Classroom teachers can play a variety of cooperative games with their students to help them learn how to get along with their peers. Games that focus on teamwork skills show kids how to solve problems in an environment where everyone is a winner, no student is excluded, all kids join in and everyone has fun.
This game, described on the Fun Attic website, involves teams of four children working together to pass a volleyball to another team. To begin, give each team a large blanket. Have each member grab one of the corners. Position the teams about five feet away from each other. Place a volleyball in the center of Team One’s blanket. When both teams are ready, tell Team One to “serve” the ball to Team Two. The players must work together to bring the blanket down and raise it with enough force that the ball goes over toward Team Two. Team Two must try to catch the ball with the blanket. If they miss, place the ball on one of the blankets and let the teams try again.
Frozen Beanbag is a game described on the Games Kids Play website. To begin, provide each player with a small beanbag. Tell the children to spread out before the game begins. Tell the kids that when you blow a whistle, they must put their beanbags on their heads and begin walking around the area. If a player’s beanbag falls off her head, she must freeze. If another player can help his friend by replacing her beanbag without losing his own, both players can continue moving. After five minutes, stop the game and bring the players together. Have the players discuss how many times they helped a friend and how many times they were helped.
This game, provided by Anne-Marie on the Games Kids Play website, can be played by a group of about 10 students. Have the children stand in a circle. Select one of the children to be the game leader and give him a squishy Koosh ball. Tell him to choose a player standing across the circle, say her name loudly and gently toss the ball to her. After she catches the ball, have her choose another person who is standing across from her to toss the ball to. Continue the game, having the children toss the ball to someone new each time, until the game leader is the only player left to receive the Koosh ball. At this point, have the game leader start over by tossing the ball back to the same person he tossed it to at the beginning of the game. Have each player continue to receive the ball and then toss it to the same person they did during the first round. The players must pay attention in order to know when it is their turn and remember who to pass the ball to. After a few successful rounds, you may choose to speed things up and see how many times they can pass the Koosh ball without it falling.
Kimberlee Broaddus is a fourth grade teacher in California who has written articles for her school's monthly newsletter. She holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis on early elementary education. She currently sits on a district writing committee working on curriculum and assessments for local schools.