Spoiler Alert: Cooperative board games aren’t just for people who dislike competition anymore! Cooperative board games have taken off since the popularity of Pandemic – and the selection of compelling games that your family won’t want to stop playing is terrific! These are the best cooperative board games for kids that you’ll find anywhere. Cooperative games are engaging, exciting, and quite simply fun for all of your family and friends.
I remember as a kid being a terrific swimmer. Every year, the neighborhood swim coach used to beg me to join the team. And every year, I dodged or ignored his pleas. Eventually, I simply refused. And nobody could figure out why.
I loved to swim, so it wasn’t that. But the deal was that I was terrified of competition. To be specific, I was terrified of losing a competition. I felt a lot of pressure to be perfect, and I couldn’t risk anything that I wasn’t completely certain I would win.
Luckily, I grew out of that; although, now, I can be fiercely competitive regardless of whether I win or lose.
But sometimes, kids need to ease into the world of fierce competition. It can be tough not to be a sore loser, or even tougher to be a gracious winner. Or, they may grow up disliking competition altogether.
Board games need not be competitive for you to have a raucously good time! Many board games expand kids’ imaginations; others teach educational concepts such as math, and cooperative board games are every bit as fun and develop skills such as collaboration, persuasive discourse, patience, and sharing.
People play cooperative games for many reasons – they are challenging and entertaining. The truth is, some kids — including young children — may prefer cooperative games to competitive ones!
Cooperative Board Games for 2-5
Preschoolers, in particular, love spending quality time with mommy and daddy. And they love spending time playing board games too. Cooperative board games are a perfect match for the preschool set because, “for toddlers and preschoolers, cooperative board games are a better developmental fit: Young children have trouble understanding competitive play.” (Cooperative Board Games) Here are some that were our favorites:
Lemonade for sale! It’s a hot day and everyone’s thirsty. Luckily, you and your teammates have the freshest lemonade stand in town. Work together to shake up those lemonade drinks, serve those thirsty customers, and fill your money jar.
Players work together to fill the money jar with 12 quarters before serving 4 sour lemon tokens. The goal of each turn is to serve one customer a drink by rolling the dice and matching those dice to the recipe card.
On our journey to Granny’s house, we go through the dark woods, cross a stream, need to be very careful passing a sleepy bear and more. We decide what to bring along: maybe our dog will help us, maybe we should bring a basket of food, or perhaps some sticks and a rope. Players will have to use these items to invent ways to deal with whatever obstacle they meet.
Hurry, owls, hurry! It’s time to go home. These owls have ventured out to see the dark forest at night. Help them fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. Hoot, owls, hoot is the color matching, cooperative game that’s a hoot!
Dragon Dash is a noggin playground cooperative early learning game for kids. This means that all players are teammates and have the same goal. Either everyone wins, or everyone is defeated! the Queen has called on her fearless Knights to help unite the Kingdom. In this cooperative game, players must build a safe path across the green fields of Dragon wood while dashing past diving dragons! will you make it before you run out of resources? or will the dragons be victorious?
Join Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm on a Busytown adventure, racing around Busytown to search for hidden objects in this fun-filled collaborative. Richard Scarry’s classic world comes to life in the gigantic, colorful game-board. Drive through city streets, and activity-filled farm, a busy airport, and a bustling harbor full of boats. There’s so much to discover along the way!
Pig Will and Pig Won’t are on a mission to eat all the food on Picnic Island! Using the illustrated, over six-foot long game board, you’ll work as a team to make it to Picnic Island before they eat the food! Work together with other players to find hidden objects like buckets, traffic lights, flags, or ladders! Everyone gets a chance to say, “I Found It!”—the faster you find the hidden objects the faster you’ll move!
If Busytown isn’t your thing, there are lots of alternative versions of Eye Found It! like Despicable Me Eye Found It!; Wonder Forge Journey Through Time Eye Found It!; Star Wars Eye Found It!; The Wonder Forge Dreamworks Eye Found It!; and World of Disney Eye Found It!
