It can be so hard to initiate a conversation with someone we don’t know, and it might even be harder with people we’ve met before but we’re not sure where we stand socially! Some kids are much better initiators than adults, but others really struggle. Using the conversation starters for kids activities below, you will help your students with ideas of what to say, how best to join a group, and when it’s appropriate to talk.
Conversation Starter Game: Tango Bingo
Initiating a conversation is a skill that is critical to success in life, and without it, kids will have trouble making new friends, going to TA office hours in college, networking in their careers, etc. This conversation starters for kids activity will help by providing common topics to discuss with their classmates.
Our “Tango Bingo,” featuring Tango the Gorilla from Zoo U’s Social Initiation scenes, is a fun way to get started. Students will use the questions or topics on the bingo card to initiate a conversation or continue a conversation with someone.
Conversation Starter Activity Instructions
Go over the bingo sheet with students and challenge them to initiate or continue as many conversations as possible using the prompts on the bingo card. You can have students try to get five in a row in a certain amount of time, like two weeks. Or for a real challenge, have them try to get them all!
Be sure to check in with the kids on their progress, what has been hard about initiating, what has been fun, which conversation starters worked the best, etc. It would be great to have students report on specific conversations they had using the prompts, too!
Conversation Starters: Joining a Group
Starting a conversation or approaching a group of people already working or playing together can be intimidating for students of all ages. And as much as students might enjoy joining in, choosing to stay silent or remain alone can seem like the safest alternative.
To help your students gain confidence, this worksheet will help students think about the best way to approach peers in social scenarios in school-based situations. These scenarios include joining a group on the playground or finding a seat in the lunchroom.
This worksheet should work well for students in either elementary and middle school, and it reinforces social skills students are practicing in similar scenarios in our programs Zoo Academy, Zoo U, SS Grin, and Hall of Heroes.
Joining a Group: Lesson Directions
Prompt students to look at each picture and make a check mark beside the most appropriate response. Choices can be read aloud or this can be an activity for students to do on their own. For students that are not yet reading, this can be a great group activity.
When to Talk: Worksheet
This activity will help students evaluate different situations and decide if it is a good time to start a conversation. Examples include:
- The new kid at school is sitting alone on the swings at recess. Is this a good time to tell him your name and invite him to play?
- You are at the park and some kids just finished playing a game of basketball. Is this a good time to ask if you can play next?
- Your mom is talking on the phone while cooking dinner. Is this a good time to ask her to help you find your favorite pajamas?