25 Fun Turn-Taking Activities for Kids (Classroom & Home) (2023)

Turn-taking activities for kids: In this post, we will explore how to teach turn-taking skills to kids across multiple settings. We will also share fun and helpful turn-taking activities and games for the classroom and home.

Turn-taking is an important social skill that plays a vital role in the development of communication skills and successful social interactions.

We use turn-taking skills in our everyday life when it comes to playing games, having conversations or even sharing resources and information at work or school.

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What is Turn-Taking?

Turn-taking is an activity or behavior that happens alternately or in succession between two or more individuals.

Turn-taking is an important social skill that plays a vital role in developing communication skills and successful social interactions.

The American Psychological Association defines turn-taking as follows:

In social interactions, alternating behavior between two or more individuals, such as the exchange of speaking turns between people in conversation or the back-and-forth grooming behavior that occurs among some nonhuman animals. Basic turn-taking skills are essential for effective communication and good interpersonal relations, and their development may be a focus of clinical intervention for children with certain disorders (e.g., autism)

Why is Turn-Taking Important?

Turn-taking is an essential skill for effective social interactions.

Children lacking basic turn-taking skills may struggle with:

  • communication and often interrupt speakers
  • interpersonal relationships
  • building healthy/meaningful friendships

Research shows that, even at a very early age, conversational turns have a positive influence onvocabulary growth.

Types of Turn-Taking

In this post, we will explore turn-taking from three different perspectives:

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  • Conversations
  • Games
  • Sharing resource

Turn-taking in conversations

Turn-taking in conversations is the process of alternating the roles of speaker and listener.

In a successful conversation, the speaker should:

  • not talk for too long (that would look more like a monologue than a conversation)
  • not be interrupted
  • be able to recognize when others want to speak

The listener on the other hand should:

  • be able to read the cues that will allow them to take a turn (silence, tone, body language) and take over without a long pause

Turn-taking in games

Play has an essential role in children’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social learning.

If we focus on turn-taking skills:

  • Many physical activities and games encourage turn-taking
  • Games with rules may require turn-taking (as well as cooperation, competing, thinking about the other’s point of view and anticipating other people’s actions)

A prerequisite skill in many cases is waiting, as well as the ability to understand the concept of relinquishing your turn and requesting your turn.

Turn-taking and sharing

Sharing resources can be considered a form of turn-taking because it requires a level of reciprocity or team work.

Examples of kids needing to negotiate turns are:

  • requesting a turn on the swing in the playground
  • riding on the front seat next to a parent
  • using a school device

Who May Struggle with Turn-Taking?

There are a number of reasons why kids may struggle with turn-taking:

  • Preschoolers struggle with turn taking because they haven’t yet learned the “appropriate” expectations in regards to turn-taking and/or sharing.
  • Children who lack social skills and/or language may also struggle with this skill.
  • Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may have difficulties reading social cues or even wanting to engage in turn-taking activities.
  • Children with ADHD or impulsive behavior may struggle with waiting for their turn.

Some Cues that Signal Turn-Taking

Games have clear rules that signal turn-taking.

But conversations tend to flow following more subtle cues.

Conversational Turn-Taking Cues

These are some examples of conversation turn-taking cues:

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  • Nonverbal cues such as facial expressions
    • The speaker pauses and makes eye-contact with the listener, then the listener knows it’s their turn to contribute.
    • A person’s facial expression may indicate boredom or lack of interest. Therefore, it’s time to relinquish your turn or end the conversation entirely.
  • Voice / Intonation
    We can even help children identify the subtleties of lowering pitch and volume when the speaker has finished speaking
  • Questions
    Sometimes the change of turn is signaled by a question posed by the speaker
    • I had a great weekend, how about you?

These skills require a level of practice that sometimes happens naturally, but many times can require systematic teaching.

Turn-Taking in the Classroom

The classroom is a setting with rules of its own.

When it comes to the relationship between teacher and student, the teacher generally dictates the turn-taking.

For example, many teachers require their students to raise their hand rather than call out an answer or ask a question.

The act of raising one’s hand is a cue for the teacher that the child has something to say.

In the same way that the teacher asking a question and requiring a response is a cue for the students that it is their turn to talk.

This flow is what allows for learning and progression.

