Old is gold. Sometimes, friendships made during childhood last a lifetime. Not only do friendships make our lives fun, but they also help reduces stress (1). While some children gel with others and make new friends instantly, others might need a little help.
To help your adorable little munchkin find their new best friend, we have listed some fun friendship activities for toddlers that may help in their social development too.
20 Friendship Activities For Toddlers
Toddlers learn quickly when taught through play. These friendship activities for toddlers include fun activities and games to develop their social and emotional skills.
1. Match the color blocks
This game is best played when you have a group of children with you. Give every child a building block in any color. Each child must walk around the room and find the others with the same color block. Children with the same color blocks can break the ice by introducing themselves to each other.
2. Find the friend
Make a grid collage of all the children participating in the game with their names in the picture and get two prints of the page. Cut out each square and place them facing down on the floor. Each child has to overturn two squares and see if they get the same person. Every time a square is placed face up, say the name of the child on the square clearly.
3. You’ve got a friend
Play a friendship-based song or any peppy song that the children can dance to. Stop the music at intervals. When the music stops, the toddlers have to find a new friend and hug them. Start the music again and let them dance. This game brings toddlers together both physically and emotionally.
4. Hand friendship wreath
Trace the hands of the toddlers on sheets of paper. Cut them out. Give the children some crayons and let them color their handshapes in the colors of their choice. Use a thread and needle to connect all the hands together to make a wreath. Display the friendship wreath on a wall or a display board.
Let the children stand in a circle. An adult must tap one of the children on their shoulder. The selected child must make a sound or perform an action. The others have to copy the sound or action. The adult must then tap another child. Continue until every child has had a chance.
In a room safe for children to play, select any one child and blindfold them. They have to run around and catch their playmates. The first person they catch will be blindfolded for the next round. While this is a great friendship activity for toddlers, it also helps enhance their senses. Play this game under adult supervision only.
7. Roll the jar
All you need is a cylindrical plastic jar with a lid, paint, and some marbles for this game. You could also use some paints. Put the marbles into the jar and squeeze some paint into it. Close the lid and let the children roll the jar back and forth amongst themselves. They may also pass it to each other in a clockwise motion.
8. Show and tell
A toddler’s version of ‘Show and Tell’ is just like the older children’s version but with cuter words. Every child has to bring their favorite item from home and tell the other children about it. They could select any item. It may be a favorite stuffed toy, a dress, a blanket, a sippy cup, a toy, or a book.
9. Hello, my friends
Let the children sit in a circle with one child sitting in the center. The child in the center must close their eyes. One child from the circle goes up to them and says, “Hello, my friend. Can you guess who I am?” If the child with the closed eyes guesses correctly, the child who asked the question has to take their place; otherwise, the game continues.
10. Friendship banner
Give each child a sheet of paper and some watercolors. Let them paint on the sheet as they wish. Once the paint has dried completely, cut hand shapes or flowers or any simple shapes out of each sheet. Punch a hole in each shape on opposite sides. Use a thread to connect them and display the banner on the wall.
11. The good friend lists
Print out the photographs of all the children on a sheet of paper. Give one such sheet to every child. Ask them individually which child they consider to be a good friend. They might select one or many. This can be a cool bonding exercise for toddlers.
12. Friendship band
Ask the children to get some ribbon or wool to make friendship bands for their friends. They can use glitter, beads, and sequins to decorate these bands. As toddlers love playing with glue, they may enjoy this activity. Now, let them tie these friendship bands on their best friends’ wrist.
13. Scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt may help toddlers make friends quickly. Pair up the children and give them pictures of items that they have to find. You could also give them picture cards as they are easier to handle for toddlers. Scavenger hunt is a game that not only develops friendships but also helps children improve their teamwork and logical thinking skills.
14. Who is under the blanket?
Let children walk or dance around the room while you play music. When the music stops, all the children should sit on the floor wherever they are and close their eyes with their hands. No peeking! Cover one child completely with a blanket and tell the other children to open their eyes. The children should guess the name of the child under the blanket.
15. Friend fishing
Print out the pictures of the children on a sheet of paper and cut them out. Attach a couple of paper clips to each picture. Take a long stick and tie a string to one end. On the other end of the string, attach a magnet. Ask the children to sit in a circle and put the pictures with paper clips in the center. Each child must use the stick to ‘fish’ for friends. Pass the stick around in the circle.
16. Will you be a friend of mine?
All the children sit in a circle, and one child walks around them singing a rhyme (in the tune of ‘Mary had a little lamb’)
Will you be a friend of mine?
Friend of mine?
Friend of mine?
Will you be a friend of mine?
___________ (name of the child walking around the circle)
When the song ends, the child has to tap on the head of the child closest to them. The child who was tapped, repeats the rhyme in the same manner.
17. Musical chairs
Place chairs in the room, one less than the number of children playing. Place the chairs in a line alternatively facing forward and backward. Play some music and let the children walk in a circle around the chairs. When the music stops, the children have to sit on the chairs. The child who fails to sit on a chair goes out of the game. Keep removing one chair after each round until there is only one chair remaining for the rest of the players.
18. Friendship necklace
Making a friendship necklace is a great way to make new friends for toddlers. Friendship necklace kits are a great idea for party favors too. Put some uncooked macaroni or penne pasta in containers of food colors and mix well. Thread them through a string or twine.
19. That’s me!
Stand in front of the children and share a fact about yourself. You could tell them something you like or dislike. When any child shares your likes or dislikes, they shout, “That’s me!” As this game is interactive, children might love playing it.
20. Red rover
Red Rover is a classic game for preschoolers. This is also a good ice breaker activity. Divide the children into two teams. Each team joins hands with their teammates and stands facing the other team. Then each team takes turns to call a player of the other team. When the player comes over, they have to hold hands to stop the player from crossing over.
These friendship activities for toddlers may help children in making friends quickly. The activities also serve as a perfect icebreaker. Once they overcome the initial shyness, toddlers can bond quite easily. Who knows, some of these friendships may last till eternity.