Social Skills Activities_Two Friends
Coping Skills,  Social Skills

17 Social Skills Activities for Kids (Young Children, Teens & Kids with Autism)

Looking for fun social skills activities to boost your kid’s socio-emotional development?

Social skills are an important part of kids’ socio-emotional development. Every day, we use our social skills to communicate and interact in society.

Children learn about norms and acceptable behaviors through their social interaction with parents, teachers and, later in childhood, peers. There are also a number of social skills activities for kids that will help us support this learning process.

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Social Skills Activities for Kids 

The following activities are not just fun family or classroom activities. They are also great tools to help you work with kids on their social skills.

I’ve organized them in broad categories (communication, listening, emotions, participating and caring – following this social skills checklist). For each social skill mentioned below, you will find a suggested activity.  

VERBAL COMMUNICATION

Skill: Starting, maintaining and finishing a conversation

Activity 1: Role-playing conversations

What is role-playing?  It is acting out a particular person, character or situation. It is a technique used often when training new skills and in psychotherapy.

It works really well when you are training kids in social skills, as it allows them to practice a new skill in a safe environment before they expose themselves to real-life situations. Consequently, you will see it mentioned in several suggested social skills activities.

In this activity, you will be roleplaying with your kids or students different everyday communication situations like:

  • starting a conversation with the kid sitting next to you
  • wrapping up a conversation so the kid agrees on meeting/playing again.

Just a few examples that you can use:

  • Conversation starters
    Give them a few lines that they can use at school:
    • What did you do this weekend?
    • What games do you play at home?
    • What is your favorite (food, game, place)?
  • Finishing / Wrapping up a conversation
    • We should play this again sometime?

If you run out of ideas, or would like to make it a bit more fun, you can use these conversation cubes (foam cubes with 36 engaging questions and activity guide)

 

Skill: Giving and receiving compliments

Activity 2:  Role-playing giving and receiving compliments

In groups of two, each kid takes a turn saying something nice to the other person (e.g. I like your t-shirt, you did great today at maths), and the child that received the compliment responds “thank you very much”

Activity 3: Puppet show

This is just a variation of a role-playing situation. You may use the puppet show idea for any of the previous social situations that we have mentioned (conversation starters, giving and receiving compliments).

Just as an example. I sometimes use my kid’s favorite soft toys (Puppy Dog Pals) and represent conversations in which Bingo is having problems controlling his emotions and Rolly helps him through some of the calming strategies that we use at home. 

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 NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Skill: Respecting personal space

Activity 4: The personal space circle

Draw a circle on a big sheet of paper. The inner circle will be the intimate space (1.5 feet radius), surrounded by personal space (4 feet radius) and the area outside is the social space.

Put that paper on the floor. Take turns to roleplay conversations where kids speak to each other without trespassing in their personal spaces. (You may also use a string to create the circle or a hula hoop)

NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION & EMOTIONS /FEELINGS

Skill: Learning about facial expressions and body language

Activity 5: Identifying facial expression and body language in Emotion Cards

You can use emotion cards to work on emotion recognition. These ones here are great.

The set includes 80 cards. Half of them are faces on white background (different ages, genders, and ethnicities) showing five different emotions (happy, sad, angry, disgusted and scared). The other 40 cards are real-life emotion-provoking situations. It also includes an activities booklet that provides instructions and ideas on how to build emotional awareness and social skills.

This Emotions & Facial Expressions workbook can be a great activity for younger kids, too (we developed this one ❤️)

Emotions & Facial Expressions Worksheets for Kids

LISTENING

Skill: Listening with complete attention

Activity 6: Continue my story

We love storytelling at home. I make up new stories every single day for my child.

Stories can also be used for a fun activity that involves listening attentively.

One person in the group starts a story, and at some point of time stops and chooses who will continue the plot. The next person will take the story from there and will pass it to another one afterward.

Everybody needs to listen with full attention because they don’t know when their turn will come up.

EMOTIONS

Skill: Expressing and recognizing feelings

Activity 8: Drama workshop.

Write down different emotions on slips of paper and put them in a bag. Taking turns each of you will take a slip of paper and role-play the emotion written on it.

The person roleplaying practices the skill of expressing feelings

The people guessing are practicing emotion recognition.