Strategies toTeach Kids How to Take Turns

Before we move into our fun turn-taking activities we are going to review a few strategies that will help us teach kids to take turns:

  1. Modeling/Practice
    Any new skill should ideally be modeled to the child frequently. If a child sees you sharing resources or participating in a conversation with their older sibling, they will learn what appropriate turn-taking involves.
  2. Reminders
    While learning turn-taking skills, some children may need reminders consistently in order to learn. While some children may learn how to take turns without an structured methodology, other children may need a more structure and accommodations.
    • Verbal reminders such as, “it is now Becky’s turn to use the truck” can serve this purpose.
    • Auditory Cues
      Other parents and teachers opt to use a timer within a structured setting to serve as an auditory cue. For example, “when the timer goes off, it is time to switch essays with your partner”, or “when the timer goes off, it’ll be Becky’s turn with the computer”.
    • Visual Reminders
      For teachers working on this skill within a classroom setting, they may opt to display visual reminders around the classroom to remind all students of the expectation to raise one’s hand to ask a question or make a comment.
      They may also have smaller visuals taped to the students’ desk as an individual reminder.
  3. Social Stories
    In some cases, teachers and/or parents create social stories in which the student can be seen doing the actions of raising their hand and asking questions.
    A personalized visual representation, such as a social story can be helpful.
    Parents may opt to explain why turn-taking is important and what the benefits are, such as making friends who actually want to talk to you, because “you’re a good listener”
  4. Opportunity
    The term opportunity refers to the idea that the parent or teacher allows for “mistakes” to happen and guide them towards appropriate turn taking.
    Practice having them say “your turn” and “my turn”.
    Practice having them point to others when it’s the other person’s turn and pointing to themselves when it’s their own turn.
    Giving them the opportunity to engage in conversations that require eye contact and the reciprocity of conversations is just as important as the reminders.
  5. Watching Videos
    In some cases, when children have a hard time taking turns in conversations, we can teach children how to do so by watching videos of people having conversations.
    This strategy is used to help students really dissect parts of the conversation and help them identify the different aspects and/or requirements. It’s similar to how language teachers teach grammar by helping them identify nouns, verbs, subjects and predicates in a sentence.

25 Turn-Taking Activities and Games

There are a number of activities that parents and teachers can use to teach turn-taking to kids.

Let’s explore some turn-taking activities in the following categories:

  • Conversational Turn-Taking Activities (5 activities)
  • Turn-Taking Activities / Sharing Resources (4 activities)
  • Turn-Taking Games (13 games)
  • Turn-Taking in Special Education(3 tools)

Conversational Turn Taking Activities & Games

  1. Talking Stick25 Fun Turn-Taking Activities for Kids (Classroom & Home) (1)
    The talking stick or turn talking stick is literally just a little stick from outside, decorated in a cute way.
    Only the student holding the stick is able to talk.
    After they have shared their views on a topic or their feelings they can pass the stick to another student.
  1. Conversation Ball
    If you are up to date with my posts, you know how much I like conversation balls.
    You can use a conversation ball to start many meaningful conversations (self-esteem, anger control, conversation practice), but it is also an excellent activity to practice taking turns.
    The kid holding the ball talks about a certain topic and passes the turn to another person by throwing the ball to the next speaker.
    You can do this activity with any ball you have around or use a conversation ball with purposely built-in topics like this one.
  1. Conversation Role-Play
    Pair students and ask them to represent a short conversation on a certain topic.
    Built in to the instructions some of the cues that tell the turn has finished and is time to take the turn.
    Some examples of cues that indicate the turn is about to be taken:
    • a silent /pause
    • body language (speaker looks at the eyes of the listener after a pause)
    • a question (I had a wonderful weekend! How about you)

For more subtle cues you may be the lead character and ask the student what cues signaled their turn. Ask the classroom too.

  1. Conversation Videos
    Watch videos with conversations and ask the students to identify the signs of turn-taking.
  1. Continue the Story
    Create a story as a team.
    Start telling a story and pause after a few sentence. Pass the turn to one of your student (or kids). After a couple of lines, the kid passes the turn to somebody else. Continue until everybody has taken a turn contributing to the story.

Fun Turn-Taking Activities

A simple way to teach turn taking is to identify activities that need cooperation to produce a finished result.

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We can turn any fun activity into a turn-taking activity just by making some modifications:

  1. Team Drawing
    Organize your students in pairs. Hand in a color by number simple drawing and divide the coloring pens giving half to each student.
    Name a color, whoever has that color owns the turn and can start painting. Continue until you have gone through all the colors in the drawing.
  1. Mr Potato
    Take turns to create the craziest possible Potato Head. This can be a fast pace turn-taking activity.
  1. Magnetic Face Puzzle
    Take turns to create a funny face with a magnetic face puzzle.

