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 a total giant animal. Once they have their animal assembled, they can try to get it moving—rolling over, jumping, stretching, wagging its tail, etc. If you have a big class with lots of animals, you can make a GIANT animal zoo.
(This game is adapted from Terry Orlick, “Cooperative Games and Sports”)

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 endeavor to pick up a hoop, then tap their balloon through it, and place the hoop back on the floor. Partners keep moving in a different direction to pick up a different hoop. Every time they complete the goal, they score a point. The goal is for the entire group to score as many points as possible in a given time period. This is a very active game that takes physical as well as mental—and social—coordination.
(This game comes from Terry Orlick, “Cooperative Games and Sports”)

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, on the count of three again, carefully lean back into a squat.

In this game, the counterbalance support that players provide to one another is a graphic representation of mutual support and cooperation. It’s a totally different experience than Tug-of-War, which can be a painful exercise that activates aggression and leaves players in the dirt.
(This game comes from Maria Sapon-Shevin, “Because We Can Change the World”)