30 Best Cooperative Games And Activities For Toddlers and Preschoolers

Does your toddler cry and throw a tantrum after every game?

Are you frightened of starting a game with your child because you are worried that it will end in lots and lots of tears?

Do you believe that your toddler is not a good sport or a sore loser? And does that embarrass you?

Then you must understand that the fault is not with your child but with the game that your child is playing

Why do children throw tantrums when they lose at games?


  1. They are too young for competition

    Children are not ready for competition until they are at least 8 years old. In the early years children are just beginning to develop their sense of self. They are trying to estimate their own worth and estimate their own ability. This is a time when they should be loved and valued only for who they are and not what they do. In a competitive game children feel that they are being evaluated and measured based on their ability to perform and win and that can severely damage their sense of self and self-esteem. Losing in a game is a threat to their self-esteem and they are too young to handle the stress of winning and losing.

  2. They cannot tolerate unfairness

    Around the age of 5 children become focused on fairness. They trust their parents and other authority figures and cannot imagine that an adult will ever be unfair or wrong. Unfortunately – most commonly available games like ludo and snakes and ladders are unfair. They are based on luck and do not involve the child’s skill. Young children cannot understand luck and gambling and when they lose – they think it is extremely unfair. When they are playing the game with a parent – they feel that the parent is being unfair and this shakes them up to their core.


What are cooperative games?

Cooperative games have the following features –

  1. Cooperative games are those that focus on the importance of play and fun. In contrast to competitive games they do not compel you to worry about winning or losing.
  2. They create opportunities for children to work together and rejoice when they reach a common goal.
  3. The best cooperative games give children a chance to appreciate each other instead of beating each other.
  4. Toddlers can take break from proving their superiority to build their self-esteem because in the best cooperative games everyone wins – there are no losers.
  5. When children play cooperative games – it gives them the chance to discover that sharing, caring and cooperating helps them build friendly relationships and feel good about themselves regardless of their skills.
30 best cooperative games for toddlers and preschoolers

30 best cooperative games for toddlers and preschoolers


Things to remember while playing cooperative games

  1. Do not play for too long
  2. Make sure you are not serious. Be silly and fun.


List of 30 Cooperative Games and activities

  1. Build a tower together

    Discuss how high the tower should be. What are the best bricks to place at the bottom and why. How making a large base is important for the stability of the tower and so on and so forth.

  2. Play a matching game

    For example match the animals with their places in a farm picture. Discuss why the cow and the goat need to be in a grassland and why the ducks need to be in the pond. What they eat – how they move and how that determines where they live.

  3. Build a jigsaw puzzle

    Begin by looking carefully at the picture. Then help each other pick out pieces that go with a certain person or a certain object in the picture. Discuss how putting together the corners of the jigsaw – followed by the straight edges can help build the picture more easily. The jigsaw can be left on a table in the house and can be completed over a period of days – teaching persistence and continuity.

  4. Make paper boats

    Set a timer and as group work towards making as many paper boats as possible before the timer goes off. The game will require everyone to do a certain folding step in order to move the assembly line along as fast as possible.

  5. Play follow the leader

    Start by being the leader yourself. Give 1 instruction like “Touch your toes”. Follow it up by giving 2 instructions – “Touch your toes and clap thrice.” Follow it up with 3 instructions – “Touch your toes – clap thrice – jump twice” Keep adding more instructions. Give instructions faster and faster to follow. Then allow your child to give your child to be the leader. Be silly. Pretend you forgot. Do the wrong things sometimes.

  6. Put on a T-shirt while it is in the air

    Take some over sized T-shirts. Throw them up in the air. Try to slip them on before they hit the floor.

  7. Blow bubbles

    Take some soap water and a bubble blower. Blow more and more bubbles. Blow bigger and bigger bubbles. Have one person blowing the bubbles and catch as many as you can with your kid.

  8. Keep balloons up in the air

    Blow up two or three balloons. Throw them all up in the air. Keep hitting them to keep them afloat. Between the two of you don’t allow the balloons to reach the ground.

  9. Play train – train

    Hold on to each other and from a train. Make a chuk chuk sound and go to various destinations in the house to pick up and drop things. You lead first. And then let your child lead.

  10. Gardening

    Buy some seeds. Get some potting soil and a pot. Dig up the soil and plant the seeds. Water them. Look at pictures of how the seeds will look like when they become plants. Talk about farming and how farmers grow our food. Also how we should not waste food because it is so difficult to grow.

  11. Fill the bucket

    Keep a bucket full of water at one end of the lawn and an empty bucket at the other end of the lawn. Carry mugs of water from the full bucket to fill the empty bucket. For older children soak a sponge in water and have them wring it out into the empty bucket to fill it.

  12. Shadow games

    This game can be played on a sunny day when shadows form outside. Or at night with a light. Do silly dances and see what they look like as shadows. Make animal shapes with the fingers and have fun. Try different actions and see how small body parts can be made big and big body parts can be shrunk.

  13. Float and sink

    Collect objects from all over the house and gather them in the balcony or the lawn. Take a large bowl of water guess if each object will float or sink. Then put them in the water and see if your guess was right. Then take a pair of tongs used to make rotis and fish out the objects. Repeat the guessing game – this time your child may make more accurate guesses.

  14. Complete the picture

    Place a blackboard at one end of the lawn. Each player gets a chalk piece. Each person runs to the blackboard one by one and draws one body part. The game can be extended by adding clothes and hat shoes etc. The sillier the picture – the better it is.