Remember to model turn-taking:

  • “Now it’s is my turn to find some funny eyes”
  • “Oh, it is your turn! What part of the clown’s face will you be adding now?”
  1. Build a Tower
    Build a tower as a team. Take turn to place bricks on the tower.

Turn-Taking Games

Most games that require more than one player require turn-taking.

But, if we are trying to teach kids turn-taking skills, ideally we should focus on turn-taking games and activities that have closed-ended turns.

For example, a game like Taboo may be too complex because the time interval can be anywhere from 1 minute to 3 minutes and within that turn, you have many turns and/or opportunities.

Games like Sorry or Trouble are much simpler because the person takes a turn by doing an action and then passes it on/relinquishes their turn.

But for younger children, even those may be a little confusing, and adults have to stay on top of it.

So, the recommendation when we use games to teach turn-taking would be to choose games that are straightforward to play and allow you to focus on teaching the turn taking in the process.

I don’t want to dump here a huge list of games, so I will just suggest a few options that fit the following criteria:

  • simple rules so that you can focus on turn-taking skills
  • fast pace, so that the turns change fast
  • not too intellectually demanding (since we are teaching how to take turns, I’m going to assume that we are working with younger kids or kids with developmental issues)

These first few games are great for turn taking, a simple action and move to the next player:

  1. Pop the Pig
  2. Crocodile Dentist
  3. Go Fish

Turn taking board games that have simple rules and are easy to play:

  1. Candy Land
  2. Sorry
  3. Trouble
  4. Chutes & Ladders

If you are looking for games that require a bit more strategizing:

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  1. Tic Tac Toe
  2. Connect 4
  3. Uno

And, if we want games that will require some motor skills:

  1. Dart Board (with balls instead of darts for the younger ones)
  2. Twister
  3. Jenga

Turn-Taking in Special Education

Teaching turn-taking in special education may require work on some other foundational skills:

  • understanding turn-taking ( the concept of relinquishing your turn and requesting your turn)
  • understanding social rules
  • developing waiting skills

The turn-taking teaching strategies that we have mentioned in our previous section will be an essential tool

  1. My Turn / Your Turn25 Fun Turn-Taking Activities for Kids (Classroom & Home) (2)
    My Turn/ Your Turn cards are visual support tools that prompt a turn change.

You can model the use of this cards by handing the “turn” card to your student saying “your turn”. Teach your student to do the same when they pass the turn to another student.

Image credits: Pictograms author: Sergio Palao /Origin: ARASAAC (http://www.arasaac.org). License: CC (BY-NC-SA). Owner: Government of Aragon (Spain)

  1. Say it Loud
    Use any opportunity presented in class or at home to use the words “my turn” and “your turn”
  • I think is my turn to choose a movie
  • It is your turn to help Mom set the table
  • It is my turn to go to the super market
  1. Social Stories or Social Narratives
    We have already mention social stories in our turn-taking strategies.

Social stories, social scripts or social narratives are short descriptions that describe a situation or event and indicate what are the expected social behaviors.

This stories assist kids who struggle with reading social cues (body language, voice tone, facial expression) or with understanding commonly accepted social rules.

Any social situation can be transformed into a social narrative.

An example of turn taking social stories could be:

  • When I go to the playground during recess, I will play on the swing and then I will let another kids have their turn. My teacher will let me know when my turn is up. She will give me a one minute warning so that I can prepare myself.


Turn-taking facilitates conversations and allows for appropriate social interactions. Whether turn-taking is the result of a conversation, playing a game or sharing a resource, the end result is the same. It develops satisfactory social experiences.

In this post, we discussed the different forms of turn-taking and certain strategies to use in order to teach it appropriately, such as modeling, social stories and even videos. We also included a list of tried and true games and activities for kids to get them comfortable with taking turns.

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Other Social Skills Resources for Kids

These are some other helpful resources to help kids build social skills:

  • I-Statement Worksheets
  • Self-Introduction for Kids (Worksheets)
  • Social Skills Activities for Kids
  • Conversation Starters for Kids
  • Listening Games and Activities
  • Apology Worksheets and Activities
  • Conflict Resolution Activities for Kids
  • Friendship Activities for Kids


What activities teach children to take turns? ›

Take turns doing activities such as stacking blocks, sliding down the slide, using the swing, racing a car down a track, scooping sand into a bucket, or wearing a crown. ∎ Use a timer or a song to measure a turn. Waiting is hard and children want to know when to expect their turn.

What are good turn-taking activities? ›

Turn it around Sit the children in a circle and give them a sequential activity to do, e.g. folding up a letter, putting it in an envelope, writing a name sticking down the envelope and delivering it. Allow each child to take a turn and say what they are doing.

