2 Encourage joint play. Cooperative activities, such as mixing play dough, adding pieces to complete a floor puzzle, or cutting up fruit for a salad, enable children to work, talk, and laugh together and learn to appreciate one another's abilities and strengths.
3 Make a bulletin board. Design bulletin board panels no higher than a child's eye level. Feature each child at the beginning of the year and add new children as they enroll. Tack up items such as each child's photo, family pictures, and drawings. Add a name label and dictated words about his favorite things.
4 Pave the way for interactions. Stay nearby to help with suggestions. Encourage a child to think about meeting others. Ask him, "Would you like to try that, too?" Coach him in ways to involve another child in his play. For instance, ask, "Why don't you ask Jake to join you in painting your dinosaur?"
5 Try some social engineering. Link children with similar interests. For example, suggest to Marley, "It looks like your zoo needs more animals. Let's ask Patty if she'd like to add her stuffed bear."
6 Incorporate helpful rituals. Provide special areas and activities that help children meet and get to know each other as they play each day. For example, they can turn over their name and picture cards at the door, or pour sand together at the sensory table. Invite them to sing a "hello song" together when they arrive.
7 Help children initiate conversations. Try using a puppet to help children practice smiling and using a friendly voice to let others know their feelings. Encourage them to involve another child by asking questions that invite interaction, such as, "Javier, would you like to ride on my train?"
8 Model making contact. Demonstrate how to get someone's attention by using children's names and making eye contact.
9 Create a class chart. Help children discover who else likes strawberry ice cream or whose favorite color is green. To foster discussion, design a graph with the various ways children come to school (by walking, taking a bus, or riding in a car).
10 Share stories. Discuss how children in books get to know others. For example, in Play With Me, by Marie Ets, a little girl learns to sit quietly and wait for her animal friends to come to play with her.