  15. Puppet dance

    Make finger puppets by rolling a small piece of paper or a band-aid round your finger and drawing a face and hair on it. Play music and do a silly dance. Have the puppets do individual and group dances.

  16. Talk about the nice things you can do with different parts of your body

    Talk about the hands – demonstrate how you can clap, wave and help with the hands. Talk about the mouth. List out the nice things you can say with the mouth. Talk about the feet – how you can run around and help with the feet. Make lists of these nice things on a board.

  17. Have conversations to count your blessings

    Talk about what you can share and whom you can share with. Talk about how you can be kind and who needs kindness. Talk about what you can do to be helpful. Allow your child to come up with ideas.

  18. Throw the dice to complete the face

    Draw a large face – just a circle is enough. Then make all the parts of the face on different pieces of paper. Give each part a number. Start rolling one player at a time – both dices together. Add up the number that comes from the sum of the two dices and place the part on the circle. 5 for mouth 4 for hair 2 for right eye and so one. Do this until the face is complete.

  19. Where do you want to go

    Make a list of places on a blackboard. Have a map available. Sit in the circle and roll the ball. Whoever gets the ball gets to choose a place to go to. You can read out the places for very young children who cannot read. Then help the child to find her/his chosen place on the map and allow her/him to put a sticker or a sticking bindi on the place to mark it.

  20. Volunteer as a family

    Whether it is a clean-up drive to clean the neighborhood or an initiative to sell cards door to door to collect money for charity or just volunteering at a common charitable kitchen – volunteer with your child. It shows them how powerful each one of us is when we work together.

  21. Bake or cook together

    One of the best things to do together is to cook together because it gives us so many opportunities to cooperate. Give your child simple repetitive tasks that she/he can perfect with practice. Form an assembly line for something like cutlets. Children can be given the task of dipping the cutlet in egg wash or coating the cutlet with breadcrumbs.

  22. Arrange a cupboard together

    Involve your child when you are classifying toys or stationery. You can enlist your child’s cooperation in finding scattered blocks or scattered sketch pens. You can also have your child pair up socks or classify photographs.

  23. Pay compliments

    If there are three people – play a game where each person has to say something nice about the other people in the game. Have 3 bowls on the table – one for each person and start filling these up with the slips with the compliments written on them. The aim should be to fill each bowl.

  24. Get to know each other better

    Have a bowl full of chits with things like – favorite color, favorite movie, Favorite book favorite flower etc. written out. Have each person write out her/his favorites on a piece of paper and keep it with themselves. Then begin the game and have the others guess what they think is the favorite of the other people playing the game. After that each person corrects the other based on what they had written earlier. It helps each person know the other members of the family know each other better.

  25. Getting ready for a trip

    Pack a suitcase. First take a board and draw pictures of or write names of things you would need on a trip. Then take suitcase and start packing. Teach your child how to fold and arrange.

  26. Plan a picnic

    Plan a picnic. It could just be to the park in the complex. Pack the picnic hamper with everything you may need and then go down and do everything you planned in the park.

  27. Ask riddles

    Ask questions like – “What is round and gives light.” “What is green like grass but found on trees”. “What is a white food that is not sweet” Be open to answers and also allow your child to make up and ask such questions..

  28. Rhyming words

    Start with a word like stitch or bridge or station. Think up lots of rhyming words and make a list. Turn the words into a silly song at the end of the game. Sing the song often and turn it into an anthem until the next time..

  29. Story building

    Start a story – say one line out a aloud “In a small there lived a brown puppy”. Ask your child to continue the story with the next line. You add the following line. Let an absurd funny story emerge. Do not correct the story for logical sequence of events or reality. Let it be hilarious.

  30. Follow the leader’s instructions

    Play a game in which you call out instructions like “crawl like a cat”, “bark like a dog”, “jump like a monkey”, “roll like a ball”, “spread like a tree”, “be straight like a pole” and so on. Do the actions yourself as well and be as silly as possible. Then allow your child to call out instructions

Advantages of playing cooperative games

  1. Teaches cooperation

    Cooperation is a learned by watching others cooperate. When a child sees how cooperating with others allows everyone to reach a desired goal – it encourages the child to learn how to cooperate and to cooperate in every walk of life.

  2. Helps children fit into the outside world

    Children are born thinking they are the center of the world. An essential part of fitting into the outside world is to understand how our words and actions affect others. When a child plays a competitive game she/he understands that it is important to establish oneself as supreme at all costs. A cooperative game on the other hand teaches children about others – their needs – their wants – what makes them happy and what doesn’t – their feelings and their reactions. All these help the child to settle into the outside world more easily.

  3. Children learn that caring builds friendly relationships

  4. Cooperative games build vocabulary

  5. Cooperative games build problem solving skills

  6. Listening skills are built

    When children play cooperative games they are open to listening and considering the other person’s ideas and point of view because there is no loss of face involved

  7. Builds self-esteem

    When children contribute, they feel valued, accepted involved needed and this helps build self-esteem.

Children learn from their experiences and behave the way they feel. When they feel wanted and worthwhile in a team effort they contribute and cooperate more. And this leads to them feeling valued and accepted,   which builds their self-esteem, increases their overall happiness and leads to them valuing and accepting others.

Games and activities are a great way to bond with your child. If you are a loving affectionate parent who avoids playing games with your child because you hate the tantrums that happen every time the child loses in the game. Then it is best to play the above 30 cooperative games to build a relationship of love and happiness.


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