Here’s more from our curriculum book containing experiential ways to teach cooperation. While many of these ideas aren’t new, the way we discuss and hold intention around them can be more powerful than we might expect. This piece about playground activities was written by Usha Dermond and Lorna Knox.
Any game or activity initiated by students or teachers must include all who wish to participate. “Everyone Gets To Play” is a simple idea, but can be challenging for students to practice, and teachers often have to help find creative solutions. With help, most students are willing to include others when they see that it doesn’t have to threaten their way of doing it.
For example, if a kindergarten student might want to play foursquare with the third graders who like to play fast and competitively. Rather than excluding the young student because of lack of skill or concerns for his safety, an inclusive solution is found. The young player could be teamed with an older player and a couple rounds of the game played at a slower, safer pace. Or the younger student could retrieve the ball when it goes out of bounds, or help serve the ball and then step out of play.
Occasionally, games may be inappropriate for everyone, and those games may have to be reserved
for certain grade levels at recess. Older students need to be challenged and may want to play mature themes that little ones should not be a part of. In that case, allow older students to play those games when they are on field trips, or the younger students are inside, or make it a special reward that you arrange.
Often, older students enjoy the challenge of adapting game rules for changing circumstances. It could be a valuable discussion or assignment: What if you didn’t have enough players for the traditional rules? What if there were players who couldn’t catch the ball? What if each older player had a young buddy as a teammate?