Cooperative Games & Group Challenges

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  • 0:04 Cooperative Games
  • 0:58 Components
  • 3:31 Organizing Games
  • 4:56 Skills Learned
  • 5:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Learn how to set up cooperative games and activities in a way that sets you and your group up for success. This lesson covers rules, safety practices, equipment, and more.

Cooperative Games

Working together as a group and being a member that contributes to the well-being of others is an important skill for students. One way to instill cooperative learning skills is to organize and teach cooperative games and group opportunities.

Brad is a new gym teacher just about to start his first year teaching. He wants to get started on the right foot by getting to know the students using non-competitive activities, knowing there will be plenty of time later in the year for competitive games. Taking all that into account, Brad decides he'll begin his first classes with students participating in a cooperative game, one where they will all have to work together as a team to find success. What's the best way to set up these lessons?

He decides to talk to his fellow teachers and see if he can get some good tips. Most of them are more than happy to give him helpful advice, as long as it doesn't take up too much of their time; they have classrooms to get ready as well.


The veteran teachers fill him in on a few things. First, cooperative games and group challenges have one thing in common: they all use the idea of students working together to reach a goal. Sometimes, these can be team sports, such as basketball, where a group of students plays together against another group of students in a competitive atmosphere. Sometimes group challenges and cooperative games are more geared towards students using their growing social skills to reach a goal.

Choosing a type of game or learning opportunity is the first step for Brad. The other teachers told him cooperative learning games and group activities fall under three different umbrellas.

In formal cooperative learning, students work together for a specific period of time to achieve a goal. During this time the teacher's role is to guide, facilitate, explain, and assess. Group projects or team sports are examples of formal cooperative learning. Brad has an idea of a project he can use with his unit on aerobics. He'll organize groups of students and assign a task of creating an aerobic activity that demonstrates each component he taught. This will show Brad what students understand and give students a chance to practice social skills like cooperation and respect.

Many times teachers and educators use small snippets of time to foster social development. Informal cooperative learning groups are designed for short sessions of group work. We see these types of games experiences following a lesson. For example, if Brad were to teach students endurance using rope jumping, he may use an informal cooperative learning experience such as grouping students together to demonstrate their understanding of the concept. For a beginning of the year group activity Brad decides he'll do a informal cooperative game by having his class form a circle and hold hands. Brad will place a hula-hoop between the arms of two students. The group then needs to work cooperatively to move the hula-hoop around the circle while continuing to hold hands. This group activity will help students learn to work together and find solutions to a problem.

For teachers who want to foster long-term empathy and understanding of working in a group they can create cooperative base groups. These groups are formed and used as a cooperative learning experience with a stable group of students who check in with one another on a specific goal. Brad may use cooperative base groupings with his football team to build team spirit or help younger players learn the ropes.

Now that Brad understands the types of groups he can form, he's decided he wants to focus his first lessons on a more informal, getting-to-know-you lesson. He'll save the formal- and group-based experiences for later in the school year.

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