What is Cooperative Play? 9 Cooperative Play Activities for Preschoolers

What is Cooperative Play? 9 Cooperative Play Activities for Preschoolers

You want your child to be happy and prosper in all his endeavors. Working with people is the key and it all starts with toddlers playing together. Learn about the importance of cooperative play and how you can help your child.




Being able to work in a team is a skill that shall stay with your child for his entire life. Comparison and extreme competition can be detrimental to his ability to work in a group. What children learn during the age of 0–5 stays with them for their entire lives, which is why it’s crucial to encourage them in cooperative play and not competitive play.

What Is Cooperative Play?

Cooperative play means working and playing together in order to achieve a common goal. In cooperative play, there are no winners or losers as everybody works for the same goal. Thus, it is a situation where everyone wins. Learning to work together takes effort and children learn it through the most enjoyable means–play!

When Do Toddlers Start Playing Together?

Cooperative play is an organized form of play. It’s very important for parents and caregivers to play a role in getting their kids to socialize with their peers. The stage of cooperative play begins between the ages of 4 and 6 years. It is an important skill that should be taught at this age as it fosters sharing, taking turns, and team spirit among children.

WATCH: The Six Stages of Play


Cooperative play, the last stage of play, is important to promote group efforts in preschoolers. But, do you know what are the other stages? Know about them:

  • Unoccupied play – In this stage, babies who are 0-3 months old, make movements with their legs, hands, and feet.
  • Solitary play – This is the stage when kids below 2 years of age play alone. Hence, the name!
  • Onlooker plays – On reaching 2 years of age, kids watch other people play but do not play with them.
  • Parallel play – In this stage, the kids who are 2 and above play near others but not with them.
  • Associate play – Between the ages of 3 and 4 years, children begin playing with others.
  • Cooperative play – In this last stage of play, children above 4 start playing in groups.
9 Cooperative Play Activities for Toddlers

Whether it’s sports planting vegetables or painting as a group, any activity that requires teamwork influences cooperative play. Here are some activities that you can engage your children in, to further cooperative play:

  1. Scavenger Hunt

    Scavenger hunt is a favorite game of people of all ages. In this game, kids will have to find an object within a limited time. Teaching your toddlers to play this game will foster team spirit in them and improve their problem-solving ability. They can play this game either indoors or outdoors. The choice is for your kids.

  2. Blocks or Lego

    Playing with construction toys is a great choice to facilitate cooperative play in toddlers. While playing these games, kids have to develop a plan to build something. Planning involves brainstorming. Thus by mere means of play preschoolers learn to work together for a common objective.

  3. Puzzles

    Puzzles are amazing toys that will keep your kids occupied for long. To encourage cooperative play with this game, bring a large set of puzzles as more and more kids can get involved to solve it. By solving one big puzzle, children will learn that it takes teamwork to reach a positive result.

  4. Dressing Up

    Dressing up is an activity that almost everyone has done in their life. It is a form of symbolic play, which involves being something as opposed to reality. This dramatic play enhances the imagination skills of preschoolers, as to perform this activity they have to decide who will be what decide on their costumes, and help each other get dressed. This is a fun activity that promotes cooperative play.

  5. Board Games

    Board games are competitive games as they promote a winning and losing mentality in children. But they can be used to promote cooperative play among children. By playing board games preschoolers learn the importance of getting something after having waited for it. Whenever kids want something they want it immediately. They detest waiting for it. Board games encourage taking turns and help them realize that sometimes delayed enjoyment is also fine.

  6. Relay Races

    Relay races keep children physically fit. Relay races also facilitate the essence of sharing in preschoolers. They learn that winning involves team efforts. It also develops the motor skills of kids.

  7. Art Activities

    Art activities, like building sand castles, painting a mural, or building a dollhouse can promote cooperative play in children. While doing art activities, everyone can be assigned different tasks. In this way, the task will be completed sooner and your children will learn that need to work in a group.

  8. Doing Household Chores Together

    Children have quite a lot of traits in common with adults. One of them is that they like being trusted. Doing household chores together and trusting them to take on responsibility makes them level-headed and helps them understand the importance of working and living together.

  9. Encouraging Free Play

    The best way to further cooperative play in a toddler for his development is to let yours engage in free play with other children. Toddlers playing together, without the interference of adults, can help them develop an understanding of each other and become more independent from an early age.


Benefits of Cooperative Play

Everyone loves to win, but winning together and celebrating that win with your own people is a joy that is beyond explanation. Cooperative play promotes sharing, appreciation, and caring among kids. Find out why you should involve your toddlers in cooperative play.

  • Cooperative play strengthens a child’s decision-making skills and also his social skills.
  • By engaging kids in cooperative play,  you help them develop personal relationships which are useful in the long run.
  • Cooperative play furthers team-building skills in children, which are essential for their development.
  • Through cooperative play, children learn to communicate without hesitating; they also learn to freely share their ideas and opinions.
  • Cooperative play develops the feeling of empathy in children. It means understanding the feelings of others and empathizing with them. In the years to come, cooperative play proves beneficial for kids, as compassion never goes unappreciated.
  • It makes children realize and appreciate the efforts of others and helps them cope with failures in life.
  • It also nurtures the behaviour of children which is extremely important. A good attitude and kindness is always welcomed.
  • Cooperative play makes a child realize his worth and promotes individual growth as well.

Cooperative play benefits children, but don’t push a child into it unless he is ready. Children have a different set of strengths and weaknesses. Each child learns at his own pace, and it’s important to let them choose their own path. There may be tiffs when 2-year-olds play together, which is natural for kids. It’s equally natural to want to step in and smooth things, but you should supervise and not control.

Have you experienced cooperative play with your toddler? We would love to know how it helped and how you lent a hand.

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