Cooperative activities for kids and families

Sharing one T-shirt, 8-year-old cousins Jane Humphreys and Elouise Clark serve up lunch, cooperatively.

By Donna Erickson, Signal Contributing Writer

I was in charge of taking meal tickets and handing out plates for an outdoor burger buffet lunch after a family fun run event. Greeting all ages coming through the line, I was caught off guard when two girls looked like “one,” from the waist up anyway.

Full of kid-like chatter and smiles, the cousins said they were so cold after running they grabbed an adult-size, long-sleeve T-shirt from one of the moms, stretched it over their heads and shimmied into it.

Jane’s right hand came through the right sleeve, while Elouise’s left hand came through the other. Snug, warm and famished, they held a plate on each outstretched hand and tried to focus on serving each other burgers, buns, pickles, beans and fries.

As they headed for a picnic table, they were giggling so hard, they soon became a crowd attraction, trying to focus on walking in sync while balancing their heaping plates of food. Cooperation was the key.

Engaging in simple family play, just for the fun of it, can happen anytime and almost anywhere. You might want to try the girls’ cozy and challenging T-shirt idea in your home by slipping one over two young kids and encouraging them to walk around from room to room. For older kids, go outside and challenge them to do an activity together, like bouncing a ball or raking leaves.

Looking for more cooperative fun? Make dinnertime pizza prep a game. Here’s how:

1. Set bowls of pizza toppings side-by-side on your counter. The fun begins when the person responsible for assembling the pizza covers his eyes completely with a scarf or headband. The other person gives directions. (Kids like to play this role.)

2. Instruct the pizza maker to roll out the dough, then hand him the ingredients, beginning with the tomato sauce.

3. Ask him to brush on the sauce, then continue by arranging and sprinkling toppings one by one. Since this is a cooperative effort, the person giving the instructions should guide the pizza maker verbally as he works. Don’t get the anchovies mixed up with the cheese!

4. Remove the eye covering before placing the pizza in the oven to see the creation.

Enjoy doing this at a party, and let teams of chefs enjoy creating pizzas cooperatively. Remember, it’s all about having fun and being silly. 


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”

(c) 2019 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.

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