Students Will: Work together to create a strategies to reach a goal; Cooperate to apply these strategies
Materials: medium size ball (dodgeball size), timer
Zoo U Game Context: Players must ask a classmate for help, then work together to catch Lester the bird, who is loose in the classroom.
Cooperation games are a great way to teach teamwork and strategy. In this activity, students will practice their cooperation skills to make sure everyone “catches Lester,” or touches a ball, in the shortest amount of time possible.
Have you ever had a class that just could NOT get along? Whether it started at the beginning of the year and kept building, or there just seemed to be something in the air one week, having your kids at each other’s throats day after day makes it really hard to get any teaching done.
The animosity in one of my classes had been slowly building in the first couple weeks of school. I’d be trying to teach and this is all I was hearing:
“Stop looking at me!”
“I didn’t touch you!”
“That’s my crayon, get your own!”
Finally I just had to cancel art and spend my 45 minutes with them doing something, anything, to create some goodwill between these kids.
This game did just the trick.
All you need is a ball, a timer, and at least 5-6 kids (and a little patience). You don’t need a lot of space, so it can be done in a classroom, but what a great opportunity to get outside if you can!
The goal for this cooperation game is for students to come up with a way for every team member to “catch” or touch a ball that represents the Zoo U character Lester in the shortest amount of time possible. There are several ways that this can be accomplished, and the most successful ones involve teamwork and strategy.
- Explain to students that the goal of the game is for everyone to “catch Lester,” meaning every person needs to touch the ball at least once. Explain that you will be timing them to see how quickly they can accomplish their goal.
- In the first round, don’t allow students to talk to each other beforehand. Hand the ball to one student and tell them to start. Be sure to time them, and monitor if each student has indeed touched the ball at least once before stopping the timer.
- Tell students their time and ask how they think it went? What worked or didn’t work about what they did that round? Does anyone have an idea of what could be done better?**
- Have students try again while implementing one or a couple of their new ideas. Again, be sure to time them, and monitor if each student has indeed touched the ball at least once before stopping the timer.
- Repeat steps three and four the desired amount of times.
- Having a closing discussion about why certain strategies worked better than others. Did it work better when you had a plan? Did it work better when everyone was working together? Why?
Examples of strategies to use if students have trouble:
- students sit in a circle and roll the ball to a person across from them
- students call out their name when they touch the ball so others know who still needs to touch it
- students stand in two lines across from each other and throw the ball across
- students sit in a straight line or circle and roll the ball along
- students stand in a straight line or circle and pass the ball to their right
- students stand in two straight lines across from each other. One student holds the ball and walks through the middle, allowing each student to touch it as he walks by.
Go over the following questions with the group:
- What was the experience like the first time we tried this activity?
- Were we more successful when we had a plan? Why?
- Was there anything that didn’t help the group?
- What strategy was the most successful in our goal of everyone “catching Lester” in the shortest amount of time? Why was it successful?
As you discuss these questions, help guide students to the idea that when we work together, we will achieve greater success.
Explain that working together as a team is called cooperation, and when we cooperate, it’s easier to accomplish our goals.
Hang the cooperation poster in your classroom after this lesson for students’ future reference.