making new friends

This printable is an updated version of our Buddy Binder inserts, or a “getting to know you” survey.

Your 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?

This printable 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.

There are several different ways you could use this Buddy Binder to help students initiate friendships with their classmates, but here’s one idea:

Buddy Binder Speed Playdates! Following the concept of speed dating, have half of your class stay stationary at desks, while the other half will switch talking partners at two minute intervals. Have students carry their Buddy Binder sheet with them and exchange with their partner before they start talking. Students can use the information on the survey to strike up a conversation based on common interests or something that intrigues them about their partner. For example, “Wow! I didn’t know you skateboard. Do you know any tricks?”

In my example to the left, I say that one of my favorite things ever is ketchup. I’ve found that people find that kind of weird to list in my absolute favorite things, so it can be fun to talk about what I would and would not put ketchup on!

If the conversation doesn’t go well, they’ll move on in 2 minutes anyway. But the more you do this activity, the more your students will get to know and become comfortable with all of their classmates.

Download the printable here.