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5 min read

While it might seem a little strange to teach your child how to play with other children, it can actually be very helpful, especially for children that are shy.

By playing co-operative games at home, your child will learn how to build important social skills, like:
  • turn-taking
  • communication
  • social-emotional skills (where children learn to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs effectively)

This is especially important for children under four years old, that are still learning how to co-operatively play with their peers.

An easy way to do this is by doing co-operative activities at home. These are the types of activities and games where everyone works together on a common goal.

For example:

  • Scavenger hunts - you can download some printable ones on our site here
  • Keep up the balloon - known as Keepy Uppy in Bluey :)
  • Hot and cold - one person guides the other in finding an item by saying hot or cold depending on how close they are (hot = closer, cold = further)
  • Cooking & baking - making a meal or treat to share together
  • Passing games - roll or toss a ball back and forth to each other
  • Building toys - working together to build a structure using blocks, Duplo, Magnatiles, etc., communicating about who's going to work on which part
  • Puzzles

There's also a ton of co-operative board games where everyone playing works together to win, rather than me versus you.

And aside from developing social skills, they take the pressure off of winning. There's already plenty of opportunities for 'player versus player' games throughout childhood.

Co-op games are a nice break from that.

Here's our 3 favourites for each age - two to six >

Our 3 Favourite Co-operative Boards Games

Two Years Olds

Follow the instructions on the included cards and do a variety of challenges using the bean bag banana, i.e. walk backwards with the banana on your head.

Why we like it: Great for developing gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, vocabulary and social-emotional skills.

Pick a recipe card and find all the ingredients to make the squirrels favourite soup.

Why we like it: Great for practicing numeracy, building vocabulary & developing fine motor skills. The wooden ingredients and spoon also turn into a fun pretend play material!

Each player grabs a marshmallow roasting stick, then they take turns drawing cards and adding the matching marshmallow to their stick. Everyone wins when all the roasting sticks are full.

Why we like it: Great for developing fine motor skills, colour recognition and matching, pretend play, and language development. 

Three Years Olds

Friends and Neighbours Game

Everyone works together to solve problems around the community. Get a token from the helping bag and see if it helps someone on your shared Bingo card - a bandaid for a boy that scraped his knee or an umbrella for a girl that standing in the rain.

Why we like it: Great way to build empathy and learn about different emotions all while working on problem-solving

Snug As A Bug In A Rug Game

Hide all the bugs under the rug before all the stink bugs make their way on the rug.

Why we like it: No reading required and three levels of play - learn colours, numbers, and shapes. This is a great way to develop fine motor and sorting skills.

Count Your Chickens

Spin the spinner and move to the next icon on the board. However many spaces you move is the same number of chicks you can move into the henhouse. Get all the chicks back into the henhouse before the hen gets home.

Why we like it: No reading required. Great way to practice counting and problem-solving skills.

Four Years Olds

Work together to build a logical road that connects. Once you're done, set up the accessories and drive the cut-out cars around.

Why we like it: Enhances fine motor skills and develops problem-solving skills. As the game progresses, it transforms into a fun pretend play opportunity.

Everyone works together to find the missing characters by exploring the space.

Why we like it: develops problem-solving skills and communication.

Work together to move the fireman to the top of the building using the dice. Put out the fires along the way and collect the cat on the roof. Then make your way back down the ladder to win the game.

Why we like it: A fun game for animal lovers to practice problem-solving skills and counting.

For Five Years Olds

Players have to remember the sequence of cards that were told to them through sounds and gestures and then reenact them, otherwise you lose a banana token. Find three orangutan cards in the deck before the bananas run out.

Why we like it: Great for developing creativity and communication skills.

Players work together to find matching soup ingredients. When they find a match, they add them to the pot. Match all of the ingredients before the fire under the kettle goes out.

Why we like it: Great tool for developing working memory and social skills.

Everyone is a worker ant working together to build a new ant colony for the queen. Take turns picking up a tile to build the ant colony and avoid the hidden rocks, beetles, and anteaters.

Why we like it: A fun game to develop strategic thinking and planning, as well as communication skills.

For Six Years Olds

Everyone adds to the mythical story so that the "hero" card of the game can reach their goal.

Why we like it: No reading required. Great for developing storytelling, sequencing, and communication skills.

Two players have to work together to keep the magnetic game pieces (gnomes) stuck together on either side of the game board. One player describes where the treasure is while the other moves the pieces. Collect all the treasures in the maze before time runs out.

Why we like it: Great for developing communication skills and teamwork.

Not exactly a game but a fun activity. Each set includes 36 cards to prompt and further a story. Everyone takes a turn choosing a card, using the image to add to the story.

Why we like it: A fun way to develop imagination and storytelling skills.

And if you're interested in reading more about the stages of play in childhood (from Parallel play to Associative play to Cooperative play) and at what age each one happens, go here to check out this post: The #1 Thing You Can Do To Help Shy Toddlers - The Montessori Approach