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Cooperative Games

Cooperative Games are played, taught and learned all over the world.  Many times a particular game gets passed on from facilitator to facilitator through the act of playing.  Following are several of Peace Ed's favorites.  Periodically, other games will be added to the list.  Enjoy!
Tin Can Pass
Equipment:  large empty tin can (like a coffee can), tennis ball
Group Size:  six to twenty-five
Energy Level: moderate
Objective: team building, communication
Gather the participants in a circle on the floor and make sure everyone is sitting closely together with their legs out in front of them.  Place the empty tin can on top of the player's foot immediately to your right.  Explain the the goal of the group is to pass the tin can all the way around the circle using only their feet.  The tin can may not touch the floor, if it does, the groups must start over at the beginning of the circle.  If the group as a difficult time with this first task, encourage them to communicate with each other about what might make things easier.  If you have a players who can not participate by sitting on the floor, designate them as the group's coach and give them the task of directing the action.  The game can also work with some participants seating in chairs, although it is more challenging. READ MORE>
Zip Zap Zoom
Equipment: none
Group Size: ten or higher
Energy Level: low
Objective: focus, communication skills
Zip, Zap, Zoom is a quick activity that can be used as an opener or closer to a class or workshop. It connects participants to the group and teaches focus and eye contact. Participants stand in a circle to begin this game. The leader begins by putting their hands together with a loud sliding clap in the direction of another player. While they are pointing to this player by sending energy to-wards them, they are also looking them in the eye and saying loudly “zip”. The person who receives this quickly claps in the direction of another player and says “zap”. READ MORE>
Skills: Communication

Materials:  A blindfold and a rattle (set of keys, tin filled with paper clips)

Time:  10 minutes

Have the group form a circle with players standing with a foot or two of space between them.  Pick one player to be the rattlesnake.  Give this player the rattle and put them in the middle of the circle.  Choose another player to be a hunter (an eagle, mongoose or other predator).  Lead this player to the center of the circle and blindfold them.  Instruct the players remaining in the outside circle that they are the snake pit and their job is to keep the rattlesnake and hunter safe. READ MORE>

Wizards And Gelflings
This is a cooperative tag game for introducing or exploring the concepts of Win-Win, Win-Lose or Lose-Lose
Equipment:  Boundary markers (cones, spots, ropes).  For a running tag game, set off a large area.  For walking tag game, keep the boundary smaller.
Set The Scene:
Tell the students, "We are taking a trip to the inside of the earth where there are two types of people, Wizards and Gelflings.  The Wizards want everyone in the land to be like them, so they use their magic powers to freeze the Gelflings.  The Gelflings like themselves the way they are.  To fight of Wizards, the must cooperative."  READ MORE>

Equipment: none

Group Size: any

Energy Level: moderate

Objective: fun, community building, to establish future partners

This icebreaker game comes from High 5 Adventure Learning Center in Brattleboro, Vermont.  The game is a chance for new groups to get to know each other.  It can also be used throughout a workshop as a transition piece to partner people up.  Gather everyone together and let them know they will be mingling and walking around the room greeting each other.  After a few seconds, announce that everyone needs to quickly find a partner.  Once everyone is paired up, instruct them to high five their partner – this person is now and forever their high five partner.  Instruct people to mingle again.  After a few more seconds, tell them to quickly find a different partner and to give this partner a low five.  This person is now their low five partner.   READ MORE>

    Clip It
Skills: Observation, Self-control

Materials:  Various sizes of binder clips or clothespins

Time:  15 minutes

This game is a lot of fun and especially appropriate for groups that are still working on impulse control.  Explain that Clip It is an observation game and a game about self control.  Show the class the clip you will be putting on someone’s clothing.  Explain that you will place the clip onto one participant while everyone has their heads down.  Tap this person on the shoulder and put the clip somewhere where people will be able to see it while they are walking around.  READ MORE>

Alien Slime
Skills: Communication, Problem Solving.

Materials:  Five handkerchiefs or bandanas for each group of 8- 10 players, masking tape, large open space.

Set Up:  Lay two straight parallel lines of masking tape at each end of the room; the lines should be 25 to 35 feet apart.  Make the length of the lines reflect the size of your group, there should be ten feet of tape for every group of 8- 10 players.  Also make sure there are no obstacles in the space between the tape lines.