What are examples of turn-taking games? ›

Physical outdoor games like ball catching or kicking, shooting hoops and chasey are great turn taking games that also develop coordination and motor skills. Indoor play with board games, cards and memory games are wonderful for practicing taking turns and to win and lose with games.

What are the 3 turn-taking strategies? ›

There are 3 types of turn taking strategies, namely taking the turn, holding the turn and yielding the turn. The purpose of this study is to answer the turn taking used in the classroom with the teacher and students as the participants.

How do I teach my turn turn? ›

Play with your toddler by taking turns with a toy. Talk about what you are doing and encouraging her to do the same. Look at a book together and take turns describing what you see. Toss a ball back and forth as each of you says “Mine!” or “My turn!” when it's your turn.

How do you encourage students to take turns? ›

Here are 7 Great ways to encourage and support turn taking skills
  1. Create sharing scenarios. Using puppets or dolls to promote good sharing is a great way for children to understand and imitate what they have observed. ...
  2. Sharing bins. ...
  3. Cooking. ...
  4. Paper plate friends. ...
  5. Board games. ...
  6. Sand Timers. ...
  7. Special Items.
Mar 26, 2016

What is turn-taking in play? ›

Turn-Taking in Play. Reciprocity, or participation in reciprocal turns, is integral to communication. This skill is an important gateway to meaningful communicative interactions, and without it communication will be much harder. After learning turn taking your child will begin to understand communicative exchanges.

Why is turn-taking important for kids? ›

Taking turns is an important part of communication development for young children. When children learn to take turns, they learn the basic rhythm of communication, that back-and-forth exchange between people. They also learn about taking turns and communication through serve and return interactions.

What type of skill is turn-taking? ›

Turn-taking is a critical social communication skill that moves far beyond simply sharing a toy with a peer or a sibling. After all, being able to take turns with items, activities, or even in conversation is important for everyone! Some examples of turn-taking include: 1.

What are turn-taking strategies? ›

The strategies needed to adhere to the rules of turn-taking include : 1-Recognizing when to take a turn . 2- Signalling that you want to speak and interrupting . 3-Holding the floor during your turn . 4- Recognizing when others want to speak .

What are the games we can sit and play? ›

Buy yourself some couch time with these easy games:
  • Follow the leader. No marching required! ...
  • Scavenger hunt. Draw pictures of household objects, like a cup, a hairbrush, and a pillow, then time your kid as she searches for the real things.
  • Sound off. ...
  • Ball game. ...
  • Stick together. ...
  • Sock it to me. ...
  • Don't wake the giant.

What are engaging games? ›

These top 10 classroom games provide fun ways to engage your students in academic learning, without them even realizing it!
  • Charades. ...
  • Hangman. ...
  • Scatter-gories. ...
  • Bingo. ...
  • Puzzles. ...
  • Draw swords. ...
  • Hot potato. ...
  • Pictionary.
Mar 2, 2018

What is the six 6 effective learning strategy? ›

Specifically, six key learning strategies from cognitive research can be applied to education: spaced practice, interleaving, elaborative interrogation, concrete examples, dual coding, and retrieval practice.

What is an example sentence for turn-taking? ›

John and I take turns to take the dogs for a walk. Our group will take turns talking during the presentation. We take turns doing the dishes in our house. My mom wants us to take turns washing the car.

What is the turn and talk strategy? ›

Turn and talk is an instructional routine in which students use content knowledge during a brief conversation with a peer. Students are provided with a short prompt to discuss content or a skill. Students turn to their predetermined partner and answer the prompt while their partner listens.

How is the third turn used in classroom interactions? ›

As part of the familiar three-turn sequence in pedagogical discourse, the third turn position in classroom talk is considered to play an important role in giving feedback on second turn answers produced by the students.

What are the 7 communicative strategies examples? ›

  • Nomination. Speaker carries to collaboratively and productively establish a topic. ...
  • Restriction. Refers to any limitation you may have as a speaker. ...
  • Turn-taking. Pertains to the process by which people decides who take the conversational floor. ...
  • Topic Control. ...
  • Topic Shifting. ...
  • Repair. ...
  • Termination.

What is taking turns? ›

: to do something one after another in regular succession in order to share the responsibility or opportunity of doing it : alternate. We take turns washing the dishes.

When can kids learn to take turns? ›

Children may be cognitively and developmentally ready to start taking turns at around age two. Even then, they will almost always need to be supported and guided by an adult. Sharing, on the other hand, is a complex collaborative process involving a common goal, and comes later, beginning around age four.

