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Social Skills are an important part of children’s growth and development. How can we make it a more exciting learning experience? Through activities of course! Try these social skills activities for kids.
Kids love to be involved in doing things. It’s like wrapping the learning up in a fun activity wrapper. The whole experience is fun!
Delightful Social Skills Activities for Kids
Sharing can be a tough concept for children to understand. Whether they are playing, eating, drawing, or doing other activities, they generally don’t want to give something up to another person.
How can we help them gain this skill? Read on for a few fun ideas on how to teach and practice sharing!
- Draw or paint a picture invite the children to share the crayons or paint materials.
- Eat a snack together include things that can be portioned out such as apple or cheese slices, crackers, and grapes.
- Teach sharing rules and expectations
Some suggestions could be:
1. Ask before taking something. “Can I play with that toy when you are done?”
2. Wait your turn. After you have told someone you would like to have something they have, wait patiently until they are finished. (This could include an alternative activity to do in the meantime such as drawing a picture or trying a Rubik’s cube.)
3. Help each other. If you are passing something on to someone else, do it nicely. IE. Handing it to them rather than throwing it.
Susan sees Emily playing with a colorful ball. She walks over to Emily and asks “Can I play with that ball when you are done?” Emily says “Yes, I am playing with it right now, but I will be done in a few minutes.” Susan chooses to do hopscotch nearby while she waits. When Emily is finished playing with the ball, she hands it to Susan and says “I am done playing with the ball, you can have it now.” Susan replies “Thank you Emily!” and heads off to play.
- Create Community Tubs where the children can get their shared supplies such as scissors, crayons, or craft materials. This can also work with play things like Legos, blocks, or shapes. Having all the supplies together, rather than divided out among the children, provides them the opportunity to have more options and practice sharing.
- Model model model! Examples can be the best teacher! Do role plays with your children. First show them how it might look to take turns with a particular item or activity and then invite them to practice through a role-play experience.
*One thing I learned as a teacher is never have the children act out the wrong way. You always want them practicing the correct way of doing something! But they will LOVE it if you add in some funny ‘wrong’ ways to do things to emphasize the contrast between right/wrong. 🙂
- Provide a visual cue I have had children pass a pointer or stuffed animal to indicate when it was their turn to speak or do something. This is a simple and clear way to teach my turn/your turn. They learn quickly from each other as children around them that won’t hesitate to remind them when it is/isn’t their turn!
- Play games There are many games that require taking turns and are a great way to practice taking turns. Some games could include Memory, Simon Says (watch for this one to show up under other skills!), Red Light/ Green Light, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Uno.
Side Note: Uno is one of our favorite games! Lately my husband and I have been collecting different versions of Uno games. Our Giant Uno and mini Uno have been quite the hit.
- Set a Timer Set the length of time and order of people before the activity begins. For example, if children are going to take turns reading a specific book; tell them before it begins that they will each have 5 minutes to read the book and the order will be Susan, Emily, then Sam.
- Play the Silent Game Silence is golden, right? Encourage the children to be super quiet for a set amount of time (set a timer, preferably one they can see). The quietest child wins!
- Grow a Plant Let them help with the whole process and then experience the wait as the roots set and it begins to grow. Learn how to make a grass head here!
- Simon Says (I told you it would show up again!). Make sure the rules are clearly set so that only one child gives the commands at a time. After a command is given, everyone else performs the action. The patience comes in during the waiting period between commands.
- Do a Puzzle Invite the children to complete a puzzle that is difficult enough to push them, but simple enough not to frustrate them. Puzzles can take time, but the end result is worth it!
- Give Compliments when you do see your children showing patience. This can be a powerful tool in encouraging the same behavior later!
- Play the Phone Game Have everyone sit in a circle. The first person leans over and whispers something to the person next to them. The second person then turns and whispers to the third person whatever they heard. Continue this until everyone has had a chance to “hear” and repeat what is being said. By the time it gets around the circle it has usually changed quite a bit from the original phrase! It can help emphasize the importance of listening and also be quite entertaining.
- Simon Says (here it is once more!) Playing this game can help children work on a variety of skills! In this case they have to listen closely to know what action to do next.
- Freeze Dance Children love to dance and be silly! This activity provides them with both options. Turn music on and have the children dance. They continue dancing until the music stops, at which point they freeze in whichever position they stopped in. If they move after the music stops, they are out. We often play until we have a winner, just for fun!
- Read Reading to and with your children every day offers countless benefits. In this case it will give them the chance to practice listening while also hearing new vocabulary and phrases.
- Back to back This is a fun one! Invite two children to sit back-to-back. Child A gives instructions to Child B. When they have finished, they compare products. This could be done by doing a drawing, building something or organizing materials. For Example: Child A instructs Child B to place a yellow block down. Then they proceed to say other colors and placements. When they are finished the children compare what Child A started with and was explaining from and what Child B ended up.
- Teach a specific greeting and encourage the child to use it each time they meet someone new. “Hi, My name is ______. What is your name? It is nice to meet you ________!” Take them out in public and let them practice! ‘Out in public’ could definitely be neighbors and friends you know!
