20 Essential Social Development Activities For Preschoolers

Social skills are critical to a child’s well-being at school and beyond. When children lack an understanding of how their behavior impacts others, it can affect their ability to interact positively with their peers. Social skills such as honesty and cooperation are essential to a child’s development.

Social development activities for preschoolers and toddlers are especially important for parents of younger children.

Emotional development for kids is a big part of social development allowing them to develop healthy social skills. It is important to foster your child’s emotional, behavioral, and social well-being since it will act as the foundation on which they make decisions as they grow up. It is also important to understand that children’s needs change and vary. Social skills become ever more important in their lives. Emotions and peer relationships are critical to their self-esteem, personality development, and health from childhood through adulthood.

Kids always act like kids. They will play for a while with toys, crayons, and books on the floor. And at some point, parents are bound to get frustrated. However, keep in mind that this is exactly what your little one needs: to interact and explore the world around them. A children’s social development is as crucial as their physical development. The earlier they begin learning and interacting with others, the easier it will be for them to learn basic social skills that they can use throughout their life.

There are plenty of ways that parents can help their children develop their social skills. The best part is that these activities are fun and are considered playtime for most preschoolers. Learning through play is the most efficient way parents can instill values in their children. The following social development activities for preschoolers will keep your little ones busy while having fun and enhancing their social skills.

Table of Contents

Scavenger Hunt

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Scavenger Hunt
Photo from Parade

Scavenger hunt games compel kids to work with each other to locate objects to earn a prize. Kids can learn how to collaborate and organize as they work toward their goals. They are also rewarded for their cooperation and following the rules of the game These activities assist preschoolers in developing creative, problem-solving skills.

Playing Team Sports

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Playing Team Sports
Photo from ASC

Have your children join a school sports team, join a leisure team, or simply play with their friends in a garden or the backyard. Team sports teach children how to collaborate toward a common objective while remaining focused on the game. This activity teaches them what competition is like in the simplest form. They also learn to understand emotions such as when someone is injured, when a goal is scored, and how to respond when they lose a game or keep on winning. This activity will also help them grasp the value of teamwork and discipline.

Building Game

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Building Game
Photo from Inventors of Tomorrow

Children need to learn to talk directly, take turns, and understand each other as they work together. This will help them create different things such as a tower out of blocks, sandcastles, or any activity that involves working with an object and other people.

Talking with each other becomes a necessity for kids to successfully build relationships. Once they put it into practice, they will learn to try again if the build fails. They will also learn to praise and applaud each other’s unique qualities when the project is completed successfully.

Playing Pretend

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Playing Pretend
Photo from Scholastic

Most of the time, children will make up a situation in which they act as someone or mimic something else. They can pretend to be pirates at sea in search of lost treasures. They pretend to be doctors, veterinarians, teachers, or cashiers. Each of these scenarios gives kids the opportunity to experiment with various social skills tasks.

Gardening

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Gardening
Photo from PBS

Gardening is a bit more challenging compared to other activities because it involves caring for a living plant.

Gardening with others improves social competency by helping your child to care for something and learn responsibility. Their actions will either help their plants grow or they can start over again. This outdoor activity is a great way to help build their physical skills while relaxing outside.

Pretending with Toy Characters

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Pretending With Toy Characters
Photo from Very Well Family

Take advantage of your child’s inner desire to play. Interact with your kids by using toys such as stuffed toys, plush animals, or dolls. Kids learn to observe different situational behaviors and express their feelings by having dialogues with toys. They practice their social skills with the toys in a safe, fictional environment without having to worry about the toys’ feelings being wounded.

Simon Says

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Simon Says
Photo from Simply Well Balanced

As they replicate their friends’ motions and follow directions, Simon Says helps kids develop social skills such as self-control, listening, and impulse control. It also aids in maintaining focus by rewarding excellent behavior for those who adhere to the rules during the game.

Emotion Charades

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Emotion Charades
Photo from Where Imagination Grows

Emotion charades include writing various emotions on paper strips. Your child chooses from a box or a bucket. When they get their turn, they try to act out that emotion.

Children can learn to understand this game through facial and body actions. Kids can also practice distinguishing emotions and make a Pictionary-style game where kids would sketch emotions.

Children learn emotion management through portraying and performing emotional expressions and reactions in social skills exercises. This is vital for forming positive connections and sharing feelings.

