Cooperative games are great for learning social skills and for children just learning HOW to play games
A cooperative game is one where all the players work together towards a mutual goal. Everyone is on the same “team”. Everyone wins, or if the game is lost everyone loses together.
We love cooperative games because:
- the pressure of competition is removed. Most cooperative games have all the players teamed up to achieve a mutual goal to ‘win’ the game. Everyone either wins or everyone loses! This is a REALLY good thing for the child who puts themselves under all sorts of pressure to win or doesn’t cope if they lose. Learning to play a game without pressure, gives them the opportunity to learn and enjoy all the benefits of playing a game with others.
- all the players are working collaboratively. Children interacting positively – helping, supporting and encouraging each other.
- social skills can be modelled, developed and practiced in a natural way, and in a small group.
- game playing skills can be modelled, learned and practiced. For example, taking turns, ‘coping’ when faced with a little bad luck, or not showing off, praising or consoling others.
- good for all including those with Autism, Anxiety, ADHD, ODD, Learning Difficulties, Communication difficulties, Beginners and for playing with mixed ages.
- ice breaker. They are a great no-pressure game to use when first meeting someone. They are great for developing rapport. I often use cooperative games during sessions with children and young people from a trauma background or with challenging behaviour.
There is quite a range of cooperative games to choose from. They cater to different ages from 3yrs to adult. They vary in level of complexity, how long they take, number of players and the type of skills needed (fine motor, visual planning, strategy,
We have put together our favourites below. Just click on each image for more details.
You can find more in depth descriptions by clicking on each image.
Count your chickens is a cooperative game for beginners. It is VERY simple – try and save as many chicks as you can before the Mother Hen makes her way around the board (but beware the fox). It best for younger children learning to count).
This game was the answer for my 4yr old grand-daughter, who took a while to learn how to play games. Hoot owl hoot was the game that helped her to learn to take turns, work together and play by the rules.
It is no wonder it has won lots of awards. This game is a simple beginner game and uses colour matching to make the moves around the board. No need to be able to count.
Feed the Woozle is a cooperative game that requires a little hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. It is great for occupational therapy and can adjust to suit 2 to 6 players. It is very popular with Occupational Therapists.
The fairy game is more complex than it first looks, and there is a bit of strategy involved for the team (players) to work collaboratively on. This is a good one for those children who need a bit of a cognitive challenge but also work on their social skills.
Dinosaur Escape is a straight forward and quick cooperative game. The idea is to save the 3 dinosaurs before the volcano erupts. There is a little luck involved but also players need to remember where the key dinosaur chips are. We tend to modify the rules a little when we play, to make it a little more challenging. But it is a good one for the dinosaur-mad.
Friends and Neighbours is another straight forward cooperative game that is designed to help children start making the links between feelings & emotions and context. It is best suited for younger children (perhaps 7 or 8 yrs and younger) and targets empathy. It is a quick game to play, and a handy one to have in the therapy room.
We’ve played this game often during tutoring because it doesn’t take too long. We love that it uses the maths concepts of coordinates. The aim is to collect all the treasure before the ogre gets beats the players to the treasure chest. It is recommended for 5yrs + but we have had younger children playing.
Memory games are always popular, and this one has the players making up crazy stories and trying to remember what happened in each room. It builds vocabulary, language and imagination as well as memory. Designed for 6yrs +
Ant Colony is a cooperative game for the scientist and all those find ant colonies intriguing. Players need to get all the rooms in place with at least 2 clear pathways before the ant eater beats them to it. It doesn’t take long too play, so it is a beauty if you only have 10 minutes. It is helps develop visual planning skills.
The idea of this one is for the cats to surround the mouse so it cant get away. There are 2 dice going that determine how the cats and the mouse move. It is all about planning and visual-spatial. I really like that quite a few players can play (we’ve had 6 people) at one time. It is quite a challenge as there isa little luck involved on top of the good planning. It makes it a challenge.
I LOVE this game. It is one of our favourites. It is more complicated than the ones mentioned above and it uses logic and deduction to try and work out which fox took the chicken. Think: junior version of Cluedo!
Gnomes at Night is the latest addition to our extensive range of cooperative games. It is so much fun and sort of uses the whole idea of a “barrier game” where the each player cannot see the other player’s side of the board – and they have to direct (or give instructions) to each other to collaboratively figure out how to get the gnome to each item in their respective mazes. It uses visual planning and requires effective and clear communication between each player.