- Please and Thank you Pass the Bowl Have a bowl of snacks such as carrots and grapes. Invite the children to sit in a circle. The second child asks the first child “May I please have the bowl of _____” The first child passes the bowl to the second child. The child receiving the bowl says “thank you” and the child passing the bowl replies “you’re welcome.” Continue until each child has had a turn to speak both parts. Then enjoy a tasty treat!
- Role Play Acting something out can positively influence children as they practice correct ways to be polite and use their manners. Set up mock situations.
You are in line at the slide and someone asks you if they can ‘cut’ in line. What do you do?
You are building a tower with some friends and a block you need is behind your friend. How can you ask them to get it for you?
Your crayon rolls off your desk onto the floor and your classmate picks it up and hands it back to you. What can you say?
- Create a Compliment Jar. Each time your child/children give a sincere compliment to someone else let them add a colored pompom to the jar (or whatever item you choose to use).
- Make an Acrostic poem using their own name or the word Attitude. Ask the child to write down characteristics of a positive person that begin with each letter. Help them brainstorm a few ideas before writing them down.
Example using my name, Heidi > >
- Use Positive Affirmations Teach the children to say positive things about themselves every day.
“I can do hard things” “I am smart” “I am a winner” “I choose to be happy”
Repeat it 5-10 times to really help it sink in. Say it then go out and live it!
- Helping Others Help the children have opportunities to serve other people. This could be by helping a neighbor with yard work or house cleaning, helping a friend with their homework, or even volunteering at a soup kitchen or other related activities. Helping others makes us feel good and think outside ourselves.
- Sharing Positive Moments Give your child a notebook or journal and invite them to track positive things each day that they notice in their lives. A kind act, a nice word, etc. This could be through writing or drawing a picture.
- Have a Learning Lesson As the children are sitting down or you are getting ready to begin, purposefully make mistakes. Place a chair backwards, write something down then cross it out, put a picture upside down, bump things onto the floor. After each mistake say “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.” Then correct the mistake. Ask the children what they noticed and explain that everyone makes mistakes.
- Role Play Create scenarios where children can practice saying I’m sorry in day-to-day situations. Walk by a table and ‘accidentally’ knock something off. Lightly bump into someone as you walk by. Take a toy another child is playing. After each scenario plays out, talk about what happened and how to make it right.
- Give an Example worth following Be sincere in your own apologies to your children and others you interact with. They will take notice of how you react in these situations and hopefully pick up some positive behaviors!
- Human Knot This is a classic team building activity. Group children into groups of 5-7 kids. Have them stand in a circle and reach their hands into the middle. Everyone grabs two other people’s hands. The trick is to then figure out untangling the knot without letting go. It requires a great amount of teamwork!
- Treasure Hunt Write clues and post them in various locations. Make the clues just difficult enough that they can’t solve them on their own. Have the children work together to decipher the clues and find the treasure.
- Relay Race Put the children in groups and provide tasks to be completed, one child (from each group) at a time. This will encourage them to cheer each other on and rely on others to accomplish the end goal.
- Parachute Have children each hold a piece of the parachute. Work together to keep a ball from rolling off the side or flying in the air. It is also fun to lift the parachute at the same time and have everyone sit underneath it, creating a dome. This definitely can’t be achieved alone!
- Paper Plate Craft Provide markers, crayons, or paint and have the children draw faces to represent different emotions.
- Story Time Give each child a picture of common emotions on a popsicle stick. Happy, Sad, Angry, Scared. You can also provide several paper circles and have the children draw their own versions of each emotion. Tell a story that includes the various emotional responses. As you reach another point of the story that involves an emotion, invite the children to hold up the appropriate popsicle stick.
Sample Story: Tommy was excited to go to school. It was his first day! He quickly got dressed and ate his breakfast. Just before his mom was going to take him to school, he couldn’t find his new shoes. He ran around searching everywhere. “Mom, where are my shoes?” Tommy shouted angrily. His mom calmly responded, “I don’t know, think back to where you took them off last night.” Tommy thought and thought then finally remembered he had taken his shoes off in his sister’s room the night before. He ran to her room and found that his shoes were muddy from playing in the rain. Sadly he put his old shoes on and got into the car. His mom told him she would help him get his shoes cleaned up after school. As he entered his classroom, he looked around at all the new faces and felt a little scared about staying by himself. His teacher came up and said “Hi Tommy! We are so excited you are here! This is Jake, he will help you find your seat.” Tommy immediately felt better as his new friend Jake led him to his seat.
- Matching Game Print pictures and word cards describing emotions. Let the children match each picture to the emotion word it represents.
- Playdough Emotions Give each child a round paper representing the shape of a face. As you talk about the different emotions, allow each child to create the appropriate face using the play dough.
This is certainly not a comprehensive list of activities to teach social skills to children, but I hope you have learned a few fun ideas you can try today!
What types of activities have you used to teach social skills to children? Please share your comments and questions below!