5 COOPERATIVE GAMES TO MAKE THIS REUNION BETTER!
This festive season, Camaraderie is the name of the game – and winning together is the aim!
Fun fact #1: Competition is not the only way of life.
We know how games (and the world) work: There is a board. There is a motive. And everyone plays to win.
Too often, we encourage our kids to hone their skills as competitors without balancing it out by honing their skills as cooperators too. Parenting Science has suggested that cooperative board games are actually a better developmental fit for younger children as they may not quite understand competitive play yet (which may then in turn, breed bad behavior) – and that the pricelessness in cooperative games lies in the fact that no player ever gets left behind. What is eliminated, however, is the fear of failure and the incentive to beat others. Players experience the warmth that comes from being in an inclusive and safe environment, and the need for individual achievements is replaced by the need to succeed as a team. This month, we’ve rounded up 5 well-designed cooperative games that provide rich opportunities for such experiential learning. Sharing, communicating, and contributing are the key highlights of these games – with intrinsic demonstrations that emphasize why cooperating can sometimes be more practical and productive. Whether it’s reunion night or the long string of home visits that follow, any one of these games is guaranteed to power up play at the kids’ table this season and eliminate tantrums, fights, and tears forever!
HABA MY FIRST ORCHARD BOARD GAME
This, is the multi award-winning game that kicked start the trend for cooperative games. The one that all other cooperative games are benchmarked against. HABA’s Orchard turns 32 years old this year, and in a way, it’s like the godfather of all cooperation games. You can tell – many of the ones that followed almost always involves the same game play element: working together to complete a task before the ‘opponent’ object gets to you.
My First Orchard is a simplified adaptation of the original, and pretty much features the same game play: all players take turns throwing the dice to pick corresponding-coloured fruits off the tree before the crow reaches the gate – every time the dice rolls to the crow symbol, it gets to move one step forward. In a way, it’s a little more heart-stopping than the original (which involves adding one puzzle piece to a crow picture every time the dice shows the crow). We’re guessing there’s something about physically moving a crow figurine forward, step by step, that really keeps everyone on their toes with bated breath. Oh, and in case it isn’t obvious enough, if the crow reaches the gate before all the fruits are off the tree, everyone loses – together. #teamwork
DJECO FAMILOU CARD GAME
Got a shy kid who’s uncomfortable speaking in groups? You need this NOW.
A compact card game that’s a little similar to HABA’s Orchard, all players have to work together to complete the animal families before the wolf puzzle is complete (there are 6 parts to the wolf puzzle). There’s a catch though – players can only put down a card if there is already a family member on the table reflecting a number either directly before or after it. Every time all players run out of any eligible cards to place down, a wolf piece is turned over. What we love about this game – beside the cooperation factor – is the level of communication imperative to succeed. While players are not allowed to show each other their cards, they are highly encouraged to communicate with one another to strategize what cards they place down next, therefore minimizing the number of times everyone runs out of eligible cards and having to restart the round – which means having to turn over yet another wolf puzzle piece. Fantastic game play aside, Familou’s small and easy to cart around – simply throw it into your bag and you’re good to go. Perfect if your CNY schedule is chock full to the brim with home visits aplenty!
DJECO CACOPHONY BOARD GAME
Jungle adventures are always a good idea – especially if you’ve got great friends to help you out of it! A game which requires memory, coordination and a whole lot of cooperation, each round will see one blindfolded player attempting to work their way out of the dark jungle through the sheer effort and guidance of all other players on board!
Different sounds will indicate different directions to take, and the blindfolded player has to use these sounds to figure out how to push forward – all without the sense of sight. The blindfolded player also has the extremely challenging task of not knocking over too many trees in the process – a real clamorous task if you ask us!
DJECO LITTLE COOPERATION BOARD GAME
Yet another excellent cooperative game that teaches little ones the concept of winning and losing together, Little Cooperation even bagged the Harper Bazaar’s Junior Toy Award for Best Cooperation Game in 2016!
Players take turns throwing the dice to get the animals across the bridge and back into the igloo, step by step. Every move is determined by the symbol on the dice thrown, and every time it lands on the ‘ice cubes’ symbol, one pillar under the bridge has to be removed. Be careful that the bridge doesn’t fall before all the animals are safely back in the igloo. There might be 6 ice pillars holding it up, but it won’t take long for you to realize that this leaves you with, at best, 4 chances to mess up on your dice throw before the entire team is out!
HABA HAMSTER CLAN BOARD GAME
Hamster Clan is the newest kid on the block as far as cooperation games goes- but we’re already loving it to the burrows and back.
First of all, the game features a real smashing board that we can’t get enough of – there are movable parts through the entire tunnel network that injects some real excitement as we’re scurrying the hamsters about to transport the food.
But that’s not even the point.
Players work together to move the carrot, wheat, and clover pieces back to its corresponding food storage areas before all the leaves on the tree have fallen; but movement speed will depend largely on your dice throw – and your ability to coordinate your human chain hamster clan.
That’s a golden tip right there. We tried. It’s impossible to win if all of you are going at it separately – that’s not enough cooperation for this game. Passing the food from one hamster to the next is your best chance of winning, so a chain of sorts need to be worked out quickly into the game for maximum efficiency. It says 4-8 years on the game box, but to be very honest, we know some adults even who’d benefit from this insanely good team-building game.