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Friends are so important for our happiness and wellbeing—at every age! But do you frequently focus on friendship as a family, or is it something you take for granted? Friendship can be complicated and involved, from making new friends to maintaining friendships to dealing with conflict among friends.
Kids could likely use your support when learning these social skills and emotional complexities. Grownups, too, often feel isolated as caregivers and can benefit greatly from strengthening their friendships and relationships. Why not work on it together as a family?
Here are 30 creative ways to make friendship a priority this month, from games to crafts to educational videos. They’ll have you stepping outside of your comfort zone, finding new ways to be friendly to others, and learning more about each other in the process.
- Conversation game
Make (or print/buy) a set of cards with conversation-starting questions to take turns asking each other—you can get our printable questions on all sorts of fun topics here. These could be a mix of hypothetical questions (“If you had to switch lives with someone, but you could keep your own body and brain, who would you want to switch with?”) and future-oriented questions (“What kind of job do you hope to have when you’re 30 years old?”) and fun questions (“What’s your favorite dessert of all time?”). Besides being a great bonding activity, this game will also allow kids to practice both listening and talking, and give them a bunch of interesting topics to bring up with friends in the future.
- Bake for friends
Decide on a baked good to make together, and have fun packaging it up to distribute to friends and acquaintances. You don’t need a special occasion to give out cookies!
- Surprise note
Make a friend’s day by leaving a cheerful note in their locker, on their desk, or in their mailbox. Help kids think of who they want to surprise and what they should write or draw, and make one for a friend, coworker, or family member as well so that they see it’s not just a kids’ activity.
- New friend challenge
Ask each family member who they normally talk to every day at school/practice/work/etc., and challenge everyone to branch out by starting a conversation with someone new. Brainstorm some questions and conversation starters to use.
- Make a photo collage
Print out pictures of kids with their friends or cousins, supply old magazines, wrapping paper, and other colorful materials. They can add words they cut out of magazines or write on slips of paper that describe the people in the photos or the friendship they share, and have them make a collage to display in their room or give to a friend.
- Acrostic poems
Have kids spell out the names of their friends or other people they love, and think of one admirable quality for each letter of each person’s name.
- Media drop
Make a playlist of songs, or a list of movies or funny videos you think a friend or family member would enjoy, and send it to them. Ask questions about what the recipient might appreciate about the content, so it’s not just a list of your child’s own favorites.
- Two truths and a lie
You can play this game as an icebreaker with a new group or a fun way to bond with existing friends or family. Coming up with the “truths” and “lies” can help participants think about which parts of themselves they normally share with others and which they don’t.
- Friendship movie
Select a movie that features a healthy, robust friendship for your family movie night. See Common Sense Media’s list of friendship movies by age. After the viewing or the next day, talk about what made the characters good friends to each other. Ask kids if they have anyone like that in their group of friends or if they know someone who they would like to be a great friend to.
- Real invitation
Revive the art of the invitation by showing kids how to create a formal or fun party invitation. Show them some examples of invitations from different types of events, and they can use the format to invite someone to meet up. Even if it’s just to tell Grandpa to join a FaceTime session or to ask a friend to walk home from school together, the invitation will add some whimsy and make the recipient feel valued.
Practice your nonverbal communication skills, and get in some laughs, by playing a hilarious game of charades.
- Science of friends
Watch a video or listen to a podcast to learn more about the scientifically proven benefits of friendship and bonding with other humans, or the science of emotions like anxiety, nervousness, and happiness. It’s helpful to know some of the logical reasons behind all of the complications of friendship, especially for kids who may have trouble sharing or managing their emotions.
- Friendship keychains
Make a pair or group of friendship accessories such as bracelets or keychains. Help younger kids think through who to give it to (and whether anyone else will feel left out), what the message or colors should be, and other considerations.
- “That’s me”
This is a game in which participants take turns standing up to say one thing that they like or one thing that is true about them. Then whoever agrees shouts “That’s me!” Kids will learn they have more in common than they thought, and also learn to respect differences.
- Find a pen pal
One timeless way to connect with someone far away is to strike up correspondence with a pen pal. See these tips for safe ways to do so, including connecting through an international pen pal organization, writing to a far-away relative, or penning a letter to your favorite author.
