Staying on Topic Activity for Elementary School Students

Staying on topic is important if you want to have a successful conversation. Sometimes we’re not interested, but being a good friend means that we talk about things our friend likes, and by listening to understand, we make the other person feel heard and valued.

In this activity, students will choose a topic card and proceed to carry on a conversation about the topic. Each time a partner responds on topic, he’ll put down a letter card with the goal of spelling out the word “Communication.” If a partner responds with something not related, they’ll get a stop card, interrupting the spelling of the word. The goal of the game is staying on topic as long as possible.


  1. Student #1 will choose a card from the pile and start the conversation. For example, if the card is sports, they might say, “My family and I went to a basketball game once. It was fun cheering for the team.” They will then color in the first stripe on the lemur’s tail.
  2. Student #2 should reply by responding to Student #1, or saying something else about the topic. For example, “I’ve never been to a basketball game, but I have been to a baseball game. My brother is on the team.”
  3. If their reply is on-topic, like the example above, student #2 will color the next stripe on the lemur’s tail.
  4. If the reply is not on-topic, the teacher should put down a Principal Wild “stop” card. For example, if the student says something like “My favorite subject in school is math.”

The goal is to color all the stripes on the lemur’s tail by talking back and forth about the same topic, without getting any “stops” in the conversation.

Tip: Place the lemur sheet into a plastic sleeve and have students color the tail with dry erase markers so they can erase and repeat the activity.

Once you’ve played a few rounds, bring the group back together for a discussion.

  • How many times did “Principal Wild” have to stop you because you got off topic?
  • Were there any conversations that were hard to focus on for you?
  • What were some strategies you used?

Bring students around to the idea that to have successful conversations, we sometimes have to talk about things that don’t interest us personally. Listening to friends and taking turns in the conversations helps our friends know we care.

Conversation skills staying on topic

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