Sharing Activities for Kids (Social Skills): Learn the benefits of sharing and teach your kids or students sharing skills with fun games and activities (includes great activities for young kids and also for older children!)
Sharing is a lot more than the act of giving or dividing something with others.
Sharing is an important social skill that allows us to foster positive relationships, build connections and participate in our communities.
Young children may have a hard time sharing. Even older siblings might feel very reluctant to give up their special toys for the benefit of the younger child.
And this is normal. Our kids need to meet several developmental milestones before they are ready to share.
Table of Contents
- Sharing and Other Social Skills
- Benefits of Sharing
- Why is my Kid so Reluctant to Share?
- When Do Sharing Skills Develop?
- Tips on How to Teach Sharing Skills to Kids
- 32 Great Activities to Learn to Share
Sharing And Other Social Skills
Sharing skills interweave with other important social skills and pro-social behaviors:
1. Empathy: Sharing requires a child to understand and consider the needs and feelings of others, and act upon them.
2. Cooperation: Sharing often involves cooperation and collaboration with others. When children share, they can also practice working together towards a common goal and develop cooperation and teamwork skills.
3. Communication: Sharing requires children to practice their communication skills, express their needs and understand other peoples’ desires.
4. Problem-solving & conflict resolution: When you ask children to share, it can often lead to conflict and disagreements. When children share, they practice their problem-solving skills and learn about fairness and compromise.
5. Gratitude: Sharing can also help children develop gratitude and appreciation for what they have. When children share their resources with others, they learn to value their possessions and are more likely to feel grateful for them.
Benefits of Sharing
Sharing may come with some beneficial “side effects”
There is a growing body of research that highlights the social and health-related benefits of sharing:
1. Improved well-being
Studies have found that sharing can improve overall well-being and happiness. Sharing with others can increase feelings of social connectedness and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. In addition, giving to others can increase feelings of gratitude, which are linked to improved mental health.
2. Builds and strengthens relationships
Sharing can help kids make friends, build relationships, and create connections and trust.
When we share with others, we are showing them that we care and are interested in them. This can help improve social interactions, strengthen existing relationships and form new ones.
3. Increases cooperation and trust
Sharing can promote cooperation and trust within groups.
4. Promotes generosity
Sharing can also be a way to practice generosity and kindness, providing others with resources, support, or assistance they may need.
5. Encourages learning
Sharing can also be a way to learn from others. When we share ideas, knowledge, and experiences, we can gain new insights and perspectives that we may not have considered before.
6. Fosters creativity and innovation
Sharing ideas, experiences, perspectives, and resources can help foster creativity and innovation.
7. Fosters community
Sharing can also help to create a sense of community. When people come together to share resources, ideas, or experiences, it can create a feeling of belonging and connectedness.
8. Encourages reciprocity
Sharing can also encourage reciprocity or a sense of obligation to give back or pay it forward. When we share with others, they may be more likely to do the same for us or for others in the future.
Overall, sharing can have a wide range of benefits for individuals and communities, from improved well-being to strengthened relationships and increased cooperation.
Why is My Kid so Reluctant to Share?
Young children may be very reluctant to share. Giving up your toy for the benefit of another child is not an easy task.
There are many variables that may affect your kid’s ability to share willingly:
- Age/Developmental factors /Emotional development
- Understanding other people’s needs
- Understanding other people’s feelings
- How openly others express their desire to share
- What type of resources they are sharing (toys, food, clothes)
- Do they want or need that resource?
- How much they cherished that resource (it is not the same to share their teddy bear as a random toy they didn’t even remember they had!)
- Ownership of the resource (mine, family or a classroom’s resource)
- Permanent vs. temporal timeline (when we share one of our toys, we get it back; when we share food, it never comes back)
- Who we are sharing with. The recipient may also be important. Are we sharing with friends, family members, or complete strangers
When Do Sharing Skills Develop?
The ability to share is a social skill that develops gradually over time.
Studies have found that young children as young as two years old are able to understand the concept of sharing and will share with others if prompted to do so.
At that young age, infants may share as a way to:
- seek a reaction
- show a toy (attention-sharing)
- start a game with the caregiver
While children may begin to show some awareness of sharing at a very young age (as early as 12-18 months), it typically takes several more years before they are able to fully understand and engage in sharing behavior
As children continue to develop socially and emotionally, their ability to share tends to improve.
By the age of 5 or 6, most children have developed a strong sense of empathy and are able to understand the perspectives of others, which can make sharing easier and more natural.
Tips on How to Teach Sharing Skills to Kids
These are some tips that will help you teach your kids or students sharing skills:
- Don’t force kids to share
It is normal for a child to be reluctant to give up a toy or a resource and share it with others.
We also want them to learn to make decisions independently and we should respect it if they don’t want to share something that belongs to them.
Instead, teach by modeling the behavior and exploring how sharing makes other people feel and how we also benefit from reciprocity and social interaction.
