Returning to school after the winter break or starting a new school year? Creating a positive classroom environment is always top of mind no matter what time of year it is.
It can be tricky to nurture relationships, but fun friendship activities and ice breakers can take the stress out of it. These aim to teach students essential character traits but also help them connect and find common ground. These connections are essential for a positive classroom environment where every student feels welcome.
Discovering common interests is an effective way to cultivate relationships and create a happy learning environment. Connecting not only boosts confidence and self-esteem but creates a warm sense of belonging.
Helping students build strong relationships is critical for good behavior and their capacity to learn. Creating a happy and positive classroom culture should be your first goal.
Easy Friendship Activities to Create a Sense of Belonging
The following is a collection of fun friendships activities your elementary students will love. There are also friendship lessons that create awareness and discourage bullying.
For Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grade
This unique friendship activity helps young students nurture new and existing relationships. It's a fun craft that also improves active listening and social skills to help you keep a calm classroom.
Kids cut and glue pictures of things they like onto a headband for classmates to easily learn about their interests and preferences. Each image has a word beneath to help students with spelling and word association while cutting develop their fine motor skills.
After coloring their hat, they pop it on and roam around the room to play a game to discover common interests. When students find others with the same images on their headband, they pair up and start a conversation.
Discovering things they have in common helps students feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. These feelings of community help build confidence and enthusiasm. A warm and supportive learning environment makes them happy to come to school and be able to concentrate and learn.
This getting to know you activity has differentiated options to cater to a variety of ages and skill levels. You can select from colored printables or outlines if you'd prefer students to practice coloring. They personalize their own headbands to show their personality.
An extension activity for older students requires them to sit together and engage with one another. They note classmates with the same interests on a worksheet and start a deeper conversation to learn more about them.
Use this fun get to know you headband throughout the year when students need to widen their friendship circle.
For 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade
Looking for interactive friendship activities that make coming back to school less scary? For less confident students, getting to know you fortune tellers could be just the thing to help them settle in.
This ice breaker helps kids relax and connect with their classmates to make new friends. A form of origami, this paper fortune teller is a craft that’s loved by students of all ages. Kids use skills like reading, writing, coloring, collaborating, and following directions, to make their game.
Ready-made fortune tellers are quick and easy. The digital and printed templates allow students to personalize their game. They reference getting to know you questions from the supplied poster or select some of their own. The digital template is also great for teachers who want to add custom questions specifically for their grade.
After coloring, cutting, and folding, their fortune teller is ready for fun interactions. Students develop social skills as they ask a partner questions or work in groups and record answers. They pair up with the person with the most in common on their record sheet. Together they take turns to ask further questions from prompts on another worksheet.
This one-on-one time gives kids the opportunity to really connect with someone new. They may even find a life-long friend!
I love fortune tellers (see others here) because they’re an engaging classroom management resource. Students love them because they're flat out fun and will be begging to play again and again. They're also great for developing hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, social skills, and friendships!
Color fortune tellers are also included for teachers who just want to print and use.
For 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade
This collaborative patchwork quilt makes a gorgeous friendship bulletin board. The colorful display is a lovely visual that reinforces the positive character traits of a good friend.
Students color a quilt square with a quote or message about friendship. They're excited to add their piece to make a powerful reminder of the respect and kindness you expect in your classroom.
Print outlined quilt squares to use as coloring pages when students need a calming activity. If you want to challenge them a little, they can add their own friendship quote to templates in Google Slides™.
Students practice reading, writing, and spelling by adding their own message and personalizing their piece. They can also use the supplied clipart to create a quilt square from scratch.
This fun craft activity is great for addressing friendship problems. Discussing the meaning of quotes can improve behavior by changing negative thoughts and actions. Challenge students to apply the lessons they learn from the quilt.
You can also print the sheets to use as coloring pages when you need a mindfulness activity or add them to your calm down corner.
An engaging social-emotional learning activity for counselors and easy for substitute teachers. This beautiful and engaging friendship activity is perfect to welcome students back to school and reinforce good behavior.
For 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade
Do you need to improve friendships to build a positive classroom environment? Digital getting to know you question cards are a great ice breaker to help students learn about their classmates.
Fabulous conversation starters for your morning meeting, the questions encourage shy children to open up and share. Those who struggle to make friends can learn which classmates have things in common to help them nurture new relationships.
Kids love using the digital spinner to pick a random number and are excited to see the question of the day revealed. 14 preloaded questions give students and teachers insight into the character traits of classmates.
44 replacement questions help you add new prompts in Google Slides™. Otherwise type in your own that relate to your grade or address specific friendship problems.
Extension activities are included for students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. They will use active listening skills to gather data and record similarities. Analyzing their records helps them determine which students they have the most in common with.
You can also use the data to create a questionnaire, in math or writing activities, or to plot graphs and charts.
For 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade
It can be daunting coming back to school if students don’t have solid friendships. This Get to Know Me booklet is a friendship activity that helps them break the ice with classmates they may not know so well. It's an effective way to ease anxiety and help them to settle into your classroom.
Students receive a booklet or sheets to assemble themselves. They're prompted to write about themselves and color it in for others to read.
They share regular things about family, pets, favorites, and goals. They also tell readers about the positive character traits that are important to them and write what makes them a good friend.
As others read their books, they record answers to specific questions on their worksheet. This helps them to discover the classmates have the most in common with.
Teachers set a time for students to pair up to talk and ask each other questions from a reference sheet to see if they can make a connection.
