In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about friendship, social problem solving and kindness. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Friends topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching About Friends
Together with your class discuss why friends might argue and brainstorm common problems that come up in friendships, such as sharing, tattling, or revealing secrets. Write their ideas on the board and discuss a few ways friends might solve these problems.
Then divide your class into groups and have them write or create skits about an argument between friends and how it gets resolved. Students can perform their skits in front of the class and after each performance, lead a discussion about how the problem was resolved and other ways the problem could have been resolved. Encourage your students to understand that there are many ways to solve problems but that the important thing to remember is that friends work together to solve problems.
Discuss how making friends can be difficult in a new school or neighborhood. Have students brainstorm ways to introduce themselves to new kids and make new friends. Volunteers can mime what they say to new kids and how they introduce themselves. Then have students brainstorm and practice ways to meet and start conversations with new people. Having students feel accustomed to introducing themselves to new people will help them feel empowered to meet new people.
To extend the activity, have your class start a welcoming committee to greet new students and kids that move to their neighborhood. Designate students to give new students tours of the school and the neighborhood and have other students introduce new people to different clubs and sports teams. Your students can also make up a directory of phone numbers and e-mail addresses of students and make a map of the area or school to hand out to new students.
A Matter of Mediation
Begin a peer mediation program in your class or school. Teach your students different ways to resolve problems between people and discuss scenarios that may come up in the course of the school year. Have students explain how they would solve these problems. Explain that peer mediators should listen to the people involved in an argument and not pass any judgments on who is right and who is wrong. Sometimes having each party write down or say their feelings and problems helps start a conversation. Have students brainstorm other ways friends can communicate with each other when they have problems.
At times tattling and fighting between students can cause unrest in the classroom. One good way to counteract this, and to teach children the power of treating each other well, is to challenge students to share compliments about each other, rather than insults. Discuss what a compliment is with your class. Have students share how it feels to give and receive a compliment. After recess or another social activity, have students share any compliments they have received. Each compliment can be written on a strip of paper and stapled into a circle to form a link on a paper chain. Hang the chain in the classroom. When the chain reaches the opposite side of the room, the class can have a compliment celebration!
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Friends
Do Something Nice
Together with your child, discuss what friends do for each other. Friends say compliments to each other, make things for each other, and help each other when they have problems. Have your child pick a few friends or family members and do something nice for them. This can be as simple as drawing a picture or making a gift for them, or as easy as saying a compliment. Have your child talk about how he or she feels after they give a gift or pay a compliment to a friend. Encourage your child to understand that when they make people feel good, they feel good too.
Explain to your child that friends don’t always live in the same area. Friends can move away to new neighborhoods, cities, states, or even countries. Still, people can remain friends despite long distances. Discuss one of your friends who live far away as an example of a successful long-distance friendship. If possible, establish a pen pal in another city or state who your child can write to on a regular basis. This pen pal may be a cousin or a son or daughter of one of your friends who live far away. Help your child write letters or e-mail and if you want, add pictures and drawings to your letters.
A Friendly Promise
What makes a good friend? With your child, discuss the qualities of a good friend. Have your child write down his or her ideas. Then have your child think about ways he or she can be a better friend. What problems can your child work on in order to be a better friend? Explain that friendships take work and sometimes it means changing the way you think, do things, or behave. Help your child write a list of promises he or she can make in order to be a good friend. For example, you child might write, “I promise to share my toys with my friends,” or “I promise to say sorry if I hurt someone’s feelings.” Post your child’s promises where he or she can read them everyday and remember how to be a good friend.