Cooperative Games by Allyson

Within this difficult time of uncertainty, fear, and worry – we have been given a gift. And that is time, with no distractions, to spend with our families. However, it can be difficult to think of productive things to do with ALL this time on our hands. My suggestion? Cooperative games. How are cooperative games different from all the board games you currently have in your house? In cooperative games, the group is working together toward a common goal. I don’t know about you, but I can’t take another game of Monopoly which ends with someone getting upset!
I’ve decided to include this section cooperative games because joyful, playful human interaction can serve as a wonderful medium for teaching children how to interact in positive ways with one another and the world around them. When children play cooperative games they almost always feel a sense of acceptance, joy, contribution, and success.  
We have the time, the family members and a lack of distractions. Let’s play a game together that makes everyone feel good! 

This game is called “Untangle”

Description: Another game that can be played outside or inside – first, cut a (long) piece of string or yarn for each person who will be playing the game. Each piece of string is wrapped, tangled, tied, stretched, and twisted around every object available – including the other pieces of string.  The more tangled it is, the more complicated the solution will be. Once all the strings are knotted up, each player starts at the end of their string and untangles their way to the other end. 
At the other end of the string, once untangled, could be any sort of prize – a candy bar, a note, a book, a toy, etc.
You can modify this one in a hundred different ways – and don’t forget, the person doing the setup can play too!
A Treasure Hunt / Scavenger Hunt is always fun!  Check this link for some ideas about setting up the hunt, and some sample clues. 
But the magic is this – the kids can set this up! After you do it with them, change the roles around a bit! Half of the fun (and more than half the time!) is in the design of your Treasure hunt. You can get as creative as you like, and as elaborate as you like.
For the youngest kids, use pictures for clues. For the older kids, consider using a second language or math in your clues. There is no limit to this game, and as with the others on this page, there are NO SCREENS INVOLVED!

This game is called What Can You Do Together?

Description: This game has many variations, but the common thread is that two people are challenged to perform a task together.
Can you walk through a field of sticky glue with your partner?
Can you swim through Jell-O with your partner?
Can you make a human chair for your partner to sit on?
Can you be one frog with your partner?
Can you roll your partner like a log?
Can you pretend to bounce your partner like a ball? 
Can you and your partner act our something and other people have to guess what it is?
With your back stuck to your partner’s back, can you move around the room? Can you jump forward together toward one wall? Jump backward toward another wall? 
Can you come up with other fun things partners can do together?
This game is an Inuit game called Muk which means silence. The whole family can play this together. Everyone sits in a circle and one player goes to the middle. She then picks one player in the circle to call “muk” and try to sit very straight faced. The player in the middle uses gestures and facial expressions to try to “break the muk”. The person that laughs is the next to sit in the middle and the game continues.  
The next game is called Rescue. 
Equipment needed: anything that can be used as part of an obstacle course – you decide how involved it should be!
Description: Two children are lost in a snowstorm and are trying to get home. One of the children is “snow-blind” (wearing a blindfold) and the other can see. The objective is to lead the snow-blind friend through the storm (obstacle course) to safety. Then the players can switch roles and change the obstacle course.
Variations: The players can try to direct their partner through the course only by talking. Or they can devise a code using sounds (clapping, humming, musical instruments, etc) to lead each other around obstacles. 
We did this at our house, with a few minor changes. We used blocks to make a “maze” and then the girls devised a code using different sounds to mean step forward, turn right, step over, etc. Using just the code, one partner had to direct the blindfolded partner through the maze to the end. We had a lot of fun with it, and there are so many ways to change it up. 
The original description of the game is great for younger children, while our version works well with older children and teens. 
equipment: inflated balloons
ages:  3-7   (but all family members can take part)
1) Each pair of players has a balloon and takes turns hitting it back and forth to try and keep it from touching the floor. This introduces a common goal and the importance of taking turns. 
2) Add more players, with all the players trying to keep the balloon off the floor. Everyone hits or catches on their turn. 
3) To make it more challenging – everyone playing can act like an animal (crab, cat, dog, mouse) while keeping the balloon up!
4) Another challenge – play outside in the wind. 
5) Even more challenging – keep the balloon up while going over and through obstacles 
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