Free Social Skill Activities for Elementary School

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Social skills are not innate, they are learned by observing others and through instruction. Parents can significantly influence their child's social skills development, but the amount that parents concentrate on this area widely differs. Teachers are a constant, almost daily, presence in a student's life; therefore, they have the opportunity to display and teach students how to interact with the people around them.

1 Perform "The Little Red Hen"

One way that children learn is through active participation, and putting on the play "The Little Red Hen" is both fun and educational. This play has numerous versions, but the play's moral remains the same: You must give to receive. In this play, a little red hen works very hard baking. She asks various friends for help with the baking, but all her friends are too lazy or would rather play than work. In the end, they all want to eat what the hen has baked, and are disappointed when she refuses because they would not help her make it. Make sure the children understand the importance of the story, but let them have fun with it by modernizing the story and making masks or costumes representing their characters.

2 Pretzels

Pretzels is an activity your class can play on a regular basis, or as you see need in your classroom. This activity helps open communication lines among classmates, and teaches children how their actions affect others. Before playing the game, have the class make two lists. Ask students what friendly actions or comments they have heard and make a list of these positive actions. Then ask students what hurtful and unkind words or actions they have heard. You will want to preface each list by giving an example of the response you are looking for. This could differ depending on the students' ages. After making the lists, arrange the class in a circle. Have each student thank another student for a kind action and give him a pretzel, and have each student tell how someone has hurt his feelings or did something unkind. As a result, the student who was unkind must give the student a pretzel.

3 Facial Expression Flashcards

Help young children learn to read facial expressions, and thus be able to comprehend how others are feeling, by creating flashcards. Make flashcards by pasting a picture of a person on one side and writing the facial expression he is exhibiting on the back. There are many ways to find pictures, for you can take pictures yourself or cut them out of a magazine. The younger the children the more basic and more exaggerated you will want the facial expressions to be. Happy, sad, scared, angry, and surprised are a few basic facial expressions, and you can add more as children become more comfortable with the exercise. Be creative in how you utilize these flashcards in the classroom. You could even ask students to make their own flashcards.

Marjorie Hallenbeck-Huber holds a master's degree in language and literature from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and bachelor's degrees in English and international affairs from the George Washington University. For the past two years she has been an assistant editor at a book publishing company that specializes in history, military studies, and international publications. There she edited and wrote copy.