Why cooperative games over competitive games?
...encourage children play with one another.
...allow everybody to win and suceed.
...eliminate fear of failure.
...let children play for play's sake.
...do not allow for elimination.
...are fun and supportive.
...build feeling of worth.
...encourage children to play against one another.
...allow only half or one of the group to win.
...equate loss with failure.
...let children play to beat the other guy or girl.
...have frequent elimination.
...are not always fun and supportive!
"Children nurtured on cooperation, acceptance, and success have a much greater chance of developing strong self concepts,
just as children nurtured on balanced diets have a greater chance of developing strong and healthy bodies."
Group Simon Says - Warm-up with 3 or 4 per group for Simon Says. If a student makes a "mistake", have them move to
another group. Change group leaders every minute.
Mingle - Students cross arms and bend at waist. On command "mingle", students move around a designated area whispering
"mingle, mingle, mingle." teacher then calls out a number(ex. "3". Students must then get into groups of 3, hold hands and
sqaut or sit down. Those not in a group must hop on one foot during next immediate "mingle" action. Repeat above procedure
using a different number.
Spray Bottle Relay - This is a great warm weather activity. Divide your class into groups of 2. Each group is given
a blinfold and a place to start. Each group needs a chair or object to place their spraybottle,(25 feet away from start line),(each
group gets a spraybottle as well). One person from each group is blindfolded. Their partner is "the navigator". On signal,
the navigator verbally directs their blinfolded partner to their spraybottle. Once the bottle is reached, the navigator directs
their partner to other students so he/she can spray them. Switch after time period. The students love this cooperative game.
Knots (3-6) - Mingle to groups of 5 or 6. Have students stand in a circle formation shoulder to shoulder. Each student
holds 2 hands but not from the same person. The object is to untie your knot so your group is standing in a circle with their
hands joined. They may rotate their hands without letting go to help accomplish this fun task.
Choo-Choo (2-6) - Divide class into 2 large circles. Designate 1 engineer from each group. They each "choo choo" to
another student in their group, introduces self and asks the other student their name. The engineer then leads a cheer using
person's name and the person being cheered for puts their hands on the engineers shoulders and they continue to a new student
in their group. Continue until all students in the group are attached to the train....Sample cheer: "John, John, John, John!"
Dragon's tail (3-6) - Stay in the choo choo formation. Choo Choo is now a dragon. Put a rag or jump rope on last student
in line. The object is for the head of the dragon to catch its tail without breaking the body of the dragon. If the head catches
the tail...have the head become the new tail...or switch after short time period.
Giant Hug (K-6) - Students stand in a large circle holding hands. One student lets go of one hand and moves to the
center of the circle with others following. They continue to hold hands and move around the center person "wrapping" around
and around that person forming a giant hug.
Variation - Challenge your giant hug to move, as a unit from point "A" to point "B".
Shark Hunters (3-6) - use a circle square on blacktop.
Sharks: People outside of the circle.
Shark Hunters: People inside the circle.
Without going out of the circle(boat), shark hunters try to pull as many sharks into the boat as possible to become shark
hunters. Likewise, sharks are trying to pull shark hunters into the water to become sharks.
Blob (4-6) - Use a basketball court for the play area. Tag game. 1 person starts as "it". When it tags someone they
latch elbows and become the blob. Each person tagged becomes part of the blob. Only the ends of the blob may tag.
Pair Tag (4-6) - Students are in pairs, one person with his/her hands on shoulders. On command "go", each pair tries
to hook onto another pair while avoiding being hooked onto themselves.
Lap Sit (4-6) - The objective is to get the whole group sitting on each others lap while in a circle formation.
Blindfold Relays - 15 blinfolds are needed or 1 for every 2 students. Players stand in lines of 4. The first 2 students
in line start on "go" signal. The one in front is blindfolded and the one in back is following while shouting directions without
touching blinfolded student. They noth go around a designated cone and back. They tag the next 2 students to repeat. Again,
the first person in the 2nd group is blinfolded.
