3 No Fail Tabletop Games for Tween Social Skills Groups

Tweens can be a tough group to teach in a way that is both entertaining but meaningful. They want to be able to let their inner kid out but not seem uncool for doing so. Playing games in a group is a highly effective way to give the kids an excuse to be silly and have fun while at the same time, covertly developing and practicing critical social skills.

Double Ditto: The beauty of this game is that it’s so easy. Each round takes a minute at most but usually a lot less. This provides lots of practice winning and losing. Low stakes wins and loses are the perfect way to improve that …. In Double Ditto, someone picks up card that has a category on it (e.g. “Things you are likely to lose”) and the players have to write down 3 things that fall under that category. It’s basically the opposite of Scattergories. Whereas Scattergories is s a super fun, fast paced game, the object is to come up with a list of ideas that are as unique to the other players as possible. The twist in Double Ditto is that you want to have as many of the same answers as the other players as the more you have in common, the more points you get. It forces the players to try to think like each other!

  • Prerequisites: Ability to write words
  • Skills Taught: Theory of mind

Shifty Eyed Spies: This game is so original! It does take some explaining and possibly a practice round to understand fully understand the rules of the game but once they get the hang of it-it’s really fun! In this game your mission is to send messages to other players as covertly as possible by somehow getting their attention by looking at them, winking while no one else notices and have them follow your eye gaze. At the same time, you have to be alert to receive other players winks and follow their eye gaze. There are no turns which makes it more fast paced and exciting. Everyone is looking at everyone and so it can be a challenge to get a wink in there. Lots of nervous laughter.

  • Prerequisites: Ability to process two things objectives at a time (giving and receiving the messages)
  • Skills Taught: Self-regulation, nonverbal communication

Telestrations: This game can be hilarous. A cross between telephone and Pictionary, players pick a card with a word on it and write and draw that word on an erasable sketch pad. They then pass the pad to the person next to them and that person has to try to figure out what the picture is and then write the word for it and then draw their version of that word on the next page. Needless to say the original word and the ending word and picture almost always take unexpected directions. Kids experience how ideas/pictures change as each person views the picture through their own lens. There are no wrong answers, winner or losers either!

  • Prerequisites: None!
  • Skills Taught: Sense of Humor, Theory of mind

Tweens can be an unpredictable crew and attention spans for what they are not interested in run short. These games are all played fairly quickly which not only gives them a quick satisfaction, it lets you as the facilitator judge between rounds if you should continue with another round or start something new. It also gives the facilitator multiple opportunities to assess the skills that may be being targeted through the game. Lastly, game playing is a social leisure skill that is important to carry through life. Starting with these fun and easy games will give the typically insecure tween the confidence to join others in the future.

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