If the phrase team-building exercise conjures up memories of awkward icebreakers at school or work, you’re not alone. Don’t worry—team-building isn’t just for adults.
Teamwork is also a vital skill for kids and families. Practicing teamwork with your kids helps them build lifelong skills in communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution.
But how do you teach teamwork and collaboration skills? And when is a good time to start?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and share kid team-building games you can do with a group or one-on-one. These types of play aren’t just educational; they’re also a ton of fun for kids and caregivers alike.
So rally your team, and let’s get started with our list of the six best team-building exercises for kids.
What Age Do We Start Teaching Kids Teamwork?
There’s really no lower age limit to showing your child how to play cooperatively and be a team member. Even the littlest littles can start practicing basic teamwork concepts:
- Studies have found that children begin to understand the idea of cooperating with a partner to achieve a goal as early as 21 months.
- By 5, children have a strong grasp of turn-taking and working as a team.
You can lay the foundations of teamwork early with simple activities like passing a ball back and forth, taking turns stacking blocks, group jump rope, and so on. Stories and media about teamwork, like the Slumberkins TV show, can also help younger kids grasp big concepts like cooperation and empathy.
6 Teamwork Activities for Kids
Ready to put this concept into action? Let’s break down six team-building exercises for kids.
#1 Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is a team-building game that gets kids of all ages moving and working together. They can be done with two or more kids or two adults and one child (have one adult set up the hunt while the other partners with the child).
- Create a list of items to find around the house or outside. Get as creative and specific as you like—a blue sock, a maple leaf, something pink, and so on.
- Add clues or riddles that require problem-solving skills to make it more challenging for older kids.
- If you have enough kids for teams, split them up and see which team can find all the items first. Or simply work cooperatively to see how quickly the team can complete the list.
#2 Make a Collaborative Story
Collaborative storytelling is one of our favorite ways to foster teamwork, creative thinking, and imagination. Best of all, it is a fun teamwork activity where you only need a piece of paper and a pencil, so you can do this activity whenever the mood strikes—in the car, on a plane, in a restaurant, etc.
Start by writing the first sentence of a story on the paper. Pass it to your child and ask them to write the next sentence. Keep going until you have a finished story.
- Adapt for little ones – Write their sentences for them, or use pictures instead of words.
- Use books for inspiration – Begin by sharing social emotional learning books about teamwork like Narwhal Uses Teamwork. Then, ask open-ended questions to get the creative juices flowing:
- “What do you think Narwhal did next?”
- “What could they have done differently?”
- “Who was your favorite character? Could we tell a story about them?”
#3 Stack Blocks or Cups
Infants as young as 10-12 months can start learning stacking games. It’s a fun activity for kids to do with peers or for you to do with your child one-on-one.
- Encourage kids to take turns stacking, and working together to build the tallest tower possible.
- Older kids can plan more complicated structures or add challenges like using only one hand or working as fast as possible.
#4 Create an Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses can entertain a participant of any age or skill level. They can be created with any simple objects you have at home or outside, like pillows, chairs, ropes, cones, broomsticks, etc.
- Help kids choose appropriate items (non-breakable, no sharp edges, and sturdy), then let them design the course.
- Make sure it’s challenging, but safe and doable.
- Supervise for safety, but let kids negotiate the rules, decide how to adjust for older and younger kids, and so on.
#5 Include Them in House Chores
Believe it or not, helping around the house can be a source of fun team bonding activities. And including kids in chores helps them build a sense of responsibility, self-esteem, and independence.
Younger kids love to do “grown-up” activities alongside you. Kids as young as two can:
- Put toys in bins
- Feed the pets
- Put away light grocery items
With older kids, make chores more fun by adding music or a game element:
- Play “I Spy” while dusting or organizing
- Sort items by color while tidying up
- Play counting and matching games while sorting laundry
#6 Play a Cooperative Board Game
Unlike traditional board games, in cooperative games, the players are team members that work together to win. There are many cooperative games available for all ages and interests. A few kid-friendly favorites include:
- Forbidden Island – This adventure game lets players work together to collect treasures and escape from a sinking island.
- Stone Soup – Share the classic picture book Stone Soup by Marcia Brown first, then enjoy this memory game where players find ingredients together to cook dinner before the fire goes out.
- Creatures Full of Feelings – This card game helps kids talk about and identify emotions while playing any of 6 games, including cooperative activities like Memory, Charades, and 20 Questions.
For More Cooperative Fun, Think Slumberkins
For people of all ages, working with others cooperatively is one of our most vital social skills. Strong teamwork skills will help set your child on the road to a successful and fulfilling future in school, work, and relationships. And luckily, teaching teamwork is fun!
Playing games, building forts, making crafts together—it’s all an opportunity to make memories and bond while your child learns and grows.
If you’re looking for more teamwork games and outdoor learning activities, Slumberkins is ready to join the fun. Help your child practice social skills like cooperation, empathy, and understanding with our books, cuddly characters, games, and much more.
Get started with free activities from our Caregiver Resources collection today.
- Developmental Science. Collaborative partner or social tool? New evidence for young children’s understanding of joint intentions in collaborative activities. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01107.x
- Psychological Science. One for you, one for me: Humans’ unique turn-taking skills. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27225221/