If you're hosting a playgroup with timid preschoolers, it’s your job to get them comfortable with each other. Sounds monumental, right? It sounds even more difficult when you consider that preschool-aged kids have only recently begun actually playing with the other children -- rather than playing beside them. Fortunately, with a few simple games and activities, you’ll have your preschoolers laughing and playing together in no time.
1. I am Special
Let each of your little guys get comfortable with each other by sharing something special about themselves. Have the new group sit together in a circle and start the ice breaker by introducing yourself and telling the group something special. "My name is Rosie and I’m special because I have a German Shepherd puppy." Have the tot next to you do the same and continue all around the circle. The point of the game is to have everyone introduce themselves and get comfortable talking to the group.
2. Animal Groups
This ice breaker will have them comfortable and laughing in no time! Draw or print pictures of animals onto little slips of paper. Choose three or four different animals in total. The animals should be easy for your little munchkins to recognize and imitate the animal noises. Hand out a slip of paper to every one of your preschoolers. Have the kids make the animal noises and find the other kids who are making the same noises so they can form little groups and mingle.
3. Get Moving
Let a rambunctious little group move and mingle at the same time. Preschoolers have a ton of energy and you can use that to your advantage to get the group comfortable with each other. Play a few physical games, such as Duck, Duck, Goose, Ring Around the Rosie or Musical Chairs for plenty of smiles and preschool-age socializing. Play a variation of the traditional musical chairs so one is eliminated. Place numbered papers on the floor and fill a small jar with the same numbers. When the music stops, have each child dash for a number and call out one number from the jar. Have the child on the winning number share something about themselves and then continue the game. When everyone is having fun, the kids are more likely to open up and get comfortable with each other.
4. 20 Questions
Show the tots in your playgroup how they are the same and different with a game of 20 questions that also gets them moving. Make a list of questions, such as, "did you go swimming this summer?" or "do you have a swing set?" or "do you have pets at home?" Have each child who says “yes” run to form a group. With each question, you’ll have the kids running from group to group, laughing as they bounce from place to place.
5. Scavenger Hunt
Play a popular party game to introduce your playgroup to each other and the playroom. Hide some simple items throughout the room and make pictorial lists of the items. You can divide the kids into groups or pairs and send them on the hunt. Sit back and watch your little guys work together to search for the playroom treasure.
- Education World: Icebreakers Volume 5: All-About-You Activities for the First Days of School
- 104 Activities That Build: Self-Esteem, Teamwork, Communication, Anger Management, Self-Discovery, Coping Skills; Alanna Jones
- The Encyclopedia of Infant and Toddler Activities: Written by Teachers for Teachers; Kathy Charner, et al.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images