With cooperative PE games, kids have a chance to think, play, and socialize at the same time they get a work-out. Sports are overwhelmingly competitive today but they needn’t be. Indeed, research by sports psychologist Terry Orlick and others shows that kids actually prefer cooperative to competitive games when exposed to both.
Most cooperative PE games are simple and they don’t require a lot of set-up or equipment. To enhance the cooperative aspect, you can take a few minutes after the games to debrief. Ask questions like: How did teamwork come into play in this game? Did you enjoy it? Was everyone included? What kind of social atmosphere did you create with this game? How do you feel about your team mates after playing the game? How might you vary the game next time to make it more fun or inclusive?
Here are a few of the best cooperative PE games I know to get you started. Many more games are available in the excellent books we carry. Also check the Fun and Free section of this website for more active games, suitable for play time out of school as well as during recess.

Giant Animals

This game is good for young kids. No materials are required. Children play together to turn their bodies into different parts of a giant animal. To begin, the children can suggest a specific animal or “giant” and propose its body parts. Each child selects a different body part to be. Children team up to make […]

Collective Hoops

This game is good for older kids. It requires one balloon or beach ball and one hula hoop for each pair of students. To begin, scatter the hula hoops on the gym floor. Students work in pairs. Partners tap the balloon or ball back and forth in a nonstop fashion. At the same time, they […]

Tug of Peace

Participants group themselves around a rope that has been tied in a knot to form a circle. Players squat down around the rope, holding the rope with both hands. At the count of three, all players lean back and-using the energy of the group-they stand up. When everyone has stood up (and cheered), players can, […]