Stone Soup – The Yummy Memory Matching Game with Spice! Winner of multiple awards including MajorFun!, Stone Soup is the game drawn from the classic tale of cooperation. In this simple game, players work together to “cook” a soup by making matches of ingredients. Match all the the ingredients before the fire under the kettle goes out and everyone wins!
Obstacles is a journey along a path of hazards and barriers which are overcome by the collective cleverness of the players. Armed with the unlikely tools they are dealt, imagination and some silliness, players cooperate creatively to innovate solutions that let them get home together.
Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game is a cooperative board game that explores healing herbs.
Wildcraft teaches 27 important edible and medicinal plants and their uses in mostly first aid situations. (Wildcrafting is the harvesting of wild plants).
Players learn about plants by connecting the icon on the challenge or “trouble” cards with the icons on the plant cards. Though it is a cooperative game, there is plenty of strategy and drama as players travel up the mountain to the Huckleberry Patch and back to Grandma’s before nightfall. The only way to get back safely is to help each other out. However, it’s ok if you don’t make it. Grandma will come and get you.
Wildcraft! is a great introduction to the world of edible and healing herbs for children of ALL ages. It’s a beautifully illustrated, nature based, educational, cooperative game created in the tradition of the classic board games.
Jennifer Durand, a San Francisco yoga teacher who specializes in teaching yoga to children, created the game to help her students learn yoga. The Yoga Garden Game is designed for having fun with one another rather than against each other. Since many yoga positions are named after animals and objects found in nature, kids can use their imaginations while learning different poses. No winners or losers in this game, everyone just has fun!
Hamster Clan is a 1-4 player cooperative game that plays in about 15 minutes. Players are working together to try and store carrots, clovers, and wheat, before winter comes. On a players turn they roll the dice. A player then moves that many spaces. They can move toward the surface to grab some of the food they need. Or through the vast tunnel network to bring the food back down to store for the winter. Player can also pass food from on player to another. Each turn a leaf will fall off the tree bringing winter ever close. Can you work together to collect all the food before winter?
Mrs. Plumpert’s prized pot pie has gone missing, and now it’s a chicken chase to crack the case! In Outfoxed, you move around the board to gather clues, then use the special evidence scanner to rule out suspects. You have to work together quickly because the guilty fox is high-tailing it towards the exit! Will you halt the hungry hooligan before it flies the coop or will you be outfoxed?
It’s late at night and you hear a rustling at the foot of your bed. As you peek out from your covers, you see that your room is filled with terrifying monsters! luckily, you have discovered that each monster is afraid of a different toy. Using your toys and acute memory skills, you must banish these beasts to the closet! Monster Chase is a cooperative memory game where players must unite their forces to find the toys that will frighten the monsters and lock them into the closet.
Cooperative Board Games for Kids 6 & Up
Leo the Lion needs a haircut — his mane is totally out of control and he needs to go to the barber. But he loves to stop and talk with every animal he meets in the jungle. This makes him late for everything — including haircuts! Players move Leo along the path as they turn over the cards and help him work his way through the jungle by using their memory and working together. The more he delays the journey, the more his mane grows as players add mane puzzle pieces to his head. The cardboard clock helps players keep track of time as they aim to get Leo to the barber shop before it closes.
Cauldron Quest – A Magical Game of Potions and Spells!The Evil Wizard has cast a spell to destroy the kingdom! In this game, winner of multiple awards including the Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award, players work together to find the hidden ingredients needed to create a potion to break the evil Wizard’s spell. But work quickly – you have to find them all before the Wizard blocks off all the paths; if you succeed, everyone wins!
The Bandido card game is a cooperative game of strategy and observation for the entire family. Join forces to stop the prisoner from escaping through the tunnels. Bandido is the game where cooperation and intuition catch the bad guy.
Fish Stixis a strategy game that takes minutes to learn and is a different game every time you play. Each player starts the game with a score sheet from the score pad, a pen or pencil and 3 fish sticks. Take turns matching fish sticks and counting fish – the board grows as the game goes! The game can be played with or without strategy making it easier for different ages to play together!