- Build a bridge
You can literally and figuratively build a bridge with this game, where one person (or team) has to build one half of the bridge and the other person (or team) has to build the other half—then work together to connect the two halves. Use anything from Legos to popsicle sticks and glue for your materials. For an added challenge, don’t allow the two teams to see each other’s structures, and rely on written or verbal communication to plan the connection.
- Memory box
Decorate a special box to keep mementos and memories of friends and other loved ones. You can include photos, ticket stubs, notes and cards from people you care about, small items that you found together, clippings from magazines/flyers that remind you of the person, and more. If you do this activity together with kids, it’ll start a great discussion about friendship and memories.
- Friendship songs
Listen to these songs about friendship for younger kids (or these for adults and teens) and pay attention to the lyrics. Ask kids: Which one would you choose to play for a friend? Which lyrics remind you of a friend or family member you love?
- Journal sharing
A journal or diary is not only for private thoughts—it can also be a way to get to know someone. Kids (and adults) can pick a friend or family member to keep a joint journal with, and pass it back and forth every day or week. They can write each other prompts, draw each other pictures, and more to connect in a deeper way.
- 5 in common
In this activity for a group of friends or family, the goal is to find 5 things you all have in common and 5 things that are different/unique about each of you. The discussion will teach kids that they have more in common with others than they think, and that differences are normal.
- Compliment game
Sit in a circle with a group of friends or family. The person who starts tosses a ball to another person while giving them a compliment. Then that person has to choose another person to toss the ball to and give another compliment. Continue until everyone in the group has given and received at least one compliment.
- Puzzle together
Practice teamwork and learn to value each other’s strengths by completing a challenging puzzle together with friends or family. Older kids might like doing a crossword puzzle or a complicated 3D puzzle, while younger ones might enjoy an easier jigsaw puzzle with 100 pieces or less.
- Send a memory
Find an old photo or recall a story from the past, and show/tell it to the friend or family member who experienced it with you—even if you’re not as close as you once were. Or if that person is not around anymore, tell the story to a new audience. It’s valuable to reflect on the past and gain inspiration from it, even if things will never be the same.
- Watch party
Invite a friend to watch a movie (or listen to a podcast or audio story) at the same time but in a different location, and then discuss it over the phone or virtually. If you want to synchronize watching and allow real-time commenting for older kids, use a watch-together app.
- Sentence game
Finish each other’s sentences or stories with this great group bonding game where each participant begins a story, and then passes to the next person to continue. Variations include illustrating the previous person’s sentence and folding over, or writing only a designated number of words at a time before passing it along.
- Shout out
Make your admiration public by creating a nice social media post honoring a friend or family member, or giving an informal shout-out to someone you appreciate during a class, meeting, or group outing. Give kids space to practice what to say or plan out what to write.
- Swap something
Whether it’s a book, a puzzle or game, a household tool, or an item of clothing, think of something you would like to lend to a friend while they lend you something of theirs. It’s a great lesson in sharing, and will give you common experiences to discuss later.
- Memory lane
Show kids an old yearbook or pictures of yourself with childhood friends, classmates, or teammates. Let them ask you any questions they want about your past social life, and your honest answers may give them perspective on the importance of friends and/or the potential conflicts to be worked through.
- Phone call
In the age of video chatting, social media, and multimedia texting, try an old-school telephone call with just audio, and see if that brings out a new side to conversations with a friend or loved one. You may even want to start a tradition of weekly or monthly phone calls to stay connected with this special person.
- Photo shoot
Choose a friend or family member (or two or three!) to do a fun photo challenge with. Depending on your current situation, you can either capture these shots while together, or you can send them to each other and see who can complete the checklist first.
- With favorite book/game
- With favorite food/beverage
- Dressed up
- In pajamas
- Cheesy pose
- Funniest faces
- Scariest faces
- In nature
- Action shot
For more photo fun, our photo scavenger hunt will really get kids thinking about relationships and appreciating loved ones with 20 creative picture prompts all about love and friendship. You can get the free printable checklist (and loads of other great printable resources and activities for kids) by clicking here.
If you enjoyed this, check out our other 30-Day Challenges for families!
- 30 Day Love Challenge
- 30 Day Creativity Challenge
- 30 Day Family Self-Care Challenge
- 30 Day Family “Say Something Nice” Challenge
- 30 Day “Get Outdoors” Family Challenge
- 30 Day Family Brain-Boosting Challenge
- See them all here!
Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.
For ongoing updates on coronavirus-related issues and questions that impact children and families, please find additional resources here.