17 kid-friendly social skills games to use with kids in the classroom to teach communication, friendship, listening, emotions, and kindness!
Social skills games are great for teaching kids important social skills. Games that teach listening, friendship, and even making eye contact are effective options. When you use games to teach social skills, you make learning them a more enjoyable experience.
Social Skills Games for the Kid-Friendly Classroom
Looking for social skills games to play with your class? You’ve come to the right place! Here are some kid-friendly social skills games to teach listening, emotions, kindness, and more.
Social Skills Games for Listening Intently
Listening is a vital social skill that everyone needs to learn. It is an important skill not only for the social benefits but also for educational reasons. Good listeners tend to make friends more easily. It’s because they pay attention and their friends know they are valued. Additionally, listening in the classroom helps students learn concepts with less effort.
1. The Telephone Game – You can play this game with small or large groups of kids, making it perfect for the classroom. To play, have kids line up or make a circle. Whisper a sentence to the first person, and have them whisper that exact sentence to the next person in line. This will continue until the sentence gets to the last person. That person will then announce what they heard to the entire group. Kids are always amazed at how the sentence changes! Use this as a lesson to teach kids that listening is important so that the meaning of what they need to know is not lost.
2. Listening Mats – Another great way to practice is to have kids work on listening by following instructions. Listening Mats provide this type of practice in a practical way for the classroom. Kids follow directions as they color and draw on a scene. Kids will have a blast showing off their creative sides, all while practicing an important social skill! Check out the bundle of Listening Mats that includes activities for each month of the school year! Click HERE to download a FREE sample!
3. Don’t Interrupt Card Game – For the social skills card game, kids play in pairs and take turns reading and answering a question. The other person must pay attention, not interrupt, and respond with a related question after. This game gets kids really practicing good conversation skills! Find this game and more for building friendship skills HERE.
Social Skills Games that Teach Emotions
Kids need to be aware of their emotions and what they mean. Teach them how to recognize emotions – Describe them, what they look like, and why they might feel a certain way. These social skills games provide alternative ways to teach emotions.
1. Emotional Bingo – Kids can begin to recognize emotions and what they mean by playing Emotional Bingo. This social skills game is played exactly like traditional Bingo, with the only difference being that emotions are displayed on the Bingo cards instead of numbers.
2. Emotions Scavenger Hunt – Make a list of emotions that you want kids to spot. Type them as a checklist and print out. Kids then go on an emotions scavenger hunt throughout the school day. They check off the different emotions they see during that time, including the name of the person with that emotion.
3. Emotion Dominoes – This domino game is terrific for teaching emotions. On each domino, you will find an illustration of an emotion. They need to be matched to the real-life photo on a different domino. This social skills game will help kids recognize facial expressions for different emotions.
4. Emoji-tions Card Game – This fun card game teaches kids to identify the emotions represented by different emojis. Kids take turns asking for specific emoji cards in order to make matches. It’s a modern Go Fish game! Find it as part of the Emotions unit for K-2.
5. Express Yourself Board Game – This board game is also included in the Emotions unit for K-2. Kids travel around the board while answering questions and acting out scenarios about emotions.
Social Skills Games for Practicing Eye Contact
Eye contact is an important social skill that many kids aren’t naturally good at. Kids should learn that during a conversation, whatever they’re looking at is perceived to be important. If they’re talking to a friend, but staring at their phone, that friend will think that they’re not paying attention to them. Because eye contact is so important during social interactions, you can use these games to help kids practice.
1. Eye Pointing Game – You’ll want to start playing this social skills game one-on-one or in small groups. To introduce the game, start by selecting two objects to place on the table. Use your eyes to look at one of the objects and see if someone can guess which object your eyes are “pointing” to. Discuss with kids how our eyes communicate information. As kids become familiar with this game, expand it by looking at a more detailed space.
2. Look in My Eyes Train Engineer – This social skills game is available to download on an iOS device. With Look in My Eyes Train Engineer, kids practice making eye contact as they play the game. They won’t even know that they’re learning an important social skill as they explore different train sections.
Teach Good Communication with these Social Skills Games
There are two aspects of communication that kids need to learn: verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication has to do with the words that you say. Whereas non-verbal communication is how you communicate with your body and your facial expressions. These two social skills games will help kids develop both verbal and non-verbal communication. Precisely, by working in teams to achieve a goal.
1. Charades – Communication isn’t just about the words you say. Your body plays a major role in how you communicate. Help kids develop non-verbal communication skills by playing a few rounds of charades. During this game, one person must act out a phrase, using only their body to communicate. They are not allowed to speak. The others on their team must try to guess what that phrase is.
2. Blindfold Obstacle Course – This game is perfect for small groups of kids. Simply set up an obstacle course. One person will be blindfolded while the rest of the group works together to communicate how to get through the obstacle course.
Social Skills Games for Friendship
Teaching friendship skills through social skills games is helpful. With the help of social skills games, they can develop the skills necessary to look at friendships and decide if each one is a positive friendship to have.
1. Friendship Similarities – To play this game, kids take turns announcing a fact about themselves. When someone announces a similar fact, kids in the room jump up and say “Me, too!” if that fact applies to them. They should begin to notice how others are similar to them, helping them connect and develop deeper friendships with those around them.
2. Friendship Jeopardy – This is an online game that kids will love to play. To play Friendship Jeopardy, kids from each team select a category to answer, including such topics as relationships, “fakeships,” and manners.
3. Friendship Bingo – Spend some time teaching kids the qualities one looks for in a friend. Define those terms together and then play Friendship Bingo to practice. Descriptions of friendship qualities are read aloud and then those words are found and covered on the Bingo board. It’s Bingo with a social skills twist! Find this as part of the Relationship unit for 3-5.
Social Skills Games that Encourage Kindness
Kindness is a social skill that all people (not just kids) should learn. When you teach kindness to kids and embody this trait yourself, you’re guiding them to achieve their greatest potential. When teaching kids to be kind, you’ll want to help them understand what being kind actually is. Kindness games can help you achieve this goal!
1. Kindness Cards – This social skills game is easy to get started! Simply brainstorm with your students ways to be kind or use the kindness task cards. Inspire ideas such as smiling at someone, giving a hug, or sitting with someone new at lunch. Kids play this game by selecting a task card or idea from the list and completing the task. Encourage them to complete as many tasks as possible each day. Find the Kindness task cards as part of the Kindness unit for K-2 or make your own set with kids.
2. Acts of Kindness Challenge – Read this post that describes how to encourage children to show kindness to each other by using a challenge as a motivator. Kids love a challenge, and it will be almost like a fun game to play over an extended period of time! You can even use the printable calendar included to you keep track.
Build Social Skills with these Resources
Teach children in K-2 the most important lessons in life when they need it the most with units and activities on emotions, self-regulation, growth mindset, empathy, and social awareness, friendship, kindness, respect, and responsibility. Click here to learn more!
Want to build a peaceful classroom filled with respectful, confident, and kind kids that can build relationships and communicate effectively? Then this SEL curriculum for 3-5 is for YOU! Click here to learn more!
More Activities that Build Social Skills
Free Week of Morning Meeting
Try social-emotional morning meetings in your classroom with this FREE week-long resource! It includes editable PowerPoint and PDF slides, printable cards, and instructions on how to use. Click the image below to grab a copy.
FREE Social Emotional Learning Email Series
Sign up for the social emotional learning email course filled with tips to get you started, lesson and activity ideas, PLUS tons of FREE resources you can access right away. Everything you need to teach social skills and emotional literacy in the classroom!