- Model sharing behaviors / Be a role model
One of the best ways to teach kids how to share is to model sharing behaviors yourself. We can’t expect our kids to learn to share (or to share willingly) if we don’t model those sharing behaviors ourselves.
Show your child how you share resources and help others, and encourage them to do the same.
Whenever you share, verbalize and explain why you are doing it.
“I’m finding this cookie so yummy that I want to share it with you so that you can also enjoy this yumminess”
- Praise sharing behaviors
Provide positive reinforcement to sharing behaviors when you spot them.
When your child shares with another kid be their most enthusiastic cheerleader. “I’m so proud of you for sharing that toy with your brother”
This is one of the most powerful tools we have when we are teaching kids a desired behavior or a new skill. Praising will result in that behavior happening more often in the future.
- Create opportunities to practice sharing
Research suggests that even younger children “will share on occasion when given multiple opportunities to share and … enough communicative support”. So a great way to develop sharing skills is to provide plenty of opportunities to do it.
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32 Fun Sharing Activities for Kids
Kids learn while playing, so what best way to develop sharing skills than fun sharing games and activities?
Let’s explore activities that may help kids learn the art of sharing:
1. Organize Play Dates
Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to share. Inviting friends over for a play date provides the perfect opportunity to create sharing situations.
Activities that Require Turn-Taking
Sharing resources can be considered a form of turn-taking.
We can turn everyday life into fun turn-taking activities just by making some modifications.
We are going to play the cooperative drawing in different ways below:
2. Team Drawing (I)
Organize your students in pairs. Hand out a simple color-by-number drawing and divide the coloring pens giving half to each student.
Name a color. Whoever has that color owns the turn and can start painting. Continue until you have gone through all the colors in the drawing.
3. Team drawing (2): Pass the pen
Let’s make a variation to the previous activity. Still working in pairs, set a timer, and each time the alarm goes the student coloring the activity passes the pens to the next person.
4. Team drawing (3): Pass the paper
And yet another sharing variation. This time the scarce resource is the coloring activity.
Ask the students to work together to create a collaborative drawing. This time both students have a set of pens or crayons, but when the timer goes, they pass the paper and the other student continues drawing.
Encourage them to take turns and build on each other’s ideas in order to create a great design.
5. Potato Head
Take turns to create the craziest possible Potato Head. Make sure one doesn’t have all the elements they need to create the head (so they need to share and take turns with another kid)
6. Magnetic Face Puzzle
In a small group, take turns to create a funny face with a magnetic face puzzle.
Remember to model turn-taking:
- “Now it’s is my turn to find some funny eyes”
- “Oh, it is your turn! What part of the clown’s face will you be adding now?”
7. Build a Tower
Build a tower as a team. Take turns placing bricks on the tower.
Emphasize the importance of sharing resources and working together to achieve a common goal.
Sharing Ideas for the Classroom
8. “Show & Share”
This is a twist on the popular “Show & Tell” activity. Ask kids to bring an item and explain why it is important to them. Then, that toy (clearly marked!) will be shared with a peer.
9. Book Sharing
Ask each kid to bring to school a book they enjoy. Place the books on a shelf, and everybody gets to share and borrow (keep a tracker with books & borrowers)
10. Shared Lunch / Brunch / Morning Tea
This is a fun way to practice sharing in the classroom.
Set a day when everybody will bring food to share (be mindful of food allergies)
11. Taking Care of the Class Mascot
This is a super fun activity that students love.
Bring or create a class mascot. Now the kids can share the class mascot, and they can take turns taking it home.
12. Collectibles / Trading Cards
Select a fun or trendy trading card topic. Kids can exchange cards and learn how sharing resources (trading) benefits everybody.
13. Create a Sharing Badge
Create a badge to recognize students’ amazing sharing skills.
14. Role Play Sharing
You can use role-playing to help kids understand the benefits of sharing and practice sharing behaviors.
These are examples of different scenarios:
- Two children have to share a toy. Encourage them to take turns and talk about how it feels to share. Emphasize the importance of being patient and taking turns.
- Your classmate has forgotten their lunch box at home. What would be a kind thing to do?
- The student sitting next to you has lost their pencil case on their way to school. What would you do?
15. School Resources Sharing.
Choose a resource that your students will need to share (school device, books, etc)
For example, organize your kids in the playground or the gym around a certain activity (for example, the swing). Make sure there are more kids than slots available and ask them to take turns using that resource (you can time it or ask them to negotiate how long each will take and the order of taking turns)
16. Sharing Ideas
Help your students explore how sharing ideas, experiences and skills can benefit everybody.
Choose a project (for example, an app that will serve some purpose).
Ask them to think for a few minutes about how they could improve it.
Then, organize them in groups so that they share their ideas.
Finally, ask them to reflect on how working in groups and sharing ideas and knowledge helped them improve their initial proposal.
17. Sharing Scientific Project
Let’s replicate what research tells us about sharing by turning our students into young researchers.
