A comprehensive guide for teaching young children cooperative skills in a competitive society.
Ideally, kids’ games should be fun for everyone. But in this book, Lyons (Empowering Young Voices for the Planet, 2014, etc.) points out that “all too often they are stress-ridden, competitive encounters that activate aggression and create divisions.” She asserts that cooperative games, on the other hand, show “the experience of inclusivity, mutual respect, and peaceful contact” as desirable qualities, thus preventing anti-social behavior. This resource guide lays out an easy-to-implement program to prevent bullying and other forms of aggression. Specifically, it includes instructions for 57 cooperative games, suggestions for incorporating collaborative skills in the classroom, and annotated research supporting the benefits of such efforts. In modern American culture, Lyons argues, “competition, like wallpaper, is so pervasive that we rarely notice it, let alone question it.” Yet she also says that decades of studies demonstrate a link between competition and aggression, which, in turn, can lead to bullying. Early chapters encourage a cooperative mindset in a variety of activities; they even offer tweaks to more competitive games such as tag or Simon Says. Later chapters delve into research that shows that cooperative games encourage pro-social actions. The games presented are well-organized and engaging; one can imagine the fun of “Giant Animals,” in which each child becomes part of a larger creature that moves as a single entity. Clear instructions include time estimates and emphasized skills, such as “understanding emotions.” The charming pen-and-ink illustrations and photographs of diverse children complement the upbeat tone. At times, Lyons’ own game company, CooperativeGames.com, is featured a bit heavily, but she also explores other cooperative and bullying-prevention programs. Materials for teachers, including an explanatory letter to parents, a volunteer request form, and an informative games index (featuring each game’s title, type, number of players, and emphasized skills), make this book valuable for both its scholarship and its practicality.
An excellent resource for fostering cooperation as a force for positive social change.
“A useful introduction to — and a spirited discussion of — cooperative games. Apart from its other benefits, including pure fun, Lyons shows us that helping children to play with, rather than against, one another may help to create a school climate where bullying is less likely to take root.”
– Alfie Kohn
Author of No Contest: The Case Against Competition
This book is a terrific resource! Its theme “the more we play together, the happier we’ll be” nurtures the innate social good in children and can surely help prevent bullying too. When children feel the joys of win-win play, they can sense that there is a both-and world, rather than just an either-or, me-versus-you world. Learning that cooperation is Nature’s way and is in our very best human nature too is an important lesson. We owe children that enrichment. This delightful book, The Cooperative Games Bullying Prevention Program, is a cooperative gem!
Raffi Cavoukian: Singer, author, founder of the Centre for Child Honouring
The Cooperative Games Bullying Prevention Program is a great piece of work and a significant contribution to bullying prevention. Through the use of practical, easy to implement, and class-friendly games, Suzanne Lyons promotes a new mindset regarding the substantial impact of cooperatively structured play activities. This work reaches into and beyond bullying prevention with techniques that transform classrooms into social milieus reinforcing values of sharing, kindness and peace. The methods and activities in this book encourage positive social skills development and they help children build confidence in their own ability to relate to and work with one another. I wholeheartedly support and appreciate Ms. Lyons’ work. It bridges empirical research on cooperative games and aggression reduction with the school system. As such, it is rightly an integral part of bullying prevention.
– Dr. April Bay
Clinical Psychologist and author of the University of Nevada Reno study, “Cooperative Games: A Way to Modify Aggressive and Cooperative Behaviors in Young Children”
The Cooperative Games Bullying Prevention Program Cooperative Games for a Warm School Climate PreK-Grade 2, by Suzanne Lyons, is an “all in one” resource for educators who want to understand the why and how-to of cooperative play. It provides meaningful context and motivation for teachers to re-examine norms of competition that characterize typical board games and playground activities. The book offers many easy-to-implement alternatives that could be used in a variety of settings. Lyons makes clear the many benefits children reap when they play together.
I could almost hear children’s laughter as I read the directions for active learning games like “Pass the Funny Face.” I would love to see this book used widely in teacher education.
