As preschool teachers, we all know that the most important thing we can teach our young students are social skills; especially skills that will help them form friendships. We know how important it is to create an environment where our preschoolers can connect and experience what friendship in preschool really feels like. That connection is so important for their well-being!
Whether you’re a seasoned educator or just starting out on your teaching journey, this blog post will give you exactly what you need to spark friendships inside your classroom and provide lessons that will engage and inspire your students!
Helping Preschoolers Make Friends: What to Expect
Around the time children reach three years old, many of our young learners start spending more time with other kids – like at daycare, kindergarten, or playgroups.
Some kids already know who their friends are and can say their names. They might excitedly look for their friends when they get to preschool or playgroups and mostly play with them. They might even want to have playdates with their friends. Other kids at this age might not have friends they know by name, but they really want to make friends.
By the time they’re four, most kids can tell who their special friends are and who are just other kids they know. Some kids are really good at making friends and like being around many people. Other kids might feel tired or overwhelmed by being around so many people. Some kids might take longer to play with a group because they want to watch and see what’s happening first.
All of the above is completely developmentally appropriate, and you will probably see a mixture of everything inside the classroom. That is totally ok, and you should be prepared for the above situations and more!
So what can you do to help your young students as they navigate this confusing world of making and keeping friends? If you are looking for some unique and fun ways to teach friendships to preschoolers, below is a list of activities, lessons and games you can incorporate into your classroom today!
10 Meaningful & Fun Ways to Teach Friendship in Preschool
From interactive games promoting cooperation to heartwarming activities encouraging empathy, we’ve got all you need to ensure you can teach everything about friendship in preschool. You’ll be able to take what you need and fit these friendship activities, lessons, and games all into your day, whether you are a full-day preschool program, a half-day program, or a part-time program.
Plus, I’ll sprinkle in some tried-and-true tips that’ll make every day in your classroom an adventure in fostering connections and developing those bonds.
1. Read Books About Friendships
Introducing children to tales of friendship can be incredibly impactful. Books like “Enemy Pie or Strictly, No Elephant can initiate discussions about sharing, empathy, and resolving conflicts. After reading, gather the class to talk about the characters’ feelings, actions, and how they might handle similar situations in their own lives. There are so many amazing books out there with qualities of friendships as the main theme. Check out my blog post on friendship books if you need some more ideas.
2. Promote Teamwork and Collaboration
Fostering teamwork through activities like collaborative artworks or building challenges nurtures cooperative skills and teaches children to listen to others’ ideas. Engaging them in the block area or Lego table challenges where they must work together to solve problems, boost problem-solving and communication skills. The key here is to be in the midst of the action so that you can facilitate the collaborative play.
You could also set up activities or games that encourage teamwork or group work. Games like tug-of-war, parachute games, three legged race and relay races.
Once I even set up instruments in the outdoor play area where my students could play in their own drum circle! So much fun indeed!
3. Create Your Own Recipe for Being a Good Friend
Grab some chef hats and aprons and let your little learners craft their own “Recipe for Being a Good Friend.” Using a pot as a prop, they can brainstorm essential friendship ingredients like kindness, sharing, and listening. This interactive activity makes abstract concepts a little more tangible and memorable.
4. Role Play Friendship Scenarios
Preschoolers love role play! Why not role-play scenarios involving friendship dilemmas they may have experienced or will experience in their days at preschool. For example, role play what to do if you want to join a game or role play when someone is feeling sad because they miss their mum.
Role playing scenarios provides a safe space to explore emotions and solutions. Your young learners will be able to collectively consider various perspectives, emotions, and strategies to improve situations, thus enhancing their empathy and conflict-resolution abilities.
5. Make Friendship Bracelets
Simple craft projects like friendship bracelets foster a sense of connection and giving. Children can create these tokens of friendship to exchange with peers, reinforcing the idea of sharing and valuing relationships. So much fun and so easy to do! You could print some paper ones out or provide beads and string to make bracelets!
6. Teach and Practice Conflict Resolution
Guiding children on what to do when disagreements arise is crucial because we know conflicts happen on a daily basis!
Lessons that show how to deal with conflicts and friendship conversations and that help them learn how to express their feelings respectfully and seek compromise will empower them with conflict-resolution skills.
If you haven’t downloaded my Conflict Resolution FREEBIE yet, now is the time to grab it. It will come in handy when teaching your students about what to do when conflict arises! 👇🏼
7. Build a Friendship Wall
Create a visual representation of kind acts you notice in your day. Take photographs of those times or ask your students to draw pictures of times someone has been kind to them. A friendship wall adorned with images of students displaying friendship gestures is a beautiful way to reinforce the value of being a good friend. It will showcase the positive aspects of their interactions and reinforce the importance of being good friends.
8. Infuse Kindness into the Classroom Culture
Kindness is at the heart of being a good friend! Launching initiatives like a Classroom Kindness Challenge or participating in World Kindness Day activities instills kindness as a core value. Reading books highlighting kindness and incorporating simple activities in daily routines further cultivate a culture of compassion.
9. Sing Songs About Friendship:
Songs like “Be a Superhero,” “Friends Song,” “Friends Friends 123,” and “This is the Way We Make Friends” infuse joy and rhythm into friendship lessons, making the concepts more memorable and engaging.
10. Engage in Friendship Games
Incorporate playful friendship-themed games to reinforce lessons. Games like “Friendship or kindness Bingo,” “Musical Chairs Friendship Style,” or “Guess the Feeling” help children internalize friendship concepts in an interactive and enjoyable manner.
Make a difference by Teaching Friendship in Preschool
You will foster connections and instill essential values by embracing these 10 dynamic techniques for cultivating friendship within the preschool classroom. By teaching empathy, cooperation, and kindness, you are ensuring your young learners will grow to be compassionate individuals.
Here’s to the shared laughter, the friendships nurtured, and the invaluable growth shown! Within your classroom, the foundations of friendship will run deep; through your commitment, these bonds will definitely flourish.