Mole Rats in Space is the climbing, sliding game of escape created by Peaceable Kingdom. Players work together to help the busy Mole Rats gather their equipment and make it to their escape pod before the snake invaders get them!
Gnomes at Night is a cooperative search-and-find maze game where players work as a team to maneuver the magnetic gnome movers around the maze. Work together in this quick-thinking communication game where every second counts!
Awesome Cooperative Board Games for Kids 8 & Up
Mice and Mystics is a cooperative adventure game in which the players work together to save an imperiled kingdom. They will face countless adversaries such as rats, cockroaches, and spiders, and of course the greatest of all horrors: the castles housecat, Brodie. Mice and Mystics is a boldly innovative game that thrusts players into an ever-changing, interactive environment, and features a rich storyline that the players help create as they play the game. The Cheese System allows players to horde the crumbs of precious cheese they find on their journey, and use it to bolster their mice with grandiose new abilities and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
It was an ambush. That’s the only way to describe it. The mother ship appeared out of nowhere, creating a massive shadow over the city. Within seconds, wave after wave of fighters poured out of it, filling the sky. We’re launching the ships we have ready, but it isn’t much. Our pilots fight bravely, defending the planet, while we ready the rest of the fleet. Explosions fill the sky, and we’ve taken some hits, but we won’t give up. Will you?
Flip Ships is a cooperative dexterity game where players take on the roles of brave pilots defending their planet from an onslaught of firepower. Flip your ships to take out the encroaching enemies, and to take down the powerful mother ship before it’s too late.
You are deep in a dark, ancient forest with only your lantern to guide you. Tall, looming trees cast shadows all around. Off in the distance you hear a faint rustling sound and your heart begins to race. Could the legend be true? Will you finally discover the creatures who hide in the forest shadows?
Shadows in the Forest is a thrilling, immersive play experience that brings a distinctive twist to game night – you play it in the dark!
All players work as a team to escape from the house with all 8 Treasure Jewels before 6 of the rooms become haunted. Moving with skill and strategy through rooms and hallways, you’ll be picking up and dropping off Treasure Jewels. If there’s a ghost in the room, you have to fight it and collaborate with your teammates, and sometimes you’ll have to fight Ghosts and Hauntings even while you’re carrying treasure! Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters is the ultimate co-operative game—win or lose, you’re all in it together!
Recently stripped of your possessions, your group of down-on-their-luck adventurers has nary a copper piece between you. Your only option if you’re to resume your dungeon-delving activities is to sack the local mall of valuables and supplies. Magic Maze is a real-time,co-operative game. Each player can control any of the 4 Hero pawns whenever he wants in order to make that hero perform a very specific action, to which other players do not have access: move north, explore a new area, ride an escalator…all of this requires rigorous co-operation between the players in order to succeed at moving the heroes wisely, and complete your mission before the sand timer runs out.
Fun Cooperative Board Games for Kid 10 & Up
Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a fully cooperative game, everyone plays on the same firefighting team – win or lose together. Every turn is filled with the tension of having to fight the fire back rescuing victims or investigating points of interest. Players can ride the ambulance to safety or fire the engine’s deck gun in a desperate attempt to control the blaze.
Forbidden Island is a visually stunning cooperative board game. Instead of winning by competing with other players like most games, everyone must work together to win the game. Players take turns moving their pawns around the ‘island’, which is built by arranging the many beautifully screen-printed tiles before play begins. As the game progresses, more and more island tiles sink, becoming unavailable, and the pace increases. Players use strategies to keep the island from sinking, while trying to collect treasures and items. As the water level rises, it gets more difficult- sacrifices must be made.
In Cahoots, cooperation is key! play cards to one of four piles by matching color or number. Work together as a team to complete a series of goals – without communicating what’s in your hand. Can you make all piles purple or green? every card lower than four? all cards add up to 10? there’s only one way to win before time runs out: play in cahoots!