– Mimi Coughlin PhD
Professor, College of Education
Sacramento State University
Suzanne Lyons’ wonderful book examines, in a most delightful and clear way, why learning to cooperate is important and how cooperative games can instill the cooperative habit. As you read, you’ll quickly see how different this orientation is towards interpersonal interaction compared to the competitive mode we are trained to adopt. If you read with an open mind, you will probably discover what you missed in the games of your youth. You may even conclude that taking on a playfully cooperative attitude can help bring you success in many areas of your own life today! As a physician, I see that cooperative play relates to the health of children and adults—and to society as a whole as well.
Suzanne Lyons has made a true contribution with this potentially transformative book. I recommend it highly to everyone!
– Emmett Miller MD
Physician and author of Deep Healing
This is a lovely, inspiring and very practical book. Hats off!
And it is a great initiative. I believe it’s important to contribute to an attitude of cooperation instead of competition. As we know, for example through the development of our technology, life seems to go faster and faster. Truly the world, the universe we live in, is an ever changing, dynamic co-existing system based on a flow of give and take. So, if we look closely, competitiveness is an attitude that does not reflect the true reality of nature. Yet, the human mass mind, coming from fear and the willingness to control has created unnatural, competitive systems. If we humans could take quiet time to study and understand the deeper workings of nature, we would be able to see that playful cooperation is in line with nature and the way the universe works.
By helping young children practice cooperation through cooperative games such as those described in this book, we can nurture the development of functional and healthy neuro pathways in children. This is of the utmost importance as these children are the leaders of tomorrow.
– Fred Matser
Founder of humanitarian organization Malaria No More!, chairman of Child Alive and author of Rediscover Your Heart
My three kids and I started to play cooperative games during a school vacation and got hooked! I couldn’t believe the difference playing cooperatively made in my children’s’ interactions and in our home atmosphere! As a biologist, writer, and educator, I ponder questions about the roots of human competition and cooperation. While those questions are unlikely to be definitively resolved anytime soon, Suzanne Lyons’ compelling book makes it very clear that choosing to emphasize cooperation rather than competition has many benefits in the world today. Cooperation creates a happier, more nurturing environment for kids, in learning and in life.
– Jennifer Yeh PhD
Mother of three school-age children and author of books including Endangered Species: Must They Disappear?
The Cooperative Games Bullying Prevention Program is a title that certainly got my attention as a book-buyer for Reach And Teach. We’re huge fans of the cooperative game concept as well as being deeply rooted in working to reduce bullying in our schools and society. The book is truly unique in that it provides comprehensive information about the role of cooperative gaming in fostering social-emotional learning environments where children can thrive, in a way that is easy to read while still quite grounded in well-researched data.
For those who need to be brought on board to the value of cooperative gaming, this book is perfect. For those who are already convinced about the value of cooperative gaming, the book provides a wealth of resources to act, through recommendations of off-the-shelf games that are available for purchase and lots of detailed instructions for games that can be played with materials available in most classrooms and other learning environments.
This book strikes just the right balance between articulating important research results, best practices, and concrete tools that can be used immediately. Teachers and others who work with children will come back to this book time and time again for new ideas. Great book!
– Craig Weissner
Co-Founder Reach and Teach
In her book, The Cooperative Games Bullying Prevention Program, Suzanne Lyons takes on those who bully. But in the spirit of cooperative games, Lyons addresses the problem with love and constructive information. Her program supports teachers, children, and parents so that everyone can work together on the problem of bullying…but in a fun, positive, and completely painless manner! With this book and program, everyone will win and feel good.
– Ken Kolsbun
Founder Animal Town Game Company and author of cooperative board games including Save the Whales and Nectar Collector
Suzanne Lyons reminds us that another world truly is possible… a world where kids learn how to be good friends, listen well, see the value in others, build trust, and work together towards win-win solutions. The Cooperative Games Bullying Prevention Program is an incredible resource that will help both families and schools work together towards creating environments in which play (the work of children) is a safe place to practice the learned skills of cooperation. In turn, individuals, classes, schools and communities will flourish. Lyons challenges our notions of the “value of competition” and presents a compelling case for the deep-rooted necessity of a society that has cooperation at its core. This book will convince both parents and educators to take a step towards intentional cooperation.