The goal of the game is to get your team from one side of the room to the other using only the tools and guidelines provided by the facilitator.  Divide the players into groups of 8 to 10 people.  You can have as many groups as the space allows.  Each group should stand together behind the line of tape at the same end of the room, this is the starting line.  Each group should receive five bandanas.  If you are in a smaller space, give the groups fewer bandanas.
Who's the Leader?
This game can be played in a circle or with young people sitting in rows.  Ask for a volunteer to leave the room (or turn their back)
and wait to be asked back in.  Once the young person is gone, silently choose another person to be the leader of the group. 
The leader will perform a series of repetitive motions, like clapping, tapping a foot or nodding their head. READ MORE>
Pairs Tag
Equipment: none
Group Size: depending upon available space, from ten on up            
Energy Level: high
Objective:  fun, cooperation, community building

Pairs Tag is a great game to play if you are restricted to a small space and need to get some energy out.  Instruct each participant to find a partner and go stand by him/her. Explain that the group is going to play a game of tag, with three significant modifications. First, one-half of the participants in the room, or one person in each pair, is IT.  Second, each IT is only chasing after his/her own partner. Third, there is no running as this is a walking only game. When any IT tags his/her partner gently above the waist and below the neck, the tagged individual must spin around in place two times - this avoids endless "tag backs" - and then give pursuit to his/her partner. Position yourself in the exact middle of the playing area. Participants will begin to swirl around you as the pivot point. This allows for good game play even in a small space. In fact, this game plays best with lots of participants in relatively small spaces. There will be lots of ducking and hiding behind others.  READ MORE>

King/Queen Frog

Equipment: chairs or pods to mark each person’s spot

Group Size:  six to twenty

Energy Level: low

Objective:  community building, focus

Gather the group into a circle, either in chairs or standing on place markers.  Explain that you are the leader and therefore the queen or king frog.  Demonstrate the motion that goes with being the queen frog by sliding your right hand over your left with a loud clap (like a frog leaping over a lily pad).  Tell the group that they must each choose their own animal and a motion to go with it.  For example, someone may choose to be a rabbit, and make rabbit ears behind their head while wiggling their nose.  Go around the circle and ask each person to share their animal and motion.  Make sure that the motions are distinct from one another.  As each person shares their animal, have the whole group repeat the motion or sign. READ MORE>

  Helium Hoop

Equipment: one hula hoop for every group of five to seven participants

Group Size: five and up
Energy Level: moderate
Objective: teambuilding, communication

Helium Hoop is a fantastic game to explore the dynamics of group problem solving. Divide your participants into groups of five, six or seven.  Have each group form a circle and instruct them they are being given the task of lowering a hula hoop to the ground. Ask all the people in the group to bend both of their arms at the elbow and point their index fingers out, with thumb down. 

 Once the group is arranged, lay a hula hoop gently on top of their extended index fingers. READ MORE>




Skills: Paying Attention, Communication

Materials:  A hacky sack, or short stick, or other light object that can be easily grabbed off the ground. 

Time:  15 minutes

Begin this activity with the group seated in chairs or on the ground around an empty chair.  Ask the group for a volunteer, explain that this person must be good at listening.  Call the young person up to sit in the empty chair facing the group.  Explain that once the young person is sitting in the chair s/he is an ogre, a gold loving troll.  Place the ball or stick at their feet and explain that this is now a pot of gold.  The rest of the group are now leprechauns, the only creatures that love gold more than the ogre. Have the ogre go to sleep by placing one of their hands over their eyes.  READ MORE>




Cooperative tag game to help your group think about Win-Win, Win-Lose and Lose-Lose solutions.
   *  Roll of masking tape or rope
   *  Place the tape or rope in the center of a large room/gym or on the ground outside.
   *  Place a second and third line of tape/rope on either side of the center line between 20 - 30 feet away.
  1. Divide the group in half.  Have one half of the group stand on one side of the tape and the other half on the other side of the tape.  Having everyone starting with their toes on the tape, ask them to take two steps back.
  2. To play the game, the people will need to know three signs, the sign of the Wizard, the Giant and the Elf.  READ MORE>   
Skills:  Community Building, Communication
Materials:  Enough chairs or pods for all participants
Time:  10 to 20 minutes
This is a game that allows your students to playfully notice the many ways any group is both similar and different.  The object is for participants to understand that they can take pride in being who they are, and also respect the differences among them.  This game is good to use as an opening or closing activity when a lesson is about prejudice, stereotyping or group dynamics.  This game also gets participants moving around and sitting next to new people.

To play, set chairs in a circle.  There must be one chair less than the number of participants.  Desks can be used if they are turned so that students can quickly get in and out of them.  Other place holders, like carpet squares or pods, can be placed on the floor to indicate spaces.  The leader stands in the middle of the circle and explains that the object of the game is to always find a seat.  In each round, the person who is left standing becomes the leader in the center of the circle.  READ MORE>