Cooperative Games Build Relationship Skills

May 20 / Janna Nobleza
This year has been especially challenging for some of our youngest students -- those in preschool and elementary school. Students have not had the chance to interact as closely with their peers this year, and may be lacking relationship skills (one of the five CASEL competencies). 

Relationship skills is “the ability to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups.” During the Covid-19 pandemic, students have not been able to work in groups as easily, cooperate and practice relationship skills while playing, and had the opportunity to negotiate conflict.
In the fall, your students may need more attention devoted to this SEL skill, and cooperative games are a great way to begin building these relationship skills back up. Cooperative board games give students opportunities to establish and maintain healthy relationships through healthy communication, developing positive relationships, practicing teamwork, and resolving conflicts constructively.

Take a look at the video clip below of a group of 4 kindergarten students in an eLearning pod playing the cooperative board game Dragon Dash.
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Do you notice how the students are practicing relationship skills while playing this game?

  • They are communicating their thoughts to each other by taking turns and lifting each other up.

  • They are navigating conflicts constructively
    ie. “No, we shouldn’t do that…”  “But will that block us?”“No, actually that will work. Good idea!”)

  • They are also developing positive relationships with each other as they work together to defeat the dragons.


How do you develop your students’ relationship skills? 
If you’re looking to add in some cooperative games into your classroom, I suggest checking out:
  • Hoot Owl Hoot
  • Bandido
  • Race to the Treasure
  • Outfoxed

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