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Plymouth Christian Elementary- Jeff's Fund Reflections

The students at Plymouth Christian Elementary (Grand Rapids, MI) enjoy participating in Circles of Friends—intentional social inclusion Circles that promote friendship and fun among students with and without disabilities. Through discussions and fun activities, the students have learned important lessons and grown in community with one another. Sonja Engelsma, Plymouth Christian educational support services teacher, shares Circle highlights in this post.

Cupcake Decorating

Several Circles decorated cupcakes and shared them with the rest of the class. There were many cupcakes to bake and frosting to prepare, but the students LOVED it. Classmates also loved receiving a cupcake to share.

This activity provided a great opportunity to address the following goals: 
  1. Create opportunities for positive interaction and enjoyment of a fun activity together;

  2. Focus on and practice sharing;

  3. Focus on and practice giving complimenting peers;

  4. Discuss what to say/not to say when sharing cupcakes with classmates.

First-Grade Circle of Friends

First-grade students have eagerly participated in Circle of Friends activities. The class focused on:
  1. Learning they are different from each other, but share similarities to each other;

  2. Learning that even friends who are different from them still want to be friends;

  3. Learning to figure out activities to play with friends who are different from temselves.

Second-Grade Circle of Friends

The 2nd-grade class is a rambunctious one! Circles focused on:
  1. Speaking kindly to one another during games and recess (including when others are “out” and complimenting one another);

  2. Stopping to say “sorry” if we hurt someone accidentally;

  3. How to respond when someone hurts us or is unfair (speak kindly first, then ask a teacher to help if needed; do not speak or act unkindly in response).

Fourth-Grade Circle of Friends

The 4th-grade class meets once a week. In the photo on the right, the students were given a set of random items and asked to see which group could build the tallest tower.

Our goals were to:
  1. Provide opportunity for positive interaction together;

  2. Discuss aspects of working together as friends, including listening to other friends’ ideas, complimenting others, being forgiving of mistakes;

  3. Discuss/practice winning and losing graciously.


We look forward to the ways these friendships will continue to grow next school year!


Passionate about inclusive education? Make a contribution to All Belong to help us create inclusive communities for persons of all abilities.

Katie Barkley is the director of marketing and communications at All Belong.





Sonja Engelsma is an educational support services teacher at Plymouth Christian Elementary School (Grand Rapids, MI).