Universal Mentors Association

45 Best Cooperative Games To Promote Healthy Competition


While reading, writing, and math are essential skills to learn in school, learning to work with others is just as important. We can probably all remember feeling frustrated when one person did all the work on a group project. But kids as young as toddlers can learn teamwork and cooperation, especially when it’s introduced as gameplay. Some games foster a sense of comradery while others foster a healthy sense of competition. The best part is that most of these games can be played with no materials or everyday affordable objects like Hula-Hoops and balloons. Check out our list of the best cooperative games for kids.

1. Just Keep It Up

a circle of kids is seen holding hands with a balloon in the air above them.

While you can play this game with as few as two people, you can play with many more as well. First, have everyone gather in a circle and hold hands. Then, throw some balloons into the mix and everyone must try to keep the balloon (or balloons) afloat using different parts of their body.

Learn more: Kid Friendly Things To Do

2. The Stick

Group kids into pairs, give them a stick, and then see if they can balance the stick between them using just one hand. If they are successful with one hand, move to just a single finger. If teams still have not dropped the stick, have them begin to move around the room while being careful not to drop the stick or bump into the other teams.

3. Line Up by …

This is a fun, non-strenuous activity that requires cooperation while encouraging alternative means of communication. Take a group of kids and task them with lining by height, birthday, etc., all while not talking.

4. Spud

This game will undoubtedly be a hit with kids. Start with a group of kids in a circle. Then, throw a tennis ball high in the air and call out one of the kid’s names. The player whose name is called must race toward the ball to catch it while the other kids run as far away as possible. Finally, the person who catches the ball yells “Spud!” and then attempts to hit someone with an underhand toss of the tennis ball.

5. Hula-Hoop Hut

Cooperative games for kids can be played with hula hoops like these two shown on the grass.

Divide kids into teams, give them a large number of Hula-Hoops, then task each team with building a hut from the Hula-Hoops. Once built, each team member must be able to successfully pass through the hut.

6. Hoop Pass

Hula-Hoops are a great tool to use when playing cooperative games for kids. This is another fun Hula-Hoop game where children begin by holding hands in a circle. Two players have a Hula-Hoop placed over their arms. The group must then see how quickly they can transfer the Hula-Hoop all the way around the circle while still holding hands. If you want to make it even more challenging, you can add another Hula-Hoop at the same time on the opposite side of the circle.

7. Look Ma, No Hands!

This game is so simple yet is sure to result in a barrel full of laughs. Have kids stand in a circle and then introduce an object (stuffed animal, ball, etc.) that they must pass around the circle without using their hands. Kds must also keep the object from touching the floor/ground.

8. LEGO Copycat Game

Cooperative games for kids can involve toys like Legos. Four small Lego creations are shown.

Divide kids into three groups of three members. Then, assign roles to each team member—builder, looker, and messenger—and assign each team a building kit. The builder is allowed to touch the bricks and build the model, but they cannot leave their area. The looker can go see the model and communicate to their team about what to build, but they are not able to see their team’s model as it is in progress. The messenger can go back and forth from the building station to the looker.

Learn more: Frugal Fun 4 Boys

9. Caterpillar Tag

Cooperative games for kids that also double as a fun P.E. lesson are some of our favorites.

10. Storybook Drawing

Two small children are drawing on the same picture. Two cups of markers and crayons are nearby.

Cooperative games for kids can include arts and crafts like this simple yet fun art project. Have one child start a picture and then have each subsequent kid add to that picture. Kids will have fun drawing and collaboratively creating a story.

Learn more: The Inspired Treehouse

11. Connect This

Divide kids into teams and then provide each team with four different pictures. The students will have 15 to 20 minutes to talk among themselves and then come up with a story about the pictures to share with the larger group.

12. Red Rover

So many of us grew up playing this popular backyard and playground game. Kids are divided into two teams who stand on opposite ends of a field while facing each other. Each team links arms and makes a decision collectively about who to call over. The runner then tries to break through the arms of the opposite team. If they succeed, they return to their team, but if they don’t, they join the new team.

Learn more: The Genius of Play

13. Cooperative Obstacle Course

Two children stand facing an obstacle course and one is blindfolded. They are holding hands.

Set up an obstacle course with whatever objects you have on hand, then pair kids off to take turns running through the course. Blindfold one partner and have the other child talk them through the obstacle course so they have to use good communication to make it through!

Learn more: What We Can Do With Paper and Glue

14. 15 Seconds

This game is so simple yet is such a great way to build rapport among a group of kids. Have a timer on hand and then designate one child to be the leader who gets to choose the subject. Then, each kid has 15 seconds to answer a question on the subject matter of the leader’s choice.

15. Race to the Galaxy

Each group of students has three Hula-Hoops to use as ships to travel across the lava and collect all the power sources (bean bags) that match their team’s color. Students will have fun imagining themselves in a far-away galaxy as they work together to escape one planet for a new one.

16. Roller Coaster

The first 20 seconds of this video show a simple but fun cooperative game for kids. Have your class sit with legs outstretched one behind the other, heels to backs. Then shout out instructions to the “riders” as they navigate the roller-coaster instructions shouted to them.

17. Tower Building

Cooperative games for kids include building with blocks like the children shown here.

One team of students rolls dice while the other group builds a tower with as many blocks as the dice indicate. This is a great game to play with younger students since they are still working on dexterity and number recognition.

