Cooperation Game

K, 1, 2

Children play a game to build understanding of personal strengths and cooperative work. They discuss what behaviors promote cooperation and communication. They start thinking about how cooperation can help the common good of their neighborhood.

PrintOne 30-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • play a cooperative game to build a sense of team and community.
  • identify the benefits of working cooperatively with others.
  • define neighborhood, cooperation, and common good.
  • identify actions that promote the common good of the neighborhood.
  • three to eight 3-piece (head, torso, and tail) animal puzzles, may be teacher- or student-made (see below for details)
  • Handouts are for educator background information.
Teacher Preparation 

Make animal jigsaw puzzles on heavy paper (one animal per puzzle). The animal image may be a drawing or a picture cut from a magazine. Cut each puzzle in three pieces so each piece features one part of the animal (the head, the torso, and the rear). Make enough puzzles that the total number of puzzle pieces is approximately the same as the number of children in the group. When the three pieces are put together, they complete the image of an animal.

  • common good: working together with other members for the greater benefit of all; promotes the welfare of the community
  • neighborhood: a number of persons living close to one another, or in such a way that they create a shared community
  • cooperation: working together to benefit a group


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show the pre-made puzzles to the children. Ask them if the puzzles look easy to put together. Call their attention to the types of animals represented, and that each puzzle is made up of three body parts. Tell the children that they are going to play a cooperation game, which will make putting the puzzles together a little more difficult. Explain the rules of the game.

  2. Each child holds one of the puzzle pieces. If there are extra students, they may take turns in the circle, or they may be helpers.

  3. Children stand in a circle. Someone stands in the center and is “it.” The person who is “it” points to one person in the circle and names one of the animals (from the puzzle images).

  4. ”It” then counts slowly to five. During that time, the person who was pointed to needs to form the complete animal cooperatively with the help of the people holding those pieces. This requires finding the three pieces needed to form the animal from the other students and putting them together.

  5. As soon as the three participants holding the correct pieces form that animal, “it” points to another person in the circle and names a different animal.

  6. If the group cannot form the animal in 5 seconds, the child pointed to becomes “it.” (If 5 seconds is too challenging, the time may be adjusted to be more reasonable.)

  7. Make sure everybody has a turn to be “it” and all groups have a chance to be successful.

  8. At the end of the game, bring children together to discuss how it felt to cooperate, and how their cooperation helped to make the activity faster and easier for everyone. Ask:

    • Could you have done this activity alone?
    • What did you and your partners do and say that made forming the animals easier? What didn’t work?
    • What was difficult about forming the animals in five seconds?
    • What would happen if you did not cooperate with the others in your group?
  9. Define the words neighborhood, cooperation, and common good. Discuss why cooperation benefits the common good. Ask them to think about how the cooperation skills they learned could be useful in a neighborhood or community to get big things done that help everyone.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.