Sunshine Circles: Theraplay Groups for the Classroom

Upcoming Trainings:


Learn how to introduce this amazing social-emotional development group to your school.  Sunshine Circles ® are adult-directed and structured, but rather than talking, the teacher leads playful, cooperative and nurturing activities.  Sunshine Circles are 99% interactive and create an atmosphere of fun, caring, acceptance and encouragement that leads to better social, emotional and even cognitive development.

Children generally embrace the three rules of Sunshine Circles… No Hurts, Stick Together and Have Fun!... and carry them with them throughout the day. Sunshine Circles can very quickly and dramatically improve the quality of the classroom and provide teachers with resources to maintain an emotionally positive and cognitively enriched environment.

Adding Sunshine Circles to your classroom will:

  • Create an atmosphere that is warm, nurturing, engaging and challenging
  • Meet the basic needs of children so they can be freed emotionally to explore their world
  • Promote warm relationships between children and adults and friendships among peers
  • Engage hard-to-reach children
  • Bring fun and exuberance into the lives of children
  • Place emphasis on cooperation between children
  • Encourage children to learn and practice self- control 
  • Enhance trust of others through concrete, personal and positive experiences
  • Help children with regulatory disorders and tactile issues
  • Simultaneously address cognitive, social and emotional development

This training is designed for teachers and the professionals who support them—social workers, school counselors/psychologists, early childhood specialists and others.  Sunshine Circles can be used with children of any age, but are best known for pre-school/early years classrooms and special education settings.

This training is also available on-site.  Please contact us for more information about how to bring the training to you.

You’ll learn:

  • Principles of attachment theory on an intellectual and experiential level
  • The Four Dimensions of Theraplay for child development 
  • How to quickly assess which of the dimensions a particular child might need
  • The importance of touch for children’s well-being and regulation
  • Applying Theraplay principles to children’s groups
  • Leadership skills for implementing a Theraplay group
  • The effects of complex trauma on a child’s brain and behavior
  • Strategies for incorporating Theraplay in daily interactions with children
  • Addressing resistant behavior within the Theraplay group 
  • Experiential practices of both being a participant and a leader
  • Strategies for successful implementation


A study in Midwest Head Start classrooms was completed in 2014, with 206 preschool children. Results for children in the Sunshine Circles groups were significantly stronger than for their peers in a control group across multiple academic and social/emotional domains. The article is currently under review for publication.

The training includes video examples, lots of practice PLUS you’ll leave with an 85-page manual chock-full of ideas for games and tips to help plan the perfect Sunshine Circles group.  Armed with the information from this training, you can introduce Sunshine Circles yourself or train your teaching staff to implement.

Order Your Sunshine Circles Teacher Manual and DVD here!

If you can’t make the training or you just want to see more about what Sunshine Circles are, order the manual and DVD here.

Sunshine Circles® is a registered service mark of The Theraplay Institute, 1840 Oak Ave., Suite 320, Evanston, IL  60201, USA.

Sunshine Circles