Form a tight circle, with arms by their sides pressed up against their neighbour’s arms.
Explain that every time you announce “VELCRO CIRCLE,” you want the group to form this-sized circle.
Next, ask your group to take a large step out of the circle, and place their hands on their own hips, push their chest out and place one foot slightly out front.
Invite everyone to adjust their position so that neighbouring out-stretched elbows are touching.
Explain that every time you announce “SUPERHERO CIRCLE,” you want the group to form this-sized circle.
Test your group’s rapid execution by announcing a series of random Velcro or Super Hero Circle calls in a row.
Use these commands, or try something new, each time you need a circle to be formed quickly.
Video Transcript for Velcro Circle
presented by Mark Collard
Can I invite you now into a series of exercises we’re building up to, but right now, I don’t know about you, but when you’re working within your environment of the class or the outdoors, how many times do you have to ask your group, particularly young people, to form a circle?
And we’ve found as adults, as socially developed, intrinsically motivated adults, we know that this formation works well to be able to see and hear each other. Would that be fair to say?
Great. Kids haven’t quite got that skill just yet. Okay. So I kind of get a little tired having to say okay, form a circle, and so I found this little technique that has been a bit of fun. It won’t last forever. I’m going to share it with you now.
To begin, there’s always lots of variances, lots of sizes of circles. Here’s the first one. It’s quite tight.
So come in nice and tight so that the sides of your shoulders, shoulders or arms I should say, are just touching your neighbour’s. Great.
Now imagine that the sides of you are covered with Velcro, you know the stuff that is used in fabric and stuff? So it’s like you really sort of stitch up against them. Okay? Now I know this is counterintuitive, but you know when Velcro is ripped apart, what is the sound it ordinarily makes?
(people making ripping sound)
Sort of a ripping sound, isn’t it? Do that together.
(people making ripping sound as part of Velcro Circle.)
Beautiful. That’s the sound you make… I know, as I’ve said, counterintuitive, when you form the circle. So if I say ‘Velcro Circle’, you form a circle also giving that little sound.
So just pull out of the circle for a second. We’ll test it out. Velcro circle!
(people making ripping sound)
Beautiful. Try that one more time. Try that one more time. And Velcro circle!
(people making ripping sound for Velcro Circle)
Beautiful. Excellent. That’s the first version. Now take a big step out of the circle and from here with your own hands on your hips, come in a little bit if you need to, your elbow should now touch your partner’s.
This is referred to as “Super Hero Circles”, because that’s what super heroes do. And when they get there the sound they make is “da-da-da-daa”. So got the idea?
Velcro circles! Super Hero circles!
(people forming circles and making sounds)
Now the next piece actually developed organically. This particular venue, I was working north of Boston, a little place called Beverly. Right next door to the program venue was Beverly Municipal Airport.
I swear every three or four minutes, a little plane would come in, fifty metres above. So it would make a heck of a noise. For about ten seconds you had to actually stop talking. It was just impossible to hear. And as you waited for it to go and then you get back into it again. All stuff was being done outdoors.
Organically, one of the women decided that we’re kind of wasting time here. Like every time we do this, it was kind of getting a little bit tedious. This is what she did (imitating a plane) and started to act like a plane, so forming our Aeroplane Circle that time when you need a larger circle.
So this time step back a couple of steps. The tips of your wings now touch your partner’s. That’s how big we would have a circle. So go into the aeroplane, both feet on the ground or just one, and bend into it. So (imitating an aeroplane.)
Super Hero circle!
How To Play Narrative
Like me, you probably get a little tired of simply asking your group “to form a circle.” I’d love a dollar for every time I’ve asked a group to complete this task over the years. A necessary chore, yes. But necessarily boring, no!
To start, invite your group to (er, um…) form a circle, so tight that with arms by their sides, everyone’s arms will be touching their neighbours. Ask everyone to imagine that strips of velcro have been pasted to their arms, so they are now firmly fastened together.
On its own, this is a fun exercise. But, there’s more…
From this awkward position, explain that you like to refer to this-sized circle as a ‘Velcro Circle.’ Suggest that whenever you announce “VELCRO CIRCLE,” you would like everyone to form this sized-circle as quickly as possible.
As a quick demonstration, ask everyone to pull away from the circle for a moment, and you then shout “VELCRO CIRCLE” to marvel at the rapid reconstitution of said circle. For fun, ask everyone to make the requisite “sshhhick” tearing sound as they form the circle (which, I know, is counter-intuitive, but hey, it’s fun.)
Next, starting from the Velcro Circle position, ask everyone to take a big step out of the circle, while also placing their hands on their own hips. For added effect, inviote people to push their collective chests out and place one foot out in front.
The aim here is to form a ‘Super Hero’ circle whereby neighbouring out-stretched elbows are touching. With chest out, and hands on hips, the ‘Super Hero’ moniker should be self-evident. Accompany the formation of this-sized circle with the quintessential “Da da da Daaaa!” proclamation.
Have some fun, and test your group’s ability to rapidly respond by calling a series of random “VELCRO,” “SUPER HERO,” “VELCRO,” “VELCRO….AHHHH, GOTCHA!” announcements.
You now have two different-sized circles at the ready. Later, when required, announce the one which matches your needs to form the requisite circle quickly.
Practical Leadership Tips
Don’t overuse this technique because, like all good things, interest will wane if you call on it too often.
As a playful exercise, this activity insists on lots of enthusiasm and commitment to make it fun, especially from you. The sillier the better – provided your group is ready for it.
You could integrate Velcro Circle as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of engaging in and completing a very simple team-based task.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required for each individual to successfully and quickly form a part of a circle may speak to the benefits of being accountable because the circle is not complete until every person has joined it. From here, it’s a small mental jump to connect this metaphorically to other, more significant areas of accountability within the group’s life, eg turning up on time to class.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Velcro Circle could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Aeroplane Circle: To create an ever-larger circle, ask everyone to assume an aeroplane position whereby they balance on one leg, lean forward and extend their arms out to the sides as if they had wings. The circle is formed by the (finger) tips of all the out-stretched wings touching. Voila, the ‘Aeroplane Circle,’ replete with obligatory aeroplane noises.
Chicken Theme: Create three chicken-themed circles, eg Chicken Noodle circle (arms tight by side), Chicken Wings (hands on hips, elbows touching neighbours,) Flying Chicken (arms outstretched, touching fingers of neighbours) and finally Free Range Chicken (find any space to stretch arms in a circle without touching anyone else.) Thanks to Ryan Eller for this fun suggestion.
Create Your Own: Invite your group to make up their own versions of particular-sized and physically juxtapositioned circles.
Combo: Combine this exercise with Clumps, whereby the various temporary small groups form according to the required-sized circle.
Extremely fun chasing exercise for groups of four people.
I’m An Animal Stretch
Energetic & creative stretching exercise for groups.
Useful Framing Ideas
Individuals and groups are often challenged to respond to unannounced events very quickly. Not just limited to the emergency services, but quick response skills are necessary in many everyday tasks such as driving a car, playing sport, even walking on wet pavement. This exercise will sharpen your listening skills, but it will also demand a keen awareness of what to do…
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 engaging and playful energiser:
What did you notice during the task of forming a circle? Anything interesting?
How many of you returned to the same physical spot, or between the same two people each time? Why?
Where else do we form habits that are hard to break?