Total Movement Relays - Each team of 6 players is grouped in a circle with 1 player in the middle and 5 players holding
hands. On "go", the team takes off with the middle player running and staying right in the middle. 1 person on the team must
cross the designated line, then the whole team takes off for the starting line. When starting line is crossed by 1 person,
then team exchanges the player in the middle for a new one and they take off again. Continue until everyone has been in the
Gotcha (3-6) - Play mingle and get students into groups of 4. Choose 1 student in each group to be the target and 2
for gaurds. The 4th student will be the chaser. The 2 guards and 1 target put their hands on each others shoulder and make
a triangle formation. The chaser tries to tag the target while the gaurds move the in a circular motion to help protect the
target. Have students rotae after a short time period.
Variation - Use other sounds such as snakes, birds, dogs, cats, motorcycles, trains, etc.
Team Puzzle-Solving - Hand out different color puzzle parts to all players. On "go" signal, students seek out players with
same color puzzle parts and work as a team to put the puzzle together.
Picture-Puzzle Solving - Cut up pictures into five or six pieces. Pass out one piece of a picture to each student.
On the "go" signal students must seek out other players that have similar picture parts and put them back to form the picture.
Shoe Scramble (K-6) - Divide the class in half. Form 2 circles. Everyone takes off 1 shoe and places it in the center.
All join hands. With joined hands each person must pick up 1 shoe, locate the owner and return it to them without breaking
their joined hands. "Thank you" sounds real nice in this activity.
Mirrors - Partners face each other. One student begins the activity by moving his/her hand and arm slowly enough that
his/her partner can mirror it. The objective is NOT for the leader to trick the follower, but to enable the partner to follow
successfully. Change roles and use other body parts.
Pencil in the Bottle - You will need 1 string, pencil and bottle for every 2 students. Tie the pencil to the middle
of the string. While holding the ends of the string, the partners try and place the pencil in the bottle. Have them switch
parnters after some time.
Train Relays - Each team of 5 players is lined up. All participants have their hands on the shoulders of the runner
in front of them. On "go" signal, the team takes off and circles the cone and returns to cross the starting line by circling
the cone there. As the team circles the starting line cone the lead student on the train steps out and joins the back of the
train and the team relays again. This procedure takes place until everyone is back in starting position on the starting line.
Variation - Use a jump rope for the team members to hold onto instead of each others shoulders.
Note - Make sure you have wide lanes for turning and short distance for the trains to travel(20 yds).
Quick Line-Up - Players are divided into 4 groups with each group forming 1 side of a square. All teams must be equidistant
from the leader who stands in the center. each team has its players standing in order of height, with the shortest player
on the right and the tallest on the left. The leader pivots in place in the middle of the square being careful not to tip
off which direction they will stop. As soon as the leader completes turning and faces 1 team , all teams race to gain their
proper position, lining up in height as described above. The first team to line up in new postion scores a point. They must
move individually withoout holding hands.
Variation - Have the leader move to a new postion on the field, making the students run to follow and keep up.
People to People - This activity emphasizes partner concept. Each child starts with a partner. Teacher calls body parts and
the students respond by touching partner in said body part,(side to side, back to back, elbow to knee, etc.), On the signal,
"people to people", new partners must be formed. Make sure the students solve the problems of getting a partner. Group discussion
on this type of problem solving usually follows the lesson.
El Tigre, La Persona, Y La Camara - Players are divided into 2 teams. each team goes to one side of the activity area.
Each team huddles and decides whether it will be the "tiger", the "person" or the "camara". When both teams agree they advance
towards each other. On a signal from the leader, every team mamber strikes the agreed-upon pose. The pose that rules then
chases and tries to tag the opposite players as they move back towards their own end line. If they are tagged they become
mebers of the opposing team. Tigers rule over person, Person rules over camera, and the camera rules over the tiger.
Tiger - arms raised over head, hands extended as claws.
Person - knees bent, arms extended to sides.
Camera - hands held in front of face as though snapping a camera.
Variation - Use different movements such as hopping, skipping, jumping, etc.
