Cooperative Games are a “thing” at the moment, for sure.
A cooperative game is one where all the players work together towards a mutual goal. There is no one winner and no one loser. They are BRILLIANT and given the benefits that we have seen in our tutoring centre, they are her to stay.
If you havn’t gotten on board the cooperative board train yet, you really should and here is why:
- the pressure of a 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 benefit from all the wonderful things that come with playing a game with others.
- because all the players are working collaboratively, you will see your children actually helping, supporting and encouraging each other. It warms the heart! Cooperative games are a fantastic way to have children interacting positively. They are a life saver for families or groups where this is a rarity.
- children are able to practice vital social skills naturally, in small groups and and all while having fun.
- the social etiquette of playing games can be modelled, learned and practiced. For example, taking turns, ‘coping’ when faced with a little bad luck, an appropriate level of pride when you do something well (eg not bragging, showing off), praising or consoling others.
- we started playing cooperative games in our tutoring centre, and have found them to be ideal for children with Autism, Anxiety, ADHD, ODD, Learning Difficulties, Communication difficulties, Beginners and for playing with mixed ages.
- they are a great no-pressure ice breaker when first developing a rapport with a child or adolescent. I have been playing Gnomes at Night with a long fellow in OoHC who should be in Yr 8 but hasn’t been at school for a long period of time. He cannot read (yet), very angry and is pretty down on himself. This game has been an absolute gem for us to be on the ‘same side’, have a laugh and enjoy success together.
- once mastered, all the above benefits can be applied elsewhere.
Convinced? Here are a list of our TOP cooperative games. Some are incredibly simple and quick, some are complex and take longer but ALL have as theme or focus skill which gives you the opportunity to select the game that is perfect for a particular child and their current needs and interests.
You can find more in depth descriptions by clicking on each image.
This is an absolute beginner of a game. Perfect for 2 year olds. It is actually like a jigsaw, and you take turns choosing a piece and working out where it goes based on colour.
Count your chickens is a cooperative game for beginners. It is VERY simple – try and save as many chicks as you all can before the Mother Hen makes her way around the board (and beware the fox). It best for younger children (preschool age, just learning to count).
I was busting to play this game with my 4yr old grand-daughter. I love her dearly and would give her a kidney if she needed one. Let’s just say her single-mindedness is up near 10 and her compliance and game etiquette is well and truly in the other direction! Once I saw this game in action I could see why it has won so many awards, and figured it just might be the perfect game to hook my grand-daughter as she loves animals. This game is great as a pretty simple beginner game and uses colour matching as it’s major tool plus a little strategy.
A cooperative game that helps children also develop fine motor skills at the same time as their social skills. 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.
Dinosaur Escape is a pretty simple and quick cooperative game. The idea is to save the 3 dinosaurs before the volcano erupts. It is a good game for the dinosaur mad and helps develop memory. 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 simple 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 bit 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 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 natural scientists and all those who secretly would love to wander through an ant colony maze! The 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 to play, so it is a beauty of you only have 10 minutes.
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. I also like, that winning isn’t a fait accompli. I’ve played Catch 3 times and the mouse escaped twice. It makes it a challenge.
Cauldron quest has a lot going on, with the wizards hat going one way and items blocking access all while the players try to get the four ingredients they need for the potion to break the wizards spell. There are magic dice and all sorts of complications so it is best suited to 6yrs + Players need to consider chance/risk when deciding on their moves.
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!
Mole Rats in Space – don’t let the name put you off. It is a FABULOUS cooperative game that is sort of like snakes and ladders. It is a little more complicated than many others, and gosh it is good. the focus is on visual planning and strategy.
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. It has now joined our list of all time favourites!