– Tiffany Malloy
Mother of three young children and blogger at Eat, Play, Grow
The Cooperative Games Bullying Prevention Program shows that playing together cooperatively is an effective way to prevent bullying and create a safe school climate. Implementing this program will bring lots of happiness to your classroom. This book shows that it might be more natural for children to play cooperatively than we might think. Suzanne Lyons states: “Once children have experienced win-win cooperation, they know what it feels like to be inclusive and included, respectful and respected, kind and treated kindly by others—and as a result, happy. Children learn that the path to these good feelings is cooperation.” Play can work miracles… Suzanne’s book can help those miracles happen.
– Anne Mijke van Harten
Director of Earth Games, specialists in cooperative games, the Netherlands
This book represents a sea change in the field of educational gaming. Early in my career as an educational game designer, I attended a talk by a prominent researcher who insisted that a defining characteristic of a “game” was that it included competition. I have discovered through my work that he was absolutely wrong. Games that are cooperative are not just feasible but extremely fun. As a designer of cooperative games, I am so pleased to find a growing community of educators and gamers who recognize the value of cooperation. This book is a timely resource for that community. Not only does the Cooperative Games Bullying Prevention Program offer evidence from research that indicates the benefits of cooperative play, the book also includes numerous cooperative games (fifty-seven in all!). Many of these games are flexible and can be adapted to various types of classrooms and educational settings (music class, outdoor summer camp, homeschooling settings, etc.) Parents, teachers, and educators who appreciate the value of community are sure to find many resources and inspiration within these pages!
– Hillary Lauren
Educational game designer and researcher
The elephant in too many classrooms is bullying. Teachers care but often don’t know what to do. Suzanne Lyons convincingly argues that an effective response to the bullying crisis is promoting cooperative play among youngsters. Her assertion is supported by much educational research, which she cites. Additionally it’s easy to see that her approach makes a tremendous amount of common sense. She shares many cooperative games requiring no special equipment. But though this book presents a specific and practical method to prevent bullying, it has a larger scope. Cooperative play and what it means for a better world is what this very important book is about. This is a story of general interest to everyone who cares for children and the future!
– Paul Hewitt
Physics professor and author of Conceptual Physics
Suzanne Lyons’ book outlines a program that would benefit every preschool and elementary school in the U.S. by preventing one of the biggest childhood problems today, bullying. “Using cooperative games to improve school climate can be the first line of defense against the meanness, aggression, domination and exclusivity that lead to bullying,” says Lyons. Besides giving clear directions for a number of cooperative games for the classroom and playground, this book examines the research and philosophy behind competitive and cooperative games. As a former preschool teacher for the Northwest Missouri State University Early Childhood Center and Head Start, I believe cooperative games would greatly benefit young children. Written with clear directions in an appealing format, it will be easy to incorporate this book into any curriculum. An anti-bullying program is essential in today’s world.
– Amy Houts
Preschool teacher and author of over 60 books for young children
Having just read Suzanne Lyons’ wonderful book, The Cooperative Game Bullying Prevention Program, I realize something I have felt but not articulated to myself before. Competition, even in activities I otherwise enjoy, can easily lead to tension between people and that tension can easily lead to bad feelings and even domination, meanness, and bullying. This book opened my eyes. Surely we should rethink competition as a culture and be very careful with it, especially when it comes to encouraging children to compete. This book makes interesting reading for everyone concerned with the state of the world and the future, at the same time that the book is an actionable plan for those who work with children.
It will be a different world if children learn to love the cooperative game of life. Suzanne’s book is a powerful step in that direction!
– Rev. Phillip Pierson DDiv
Unity minister and author of The Metaphysics of Buckminster Fuller
Multiple research studies in early childhood education reveal that early intervention yields highest impact. In this book, Suzanne Lyons provides a way to reduce bullying through early intervention. She provides strong research, teacher tips, and fun games that nurture cooperation and discourage competition. This method of prevention and intervention is worth its weight in gold.
– Neva Bandelow
Early Care and Education Quality Improvement Program Manager
Planning Council Coordinator
Alameda County Early Care and Education Planning Council