Body Language Activities to Improve Social Skills

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Body language affects how we speak and how we accept others. So knowing how to interpret and use body language effectively is important. This lesson provides some tips and activities for students to improve their body language.

Body Language

Students may struggle with socializing. They may want to make friends and better communicate but be at a loss on how to do so. Body language is a subtle skill that many students struggle with, so it is important to create fun and engaging activities to show how effective body language can be.

Their body language could make others think they are not open to communication, or that they are angry, even if it is just nervous energy. The way they put their arms together and hold their shoulders could change the dynamic for them in a conversation. But how can you teach them to use these body language cues? The following activities will help you find ways to do just that.

Activities to Interpret Body Language

Body Language

Interpreting body language is one of the first important steps in improving social skills. Once students know the cues, the better they can master them themselves.

Behavior Acknowledgement - Start class as normal. Begin teaching the topic for the day, but do so with hunched shoulders without looking the students in the eye. As you go through your lesson, fold your arms. Even though you haven't told your students what you're doing, it's likely they will start acting differently; they may even ask you if you are okay. This is when you bring up the topic of body language and how important it is to be aware of how much it affects others. Then, go through the rest of the lesson with your arms open, a straight back, and a cheery voice. This will help students differentiate between positive and negative body language.

It Doesn't Match - This is another version of the previous activity. Pick a morose topic that normally would be discussed with a straight face, then smile widely as you talk about it, keep your arms open, maybe even gesticulate to show your excitement. Your students may actually be slightly disturbed by your happiness over the grave topic. But this is exactly what you need to show your class that just body language conveyed your mood.

What is the Meaning? - Now that students understand body cues and how some of them are interpreted, you can use this to start another activity. Give 4-6 index cards to half of the class with different body language cues. Pair them up with the other half of the class, but tell them not to share the cards. Now have the carded students use the body language on the cards one at a time, to see if the other students can determine what it means. Some of the body language can be: timid voice/confident voice, slouched head/shoulders, avoiding or direct eye contact, smiling too much or too little, arms folded or open, too close or too far away, and tone of voice.

Activities to Effectively Use Body Language to Improve Social Skills

Once students can see the effect of body language, then they can learn how to use it.

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