At the start of the school year (or any time, really) students are excited about making new friends and getting to know their classmates better. Sometimes, though, this is easier said than done, and some of them will need help. You can support students by providing guidance and practice of what to do and say when meeting new people so they can become more comfortable in initiating conversations while finding others who share common interests.
So how do you help facilitate kids actually getting to know each other and making lasting friendships? A great place to start is to review what a solid introduction looks when meeting someone new and to give students a chance to practice social initiation together. The lesson below kicks off with a group discussion and anchor chart for students to reference before sending them off to meet new friends with a bingo-style Find Someone Who game.
These activities create intentional opportunities for students to express themselves and get to know each other better, which is an important part of developing a sense of classroom community.
After this lesson, you can keep the friendships growing with this classroom buddy binder, and continue supporting social skills with our conversation starters and appropriate and inappropriate conversations activities.
Find Someone Who Lesson Instructions
Prep: At the top of the chart paper write “Social Initiation: Meeting New People.”
Hang it in a visible space and gather students for a discussion.
Prompt: Begin by asking the group to think of a time when they were in a new situation with people they did not know, like starting at a new school or attending summer camp for the first time.
- Do you like meeting or talking to new people? Why or why not?
- How does it feel to approach someone you don’t know to ask them a question or start a conversation?
Say:“It’s understandable to be anxious about talking to new people. When we meet someone new, it’s called social initiation, which is just a fancy way of saying we are starting a conversation with them.”
Show students the chart and ask them to brainstorm things they can say when they meet someone new. Guide the conversation to include:
- “Hi, my name is…”
- “Do you like…”
- “Do you have a…”
Play: Tell students they will be playing a game that allows them to practice these introductions while also getting to know each other better.
Show them the printable.
Say: In this game, you’ll have use the introduction skills we talked about and find classmates who fit the description in each box on the page, then have them sign/mark* in the box. For example, you might say,“Hi, I’m [name]. I love hot dogs, do you?”
Role play an exchange with a student and have them “sign off” on a box on your handout.
Pass out the Find Someone Who printable and the appropriate writing materials. Allow enough time for students to fill in all of the boxes. Encourage students to get as many different signatures as possible. Circulate among students, offering support and commenting on how they are initiating with each other.
Note: There are two differentiated versions available. One requires students to read prompts and to sign their names, while the other asks them to look at pictures and choose to color a box or to sign their names. This option is helpful for emerging readers and writers, and you can consider giving each student a unique crayon shade to act as their“signature” while playing.
Post-Activity Discussion: After the activity has been completed, lead a discussion with these questions:
- How did it feel to approach new people?
- Was anything about it difficult? Easy?
- Did you learn about anything you had in common with any of your classmates that you didn’t know before?
Remind students that they can use social initiation phrases when meeting new friends and that often the other person may be practicing these skills, too. Tell them to have confidence, be a good listener, and to enjoy learning about and making new friends!