There is more to communication than words. Body language and facial cues are also important parts of communication. So is the ability to listen. Games are a great way to teach children these important social skills. The following games are so fun that they'll be enthusiastic about learning them as well.
Changing the Leader
Learning to read body and facial cues is an important part of communication. Changing the Leader is a fun game that helps train children to pay attention to these cues. One person starts as the leader, performing an action like clapping or stomping his feet. He can also use his face to indicate an emotion, like smiling, frowning or grimacing. Everyone does what the leader does, changing when he changes. The leader then points to someone new to be the leader, and the focus has to change to that person and his cues.
Here's another game that teaches children to listen to more than words for communication. Have each child in a group pretend she is from a different planet. Give her time to come up with a story about her character and her planet. Remind everyone that on this planet, no one speaks English. Divide the children into smaller groups and give each one a mission that the other groups don't know. They might need to recruit someone from another group, introduce a new food or search for signs of life. Have all the children perform their missions at the same time, with no English allowed.
Telephone is a classic game of communication and misunderstanding. Have the children stand or sit side-by-side in a circle. Start the telephone by whispering a message in one child's ear. That child passes the message along to the person on his other side by whispering the message into her ear. The message should be passed from child to child in this manner until the last child whispers it back into your ear. Tell the class the message you passed to the first child and the one you received from the last child. Chances are they will be very different.
Blind Obstacle Course
This is a good game for teaching children to give and follow oral directions. Set up a simple obstacle course outdoors. Blindfold one child and lead him to the start of the course. His partner must lead him through the course by providing oral directions. A variation on this game is to set two children back to back. Give one paper and a pencil and have the other try to talk the first child through drawing a specific picture.