Speaking in front of an audience is one of the essential skills that any kid needs to learn and speaking activities for kids can help them to gain confidence in this area.
My own kids took part in plays for their whole childhood and now are confident about giving presentations and speaking at assemblies.
The best way to get even quiet kids involved in a speaking activity is to make it into a fun game where everyone has to join in. Even though the spotlight falls on each kid, the moment quickly passes as they take their turn.
Speaking activities for the classroom or youth groups
Put on a play
It’s a good idea for each kid to have a speaking part even if it is just one line. Practicing in front of the class or group will give the kids confidence for a performance in front of an audience. Learning to speak in front of an audience is a life skill that is required for many professions in the adult world. Lots of jobs involve public speaking and being assured and confident in this way is a valuable thing for kids to learn before they leave high school.
Finding the right words easily in reply to questions will also give your kids confidence in job interviews.
Who am I
Getting kids involved in a game or fun activities can also help to get them chatting and breaking the ice. You need to get some post-it notes and on each, write the name of a famous person. Then put a note on the forehead of each of the group members. Get your kids to move around the room asking one question to each person in turn. The questions must be able to be answered either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Everyone tries to guess who they are. This game works with any age group if you write famous people or characters tailored to the age of the kids.
Get everyone in the group to bring in a photo of themselves as a baby with their name written on the back. Display the photos, adding a small post-it note with a number for each. Go around the group and get everyone to give a little clue about what they looked like as a baby eg I had lots of hair, I had dimples. Then each person writes down the names of people against a numbered list. This is a great activity for older children who will love to see what everyone looked like when they were younger.
Frozen T Shirts
This is a great way to break the ice (!) in an outdoor setting. Divide young students into groups with 3-4 people per group. For each group, you will need a cheap T-shirt and a medium-sized plastic bowl. Prior to the game, you need to fill the bowls with water and place the T-shirt in the water, pushing it down to get rid of any trapped air. Freeze the bowls overnight.
Each group then has to devise different ways to get the T-shirt out of the ice and one person in the group has to put the T-shirt on. The fastest group wins!
This hilarious game is a fun activity that students can play outside and encourages students to develop leadership skills and social interactions as they try to persuade others that their idea is the best one. To keep the theme going, you could offer ice cream as the prize for the winning team.
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Pick a stick
Take a jar and a number of wooden popsicle sticks so that there is at least one stick for each member of the group. On each stick, write a question. Use different color felt tips to write the questions to jazz up the sticks. Sit the group in a circle. Pass the jar around and get everyone to take a stick. Each person must address the group in turn. First, they read the question on their stick. Next, they answer the question. This works well with kids who are learning a second language. In this case, the teacher should tailor the questions to the ability of the class whilst also introducing some new vocabulary.
Speaking activities for Kids In Smaller groups
Put on a no fuss performance
Smaller groups can also put on a play. Mini pantos provide scripts that can be read out to great comedic effect. Each involves 5-7 people. Our tip is to use a different hat or wig for each person to identify them and the role plays they have. Family members can play different parts and act the whole play out in a fun way with little or no rehearsal time.
Give each kid a sheet of paper onto which is drawn a blank shield. The shield is divided into four parts. You can get a free template here. Get them to draw or write about important things to them in their lives. It could be a person, a pet, a place or a hobby or even something else. get them to do this four times – once in each quarter of the shield. Next, go around the group and get each person to show their shield to the group and explain what they have drawn or written about and why it is important to them.
Set up a low-level easy obstacle course. You could include bean bag tossing, passing a hula hoop over you, a pop-up tunnel crawl or stepping on a shape on the ground. Each person takes a turn at the obstacle course but first, they must be blindfolded! The rest of the students or group must guide the person along the obstacle course with instructions. This is lots of fun for kids’ social skills as they interact with each other. Get them to take it in turns to be the speaking guide so that the quieter kids get involved too.
Younger children love silly jokes. Buy a joke book and write the jokes on separate cards. Mix up the cards and get each kit to pick a card and read the joke out loud. An alternative game would be where everyone tries hard not to laugh and the first student to laugh has to read the next joke. You can also play this by getting each person to sing silly songs in turn.
Speaking Games for families
Take a strong plastic or cotton shopping bag and add about 6 tactile items. You could include a toothbrush, a hairbrush, a large paperclip, a seashell, a banana, a spoon, sunglasses and a battery.
Each person takes it in turns to put their hand into the bag without looking. The game is to describe the item they can feel to the other members of the family. This game will help to improve young people’s overall communication skills as they describe what they can feel.
Would you rather?
A favorite activity for my family is the game Would You Rather? Best played with 2-4 people, one person reads out a scenario with an alternative and everyone has to say which option they prefer and why. You can buy a would you rather book on Kindle then keep it on the kindle app on your phone. This way, you can play the game instantly in most situations that might otherwise be boring for example in a waiting room or on a road trip. Older students or kids might enjoy a list of controversial topics that get them thinking rather than more simple questions.
One Minute Game
Divide your group into two teams. Each person in a team takes a turn to speak for one minute on a topic given by the other team. The point of the task is to speak without hesitation, repetition, grammatical mistakes or going off-topic. The members of the opposite team must listen carefully and challenge if these things occur. If the speaker reaches the minute mark, they get a point for their team and it is the next person’s turn. You will need to time the minute with a phone or watch. The game helps kids to develop the important skills that all good speakers need.
The person holding the wooden spoon has to say three things about themselves. However, two of them must be true and one must be a lie. The other family members or friends have to guess which of the three statements is the lie. When they have guessed, the speaker reveals the answer and passes the wooden spoon to the next person and play continues. This game is great for developing a child’s imagination as they try to think of things that just might be true about themselves although they are not.
Speaking activities for kids are perfect for language development and language learning. Whatever the age of the kids, you can be sure to find fantastic games and different activities to suit your student’s abilities whether you are a homeschool mom, an English teacher giving ESL lessons, a youth group leader or simply a Mom who’s doing her best for her kids.
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