Group of children are playing in the park

Cooperative Games

Cooperative games are encouraging children to play with one another and allow everyone to win and succeed. They eliminate the fear of failure and it let children play for play’s sake. If they do not allow for elimination they will be fun and supportive. Through play, children build a sense of value, increase self-esteem, self-affirm, and also promote problem-solving and decision-making.


Around the World

Goal: To move participants through a series of hoops and back to their original hoop in the most efficient and timely manner possible.

Procedures for cooperative games:

  • Each participant must begin the challenge with both feet in a hoop and finish the task in that same hoop.
  • Participants must have at least one foot in a hoop at all times and never step on the ground outside of a hoop.
  • At some point, each person must place both of their feet in each of the hoops.
  • As a group, you may determine how you wish to arrange the hoops before you begin the task. You may also determine how many people will begin in each hoop.

Bird’s Nest

Participants work in groups of 3. Each group has 3 similar objects (same colored balls, etc.) spread out in an open area beyond a designated line. Each group also has a basket per group in which they will place their gathered objects. One person per group assumes one of the following roles:

Gatherer – this person is blindfolded, non-verbal and the only member allowed across the designated line to gather the group’s objects.

Instructor – this person is blindfolded as well but the only person in the group that can speak. It is their job to give directions to the “gatherer.”

Spotter – this person can see but not talk. It is his/her responsibility to visually locate the group’s objects and give non-verbal directions to the “instructor” for the “gatherer” to locate the objects. Once blindfolded, the gatherer will move through the open area (bumpers up) attempting to locate and gather their objects. The “instructor” should be seated behind the designated line and the spotter should stand directly behind them. The challenge is for the gathered to collect the group’s objects and place them in the basket with the help of the “instructors”, directions. Allow participants to change roles.


Participants are grouped in pairs, one person deciding to be a car and the other a driver. The person presenting the car rolls their eyes with the drive behind them. The leader explains that three commands that determine how a driver drives a car. The first “city driving” command allows the car and driver to move forward about 3 steps, and then the car has to turn 90 degrees to the right or left. Riding in the village allows the car to move around the room without a specific pattern. “Highway Driving” has a car and a driver who in a circular formation tour the room. While driving on the freeway, the car can go as fast as the “person” feels comfortable. While the leader is shouting different commands, the car changes its driving pattern to suit the command. After about 30 seconds, the car and the driver switch places.

A blindfold game, photo credit Kid's Party Cabin
A blindfold game, photo credit Kid’s Party Cabin

Combination Grid

Equipment: A 5 to 7 heading divided into a grid marked with numbers and / or letters.
Goal: To navigate one team member at a time using the appropriate “combination”. The Challenge Manager has a “combination” of numbers written to represent the order that team members must discover in order to go through the grid. Team members must enter, one at a time, the numbers / letters in the appropriate order to move. If a person goes to the wrong square, that person (or the whole team) must go to the back of the line. All team members must move through the same “combination”. There can be more than one team member online at a time. Obviously, all team members need to pay attention to figure out the correct “combination”. The presenter can choose patterns that emphasize math skills or spelling.

Construction Zone

Goal: To assemble two 4’ x 4’ puzzles in the shortest possible time.
Description: When command begins, each team member will pull a piece of the puzzle out of the pile. They will be the only person who can touch that piece of the puzzle until the task is complete. The team will then try to put together two puzzles in a specific place as quickly as possible.
Rules for cooperative game:
1. Each person can only touch their piece of the puzzle.
2. The clock will run before the members pick up the puzzle pieces.
3. If someone is handling a piece of the puzzle that is not theirs, the team must begin the task.
Result: The fastest time from start to finish the task.
An additional challenge: If time permits, let team members work in pairs with one person in each blindfold. Only blindfolded members can touch pieces of the puzzle.

Alternate directions:
Half of the group will be blindfolded and designated as the construction workers. They are the only ones who are allowed to touch the puzzle pieces. The other group members will serve as supervisors and give verbal directions to assist the workers. The challenge will begin with the puzzle pieces piled in one area. Once the group is ready to begin, the workers must carry the pieces of the puzzle to a designated area for assembly. The challenge is complete when both puzzles are assembled correctly.
1. Only the blindfolded workers may touch the puzzle pieces.
2. The sighted supervisors may not physically touch the blindfolded group members or the puzzle pieces.
3. For the challenge to be successful, each worker must correctly position at least one puzzle piece.
4. The penalty for an infraction of any of the above rules is to mix up the pieces and start over in the assembly area.
If time allows, have group members change roles. The best of the two times may be used.

The Cube

Goal: To move the entire group through the “Cube” using as many different routes as possible.
Rules for adventure activitie:
1. Everyone must go through the Cube without touching it. If the Cube is touched, that person must start again.
2. No one can use the same route through the Cube as anyone else. A hole may be re-used but the same combination of holes cannot be used. Going through a hole or combination in a different order is allowed.

Don’t Touch Me!

Goal: To change places with your partner across the circle in the shortest amount of time possible.
When changing positions, everyone must make physical contact (one foot is OK) with the interior of a hula hoop placed n the center of the circle. You can not touch anyone else as you make this change. If you do, group must start over or add seconds to total time for each touch. Try as many times as time allows.

Group of Diverse Kids Playing at the Field Together
Group of Diverse Kids Playing at the Field Together

Don’t Touch the Ball!

Goal: To move the ball from one point to another without letting it touch the floor and without touching it with their hands or arms.
1. The ball cannot touch the floor.
2. The ball cannot touch the hands or arms of any group member.
3. If a rule is broken, the ball must be returned to the original location and the group starts the task again.

Fire Escape!

Equipment: 2 large hula hoops.
Set Up: Stand in circle with joined hands.
Goal – get the entire group through the hoop as quickly as possible without touching the hoop.
• Each person must remain physically in contact with the rest of the class via at least one other person. Hoop holders must remain in contact with both the class and the hoop.
• If anyone touches the hoop, group must start over.

Group Juggle

Goal: To see how many objects your group can successfully juggle at one time (for at least one complete rotation).
Rules: Everyone in the group must participate in the juggling of each object. Participants cannot pass an object to a person directly beside them. Works best if group will establish a pattern for passing an object and maintain that pattern through out the challenge.
Variation: Group Juggle “Machine” – each player adopts a sound – beep, whoop, whee, yeow, pop, etc. – that they make every time they pass a ball.

Horizontal Spider’s Web

Equipment: Horizontal spider web or tarp marked as a web
Goal: To move all members of the group safely from one side of the web to the other.
Rules for cooperative game:
1. All team members must begin on the same side of the web.
2. In moving from one side to the other, no one may step on the web – it will wake the spider!
3. Once a person steps inside a cell of the web and then steps out, leaving it unoccupied, that cell may not be used again by any one in the group.
4. There may be no more than two feet in any cell at one time.
5. If someone steps on the web or into a closed cell, they (or their whole team) must return to the beginning.

Island Volleyball

Goal: To keep the ball in the air and off the ground for as long as possible.
Rules for cooperative game:
1. All players must have at least one foot inside a hoop at all times.
2. Once a player has put a foot inside a hoop, he/she cannot change hoops until the next round.
3. Any player within a hoop may hit the ball, but two players from the same hoop may not hit the ball consecutively. If players from the same hoop make consecutive hits, the score returns to zero.
4. If a player steps out of a hoop during play, the score returns to zero.
5. You may not hit the ball back to the hoop from which it came. Penalty – Score returns to zero.
Scoring: Total number of consecutive hits before the ball hits the ground.

The kids are playing with ball,photo credit Robert Collins
The kids are playing with ball,photo credit Robert Collins

Key Punch

Goal: To move from the start line to the key pad and touch all the keys in the correct numerical order in the shortest amount of time.
1. Team stands behind the starting line to hear the explanation of the rule.
2. Team may plan their strategy behind the start line but the clock begins once they head toward the keyboard.
3. Only one person can be on the key pad (within the roped off area)at a time. If two people are in the area at one time, that trial is over and they must all start again.
* For an added challenge (if one group gets real good with regular rules): do this without talking

Mega Pass

Goal: To move as many items as possible from one bucket to the other in given period of time. Group will be given several 90 sec. rounds to improve their scores.
Set up makers to create large square (15”-25” pr side). Be sure square has clearly defined corners. In one corner, place bucket #1(filled with a variety of objects that can be safety tossed) and in the opposite corner place bucket #2 (empty).
1. All objects start in bucket one at the beginning of each round.
2. Time for each round starts with the first object is removed from bucket #1.
3. All sides of the square must be occupied by at least one student.
4. Once a person has chosen a side of the square, they may not switch side during the round.
5. Every participant must touch the object after it leaves bucket #1 and before it is placed in #2.
6. Objects may not be passed to anyone to their immediate right or left.
7. Objects must be passed over the inside of the square.
8. If an object is dropped outside of the boundary it may be placed back in bucket #1and used in that round. If it is dropped inside the boundary, it may not be retrieved and is lost for the duration of that round.
9. No team member may step inside the square during a round.

Pass It on

Goal: To move the ball from point A to point B without touching, trapping, throwing or walking with it.
1. Can not touch, throw, or trap the ball
2. Can not walk with the ball.
3. Everyone in the group must “handle the ball”
4. If the ball drops to the ground, you must start over.
5. Take as many trials as you have time for.
Score: Total amount of time it takes to move the ball from A to B.

It's time for ball games
It’s time for ball games

Plug the Pipe

Equipment: One piece of PVC pipe (3-4’ in length) plugged at one end, with holes drilled in various places, a ping pong ball, several 8-9 oz. cups, a bucket of water
Goal: To fill the pipe with enough water to float the ball out.
The team members must work cooperatively to float a ping pong ball up and out from the bottom of the pipe while plugging the holes in the pipe. All team members must take turns “hauling” water.

Ready Aim

Goal: For blindfolded team members to throw a ball to hit another blindfolded person using directions provided by their “sighted partners.”
1. Participants work in pairs. One will be blindfolded and the other will provide verbal directions.
2. The sighted partner may not physically touch their partners or the balls. All communication will be verbal.
3. Each “hit” (blind player hits another blind player) is worth a point. Object is to score as many “hits’ as possible in the designated time.
4. After a designated period of time, partners should change roles.
5. Facilitator should establish clear boundaries.
6. Safety Issues to address:
– “Blind” partners should always move with “bumpers” up (hand up in front of their bodies).
– Encourage caution when bending over to pick up balls.
– Sighted partners need to intervene whenever necessary to prevent injury)

Switch, Change Rotate

Scatter groups of three around the room. Each team then lines up single file facing the same direction. There are three commands in the activity. Switch – the lead player and the back player change places. Change – the entire group simply turns around and goes the opposite direction. Rotate – the lead player goes to the back and the center player becomes the new leader. As the activity begins, each groups marches in place and attempts to execute the commands called out by the teacher. From marching in place, progress to walking, power walking, or jogging. May try letting the player in the middle of each line give the commands.

Tarp Challenge

Tarp Turn

6-8 kids stand on a tarp (5’x8’). All students must remain on the tarp at all times Mark one side of each tarp with a large X. Then give each group an activity. To start, they must start with the X on top and then, without touching at body part to the floor, they must turn the tarp over and end up with the X on the bottom. The second challenge is to fold the tarp into quarters. The third challenge is to unfold it.

Tarp Pass

• Toss to one team member. All others must be involved in the toss. Receiver tosses it back and it must be caught successfully.
• As each toss is completed (caught successfully), another student becomes the catcher (one less tosser).
• Tossers may not touch the object.
• Task is complete when last 2 people successfully toss and catch.


Members must physically assist and balance one another while traveling across a designated space. The group will creatively sculpt with their bodies a large millipede-like creature that moves with only a limited number of body parts touching the ground.
Description: The team will move themselves, while riming connected together, across an area (about 30 feet) with collectively only five body parts in contact with the ground. This challenge is set-up for a seven member team. The number of floor contact points can change depending on the number of team members.
Equipment: Cones to mark start and finish points /Soft surface to go across (grass will work)
Rules 1. If more than the number of specified contact points touches the floor, the entire team must return to the starting line. 2. No last names or put-downs may be used.

The Amazing Rising Pole

Equipment: One lightweight pole (5-10 feet long) per group
Goal: To work together as a group to lower the pole from a waist high position to the ground.
Students begin facing each other with index fingers extended at waist height. Fingers should be alternated with group members standing opposite (zipper fashion). The pole is laid across the fingers lengthwise. Participants cannot touch the pole with any other part of their body and they must maintain the contact between their index finger and the bottom of the pole at all times. As the participants attempt to lower the pole to the ground while maintaining contact with the underside of the pole, the tendency will be for the pole to rise rather than lower.

3,2,1 Ups

Each group starts this activity with 1 soft object that can be thrown. One person is chosen to be the leader, and his/her job is simply to give the command: “1,2,3, Ups!” On the word “ups,” whoever is holding the soft object throws the ball a minimum of 10 feet in the air and the game requires someone else in the group to catch it. If the group is successful in tossing and catching the one item, they repeat the above. If they are successful a second time then they add another object. This time, on the command “ups” both items are tossed up into the air with the group trying to catch both items. To add another object the group must successfully make two catches in a row. If an object touches the ground they must start over.

Toxic Waste Removal

Goal: To move the toxic waste container from its original location to a new location and pour the contents (packing peanuts) and the top into another container without touching the container, loosing the top off the container (ball), or spilling any of the contents.
Rules for cooperative game:
1. Cannot touch the container, its contents or the ball on top.
2. Must hold the ropes within a foot of the end (marked by a knot).
3. If the top falls off the container (ball drops), one person can pick it up using the “toxic protection gloves”, place it back on the container and start over from the original location.
4. If the contents spill anywhere other than in the “disposal container”, one person can pick it up using the “toxic protection gloves” and place it back into the original container.
5. Each time a new spill occurs, a different team member must be chosen to clean it up.
6. Take as many trials as you have time for.
Score: The fastest time from beginning to end of task.


Cooperative and Adventure Games, Health and Physical Activity Institute
Presenter: Barry Trent
Coordinator for Health, Physical Education and Driver Education
Roanoke County Public Schools

Written by

Irena Canji

I am a teacher in kindergarten. I have been working with children aged from three to seven since 2000. Also, I am a mother of two kids. My son is a teenager and my daughter is going to kindergarten. My main goal through the website is to show that the process is more important than the product. In childhood, kids need to play, have fun, learn through their experience.

The content of this website is an interesting activity for children. You don't need special skills, lots of money or too much preparing.

Just smile, only positive energy, and goodwill!