When a child starts a new class, goes to a party or meets new people, it can be a little scary. Some children adapt well, but others need help. Certain games can ease the introductions and help both introverted and extroverted kids get to know each other fast and in a fun way. Children of all ages can learn about one another while playing get-to-know-you games.
The Empty Chair
In her book, “101 Movement Games for Children,” Huberta Wiertsema shares the game called "The Empty Chair." For this game you need chairs for everyone in the group, plus one extra. Arrange all of the chairs in a wide circle, facing inward. The circle needs to be big enough to allow for running. All of the children sit in the chairs and announce their names. Ask the children to repeat the name, if necessary. If there are multiple people with the same name, ask if one uses a nickname or add the first initial of their last names. The child sitting to the right of the empty chair must "slap" the chair and call out a name of one of the children in the circle. The child belonging to that name runs to the empty chair and sits down. The child next to the newly emptied chair calls out a new name and the game continues until everyone’s name has been called.
Children love sing-along songs, which can incorporate a way to get to know each other. Rhyming and repetitive songs such as, “The Name Game,” originally sung by Shirley Ellis, or “Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar?” allow for every child to have his name in the song, with everyone else singing about him.
Adults can make up an original song to incorporate names. Children can also be asked to sing their names in a certain style of music, using examples beforehand, such as "country" or "pop".
The National Association for the Education of Young Children offers a game used for introductions. In "Meetball" the children all stand in a wide circle. Using an object that can be thrown, such as a small ball, a balloon or even a piece of cloth, an adult throws or hands a child the object. The child then loudly introduces herself, using the "Hi, my name is . . . !" line. The other children then repeat the name using, "Hello . . . !"
Using string, cut enough pieces for everyone in the group. Each piece should have another length of exactly the same size. This can also be done with numbers or words written on paper, as long as there are two of each type used. Ask each child to find his match -- the person who has the same size string, the same number or the same word. When everyone is paired, have them introduce themselves and ask questions. You can have a set list of questions, either written somewhere, explained beforehand or listed while they are with their partners. If there are fewer than eight children, this exercise can be repeated until everyone has gotten to know each other. According to Education World, a challenge can be added by having the children introduce their partners to the whole group.
Getting to Know You Bingo
This game of bingo can be printed out at the Teacher Vision website (see "Resources"). Like normal bingo, children have a sheet full of boxes, but instead of numbers and letters, the boxes hold descriptions such as “loves pizza,” “has curly hair” and “can do a magic trick.” The children wander around the room asking the other children which description fits them best. The children then write their names in the box that fits them. The game ends when someone gets the entire box filled or, like bingo, a straight or diagonal line filled.
Adults can also create an original bingo sheet with specific information for each child.