The Land of Andoris in danger. From the mountains and forests, enemies are advancing toward the castle of old King Brandur. Only your small band of heroes stands in their way. Will you succeed in defending the castle and protecting Andor?
A horrible crime has been committed on the grounds of Warwick Manor and it’s up to the psychic investigators to get to the bottom of it. In Mysterium, one player tries to lead the investigators to their culprit. Each night the team will be met with visions, but what is the ghost trying to tell you? They will have to decipher the images to help the ghost remember how he was murdered. The more players cooperate, the easier it will be to the catch the right culprit!
The forces of evil are threatening to overrun Hogwarts castle in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, a cooperative deck-building game, and it’s up to four students to ensure the safety of the school by defeating villains and consolidating their defenses. In the game, players take on the role of a Hogwarts student: Harry, Ron, Hermione or Neville, each with their own personal deck of cards that’s used to acquire resources.
By gaining influence, players add more cards to their deck in the form of iconic characters, spells, and magical items. Other cards allow them to regain health or fight against villains, keeping them from gaining power. The villains set back players with their attacks and Dark Arts. Only by working together will players be able to defeat all of the villains, securing the castle from the forces of evil.
Spaceteam is a fast-paced, cooperative shouting card game where you work together to repair your malfunctioning spaceship. Coordination with your team is crucial as you try to escape an impending black hole. Success is seeming just out of reach as you encounter one complication after another. Your only hope is to work together with your Spaceteam to repair the ship before it’s too late.
Castle Panic is a cooperative tower defense board game. You must work together to defend your Castle, in the center of the board, from Monsters that attack out of the forest, at the edges of the board. Trade cards, hit and slay Monsters, and plan strategies together to keep your Castle towers intact. The players either win or lose together, but only the player with the most victory points is declared the Master Slayer. Players must balance the survival of the group with their own desire to win.
Cool Cooperative Board Games for Kid 12 & Up
The Mage Knight Board Game throws you and up to three other Mage Knights into the sprawling and ever changing world of the Atlantean Empire, a land that is but a distant memory since your transformation into a mysterious Mage Knight. Build your armies, defeat bands of marauding enemies, and eventually conquer cities in the name of the mysterious Void Council.
Something evil stirs in Arkham, and only you can stop it. Blurring the traditional lines between roleplaying and card game experiences, Arkham horror: the card game is the living card game of mystery, monsters, and madness! You and your friend (or up to three friends with two core sets) become characters within the quiet new England town of Arkham.
As the Ancient Ones seek entry to our world, one to two investigators (or up to four with two Core Sets) work to unravel arcane mysteries and conspiracies. Your efforts determine not only the course of your game, but carry forward throughout whole campaigns, challenging you and your fellow investigators to overcome your personal demons.
One of the best cooperative game of all time, award winning Robinson Crusoe comes back in this new edition from Portal Games. Based on the Game of the Year edition released previously in Poland, Germany, Spain and France it brings this amazing game to the whole new level.
This is no ordinary virus. What results is a year that will never be forgotten. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is a unique and epic cooperative game where your decisions in one game carry over into future games. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 begins like a the original Pandemic, but soon morphs into something more. Pandemic Legacy has a story arc that occurs over the course of year. Each passing month brings new objectives, new challenges, and even new rules. Trigger certain events and you’ll unlock tools that reveal strategies for dealing with each new problem. Throughout, the clock is ticking.
Powerful spirits have existed on isolated Spirit Island for time immemorial. They are both part of the natural world and – at the same time – something beyond nature. Native Islanders, known as the dahan, have learned how to co-exist with the spirits, but with a healthy dose of fear and reverence. However, now, the Island has been “discovered” by invaders from a far-off land. These would-be colonists are taking over the land and upsetting the natural balance, destroying the presence of spirits as they go. As spirits, you must grow in power and work together to drive the invaders from your Island… before it’s too late!
In Gloomhaven, players take on the role of a wandering mercenary with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for traveling to this remote corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process they will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make. This is a persistent game that is intended to be played over many game sessions. After a scenario, players will make decisions on what to do, which will determine how the story continues, kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.
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