Cooperative Learning Activities for Adults

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Cooperating with others is an essential skill, whether you're a working professional or still in school. This lesson provides a variety of fun cooperative learning activities for adults.

Cooperative Learning

Whether you are in college or working at the corporate level, there is a consistent need for cooperation. Learning how to work with others effectively creates better team dynamics while helping to assure successful projects and achievement of goals. Although cooperation is taught in schools, depending on the internal culture of a business or university, the extent to which people effectively cooperate with one another can vary. In these cases, basic cooperation skills like active listening and acknowledgement must be emphasized.

The following activities provide a variety of ways to develop cooperation among peers, ultimately creating an environment of teamwork.

Basic Cooperation Activities

When first starting out with a new group or team, it is necessary to gauge each person's level of cooperation. The best way to do this is to introduce basic cooperation activities.


One of the best ways to create a cooperative environment is to establish a worthwhile cause the team can collectively strive for. This shifts focus away from the individual, instead placing it on the group and its cooperative goal. One way to do this is working together at a soup kitchen. Everyone must cooperate to ensure the food is prepared, plates are served, and dishes are cleaned, all of this being done in an efficient manner. Each person is a cog in the wheel that is helping serve that shelter or soup kitchen.

Assembly line charities also provide a cooperative learning opportunity while supporting a worthy cause. Each person must properly weigh and measure ingredients and foods before they can continue down the line for packaging. Once secured in bags and boxes, the items travel to the end of the line where they're prepared for shipping overseas. If one part of the assembly line breaks down, then the whole process stops until the issue is cleared up.

Complex Puzzles

This is a fun but basic cooperation game. Group people into teams of four to six and provide them with a complex cardboard puzzle. The team must devise a strategy for solving the puzzle quickly and efficiently. Set a timer for no more than 20 minutes. Whoever has most of the puzzle completed wins. However, they also have to explain their strategy and why it worked. You can do this activity in pairs as well, using smaller wooden or metal puzzles.

Intermediate Cooperation Activities

At this level of cooperation, you have employees or students who are aware of how to work with others but may not be prepared for the intricacies of a group assignment.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

This silly game requires serious problem solving and cooperation. Group people into teams of two, giving each pair a loaf of bread, butter knife, jar of jelly, and jar of peanut butter. Each pair must work together one-handed to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Every jar and bag should be closed, so team members have to cooperate in every aspect of the sandwich-making process. If needed, you can tie one hand behind their backs so they are not tempted to cheat.

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