Children's games to build social and emotional skills

Written by todd bowerman
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Children's games to build social and emotional skills
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Social and emotional skills are by many measures just as important to the development of a child as academics. Social skills help individuals interact with other people and emotional skills are critical to dealing with the many varied circumstances an individual may face. Many common children's games help build social and emotional skills as a side benefit to physical activity and fun.

Quiz Games

Dividing your students into groups and hosting a quiz over a recently discussed classroom topic is an effective way of encouraging social and emotional growth. Students learn how to work as a team, how to deal with different personality types, how to lead and follow, and how to be good winners and losers. Putting students in a group for the quiz game lessens the stress of getting the answers right and encourages children to engage their fellow students.

Team Sports

Any team sport can help a child develop social and emotional skills. Successful teams rely on many social abilities including verbal and non-verbal communication. Students also get a chance to burn off excess energy and may find speaking with other children to be less stressful due to the nature of the activity. Keep all sports interactions fun and positive and watch out for overly rough play or aggressive competitiveness, which can damage the activity.


The goal of the Silence game is simple: students must arrange themselves according to specific instructions without using verbal communication. For instance, you can challenge your students to arrange themselves from oldest to youngest. Children playing this game must rely on non-verbal communication as well as information they already have regarding the different qualities of their classmates. This activity should be conducted without a hard deadline so that students will not feel pressured.

Group Storytelling

A fun way to engage your classroom's creativity and encourage social interaction is playing a group storytelling game. Sit your students in a circle to prepare, and then explain to the class that you will all be creating a story together, one word at a time. You start with any word, and then the student to your right adds the next word in the sentence. Proceed in this fashion until you have an interesting story for children to tell their parents or other kids. This activity improves public speaking, improvisation, and active listening skills.

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