Making friends is important to students at this stage in their lives. Having best friends, going to sleepovers and having play dates are common activities for many children. But did you know that friendships are also essential to their social-emotional development?

Research shows that early childhood friendships increase a sense of belonging and security, as well as decrease stress. And child behavior expert Paul Schwartz once noted that friendships also support the development of valuable social skills, like empathy, learning the rules of conversation and age-appropriate behaviors.

But making and keeping friends isn’t easy for all children. And some may not fully understand what it means to be friendly to others. In this craft activity from After-School Explorations: Fun, Ready-to-Use Activities for Kids Ages 5-12, students will talk about what friendliness and understanding mean to them. Then they will create baskets of paper flowers, with each flower representing a friendly or understanding quality. At the end of the activity, students will be able to identify qualities and characteristics of friendly and understanding people.

Friendly Flowers: Reinforcing the Importance of Friendliness in Afterschool

Materials:

Instructions:

  1. To begin, write the heading “friendly” on the board. Ask students what the word means. Discuss its definition. Then ask students to think of words that describe and encourage friendliness between people. List the words that they suggest on the board. Examples may include smiling, sharing, caring, happy and outgoing.
  2. Next, write the heading “understanding” on the board. Follow the same procedure, listing characteristics such as kind, thoughtful, considerate and patient.
  3. Tell students that they are going to create baskets filled with paper flowers that represent some of the characteristics of friendly and understanding people.
  4. Distribute the colored construction paper, marking pens, scissors and glue. Have students draw flower shapes on the colored paper and then cut them out. Provide help with the shapes and cutting if necessary.
  5. Next, ask students to choose one word from either list and write it in the center of a flower. Tell them to write a different word on each flower.
  6. Distribute the green construction paper, pencils and scissors. Show students how to draw stems and leaves of different sizes, cut them out and glue them to the flowers.
  7. Distribute the brown construction paper and show students how to cut out a basket shape. Then show them how to glue their flowers to the back of the basket.
  8. Once finished, display the flowers on tables and desks around the room.

Wrap up the activity with a few discussion questions. How do you know when someone is friendly? Is it possible to be friendly to everyone? When is it important to be understanding? The goal is for students to understand what it means to be friendly and understanding to others.

This activity was adapted from After-School Explorations: Fun, Ready-to-Use Activities for Kids Ages 5-12.