This one-on-one time gives helps them get to know another classmate on a deeper level and perhaps even find a life-long friend!
Students use skills like reading, writing, coloring, and following directions. They'll improve social skills and emotional awareness as they learn to interact with their peers.
For 4th, 5th and 6th Grade
This friendship game with getting to know you question cards and team-building challenges helps students interact. It’s also a fabulous classroom management tool if you have friendship problems you want to address.
With regular boardgames, it's everyone for themselves, trying to win the game. This interactive activity has students working together toward the common goal of “winning” friendships.
Students take turns rolling the dice, moving the counter, reading a card, or throwing the challenge cube. There’s no boredom or downtime waiting for others as everyone participates. Each player answers the question or takes part in the activity no matter who's turn it is.
Students learn to show respect, get to know one another, and bond by supporting the team during challenges.
When they've made their way around the board, it's onto the next part of the activity. Each student receives a quilt square to contribute to a collaborative friendship quilt.
Teams work together to think of positive character traits and qualities that good friends have. These are written on their quilt piece, colored in, and added to your bulletin board. The result is a unique and beautiful friendship display to remind the class of the way a good friend behaves.
There is also a bonus set of conflict cards to help older students who have relationship problems sort things out.
For Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grade
This no-prep character-building friendship lesson helps 1st or 2nd grade students learn about kindness and being a good friend. It may also be suitable for kindergarten-aged students with the help of a buddy.
Students love the online read-along and clicking buttons in the interactive component. Teachers love saving time with a self-checking activity that also promotes good behavior.
Students practice reading as they follow the words while listening to a short, animated cartoon video. They have comprehension questions to answer about kindness and friendship. They practice writing, spelling, and typing with this fun and engaging SEL lesson.
The video tells about a new girl called Tessa and how students were unkind and made Tessa feel sad on her first day. Students put themselves in Tessa's shoes to answer comprehension questions about her feelings.
“How do you think Tessa felt on her first day of school?”
Kids type the appropriate words from a list that describe her emotions into thought bubbles around a picture of Tessa.
They categorize kind and unkind behavior by dragging statements to the appropriate boxes. There are suggestions of how to treat people with kindness to make them feel welcome and included. Students type into the fields and their answers transfer to a colorful poster.
When students complete all the tasks, their reward is a 12-piece digital jigsaw puzzle. A celebration slide reinforcing that they are a kind friend completes the online activity.
Friendship coloring pages or worksheets that correspond to the slides are also included. Students can write in the ways they selected online for being a good friend.
For 2nd, 3rd and 4th Grade
Improve behavior and reduce bullying with activities centered around Enemy Pie by Derek Munson.
This popular read-aloud makes it easy for students to relate to and empathize with the characters' feelings. It's a relationship story with a fun twist that's perfect for nurturing positive character traits and improving social skills.
These friendship activities include craft, reading comprehension and writing lessons, group discussion questions, and worksheets to reinforce a positive and inclusive classroom community.
Students learn about conflict resolution, acceptance, and kindness through relatable scenarios. As they identify the moral of the story, they understand the kind of behavior that wins them friends or makes them enemies.
They learn to cooperate, include others, and be patient and considerate towards their peers. Working in groups, they brainstorm friendly ingredients to make a ‘friends forever pie’.
Great for addressing anti-social behavior or as a school counseling lesson plan. Students also practice reading and writing, while developing fine motor skills cutting and pasting.
There are also differentiated worksheets for various abilities.
Read my Enemy Pie review for an overview of this wonderful book.
For 2nd, 3rd and 4th Grade
If you’d rather a quick, no-prep coloring activity these coloring pages get kids thinking about ways to be a good friend. Students learn ways that kind people behave by showing empathy, kindness, and friendship. This coloring and writing activity encourages kind words and actions for a supportive classroom culture.
There are 33 coloring pages and each highlights a positive character trait that good friends have. Students are prompted to list 3 examples of how to display the value on their worksheet and color the image.
Use the prompts as discussion starters during your morning meeting. You can analyze a different character trait each day.
The finished posters make a fun social skills bulletin board to reinforce good behavior and a growth mindset. Students can also complete several pages to make a character traits book for personal growth.
Coloring is a fantastic mindfulness activity, so you have the added benefit of calming kids down and improving their wellbeing as they learn.
An engaging activity to reinforce classroom expectations and an easy lesson to leave a substitute teacher.
The Toothpaste life lesson for children has been around for a while but if you've not used it yet, your students are missing out!
This is a memorable back to school activity to head bad behavior off before it starts, but it's also great for Friendship Day or Kindness Day. It’s definitely one to use any time there are friendship issues in your classroom.
It's not a magic fix, but a very effective way of helping children understand the weight of their words and actions. Kids love it because it’s hands-on, diving into the nitty-gritty, and getting a bit messy. Teachers love it because it's easy to do and it packs a punch!
Read more about The Toothpaste Bullying Lesson HERE!
Who could imagine that a single sheet of scrunched up paper could be so effective in demonstrating the devastating impact unkind words and actions can have?
The crumpled heart activity is a powerful low-prep friendship activity that's quick and easy for teachers. It's a big hit with elementary and middle school students but can be adapted to be used with kids of any age.
If you're looking for friendship activities to stop bullying in your classroom, this lesson is a must to add to your social-emotional learning toolbox. It effectively demonstrates the impact unkind behavior can have on mental health and wellness.
Get instructions for use and watch a video demonstration HERE!
What are your favorite friendship activities? I'd love the hear about them!