Virtual Ice Breakers for Kids

Virtual Ice Breakers for Kids

These activities are all fan favourites in my programs!

Using technology for connecting kids with the goal of developing virtual interpersonal skills is something that needs to be fostered and developed. 

Tip: The most successful experiences will be the ones you set up with excitement and enthusiasm.  Set the tone to have fun!!

Circle of Jokes

1) Each person shares a joke with the group, take turns guessing the answer. 

Connection Extension: make sure everyone has an opportunity to share a joke.  One of the ways I facilitate this is by getting kids to collect 3 jokes before they come to the next session.  It’s a great way to get them engaged in thinking about finding jokes that will be enjoyed by the group and thinking about people outside of the virtual space.

Hilarious Family Friendly Holiday jokes: https://www.rd.com/list/christmas-jokes-for-kids/

Scavenger Hunt

Prompt kids to find one item at a time.  Be creative with your item ideas!

Ideas to get started:

Find something that is….

1) Red   2) Round   3) Cold   4) Shiny   5) Prickly   6) Fuzzy   7) Wild   8) Thick

Twist: After you’ve played it a couple times, put the kids in charge and join in!  

When I have a group I ask each child to give one item idea and we go around the group until everyone has had a turn.

The Things You Know – Senses Version

  1. Pick an item or object that you can describe using your senses.  
  2. Don’t show your item.  
  3. Describe the item to the group using only your senses.  
  4. Let the group guess.  

Prompts: What does it smell like, taste like, feel like, look like, sound like, smell like, how does it make you feel, etc.

*Food items work particularly well for this game.

ABC’s of Awesomeness 

  1. Start at the beginning of the alphabet and pick 3 letters a day
  2. Brainstorm as many adjectives as you can for each letter

Connection Extension: get kids to write down three and share their favourite with the group (this encourages everyone to participate)

Example: A is for amazing, awesome, alert

Make a poster or chart of all the words to share with the group at the end.

Snowman/Flower Power – Word Guessing Game

    1. Pick a word (start with 4-5 letter words)
    2. Draw the number of letters in the word as dashes
    3. Kids guess the word
    4. Incorrect answers: draw the pieces of a snowman/flower, one incorrect guess at a time

Teachable moment:  This game often is referred to as hangman.  When I pause for reflection it’s not a great name or idea and possibly has quite a dark historydark history.*  When kids ask me why I’ve changed the name OR isn’t this ‘hangman’?I respond with honesty and share what I think of the game, know of the possible history and how I’m choosing to use different language and images now that I’ve thought about it.  Change happens by being honest with children and sharing possibilities of learning from the past to make changes for the future.

Building Community Through Kindness & Empathy

Building Community Through Kindness

Using Empathy to Talk About Poverty

For the last 7 years I have coordinated with the families in my preschool to Adopt-a-Holiday Wishlist for a family living in poverty.  This commitment is very important to me.  Not only is it an opportunity to share kindness, but also a space to help kids develop an empathetic mindset about people living different experiences than them.  As such, it was a priority for me to find a way to incorporate this commitment into my new programs and continue developing community connections.

Poverty is not an affliction, it is not something people want or need to be reminded of.  It is something we must develop dialogues around, understandings for, and teach children how to navigate conversations with an empathetic tone.  Empathy comes from a place of understanding, not pity.  This can be particularly hard when you are processing feelings that invoke sadness or sorrow.  It is easy to get caught up in ‘feeling sorry’ before recognizing that we are all people with shared needs.

Picture Book Recommendation

Every topic benefits from a great book, to help make connections, develop meaning and provide a space for exploring experiences.  The One With the Scraggly Beard by Elizabeth Withey & Illustrated by Lynn Scurfield is an amazing new book that explores poverty from a personal perspective.

One of the most beautiful things about books is when an author or illustrator chooses to share an element of their personal life story with you.  This authentic perspective provides such a rich reading and learning experience.  Withey’s story inspired by her son meeting his uncle, who has been living on the street for several years, lays a beautiful framework for encouraging empathetic dialogues.  She carefully weaves the words to show that the One with the Scraggly Beard is a person that was once a boy.  Using the ocean to  illustrate that life has days full of sunshine and calm, while other days are full of storms, the pictures engage children without overwhelming them.  The story line is carefully crafted to show the humanity of someone living on the street and how they have similarities and differences, just as all people do.

How to Use This Book to Encourage Empathy

Poverty is a challenging topic, and like most difficult topics, it takes practice.  Even with practice you won’t always get it right or say it exactly as you’d hoped.  This is ok, don’t let this stop you from sharing these important conversations.  When I work with children, I use picture books to help provide perspectives that don’t typically fall within their personal experience.  I use conversations and questions to link what we are reading to introduce ideas or talk about assumptions.

Background Conversation/Discussion to Develop General Understanding of Topic: (age 4-10)

This can be extended and developed according the age of  the children engaged in the dialogues.

Discussion Question: 

What are the things that all people on the planet share in common?

Focus Points: 

  1. Food/water
  2. Shelter/clothing
  3. Community/connection

Using this as a framework for reading the book, ask and answer questions while you read. Use language to guide empathetic mindset by focussing on sharing kindness versus pity.

Topics to Explore: (overview)

Access and resources for:  

    • Personal hygiene, washrooms, showers, laundry, clothing, medical/dental
    • Food/water
    • Safe place to sleep

Developing Language To Extend to Action:

Instead of: I’m sorry they don’t have any food, we should donate some. 

Try: Food is important, let’s share some by donating to the food bank or buying a gift card to a grocery store.

Instead of: This family doesn’t have clothes so I’m going to donate some.

Try: Clothing is something we all need everyday, let’s see if we can share some, let’s find out what they might need and sizes.

Instead of: It is really sad to be living in poverty or not have enough money

Try: This holiday we are going to work together as a community to share with a family and fulfill their wish list.

For additional tips and tools on how to use books as a tool for empathetic skill building check out my post Read Aloud Stories for Life Skills

*Note: This blog post is not sponsored and I have no official affiliations with the publisher, author or illustrator.  The thoughts, ideas and reflections are my personal perspective and ideas.  The lessons are a summary of how I would facilitate this topic with children.  These conversations need to be developed over a period of time, not in a single sitting.*