The development of a child’s social skills is a vital part of education. Good social skills help children to interact with the world around them, building successful relationships with adults and peers, establishing friendships and developing confidence and self-esteem. These skills can include knowing how to take turns when speaking and when playing, listening to instructions, being aware of the needs and the feelings of others, and the understanding of emotions. Utilising fun and interesting games and activities in the classroom will ensure that children are engaged while learning and developing the social skills they need both inside and outside of school.
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If I were
This game helps children to think about others' characteristics and qualities. Have children stand in a circle. One child stands in the middle. This child asks several classmates a question beginning with the phrase “If I were,” for example:
“If I were an animal, what would I be?”
“If I were a type of weather, what would I be?”
Depending on the age of the children, use between one and three questions. The child asked the question must give an answer and a reason why that answer was chosen.
This game is especially good for a new class to help children get to know each other or for when working with a small group. Each child picks a card and must find someone else in the group to who that statement relates. Statements could include:
“Has a dog.”
“Doesn’t like ice cream.”
This encourages children to speak to each other and also to listen.
Draw a large fish with many scales. Copy this image so that there is one for each group of five children. Now give each child only one crayon or coloured pencil. Children must colour in the fish making sure that each scale is a different colour to those that touch it. In order to do this the children must work with each other; communicating clearly in order to decide what colour needs to go where on each fish. They must not swap pencils!
This classic game requires no resources or planning and can be used at odd times in the school day. It will help children to develop listening skills and their ability to follow instructions. Children must listen to instructions carefully but only carry them out if the leader say “Simon says” first. For example, if the leader says “Simon says jump three times” then the children must do it. If the leader simply says “jump three times” then anyone who does jump is out.
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