Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ways to Encourage Turn Taking: The Share Stone & Talking Stick


In a group setting, or at home with more than one child, taking turns is the work of the young child. Over the years I have found that using turn taking tools helps take the emphasis off what they are NOT doing and puts it back on the listening. In the same way the sound of a rainstick turning, is an easier way to bring the children together when it is "Circle Time" rather than either personally going around to each child and quietly asking them to clean up their work and join you at Circle or making a group announcement (i.e Yelling so everyone can hear you!) would be. The Rainstick sounds and the children know they need to put away their work and join everyone at Circle. Works like a charm! Turn Taking Tools are just that, tools that help you (the teacher) have to do less managing and instruction and let the listening and turn taking develop naturally with a little help from these simple natural objects: stones, shells, sticks etc.
Turn Taking Tools:

My favorite: The Share Stone
The Share Stone can be a stone or shell, any natural object that fits comfortably in one hand.
The Share Stone is introduced during the first week of school . The teacher explains that the person holding the Share Stone can speak and share their thoughts, opinion etc. while the other people get to be the audience and listen to the speaker. (You see it is all in the presentation...being the 'Audience' is just as important, if not more important, than being the speaker). Okay, so the teacher explains and then you all practice, just like anything else, practice and practice and practice. Expect that not all the children will understand right away and that is okay. Remember for some of these children, this may be their first time in a group setting and taking turns and waiting are new concepts for them.
Ways to practice: Being with questions that have one word answers, for example: "What is Your Favorite Animal?" Pass the stone giving each child a chance to answer...dog, lizard, wolf...the possibilities are endless! Each child has a chance to say their animal or 'pass'.

Other questions to get the ball rolling:
"Which do you like better?" questions... apples or oranges? Summer or Winter? Reading books or drawing? drinking juice or milk?
You don't want to ask questions that could alienate children like "Do you know how to ride a bike?" because the child who doesn't isn't going to want to answer obviously.
As the year progresses choose more thoughtful questions that require longer answers such as:
"When it's your turn, please share with the group about something you do very well." Be sure to give an example so they get the idea. I love to make collages and my students know this so I might start the sharing circle and say, "I am proud of the way I have learned how to cut with scissors, so I can make collages."

Even in June, I begin a sharing circle by explaining the way the Share Stone works aloud, "This is our Sharing Stone, when you are the person holding it you are the speaker and when you are not holding it you are the audience" I use the same language every time and by March (some times earlier) the children say the words (in bold) while I simply pause while they tell me how our Share Stone works. Sometimes I will spice it up by asking someone to raise their hand if they know what the word 'Audience' means. Anyway....the Share Stone is Circle Time Savior. I would be lost without it as a teacher and highly recommend using one.

The Talking Stick:
The Talking Stick is used mostly during a time of conflict resolution between two people. I introduce this valuable tool at the beginning of the school year also but this is easier to introduce after the children have already learned about the Sharing Stone . This is a thick stick about 6 inches long decorated with brightly colored yarn and beads (and feathers if you like!) The way it is used is "The person holding the talking stick gets to talk while the other person gets to listen, then you switch." (simple, clear directions) the stick is passed between the two people many times with the teacher as the mediator (until they get the hang of it, usually by January). The Talking Stick lives in the PEACE corner and is optional, not everyone working a problem out needs/wants to use it.

I hope these ideas help you.
IN PEACE
~~MM

4 comments:

plaidshoes said...

I really like these ideas. Such a tactile and visual way to reinforce who is the speaker and who is the audience. Do you use the stone in large and small groups?

Montessori Mama said...

Dear Plaidshoes,
Yes, the Sharing stone can be used in both large and small groups but more often than not it is a circle time item only. I have never carried it around with me in the classroom but I suppose you could if you felt you would need it for small group lessons. Most times when giving a small group lesson, a gentle reminder to wait and let the other people speak is all that is needed with 3 or 4 kiddos. Besides they are practicing turn taking at circle each day, remembering to wait in a small group without the share stone is an opportunity for you to point out their success! Praise the young child who demonstrates the ability to wait their turn in a small group activity, with appreciative praise children beam with pride as well as learn what is expected behavior. Thanks for the comment/question.
In PEACE
MM

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