Research shows that the one of the best ways to build connections between people is eye contact and touch. I was always looking for good ways to foster relationships so I loved including special “handshakes” in our morning routines. We sometimes called them handshakes, other times we referred to hugs.
I introduced these one at a time at the beginning of the year. The children would be standing in a circle, I would demonstrate the handshake and do it with the child on my right, I always tried to remind the children to turn and look at their partner while they were shaking hands. Then that child would turn and “pass the handshake” to the next child, and so on around the circle – back to me. After the children knew a variety of hugs, the special helper would choose which handshake we would do each day.
For most of these handshakes the children needed to know which was their right hand and which was their left. I cut 2 handprints from construction paper – the right hand was red, the left hand was green. On the red hand I put an American flag sticker. I put these on the wall near the flag so when the children were going to recite the Pledge of Allegiance they could hold up both hands and see which had the flag sticker, knowing that is the one they would put on their heart. I put another set of hands on the opposite side of the classroom so all the children could see them at circle time when we were doing these handshakes.
The first handshake I usually introduced was a Pinky Hug. Throughout the year this is the handshake the children used to greet adults who came to help or stopped into our classroom.
I made these picture cues to help the children remember the different hugs. A Pinky Hug meant the two children hooked the little finger from each of their right hands and shook it up and down gently.
For an elbow hug the partners hook their right arms together at the elbow.
Most kids are familiar with a high 5, I just reminded them to do it gently – a hug or handshake should NEVER hurt.
Kids held up their right thumbs and gently pushed them together – kissing sounds are optional!
Partners hooked their right thumbs together and wiggled their fingers for the butterfly wings.
Children bent their fingers and the two partners hooked them together. Then they gently pulled – first toward one child, then toward the other – like pulling a saw to cut a tree.
Each partner reached out their right hand – palms facing as if they were going to shake hands – but they placed their hand on the inside of the other child’s wrist instead. Then they gently flapped their fingers up and down like a flapping fish tail!
Kids turned around and gently pressed their backs together.
Children held up both hands as if they were going to do a high 5 and waved their hands from side to side.
Partners each held up one finger and pretended to blow it out like a candle.
Partners gently bump their right hips together.
Partners grasped each other’s right thumbs and moved them like a stick shift making a motorcycle noise – rhummm, rhummm.
Partners each made a fist with their right hand and gently pushed knuckles together.
Partners reached out their right hand, as if for a traditional handshake – but the placed their hand on the inside of the elbow of their partner, then slid their hands down each others arms. When they got palm to palm they gave a handshake.
This is a traditional handshake, but more fun when you call it a hand hug!
Partners gently pressed their right knees together.
I did not have children do Kangaroo hugs with each other. Sometimes I gave them a Kangaroo hug, and we also used it when each child had a parent at school for a special occasion. Basically you face your partner and wrap your arms around each other – then they both jump and the big person picks up the little person! Of course they love it!
I demonstrated all these hugs to the parents at our Valentine’s Day party. Here are printable copies of the clipart pictures.
These hugs and handshakes became an important part of our morning routines that the children really loved.