What is the most popular activity for kids? ›

The 15 Best Activities for Children to Help Them Learn Through...
  1. Sand. ...
  2. Water Play. ...
  3. Play Dough. ...
  4. Dress-Up and Role Play. ...
  5. Doll and Character Play. ...
  6. Drawing and Painting. ...
  7. Blocks, Jigsaws, and Shape Sorters. ...
  8. Music, Dancing, and Singing.

What is the best activity for kids? ›

70 Activities to Do with Kids at Home:
  • Play indoor hide and seek.
  • Conduct a science experiment. ...
  • Make a batch of DIY Gummy Bears.
  • Have a laugh with Alexa. ...
  • Have an extra amazon box laying around? ...
  • Ride a virtual roller coaster. ...
  • Try a new cookie or cake recipe.
Oct 10, 2021

What are daily activities for kids? ›

Toddlers and preschoolers: ideas for daily routines
  • getting ready in the morning.
  • eating meals.
  • spending time playing and talking together.
  • reading books or telling stories.
  • having quiet time and going to bed at night.
Nov 23, 2020

What is turn-taking in early childhood? ›

According to them, turn taking involves a form of pre-verbal and reciprocal communication that supports the development of language and joint attention skills – particularly when they're integrated with interventions that target certain outcomes for children with autism.

How do you encourage turn-taking in preschool? ›

Early turn-taking Give your child a toy and let them play with it. Then offer your child another toy, but only let him/her have it when the first one is returned. This helps your child to learn to give and take. Balls and bean bags Sit opposite your child and throw balls or bean bags to each other.

Why is turn and talk important in the classroom? ›

Evidence from research shows Turn and Talks help increase students' number of opportunities to respond in content discussions (e.g., MacSuga-Gage & Simonsen, 2015) and the increase in on-task behavior can help students who struggle with inattention (e.g., Locke & Fuchs, 1995).

What is the five indoor game? ›

For example, Ludo, Carrom, Puzzle, Card games, Chess, Table tennis, and board games. Play is a part of education and important for our life.

What is a fun indoor game? ›

Secret code scavenger hunt is a favorite after school indoor game for my boys. Frozen word hunt can be done in the bath, or on a tray. Rhyming games are great for any time and an excellent literacy builder. Sift-n-Spell adds a lot of learning into a sensory hunt.

What is indoor activities? ›

Indoor activities are carried out inside a space. They are limited to the conditions of the place where they are held, to the number of people participating in the activities, among other factors. Outdoor activities are carried out in an outdoor space. It can be a green space on a property or in contact with nature.

What is the best activity in classroom? ›

14 Fun Classroom Activities for Students
  1. Educational Bingo. This awesome game can be played in groups. ...
  2. Bleep. Bleep is an interesting memory game in which students are restricted to use certain words during reading comprehension. ...
  3. Pink Tac Toe. ...
  4. Sports Gallery. ...
  5. Blind Artist. ...
  6. Crazy Train. ...
  7. Four Corners. ...
  8. Sentence Race.
Jan 12, 2018

What is a fun game to play in class? ›


In the game of charades, students can study vocabulary words and learn public-speaking skills by doing physical exercise. One student performs actions or movements associated with a word while their classmates guess it out loud. The person who guesses the correct option receives the next word to perform.

When can children take turns? ›

Children may be cognitively and developmentally ready to start taking turns at around age two. Even then, they will almost always need to be supported and guided by an adult. Sharing, on the other hand, is a complex collaborative process involving a common goal, and comes later, beginning around age four.

Why should children take turns? ›

The ability to take turns in communication and in play, and the ability to share resources actually enables children to build a whole range of essential skills, and dispositions such as patience, resilience, empathy, emotional regulation and the socially acceptable or pro-social behaviours.

What are the rules of turn-taking? ›

The strategies needed to adhere to the rules of turn-taking include : 1-Recognizing when to take a turn . 2- Signalling that you want to speak and interrupting . 3-Holding the floor during your turn . 4- Recognizing when others want to speak .

What are simple turn-taking games for toddlers? ›

Building towers, blowing bubbles, pushing a car back and forward, and putting shapes in a shape sorter can all be made into good turn taking games for toddlers. Keep the turns short because toddlers only have short attention spans.

How do you explain turn to a child? ›

How to Teach Turn Taking Skills to Kids
  1. Use a visual cue to indicate whose turn it is. ...
  2. Use turn taking language (my turn, your turn) ...
  3. Model turn taking. ...
  4. Play games. ...
  5. Use a social story to explain why and how to take turns. ...
  6. Use a timer to indicate how long each turn will be.
Mar 3, 2017


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