Scavenger Hunt - Divide the group into teams of 4 to 6. The number of teams and their size depends upon the number
playing and the amount of space. teams are dispersed so that eaxh one is distinct and approximately equal distance from the
Each team sends one player to be the leader. the leader names an item of clothing, something that a person might be carrying
or have in a pocket, purse, or some other article that might be somewhere in the room,(such as a shoelace, ring, shirt, comb,
a book, a nickel, etc.). As soon as the players know what item they are to get, they simultaneously race back to their teams
and ask for the article. The player reporting to the leader cannot offer an item of his or her own if they have it. he or
she and their teammates can get the item anywhere. They are not limited to possesions of members of their team.
Once the article is produced or found by any member of the team, the player who had gone out originally takes it and runs
back to the leader. The first person back to the leader with the article scores a point for their team.
Match Mates - Students are in scattered formation. When the music starts, players begin walking around in the specific
area. When the music stops, the players freeze and listen to the leader, who tells how the groups will be formed: "Show us
how quickly you can form groups by the color of your eyes." After the group is formed, players greet each other. Players repeat
the activity, performing other locomotor movements,(running, jumping, hopping), and using other criterion for group formation(month
of birth, classroom row, first vowel in last name, etc.).
Stress It is everyone's responsibility to welcome and support all players in the group.
Roadway - All players are standing on the same side of the square. One partner stands behind the other. Front partner
is the "car" who places his/her hands at their sides and closes their eyes. Back partner is the "driver" who places their
hands on the partner's shoulders. On the "go" signal, they walk across to the opposite side of the square. The "driver" guides
the car safely(without bumping others) by gently turning the partner's shoulders in the direction in which he or she must
go to avoid a collision. Once across, partners change positions.
Hint - Discuss the concept of giving and receiving trust before playing the game. Stress the importance of avoiding collisions.
Variation - Mingle the groups to 4. Hands on shoulders of person in front of you. Only the leader has their eyes open and
leads his truck around w/o colliding into other trucks. When the music stops the leader goes to the end of the line and you
have a new leader. Play until all students have been the leader.
Sticky Popcorn - The game starts by pretending that the floor is the hot part of a range. All the players crouch on
the floor, and the stove is turned on. The "floor" becomes hotter and hotter, and the players begin to "pop" all over the
place. they can pop as many times as they like. Once the players have popped into fluffy kernals, an imaginary syrup is poured
all over them so that they become very sticky. When the players brush against one another, they stick together. The stuck-together
ones then pop around to find other people to stick to, until everyone is one giant popping popcorn ball.
Teaching suggestion - Use music for the heat. Start the music off softly and increase the volume level as if you were increasing
the heat. The song "The Heat is On" is a great one to use.
Musical "Hug/Handshake" Game - This is a wonderful "Good Morning, Welcome!" activity, or "Let's start the day out great!".
- All players are scattered throughout the playing area. When the music begins, all players skip, jog, walk, or whatever pattern
you choose. When the music stops, players must find someone to "hug or shake hands with". Players now become "hugging" partners.
Music begins again and partners move around the room together until the music stops. Together, they fins another set of partners
to hug or shake hands with. They link up, music starts, activity continues until everyone finishes in one giant hug or handshake!
What a way to start the day!
Hug O' War
I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war.
Where evryone hugs
instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins. Shel Silverstein
Musical Hoops - This game is like musical chairs, except hoops are eliminated, not players. The game starts with enough
hoops scattered on the floor for all players, minus one(or with large group: 1 hoop per pair). Players move around the playing
area using designated locomotor pattern. When the music stops, players must find a hoop amd "freeze". Some hoops will have
to be shared by more than one player as more hoops are removed. The object is to share space cooperatively until there is
only one hoop left, and all players must "work at" getting some part of everyone's body in the hoop. This can really be a
giggly kind of activity. The focus should be on "sharing" and "working" for a common goal.
Variation - This variation involves a circle of hoops. Divide your class into even groups. each group is assigned to a circle
of hoops to begin the activity. each group has enough hoops for everyone in a circle formation minus 1. Ex. 4 groups of 6
players per circle would need 5 hoops per circle. When the music begins, players move around the outside of their circle of
hoops. When the music stops, all players must find a hoop. The player that does not find a hopp needs to move to another circle.
This variation keeps everyone moving and included in the game.
