Kids can be shy, emotional or otherwise unfriendly around their peers for a multitude of reasons. Having their main contacts as their parents so far in their existence, meeting new people can be strange and scary for them. You want to show them that socialization is fun and important without stressing them out more than they already are. Utilizing games and activities that take up just a few minutes a piece can help smooth over the newness. Without the pressure of having to how-do-you-do over and over again, the kids can get to the part where they find things in common and laugh with new friends more quickly.
Introduction games are like any other game, only the point is learning everyone’s name and something about them. Putting the introduction in a game-like scenario helps take the pressure off the kids, and puts the friendships on their level, making them informal and fun. You can try playing the name game, where every child gives their name and others try to come up with other words that start with the same letter. You can play the 15-second game where each child gets 15 seconds to say as much as they can about themselves. It usually ends in a high-speed talk-a-thon that has everyone laughing. You can try the “I like” game, where one child states his name and something he likes. The next child states the first kid’s name and what that kid likes, then goes on to say his own name and something different that he likes. This continues until no one can remember the longer list. Then start it over again with someone else going first.
Team Building Games
After the intro games, transition into team-building games to promote working and playing together as peers. You can use relay races or team scavenger hunts to accomplish this, or you can use the entire group as one team and play games like “untie the knot” where each child takes the hands of two different children. They have to twist and turn to untangle each other into a circle. It hardly ever works, but getting into a circle isn’t the point. The laughter and strategics are.
Typical party games work for any large group of kids, whether they know each other or not. Musical Chairs, Red Light Green Light, Mother May I, and Simon Says all encourage children to be brave in front of their peers, take a chance and take a turn. They end up having fun and learning to play together. Even games like tag and hide and seek promote friendship and ease among preschoolers.
Food and Drink
Bonding over food and drink is a tradition that transcends time and age. After a fun-filled romp in the backyard or park, have the tired little ones gather around a table or picnic blanket for some well-deserved grub. Offer an array of healthy snacks like crackers, pretzels and cheese, and fruits and vegetables. Make sure to check with parents for any allergies. Once that’s all clear, sky’s the limit for your creative treats. Plus, the kids will have more to talk about as they see their new friends gravitate toward different foods.
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