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Everybody Wins!
Cooperative and
non-competitive games for kids

          Take a roomful of kids under the age of seven, throw in a couple of games, add some really cool prizes for the winners. What have you got? Well, you could very well end up with a couple of really happy kids, a bunch of not so happy kids, and maybe even one sobbing kid who really wanted one of those really cool prizes but didn't get one. Save the competitive games for when your kids get older, and try some of these games for right now.
Music games -- about the only props you need for these games are a tape player, a tape of upbeat music, and, for un-musical chairs, a few chairs.
          Freeze Frame -- the object of this game is to get the kids to loosen up, have fun, and giggle a little. Have everybody stand in a large room or wide open space. Explain that when they hear the music, they can dance any way they want, but when the music stops, they must freeze immediately. Wait a few seconds to see if they can hold their positions, then start over.
          Monkey See, Monkey Do -- Gather all the kids in a large room or wide open space. Tell the kids that they can start dancing any way they want to, and you will pick different kids to be leader. The leader will stand facing the group and do any movement they want. The other kids have to follow. After a minute or so, pick a new leader. Make sure everyone gets a turn to lead.
          Un-Musical Chairs -- Unlike the traditional version of the game, in this version no one is out. Instead, you remove one chair each time, and the kids have to all sit on each other's laps when the music stops. The object is to see if you can eventually pile everybody on one chair (and have fun, of course).
Running-around games
          Treasure Hunt -- This game involves a some advance preparation, but it's such a hit with my kids that it's worth the extra effort. You can direct kids to the proper clues by writing the clues out, or drawing or using photographs for non-readers. Before the party, decide where you want to kids to hunt, then carefully hide little clues throughout the house, out of the way where no one can see them easily (under the sofa cushion, on the underside of the coffee table, etc.) Each clue will direct them to the next one. For example, the word "couch" or a picture of a couch will lead the kids to the couch, where you've hidden a clue with the word "bookshelf" or a picture of the bookshelf on it. If you can stand it, zigzag the kids all over the place, until, five or ten clues later, they find the treasure (some party favors, some candy bars, whatever, as long as there is enough for all of the kids to share).
          Barnyard Bash -- This is a fun game to play with a lot of kids. Think of some animals that make distinctive sounds, such as dogs, cats, pigs, ducks, and horses. Very quietly whisper the name of one of those animals to each kid, making sure that every animal is represented at least twice. Then, at the count of three, have the kids find their own kind of animal by making the noise and joining together in a group. This game is also fun to play with older kids, especially if you give them some more difficult animals, such as turtles, rabbits, or fish.
Slightly-less rambunctious games
          Tell Me a Story -- for the non-reader version, have all the kids sit in a circle. You might need to start things off by saying, "Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. . ." or "Back in the olden days when cowboys roamed the range. . ." Go with something you know the kids are interested in. Going around the circle, let each kid add a bit of action or a few details. You may need to go around the circle more than once, and you may need to help out along the way. If possible, tape record or video tape the story and play it back to the kids.
          For the reader's version, have each child sit at the table and give them some paper and pencils. You can start off as in the non-reader version, or let each child think up their own story. Let them write for a minute or two, then tell them it's time to move. They all move into the chair to their right and continue the story their neighbor started. Switch again in another minute or too. When it's time to finish the story, tell them to quickly get to the happily ever after part. Have everyone read the story they end up with out loud.
          Animal Charades -- Giving each child a turn, have one child come up to the front of the group and whisper the name of an animal to them. They then act out what the animal does. The rest of the kids try to guess the name of the animal. To make it more fun, have the kids make the animal sounds instead of calling out the name.
Check out our Feature Links page for more Games for Kids.
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Circle Time e-zine Copyright © 1998 by Kathy Bennett (
Back to Circle Time e-zine Volume 1, Number 4 -- July 1998
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