What Is Communication? For Grades K-3

In these two fun classroom activities, students practice sending and receiving messages and consider what communication is.

Learning Outcome

  • Students will define communication as a process of speaking and listening.
  • Students will practice sending and receiving messages carefully.

Materials Needed

  • Agenda written on chalkboard or chart paper
  • Select a large object for description exercise (see lesson for details)
  • Students should have a sheet of paper and pens or pencils available


Quickly pair each student with the person next to them. Give each pair two minutes to take turns talking. Ask each student to tell their partner: What is something most people don't know about you? Let them know when the time is about half up so they can switch.

Ask three or four volunteers to share, "popcorn style" what they said. (They should only speak for themselves, not for their partner.)


Check Agenda

Go over the day's plan and ask if it seems okay.

Who's the Leader?

Introduction: One person will leave the room. Someone in the room will become the leader. This person will make different motions, and whenever s/he changes the motion, everyone will follow. When the person who left the room returns, s/he will try to figure out who the leader is.

A. Select a volunteer to leave the room, then select a leader. Ask the leader to begin making a motion (e.g., tapping head, clapping hands, standing on one foot) as everyone follows. At any time, the leader may change the motion, which everyone must follow.

B. Ask the student who left the room to return and try to figure out who the leader is.

C. Discuss:

  • What did the observer do to figure out who was the leader?
  • What did other people do to try to prevent the observer from figuring out who was the leader?
  • What are some things people could have done to help the observer if they wanted him or her to get the answer quickly?

What is Communication?

In the exercise just completed, there was communication among people. Ask: How were people communicating? What is communication? What other ways do people communicate? What are some of the steps in the process of communication?

(Obviously, a short discussion can't do justice to these questions. Communication is an extremely complex topic. Our aim here is simply to raise the questions and get the students thinking about them.)


Description Game

Introduction: To consider some other elements of communication, the class will play a description game. We'll ask three different people to describe the same thing, and we'll compare the three descriptions.

A. Ask a volunteer to leave the room. When s/he returns, s/he will be asked to see if s/he can guess an object from the descriptions given by three different people.

B. While the volunteer is out of the room, select an object in the room that everyone can see (for instance, a bulletin board or a large globe). Give students two or three minutes to write a description of the object. Warn students not to look at the object when the volunteer comes back into the room so as not to give away the answer.

C. Bring the volunteer back into the room. Have three volunteers read their descriptions and see if the volunteer can guess the object. If s/he can't, have more people read their descriptions.

D. Once the volunteer has identified the object, ask him or her: What was that like? What gave you the best clues as to what the object was?

E. Ask the class:

  • What did you think about when you were deciding what parts of the object to describe?
  • What was easy about describing the object? What was hard?
  • What was similar about the descriptions? What was different?

F. Summarize: Two important processes in communication are observation and thoughtful selection of what elements to describe.


Ask a few volunteers, What are some things you became aware of today that you hadn't thought about before?


Go-round. Ask: What's one word you would use to describe an apple?


We welcome your thoughts and suggestions about these activities! Please email us at: info@morningsidecenter.org.