The Match Game - You will need a large box filled with matched sets of cards and objects, letter, shapes, colors, etc....your
- Place a large box in the center of the playing area. All cards are placed inside; when the teacher gives the "go" signal,
players select a card from the box. They must then move around the room,(by given locomotor pattern), looking for their "match"
card. When a match is found players become partners and continue to move around the play area holding hands, or walking side
by side, until all matches are made. teacher checks the matches and the game begins again when cards are placed back in the
Dragons and the Dragonslayer - Get as many gator skin balls as you can...I would say almost 1 per student. Dragons
are made up of 2 or more students holding on to each others waist. The number of dragons, will depend on the number of people
playing. Decide how many dragons will begin the activity(2-3 might be best to start). Everyone else forms a large circle.
These players are the "Dragonslayers". They must throw the gator skin balls and try and hit the tails of the dragon below
the waist. The head of the dragon guides his player/players around the circle trying to avoid the dragonslayers. Of the tail
is hit, the tail moves up in the dragon line and becomes part of the dragons body. The head of the dragon rotates and becomes
the tail. Throws can only be made from the circles edge. The dragons cannot touch the ball.
Hit and Run Teamball - 2 even groups are chosen. One team is in the field and the other team is at bat. There are no
outs in this activity. All members of the batting team line up next to each other minus the batter. When the batter hits/kicks/throws
the ball, all players on the batting team must run around the bases. When the fielder stops the ball the must freeze. Everyone
on the fielding team must run to the fielder and "touch" the ball. As soon as all fielders touch the ball the original fielder
must roll the ball toward 2 cones set up as a goal at home plate before all the runners return. If accomplished before all
runners return home, the fielding team scores 1 point. If not, then the batting team scores one point. Rotate after all players
"bat" or after every 3 batters.
Cooperation Volleyball - 8 per group. More than 1 game can be played if space and equipment allows. Each member of
the team takes postion around a sheet. 1 player is stationed at ech coern of the shhet with the other team members filling
in the middle areas on each side. The ball is placed in the middle of the sheet. This team tries to "fling" the ball over
the net. The ball must be "caught" by the opposite team and returned. The number of times the ball is caught, is counted for
both teams - collective scoring. The challenge becomes the highest number of catches and tosses that can be made cooperatively
by both teams. Try for a "class record". Cooperation between team members is essential. They must work together as a unit
to perform all activity related tasks. Cooperation between teams makes it fun.
Parent Penguin had seven children
Seven children had Parent Penguin
And they couldn't walk
An they couldn't talk
All they could do was... (sequential actions)
1. Tap 1 foot
2. Tap 2 feet
3. Flap 1 arm
4. Flap 2 arms.
5. Knod head
6. Stick out tongue
7. Jump up in air flapping arms
All Aboard - The object of this activity is to see how many people can get on a 2'x 2' (or 4'x 4') platform at one time. Remember
that one of your responsibilities as a teacher is to encourage safety.(Rohnke, 1984)
Balance Broom - In this activity, partners work together. The first partner attempts to balance the broon (plastic
golf tube) on end of the palm for a slong as possible. The second partner watches and offers feeback. Change roles and repeat.
Try on the back of the hand, elbow, or chin! How about placing a tennis ball on the other end?(Rohnke, 1984)
Beach Ball Balance - This activity works well with any type of ball - especially a sponge ball. Begin with the ball
on the ground and 2 students. The object of the activity is to pick up the ball, forehead to forehead, without using hands.
How about other body parts?(Orlick, 1982)
Beach Ball Boogie Train - Give everyone a beach ball (or sponge ball) and ask them to form a train with a partner so
that only the gentle pressure of one persons stomach on another's back holds the ball in place. While moving to the beat of
the music, the small units gradually link up until there is one long train.(orlick, 1982)
Boop - A group of 4-6 peolpe join hands in a circle and try to keep a baloon aloft with any part of their body. Try
playing with isolated body parts. Is it possible to kepp the baloon off the floor by blowing only?(Rohnke, 1984)
Circle Massage - Everyone stands ina circle facing in the same direction and places his/her hands on the shoulders
of the person in front of him/her. Everyone receives and gives a gentle shoulder massage. After a minute, everyone makes an
about-face so that he/she is now massaging the shoulders of the person who just massaged him/her.