Encourage cooperation and sharing with these activities that tap into teachers' tried-and-true strategies. The key is to give each child a distinct role in projects that also require kids to help one another to succeed.
- Science Lab. Ask children to solve a simple scientific study, such as which of a bunch of household items is heaviest or which float in water. One child can record predictions, another can put things on a scale, while a third can organize the items according to the results.
- Tricycle Wash. Instead of a car wash, kids can run a trike/bike/wagon wash for the neighborhood. Each can take turns playing different roles, such as ticket/money-taker, washer, polisher, and salesperson. They can also work together on signs and banners promoting the event.
- Buddy Tracings. Lay down a large sheet of paper and have each child take a turn lying on it while a friend traces his outline. Then they can color in each outline together and see the magic two people can create — literally.
- Strike Up the Band. Hand out tambourines, toy guitars, bongos — whatever you have around — and encourage kids to form a musical group. Have them sing for you after they practice a little and enjoy the sound of cooperation (even if the sound it produces is cacophony).
- Make-believe Scenes. When kids enter a pretend world and take on roles, such as playing house, they learn to work together both to create that world and what is within it. Playing '"restaurant" or "veterinarian" will not only help individual imaginations, but show each child that her own imaginative powers are boosted by another's.
- Relay and Three-legged Races. These simple physical activities require each child to trust and rely on one another for the team's success. Blob tag is another great collaborative game.