By Riley Woods
Students are excited about making new friends as the school year is starting (or any time of year, really), but some of them will need help.
Traditional ice breakers and getting-to-know-you activities can be uncomfortable for a lot of kids, especially those who have trouble with social skills. Plus, coming up with an adjective that starts with the same letter as your first name doesn’t really help you get to know people. (The Xaviers and Yvette’s of the world probably hate this game!)
So how do you help facilitate kids actually getting to know each other and making lasting friendships?
By practicing what to do and say when meeting new people, students can become more comfortable in these situations and more likely to find someone who shares common interests.
Discussion questions will include:
- How does it feel to approach someone you don’t know to ask them a question?
- What are some ways you can do that politely? Is this different if there is more than one person there?
It’s understandable to be anxious about talking to new people, and this game will help students practice so they can be more confident.
In the main activity, students will have to find a classmate who fits the description in each box on the page, and have that classmate sign his or her name in the box. Students should use the strategies covered in the pre-discussion to confidently and politely approach classmates for their signatures.
Approaching others in a polite, confident way is practicing good social initiation, and is part of knowing when and how to work or play with others. This skill is an important part of making and keeping friends.
Hang the social initiation poster in your classroom after this lesson for students’ future reference.
This Buddy Binder activity has students fill out a survey about their interests, like “My favorite things to talk about” and “If I could get anything as a gift, I would want…” (Younger students can also draw pictures in the boxes instead of writing!) After your kids fill them out, use transparent plastic sleeves to organize the pages in a binder so they’re easy to flip through.