Preschool is sometimes the first experience that young children have with being away from their mom or dad among strange children. Those children who have never been in day care before may find themselves overwhelmed by the other children. This can be particularly hard on shy children. Icebreakers meant for younger children can help acquaint the students with each other and help them all feel more comfortable.
When a group of preschool students first gets together at the beginning of the year, chances are that most of the students do not know one another. While children are often good at playing together regardless of familiarity, giving them a little help can promote a stronger connection. Gather the group together and allow the children to tell the others their name, age and something special about them. To make the activity hands-on, sit the children in a circle. Take a ball of yarn, tell the children something about yourself, and roll the ball to another child, keeping hold of the end of the yarn. The preschooler with the ball should say something about himself and pass the ball to someone else, holding onto the yarn. This creates a web design, which can lead to a discussion on the importance of working together.
Instead of having children introduce themselves to each other, verbal games can be used to break the ice among preschoolers. For instance, write the names of several basic animals onto slips of paper, such as dog, cat, cow and horse. Allow each child to select a slip of paper. Once everyone has a slip of paper, the children must locate other members of their group only by making the sound the animal makes. Another option is to pass out pieces of string cut at different lengths. The children must then find the other child who has the string that is the same length as her own.
Young children like to get moving. The way in which young children play often helps them to get to know each other just as well as, if not better than, talking to each other. Set up a game of Duck, Duck, Goose, Ring Around the Rosie or Musical Chairs to get the kids moving. These games often result in young children who are laughing and having fun. Once children are having fun, they become more likely to open up to the other children and make new friends.
While it is important for preschoolers to get to know the names of the other students, it sometimes also helps to know that other children are the same as they are. Using icebreakers can help the children to relate to each other. For instance, create a short list of questions, such as summer vacation, home life and interests questions. Ask each question one at a time and allow each child to answer out loud. To add a spin to this process, ask each student what type of animal he thinks he is most like and why or ask each student to list something he thinks sets him apart from everyone else.
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