Spring is a great time to get children moving again. Cooperative-movement games not only build gross-motor skills, they also provide opportunities for children to develop problem-solving, sharing, and collective creative-thinking abilities. Along the way, children will also be using language and communication skills as they discuss how to work together.
Cooperative games are a positive alternative to the more traditional competitive games. Children as young as preschool can feel the negative effects of competition and decide to "opt out" of physical education or movement at an early age. Even a simple game such as musical chairs has one winner and lots of losers. These traditional games often leave children with feelings of rejection and failure because the rules have children put "out." Cooperative-movement games eliminate the fear of failure and reaffirm a child's confidence in herself as a team player. These are games in which everyone cooperates and wins! *
STEPS TO COOPERATING
Consider transforming your group time into cooperative-- movement time each week for the remainder of the year. It is a wonderful way to tie together so many of the language, social, and thinking skills children have learned and put them to active use! Here are a few guidelines to follow in setting up your cooperative-movement group-time activities.
Discuss the meaning of cooperation. Gather children together in your circle before beginning any game and invite them to describe what it means to cooperate. If they are having difficulty, you might give examples of people cooperating and not cooperating. Ask children to discuss how these behaviors differ. This will provide a reminder of the purpose of the game and help get them started.
Talk about rules. Ask children to help you determine the rules when they move together. You might want to create a Cooperative-Movement Rules Chart together. Issues of taking turns, being careful when sharing a small space, and listening are bound to be on the list!
Introduce the game. Explain the goal of the game. For example: The group moves from one end of the room to the other without using their feet! Or the group problem that needs to be solved. For example: How can we move a big box of balls across the room without using our hands?
Brainstorm cooperative ways to play. Encourage children to suggest ways to move together or solve the problem. You can write these on chart paper for later review.
Choose a Way to MOVE! Children can vote for their favorite way to move and then test it out. If it doesn't work, they can always try another idea on the chart.
GREAT MOVES FOR GROUPS!
You can start small with partner movements. Later, add on children until you have the entire group moving and cooperating. Try these ideas for cooperative thinking and moving FUN!
What Can Two Do? Invite children to move together in different ways. Start with a question and see where they go.
- How can you make a silly movement together? How can you add another friend to your movement?
- Can you move together across the circle?
- How can you walk your partner like a dog?
- How can you make yourself into a bridge for your partner to crawl under?
Take a Hike Together How can we take an imaginary hike together? What shall we pack to carry along? To get the hike going, say, "Let's pretend that the walls of the classroom are gone and we are surrounded by mountains. There's a path over there that will lead us up the mountain. It is very narrow, so we'll have to hold hands in a long line." As children join hands, guide them through the room and even out in the hall, pointing out beautiful views, dangerous passes, and strenuous climbs. Along the way, stop at different obstacles and invite children to brainstorm ways to get around them. Another day, take a hike to the beach, the desert-or take a trip to outer space!
Jumping Rope Without the ROPE! How can the group pretend to jump rope together without using a rope? You might say, "Let's pretend we have a giant jump rope. How can we jump rope together with it? Who will turn? Who will jump?" Give children a chance to jump freely first and then introduce a question and a jump rope chant. How would a dinosaur jump? A robot? A ladybug? Use this variation on an old favorite to inspire their movements!
Play Dinosaur, Dinosaur (Tune: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear)
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, turn around.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, touch the ground.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, jump up high.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, touch the sky.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, reach down low.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, touch your toe.
You can keep these games in mind as a means to calm down a hectic day and use up some extra energy. Stop everything and take the children outside (or to the gym) to play a game. Can't get out of the room? Just push back the tables and chairs and MOVE!