This activity will show your students how our desire to share is influenced by how important the object we are sharing is to us.
This could work with kids that collect stickers or trading cards.
First, ask them if they would be willing to share their stickers with others.
Then, ask them to organize the stickers into three groups: favorite, okay, and least favorite. Are there different answers for each pile?
You can do another variation with this same setup.
Make groups of stickers that are duplicated and another group with stickers that are unique. Do we feel the same about sharing scarce resources?
You can also prepare a similar activity by asking each person to think of three items that fall in those categories (love, okay, indifferent) and reflect on how likely they would be to share them.
18. Why Do People Share? (Survey)
Ask your students to run a survey with friends, peers and family.
Can you think of the last time you shared something?
Now, could you tell me why you shared that item or resource?
This activity will allow them to explore the reasons why people share. For example:
- Altruistic, benefiting others (pro-social behavior)
- Expect something in return (reciprocity)
19. How Does Sharing Make Me Feel?
Ask your students to think about the last time they shared something.
Then, ask them to write about that situation:
- When did it happen
- What did I share?
- Why did I share?
- Was that item special to me?
- How did the other person feel?
- How did I feel after sharing?
20. Sharing Creative Writing
Write a story about sharing, and describe the situation and how the characters felt.
21. Create a Sharing Challenge
Create a sharing challenge (7 Days of Sharing & Caring!)
Did you share special items? Did you make a good deed?
Ask the kids to share at least once a day for a week, and keep track of this challenge to share later with the class.
22. Bring a Board Game to School
Ask students to bring a favorite board game to school. Kids can play in groups sharing the experience and the game with others
Encourage children to participate in charitable activities, such as below:
23. Donating Toys to a Local Charity
Let your child go through the toys, making sure they work, they have all pieces and parts, they are clean. You are modeling not only sharing skills but also caring and making sure it is as good as if you had to use it yourself.
24. Donating Clothes
Have your child help you sort out clothes for charity. Show them how you make sure that those clothes are in good condition. Discuss how that helps others.
25. Volunteering at a Food Bank (or Helping Choose What To Donate)
This can help foster a sense of generosity and empathy towards others. And it makes kids appreciate the things they have.
By incorporating these activities into children’s play and daily routines, we can help teach them valuable social and emotional skills that will benefit them throughout their lives
Sharing Games and Activities
Play games that require sharing and cooperation, such as board games, card games, or team-building activities. Encourage children to work together and share resources in order to achieve a common goal.
26. “Musical Share”
This fun game is a twist on the classic game Musical Chairs.
Organize the kids in a circle. Each of them has a favorite toy. When the music starts the pass around the toys. When the music stops, they play for one minute with the toy that they have in their hands.
27. Sharing Circles
During circle time, have kids taking turns sharing a toy or other item with the group. Emphasize the importance of being generous and empathetic towards others.
Play cooperative board games that require cooperation and sharing of resources. Encourage children to work together and share resources in order to achieve a common goal:
28. Forbidden Island– The Cooperative Strategy Survival Island Board Game
A fun game for kids ten and older that requires strategic thinking, problem-solving, and cooperation to complete the mission.
29. Cooperative Strategy Space Adventure
Another fun cooperative game for kids seven and older, where they use their creative thinking skills and teamwork.
A strategy game for older kids (13+) where all the family works together to save humanity
31. Reading About Sharing
Reading about sharing is another fantastic way to learn this essential skill.
Read books or stories that emphasize the importance of sharing and cooperation. Use these stories as a springboard for discussions about the importance of sharing and its benefits.
Some examples of books about sharing:
- Teach your Dragon to Share
But what if your dragon doesn’t like sharing? What if he doesn’t want to share his toys?
The Dragon series is absolutely gorgeous. Your kids can have a wonderful time while they learn the art of sharing.
- Sharing and Taking Turns (2-5 year-olds)
This picture book presents examples that help children practice sharing, understand how and why to share, and realize the benefits of sharing. Includes a note to teachers and parents, additional information for adults, and activities.
- Friends Ask First!: A Book About Sharing (1-3-year-olds)
A cute Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood book. In this book, Daniel learns it is important to ask first before taking things away from friends.
- Sharing Time (Toddler Tools®) (1-3-year-olds)
This picture book offers toddlers simple choices (take turns, use the toy together, wait for another time) to make sharing easier and how to ask for help when sharing is difficult.
32. Sharing Song
And let’s finish this post with the sharing song!
Other Social Skill Resources
These are some other helpful resources to help kids build social skills:
- Turn-Taking Activities for Kids
- I-Statement Worksheets
- Self-Introduction for Kids (Worksheets)
- Social Skills Activities for Kids
- Conversation Starters for Kids
- Listening Games and Activities
- Apology Worksheets and Activities
- Conflict Resolution Activities for Kids
- Friendship Activities for Kids
- 101 Kindness Activities for Kids