Activity 9: Keeping a feelings journal

Some kids may find expressing their feelings a bit difficult. A good way to get comfortable reflecting about feeling could be writing a feelings journal. This one is a great one for girls. And this one could be a nice guided journal for teens, with prompts and fun design.

Skill: Expressing feelings

Activity 10: Emotion cards and real-life situations

With a set of cards portraying different situations, take turns to explain how would do you feel in when you are in that specific situation. The cards we mention in our activity 5 could be used for this activity.

There is another really nice set of cards that you can use. In this case, you will not work with photos but with colorful illustrations. Each emotion face card features a list of practical coping suggestions to guide positive behavior and decision-making skills ?.

 

 

PARTICIPATING

Taking turns

The beauty of this skill is that it can be practiced with any game you have at home. But just to give you another idea:

Activity 11: Answer the question when you get the ball

Conversation balls are great tools to help kids know about each other. There are several ways to play with them. You usually toss the ball and check under your thumb the question you need to answer.

You can also choose one of the questions and toss the ball around so that the kids wait for their turn to answer that question.

CARING

Making friends

Group Activity 12: Brainstorming what makes a good friend

Some ideas to mention: kind, helpful, talk nicely to people, don’t exclude others,  don’t say ugly things about others

Skill: Showing interest for others

Activity 13: Ask questions about the other person.

Organize the kids in pairs, and ask them to take turns asking questions about each other. 

If the kids run out of ideas you can use conversation cards like these ones ? (120 questions divided in three kids’ theme topics)

 

Skill: Teach Empathy

Activity 14: Talk about different situations and ask your child how other people may feel.

Social Skills Activities for Kids with Autism

One of the diagnostic criteria in Autism Spectrum Disorder is persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts:

  • Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity
  • Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction
  • Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships

As social skills deficit really comes with the diagnosis, helping our kids with autism develop social skills is an important part of our work as parents, educators and health professionals. 

Apart from the activities that you have already gone through, you may also consider helping your kid with the following activities:

Activity 15: Joining a Social Skills Group run by professional therapists

Check out if this type of activity is available in your community. We were really happy to discover that this was an actual possibility for us

Activity 16: Joining a Social Club for Kids with Autism

Activity 17: Organize Play Dates at Home (guided play if your kid needs help in social interactions)

If you are looking for lots of activities ideas, make sure you check this book below:

➡️ Recommended reading (FREE in Kindle Unlimited when I wrote this post!!):
 Social Skills Handbook for Autism  ( 50 fun and simple games and activities help the child on the spectrum with social skills like making friends, being part of a  group, interacting with peers,  expressing feelings or dealing with bullies) 
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Social Skills Activities Ideas in Books

These books come with lots of ideas and activities to practice social skills at home, at school or in therapy setting:

A picture book with 64 scenarios that build social-emotional learning, critical thinking, mindfulness, self-confidence, empathy, executive function, and critical consciousness.

 

 

➡️Deal Alert ⬆️ (FREE in Kindle Unlimited when I wrote this post!!):
Social Skills Activities for Kids: 50 Fun Exercises for Making Friends, Talking and Listening, and Understanding Social Rules

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List of Social Skills for Kids

Just in case you missed my previous post, make sure to check out this comprehensive list of Social Skills for Kids ? and grab the FREE poster included in that post.

Other Coping Skills Activities in this Blog

17 Social Skills Activities for Kids (Young Children, Teens & Kids with Autism)

Social Skills Activities for Kids pin

2 Comments

  • Ruth

    Have you consider chess as one of the social skills activities? A child who realizes that one does not always win but also loses, learns humility and respect for other people. In addition to aiding analytical and developmental skills of the mind, playing chess is also a great excuse for socializing with other chess amateurs. Chess gives children the opportunity to make many new friends by participating in chess schools or local amateur tournaments. There are many advantages of playing chess from a young age. One thing your child will appreciate most is that playing chess is also great fun. With proper approach and proper tools, you can interest your kid in this marvelous game. One of the tool is to creat some interesting background stories, other tool is to practice specific movements and strategies, using special diagrams. In this case, I can recommend this book: chess-puzzles-for-kids-by-maksim-aksanov

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