!”
“We’re all here!”
So with the “Perfect Circle!” there’s an invitation at any time or oftentimes with groups that I’ve worked with, invitation with “Perfect Circle!” or “Circle Up!”, that’s what we might call it as well, is it’s a great tool just for movement, getting people connected, but it’s also a tool that if anyone has any questions, wants to celebrate something, has a concern, then inviting a group to call “Perfect Circle!” gives them some power, some control over their situation.
They say you know what, I’m not sure about this, or I have a concern, I want to express a feeling, those types of things. It’s a very powerful tool yet simple, and it’s introduced in a very playful way. So it’s fun to watch that pan out.
So if you want to practise at it, if you have any questions today or concerns, feel free to call a “Perfect Circle”, address the group. It’s meant to be brief and we can move forward with whatever we’re doing next.
How To Play Narrative
Ask your group to form a regular circle, including you. Instruct each person to acknowledge and memorise the person to their immediate right and the person to their immediate left. Refer to this formation as your ‘perfect circle.’
Explain to your group that whenever you call “CIRCLE UP!” their task is to re-establish the circle exactly as it is right now, standing between the same two people as they are in this very moment. And, to confirm that the task is complete, invite your group to yell in unison “WE’RE ALL HERE.”
And that’s it.
Now, run to a new location, stop and face in any direction. Then call “CIRCLE UP” and your group must re-create the circle according to its original configuration.
It’s a good idea to ask everyone to do a quick quality-control check and share any effective strategies they used to re-form the circle accurately.
Congratulate them, and then… run away from your group again to a random spot several times, each time calling “CIRCLE UP,” playfully changing locations just before the circle has been re-established to generate excitement and fun.
At some point, your group will tire, or you’ll be ready to move on, picking up from the most recent circle your group has formed.
Practical Leadership Tips
This activity is a wonderful way to set the tone with a group of students (or distracted adults) who might appreciate a simple, speedy challenge, and/or could use a bit of focus.
This is a great technique to use when your group is returning from a break, or when they least expect it. It’s also a sneaky way to quickly know whether every person is present by the absence of “WE’RE ALL HERE” at the end.
You could integrate Perfect Circle as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations and to achieve goals.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
Calling a perfect circle or “calling group” as it may be referred to in therapeutic circles is a wonderful tool for both group facilitators and individuals to invoke when one or more people believe something needs to be discussed. Developing an ability for anyone to ‘call group’ when they observe a behaviour or interaction that needs to be called out is a sure sign of the developing maturity of your group. That is, the group is not relying on you, the facilitator, to initiate such interventions, but rather affords your group the opportunity to take initiative especially when safety is at risk.
I have personally seen this strategy used powerfully in the context of long-term development programs with adjudicated youth. In some cases, the group’s progress was stopped every couple of minutes because certain behaviours were regarded as so poor it was untenable to permit the group to continue as they occurred. To let poor behaviour pass without comment or consequence was akin to acceptance, so equipping the whole group with a tool to address these behaviours was really powerful.
Time Trial: Use a stopwatch for added pressure, goal-setting, or motivation.
Do It Yourself: Invite anyone from the group to call “CIRCLE UP” at any time. Note, depending on the nature and location of your program, you may wish to provide a few parameters to guide when this call can and cannot be made.
Change It Up: Ask your group to form a “PERFECT CIRCLE” whereby everyone faces away from the centre. Now, at random moments, you can call “PERFECT CIRCLE” as well “CIRCLE UP.”
Square Circle: Take a look at Quick Line Up for a square version.
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Useful Framing Ideas
At times we may lose our focus as a group and feel scattered. This activity will help to re-establish our collective focus…
Communication is essential to the success of any group, and so it is often important to establish a structure within which communication can succeed. For example, a circle is a great place to start, because everyone can be seen and heard. In a moment, we’re going to practice our ability to create the perfect circle…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this quick group energiser:
What helped you find your spot in the circle?
What got in the way, other than people, to help you form the circle?
In what ways could this exercise help us?
When would ‘calling group’ be useful? Under what circumstances?
The inspiration for Perfect Circle, and many more fast-paced group exercises, was sourced from the following publication: