From this article you will take away 8 great ideas for indoor cooperative play games to help children learn to share, work together and make them feel part of a group.
Children are unique and fascinating to observe while playing. I tend to avoid Piaget’s theory of ages and stages talking about what children can and can’t do.
His theory has been debated and in education now there is a stronger focus on helping children reach their own potential by learning alongside others, through cooperation.
Learning is a social activity and that is why I want to give you some ideas of cooperative play games that encourage children to learn together and from each other.
The games below are for older children because of the skills they require (good motor development and cause and effect thinking) but most of them are versatile so you can adapt them for younger children as well. (See below how to adapt them!)
1.Indoor treasure hunt
it involves movement so it helps children’s healthy development
it is versatile: you can adapt it for younger children
it requires little preparation
-make and hide clues that will eventually lead to a “treasure”. You decide on the treasure- I would offer them something they don’t constantly have access to, like a computer game/tablet time.
-ask children to work in pair to solve the clues, alternate difficulty of clues to maintain the pace of the hunt
For great treasure hunt clues, you can choose a pirate themed treasure hunt, or outdoor treasure hunt tickets.Click on the button below for instant access!
For younger children:
hide stuffed toys/cars/ food items/tickets with certain pictures/ tasks and tell the little ones they are on a mission to collect them in their baskets/superhero bags/ shopping trolley etc.
I love this indoor activity but bear in mind that it requires at least 4 players. It is a game for older children because of the skills it requires, but you can give it a try with 5-6 year-olds too.
- First, players need to sit on chairs/cushions in a circle.
- One player is IT so he is not in the circle.
- Players are assigned the name of a fruit/they choose one. It is better if more than one player has the same fruit name.
- IT calls out a fruit.
- The children that have been assigned the fruit called out must jump up from the chair and find a new seat.
- But at the same time, IT will compete for an empty chair.
- When competing for a chair, ne player will be left standing.
- Repeat the procedure over and over again, calling out different fruit
This is one of those indoor games that require two or more players. It is a very useful activity to practice giving directions.
- one person is blindfolded and his partner is his eyes to guide him
- let the children design the obstacle course
- decide on the start and finish points.
- the winners are the players that manage to go through the obstacle course without touching any of the obstacles.
- Also, make sure the guide doesn’t touch the blindfolded person while giving her directions.
It might take a while to finish the game, but it a great activity that helps children learn while playing.
4.Back to back
When looking for fun cooperative play, try this one first! I love this activity because it is fun and it requires only two players. Play with your children and have fun taking a break from it all!
- Sit down, back to back.
- One person will watch something (a show, a video, a film) and will describe everything she sees
- The person with the back turned must guess the name/event/show
- Remember to mute the videos! You could also freeze a very famous scene and describe it.
For younger children, simply choose family pictures/flashcards/household items to look at and describe.
To make it easier for younger children, one could describe a picture and the one with his back turned has to draw it according to the details given. Then players swap roles.
If you want your little ones to learn to cooperate, this game will them understand the power of team work as they can only advance if they work together!
- it is played in teams so it encourages team work
- it is very versatile
- it can help children learn while playing it.
- You should have two teams.
- Teams compete to move from point A to point B.
- First, make sure to cut out 4 large paper circles/get hula hoops before the game, two for each team. They should be large enough for two people to step on.
- Each team can only step on the two circles offered.
- The players step together on the first circle.
- While doing this, they must be holding the second circle so that they place it in front of them to take the next step.
- When stepping on the next circle, one player of the team must try and reach back to grab hold of the circle they moved away from.
- And they repeat these steps until they reach the finish line.
To make it a learning objective activity, simply ask different questions related to what you want to teach/revise. When the answer is correct, the players can move forward.
6.Who am I?
I believe all children love guessing games, they have that element of surprise that feeds their natural curiosity. I recommend this activity to all parents who want their kids to learn to listen actively and also develop their critical thinking skills.
- it is a fun and engaging game
- it teaches children reasoning skills
- it can have many different versions
- Players must choose a category first; animals for example.
- One member from each team must choose an animal to mime
- Only the members of his team can guess
- Teams have three tries to guess the animal correctly and get points.
- draw the animal, not mime it
- players could dress up in order to help their team guess who/what they are.
- they can choose any category: food, animals, toys, household objects, famous people
7.Pass it along
This is a super fun activity that helps children cooperate and make them feel a part of a functioning team because if one member of the team gets stuck, the whole game stops.
This is a game played by at least three players.
- First, you must choose a number of 7 flashcards/items: toys, food, colours etc, anything you can find.
- One person must be the coordinator of the game.
- All players sit down on the floor
- The coordinator picks up an item/flashcard, names it and passes it along( to his left).
- The flashcard is passed along from player to player
- Each player must name it, and they continue to pass it without stopping.
- At one point, the coordinator will add another flashcard and then another, and so on, until they use all 7 flashcards within the circle.
To keep the flow of the game the coordinator should pass one flashcard to the left and one to the right. If there is a player holding more than three items, start again.
You can find more flashcard game ideas in the educational video below for even more cooperation games.
8.Chain reaction game
It’s always fun to play together, but this game makes it challenging as well. Players need to cooperate and listen/watch each other very carefully in order to be able to contribute. It is perfect if there are more than two players for this game, but two players will have just as much fun.
- Print the worksheets from the chain reaction game below
- This game is based on chain reactions so the players need to watch carefully what the others are doing to be able to know when it’s their turn.
- If it doesn’t run smoothly, try it again and again, until you beat your own time record. The faster, the better!
These are all activities I have tried with my students in the classroom and we enjoyed them immensely. If you need more ideas of indoor games that will not break the bank then check out these 45 Cheap Indoor Activities for Kids.
Also, encourage open-ended play through these fantastic Outdoor & Indoor Open-Ended Play ideas.
We believe that children need to be helped to learn through play, and you, dear parents, can do that! Children learn best when adults model.
So keep calm and play on!
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Hi. I am Monica, an experienced ESL teacher and early years student, mother to a preschooler and passionate reader.