Staring Contest

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Staring Contest
Photo from Very Well Family

Kids may have a difficult time keeping eye contact while communicating. This is especially true when talking in front of a big group, or when talking to people they are unfamiliar with. Helping them get comfortable with looking someone in the eye can be achieved with a little staring contest now and then. This activity helps them become more comfortable with the idea of looking into someone else’s eyes reminding them that it is okay to do it and that it is more emotionally fulfilling.

Playing Catch with a Ball

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Playing Catch With A Ball
Photo from Very Well Family

Playing catch not only enhances the physical skills of your child but also helps them develop a sense of responsibility and awareness of the people around them. When they take turns passing the ball around, they become more attentive to their surroundings.

The idea of taking turns or passing something to someone else can help your kids in social activities like when speaking in a group or doing group lessons or activities in class.

Virtual Playtime

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Virtual Playtime
Photo from Digital Wellness Lab

In this time and age, allowing your kids some virtual playtime should be normal. Be sure to monitor them and regulate the number of hours they spend online. This is important because there will be times when your kids can’t have in-person playdates. But they can keep interacting with their friends and other family members through online platforms. They can play online games while video chatting with their friends and this helps them understand that socialization can happen even through screens.

Adapting to new settings becomes a valuable skill whether in social interactions or in the future workplace.

Mimicking Games

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Mimicking Games
Photo from EducatAll

Teach your little one different facial expressions and other body languages that are important in a social setting. Through mimicking, you can show your child emotion and they get a better understanding of what it means as well as in what situations to use them.

As children grow and learn to read facial expressions, they can become more at ease in future circumstances.

Emoji Feelings Faces – Feelings Recognition

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Emoji Feelings Faces - Feelings Recognition
Photo from Great Schools

Self-control relates to the ability to manage our emotions rather than allowing them to rule us. Children who can effectively regulate their emotions should have fewer meltdowns and tantrums. At the end of the day, this becomes a win-win situation for the children, their parents, and the people around them. As a result, it’s only natural that we should teach children how to recognize and control their emotions at a young age.

Following Directions Game

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Following Directions Game
Photo from Coffee Cups and Crayons

Many children struggle to follow directions, but not all directions are created equal. Several have trouble with cognitive directions including those with basic concepts or basic math/reading activities. Others struggle with motor-skill-based directions. This is when this game as a learning activity will come in handy! It is a more visual approach to teaching kids about listening and following directions while making the learning process fun and easy.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Photo from The Parent Cue

This game requires children to pause and listen carefully rather than reacting based on visual cues. It also improves impulse control because they must take a time to process rather than respond immediately since they still must understand what they just heard. This helps them develop the skills they’ll need to follow instructions.

Matching Paths

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Matching Paths
Photo from Busy Toddler

Most learning opportunities can be found in the most basic tasks. Matching paths is a simple activity that incorporates following directions, counting numbers, and understanding terms. Isn’t it amazing what you can do with a few blocks and a piece of cardboard?

Bean Sort Activity

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Bean Sort Activity
Photo from Busy Toddler

A simple game for toddlers. They will be given a bowl with mixed beans; all they need to do is group similar beans together in different bowls. When done with friends or siblings, this task requires teamwork which is an important social skill that you can pass on to your little ones.

Taking Turns Game

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Taking Turns Game
Photo from Lovevery

Almost all young toddlers find it challenging to learn about taking turns and sharing. Taking turns and sharing are important concepts in everyday life and especially once they get into school. Another activity to help kids understand about taking turns is through children’s songs. There are plenty of kids’ songs and nursery rhymes talking about taking turns and sharing that can assist with both parents’ and teachers’ jobs.

Behavior Choices

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Behavior Choices
Photo from Lumiere Child

Preschoolers should start learning how to make better decisions in the same way that they learn their alphabet and numbers. As parents, you should help them identify, understand, and explain the behaviors they display in different situations and activities.

All other areas of learning are influenced by social development. One of the primary objectives for kids is for them to be joyful, self-assured learners who can solve challenges and collaborate with others. Making excellent decisions when alone and when interacting with others is a big part of that.

Fill a Bucket Activity

Social Development Activities For Preschoolers - Fill A Bucket Activity
Photo from Meaningful Mama

Do your kids like to fill buckets? Bucket filling is an excellent technique to teach kids about the importance of their words and actions. Children who are taught to fill buckets with positive things for each other learn to be courteous and respectful to others. Filling buckets is a fun approach to promoting kindness and respect at school and home.

Also, check out this list of Outdoor Physical Activities for more fun.

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