Social skills are the means by which people can make connections to others, exchange information and ideas, make their needs and desires known, and enter into and maintain relationships with others, notes Kiddie Matters, a website that offers free materials to help young children develop social and emotional skills. The Bureau for At-Risk Youth agrees, noting that children have different levels of social skills:
"Some children seem to be socially adept from birth, while others struggle with various challenges of social acceptance. Some children make friends easily; others are loners. Some children have self-control, and others have quick tempers. Some are natural leaders, while others are withdrawn."
Free printable social skills worksheets offer young students a chance to learn about important skills like friendship, respect, trust, and responsibility. The worksheets are geared toward children with disabilities in the first through sixth grades, but you can use them with all children in grades one to three. Use these exercises in group lessons or for one-on-one mentoring either in classrooms or at home.
Recipe for Making Friends
Print the PDF: Recipe for Making Friends
In this exercise, children list the character traits-such as being friendly, a good listener, or cooperative-that they value most in friends and explain why it's important to have these traits. Once you explain the meaning of "traits," children in general education should be able to write about character traits, either individually or as part of a whole-class exercise. For special needs students, consider writing the traits on the whiteboard so that the children can read the words and then copy them.02of 09
Pyramid of Friends
Print the PDF: Pyramid of Friends
Use this worksheet to have students identify their pyramid of friends. Students will explore the differences between a best friend and adult helpers. Children start with the bottom line first, where they list their most important friend; then they list other friends on the ascending lines but in descending order of importance. Tell students that the top one or two lines may include the names of people who help them in some way. Once the students complete their pyramids, explain that the names on the top lines may be described as people who provide assistance, rather than true friends.03of 09
Print the PDF: Responsibility Poem
Tell students they will use the letters that spell "RESPONSIBILITY" to write a poem about why this character trait is so important. For example, the first line of the poem says: "R is for." Suggest to students that they can simply list the word "responsibility" on the blank line to the right. Then briefly discuss what it means to be responsible.
The second line says: "E is for." Suggest to students that they might write "excellent," describing a person with great (excellent) work habits. Allow students to list the word beginning with the appropriate letter on each subsequent line. As with the previous worksheets, do the exercises as a class-while writing the words on the board-if your students have difficulty reading.04of 09
Help Wanted: A Friend
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For this printable, students will pretend they are putting an ad in the paper to find a good friend. Explain to students that they should list the qualities they are looking for and why. At the end of the ad, they should list the kinds of things the friend responding to the ad should expect from them.
Tell students they should think about what character traits a good friend ought to have and use those thoughts to create an ad that describes this friend. Have students refer back to the slides in section Nos. 1 and 3 if they are having difficulty thinking of traits a good friend should possess.05of 09
Print the PDF: My Qualities
In this exercise, students must think about their own best qualities and how they can improve their social skills. This is a great exercise for talking about honesty, respect, and responsibility, and about setting goals. For example, the first two lines say:
"I'm responsible when____________, but I could be better at_______________."
If students are struggling to understand, suggest that they are responsible when they finish their homework or help with the dishes at home. However, they might make an effort to become better at cleaning their room.
Print the PDF: Trust Me
This worksheet dives into a concept that may be a bit more difficult for young children: trust. For example, the first two lines ask:
"What does trust mean to you? How can you get somebody to trust you?"
Before they tackle this printable, tell students that trust is important in every relationship. Ask if they know what trust means and how they can get people to trust them. If they are unsure, suggest that trust is similar to honesty. Getting people to trust you means doing what you say you will do. If you promise to take out the garbage, make sure to do this chore if you want your parents to trust you. If you borrow something and promise to return it in a week, make sure that you do.07of 09
Kinder and Friendlier
Print the PDF: Kinder and Friendlier
For this worksheet, tell students to think about what it means to be kind and friendly, then use the exercise to talk about how students can put these two traits into action by being helpful. For example, they might help an elderly person carry groceries up the stairs, hold the door open for another student or adult, or say something nice to fellow students when they greet them in the morning.08of 09
Nice Words Brainstorm
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This worksheet makes use of an educational technique called a "web," because it looks like a spider web. Tell students to think of as many nice, friendly words as they can. Depending on the level and abilities of your students, you can have them do this exercise individually, but it works just as well as a whole-class project. This brainstorming exercise is a good way to help young students of all ages and abilities to expand their vocabulary as they think about all the great ways to describe their friends and family.09of 09
Nice Words Word Search
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Most kids love word searches, and this printable serves as a fun way to have students review what they have learned in this social skills unit. Students will need to locate words such as courtesy, integrity, responsibility, cooperation, respect, and trust in this word search puzzle. Once the students complete the word search, go over the words they found and have students explain what they mean. If students have difficulty with any of the vocabulary, review the PDFs in the previous sections as needed.