18. Pool Noodle Fun

Cooperative games for kids can use affordable, everyday objects like this one shown at the 2:15 timestamp. Have kids divide into groups of three, with two holding the pool noodles and a third instructing them on how to move while balancing a ball between them.

19. Balance Game for Littles

This is the perfect cooperative game for preschoolers. Have pairs balance a lightweight ball on a piece of paper between them while they race to place it in a basket at the other end of the room.

20. Three-Legged Race

Cooperative games for kids are fun like this three legged race. Two kids are seen from the waist down with their legs tied together.

An oldie but a goodie. All you need are some ties (wraparound headbands work great!) and a group of kids to partner off and race against one another. This is the ultimate cooperative game since kids will have to work closely with their partner to stay on their feet and move quickly.

21. Wheelbarrow Race

Kids are seen partnered off doing wheelbarrow races.

Cooperative games for kids that don’t require any props are some of the easiest to do on the fly. This classic field day activity will certainly result in a lot of squeals and laughter!

22. Triangle Tag

This fun game forces kids to work together to avoid the tagger as they protect the selected player.

23. Group Juggle

This cooperative game is perfect for groups that are just getting to know one another since they have to repeat each other’s names throughout.

24. Snakes

This game works on non-verbal communication since the sighted person in the back of the snake must guide the rest of the players to locate items scattered around the floor. It will undoubtedly be a hit with everyone from little kids to adults.

25. Human Tic-Tac-Toe

We love that this game is simple enough to be played with just some chairs while still being super fun. Teams will have to work together to form a row of X’s or O’s.

26. Relay Races

Any mention of relay races of any sort is sure to get a big holler of approval from a group of kids. We especially love all the variations you can do—have kids run in and out of cones, dribble a soccer ball or basketball, or just run!

Learn more: Teaching Expertise

27. River Crossing

This is an especially great cooperative game to play with small or large groups. It’s similar to “don’t touch the ground” but as a team.

28. Race to the Middle

We love how endless the possibilities are for this game since you can continue to choose categories for the teams to perform in the middle.

29. Eye of the Tiger

To make this game more cooperative, divide kids into two teams designated with different-colored shirts or pinnies. Be sure to set some ground rules before getting started so no one gets hurt.

30. Human Caterpillar Challenge

Go to the 0:36 timestamp so you can see how your kiddos can work together to form a human caterpillar. We especially love that you can recycle all those pesky ads that come in the mail!

31. Pass the Water Challenge

The pass-the-water challenge is shown at the 1:36 timestamp. You will want to play this game on a warm day outside since kids are definitely going to get wet no matter how well they cooperate!

32. King Smaug’s Jewels

Kids will have fun waiting for their turn to run into the circle and try to steal King Smaug’s jewels.

33. Escape Room

Collage of escape room images

Create your own escape room in your school or home and then challenge teams of kids to find their way out.

Learn more: DIY Escape Room

34. Human Knot Game

A Cartoon graphic shows many hands being held with the arms wrapped around each other.

The goal of this game is simple, yet accomplishing it is so tricky. First, gather in a circle and grab hands, creating a knot with your arms. Then, set about working together to untie the knot (i.e., untangle your arms).

Learn more: WikiHow

35. Fingertip Hula-Hoop

We love that there are so many cooperative games for kids that involve just a Hula-Hoop! In this fun variation, players can use just one finger from each hand to work together to lower a Hula-Hoop to the ground.

36. Parachute Games

Parachutes have long been a staple of childhood gym classes since they provide endless entertainment as well as opportunities for kids to work together. In its simplest form, have kids gather around the parachute and dump a bunch of small plastic balls in the middle that they must work to keep afloat.

37. Shrinking Island

This fun game can be played inside or outside with just a sheet. Spread out a large sheet and then have a group of kids stand on it. Before each subsequent round, fold the sheet in half so there is less room than in the round before. You can play with two teams so there is more of a cooperative aspect to it. The team with the most players left at the end of the final round wins.

38. Word Scramble Race

Break kids into two even teams and then show them a scrambled version of a word. The teams must work together to unscramble the letters and form the word before the other team.

39. Charades

In this classic game, one member of the team pantomimes a phrase without speaking while the rest of the team tries to guess the phrase.

40. Tower of Power

Cooperative games for kids include working together like the kids shown here building towers out of uncoventional materials.

In this fun game, teams of kids create the tallest freestanding tower they can while racing the clock. Be sure to include a variety of unconventional materials so they can really get creative.

Learn more: Playworks

41. Wacko!

This is the perfect icebreaker for a new class or team since it requires that you get to know one another’s names. In addition to reinforcing names, it is also just a lot of silly fun!

42. Captain on Deck

This fun game promotes cooperation since it requires kids to form groups based on commands from the captain.

43. Human Value

Cooperative games for kids that double as a math lesson, like this one, are the best! Each kid is assigned a dollar value. They must combine with other participants to form certain dollar totals.

44. Make a Shape

Break kids into teams and then give each team a large rope. Yell out a shape and then watch as the teams attempt to mold the rope into that shape. Once participants pick up the rope, they cannot let it go. They are, however, allowed to move along the length of the rope. Once done, there must be no rope left at the ends that is not part of the shape.

Learn more: Skills Converged

45. Blow Winds Blow

This is a great icebreaker since kids will get to know fun facts about one another while working together.

Do you have favorite cooperative games for kids? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

For other cooperative activities, check out 38 Awesome Team-Building Games and Activities for Kids.


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