Social Classroom Activities to Build Social Skills

Group Social Activities to Build Appropriate Social Interactions

Teacher interacting with kids in class with tablet. Klaus Vedfelt Getty

Making Social Skills Practice a Part of Every Day

Students with disabilities, especially developmental disabilities, suffer from significant deficits in social skills.  They often cannot initiate interactions, they often don't understand what makes a social transaction appropriate for setting or players, they often don't get enough appropriate practice.  These activities, when embedded in a self-contained program, will provide your students frequent, daily practice in these skills as well as lots of models of appropriate interactions.

Shaky Day:

Pick a consistent day of the week (Fridays are great) and the dismissal practice is to have each student shake 2 students hands and say something personal and nice. For instance, Kim shakes Ben's hand and says 'Thanks for helping me tidy my desk' or 'I really liked the way you played dodge ball at gym.'
I have also seen teachers use this method as each child leave the classroom. The teacher shakes the student's hand and says something positive.

Social Skill of the Week:

Pick a social skill and use it for the focus of the week. For instance, if your skills of the week is showing responsibility, the word responsibility goes on the board. The teacher introduces the words and talks about what it means to be responsible. Students brainstorm ideas of what it means to be responsible. Throughout the week, students are given opportunities to comment on responsible behavior as they see it. At the end of the day or for bell work, have students talk about what they've been doing or what they did that showed acting responsibility.

Social Skill Weekly Goals:

Have students set social skill goals for the week. Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and tell how they're sticking to their goals. Use this as the exit dismissal key each day. For instance, each child states how they met their goal that day "I cooperated today by working well with Sean on my book report".

Negotiation Week:

Many students requiring additional help with social skills usually need support to negotiate properly. Teach the skill of negotiation by modeling and then reinforcing through some role play situation. Provide opportunities for conflict resolution. Works well if situations arise in class or on the yard.

Good Character Submision Box:

Keep a box with a slot in it. Ask students to put a slip in the box when they observe good character. For instance, "John tidied up the coat room without being asked". Students that are reluctant writers will need to have their compliment scribed for them. Then the teacher reads the slips from the good character box at the end of the week. Teachers should also participate.

'Social' Circle Time:

At circle time, have each child say something pleasant about the person next to them as they go around the circle. This do can be themed based (cooperative, respectful, generous, positive, responsible, friendly, empathetic etc.)

Mystery Buddies:

Put all the student names in a hat. A child draws a student name and they become the student's mystery buddy. The mystery buddy then offers compliments, praise and does nice things for the student. The students can then guess their mystery buddy at the end of the week. See also the worksheet on 'Wanted: Friend

Welcoming Committee:

The welcoming committee can consist of 1-3 students who are responsible for welcoming any visitors to the class. If a new student starts, the welcoming committee makes sure they feel welcome and they also help them with the routines and become their buddies.

Good Solutions:

This activity takes some help from other teaching staff members. Have teachers leave you jot notes of the conflicts that have arisen on the yard or in the classroom. Collect these as often as you can. Then within your own classroom, present the situation that have happened, ask the students to role play it or to come up with positive solutions and practical advice to avoid repeats of the incidents. See problem solving.

Always a Need for Social Skill Development:

Using the ideas from this list of fun activities will help model and promote good social skills within the classroom. Use the activities found here a reguarly to help develop good habits and you'll soon see improvement with students in your classroom who need help with improving their social skills.