Cooperative games

Here are some fun games that encourage the class to work together towards a common objective.


The scarf is falling 

The group walk around the space. A child is chosen to hold a floaty chiffon scarf. At random they throw it in the air and shout “The scarf is falling”. Whoever is nearest helps catch the scarf before it falls. If successful, more scarves can be introduced at the same time.



The group sit with their eyes closed. They have to count to ten by shouting out each number. If anyone talks over another they go back to 1. If anyone makes a mistake they go back to 1. This game promotes concentration and generosity (not hogging all the numbers!)


Follow the leader 

Warm up version. The children stand in a circle. The teacher begins as the leader and starts moving on the spot and the rest of the group must copy. When the teacher is ready to pass the leader role she/he makes eye contact with the person next to them who then takes over. This makes a good physical warm up as well as a co-operative game.

Advanced version. A child is chosen to be the detective and leaves the room. A leader is picked within the circle and begins to lead some movements, changing them every now and then. The detective re-enters and has three guesses to guess the leader.


Human Sculptures

The class begin walking in the space avoiding eye contact. The teacher calls out ‘hand to hand’.  Everyone stops and is joined using hand to hand contact thus making a ‘human sculpture’. The game is continued by everyone once again walking in the space. Sudden contact is achieved each time by the teacher calling out one of the following:

Hand to hand

Elbow to elbow

Finger to finger

Hand to shoulder

Shoulder to shoulder etc.


Catch Ball

The class are standing in a circle and each child clearly says their name out loud in the circle before the game begins. One student throws a ball to another student across the circle, saying their own name and the name of the student they are throwing it to. Example: Ali to Kim, Kim to Jo and so on. You can add another ball into the circle so there are two mini games going on simultaneously.


Robber & Guard  

The children stand in a circle. One child is chosen as the robber and stands with his/her back turned. The teacher picks another student to be ‘Guard’ and places an object in the middle to be the ‘booty’. Robber creeps into the circle to steal the booty, not knowing who the guard is. As soon as the robber touches the booty, the guard tries to catch him/her. If the guard catches the robber he/she becomes the next robber. The robber must leave the circle at the same point he/she entered.


Getting to know you

You will need music for this game and a large space to play it in. When the music starts, players walk around quickly in all directions, avoiding contact. When the music stops, each player shakes hands with the nearest person and discovers as much new information about them as possible until the music restarts (5-7 seconds). The process is then repeated but each time the players must greet someone new. The game continues until they have all met.


Fruit Bowl

The children sit in a circle on chairs. One person stands in the centre. The leader goes around the circle giving each child the name of a fruit – orange, apple, banana, orange, apple, banana… The person in the centre calls out the name of one of these fruits. All the children who have been given that name have to get up and switch chairs while the player in the centre tries to sit down on a vacant chair. The child who failed to get a chair becomes the person in the middle and the game continues. If the person in the centre calls “fruit bowl” then everyone has to get up and switch chairs.


The Sun Shines On

This is a variation on the game Fruit Bowl. The children sitting around the circle are not given a name of a fruit, in this game they must get up and move chairs if the person in the middle says something that relates to them. So the person in the middle might say, “the sun shines on: everyone wearing a jumper” or “the sun shines on: everyone who brushed their teeth this morning”.

All those people that the statement is true for must get up and move. It gets more interesting when you ask things you may not know, such as “who supports [football team]?”, “who likes [pop group]?”, “who had toast for breakfast?”, etc. There should be fewer places to sit than players so that the last person has to go in to the middle and decide the new category.



Ask the children to get into groups of about 8

Everyone stands in a circle and closes their eyes. Then they all move together into the centre and lift up their arms in the air. Each person then takes another person’s hand until everyone is holding two hands. Then the children open their eyes and they must try to untangle themselves and get back to a circle without breaking hands. This game requires a great deal of co-operation and is very good in encouraging not only teamwork but also good communication between participants.

You can ask a group to do this in the middle of a circle of children who become the audience.


Human play dough

Get the children to walk around the room filling all the spaces.  You could suggest different ways of walking or moving ie. sadly, happily, like a monster, as if walking through jelly or a storm.   The leader calls out a number from 1 to the whole class.  The children get into groups of that number. You then ask the group to make the shape of that number using their bodies.  Then send them off moving around the room again.  The game is repeated but you can add in a whole range of suggestions for them to make with their bodies. The object of the game is for the children to make the stated letter, number, shape or word as quickly as possible by co-operating with each other.


Hug tag

A simple tag game with one or two people on. People are safe if they are hugged by someone else. Hugs can only last three seconds. It is possible to grab a partner if you need help or hold out your arms to offer sanctuary to someone in danger of being caught.


Let’s Build a Machine

The children try to make a moving machine with their bodies. The leader says get into groups of…. (4, 5, 6…) and then the children have to work together to make a machine with each child being a component. The machines can either be imaginary or real, such as a washing machine, an orange squeezer or a pinball machine. When each group shows their machine then the others can try and guess what it is. Sounds can be added too.


Sound Machine

Standing in a circle, the leader explains to the children that they are going to create a sound machine. The game begins with the leader making a made up sound and repeating that sound over and over again. Then the person next to the leader in the circle makes a different sound and repeats it, and then the next person and so on until everyone in the circle is making a different sound and the sound machine is complete.

The leader can then control the volume of the sound machine by lowering and raising their hands. You could explore different themes or emotions that the machine could make.

This activity would also work well with a whole class.


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