Mike Spiller L.T.D.F (License to Deliver Fun)


Cooperative Games and Activities

Ankle Passing Chair Game / Cooperative

 Have 12 to 14 chairs back to back to start this unique game.  Chairs should be side-by-side and back to back – 6 or 7 per team.  Fill the chairs with players.  One side is one team challenging the other side for points.  No hands can be used in this game – only feet!  The hands should be holding on to the sides of their chairs for support.  A ball is placed to the side of the 1st player on each team.  On the signal to begin, the 1st player turns in the chair and takes the ball between their ankles.  The ball is then passed to the next players extended legs or ankles.  The ball is passed until the last player receives the ball.  The end player stands with the ball between their ankles and hops in front of the other team and back to the start of their team line.  Each player will slide down a chair as the player is hopping around.  Play continues until a team is back in their original positions.  A Captain should be appointed for each team.  This player moves with the ball and if the ball is dropped, he will put it back in play with the player that dropped it.

B and B Challenge / Posted 5-2-10

Give each group 3 to 5 inflated balloons.  Groups should be from 6 to 10 members each.   This is a unique challenge and has only been tried a few times.  Each group has an inflated beach ball as well.  On the signal to begin, the group starts bopping the balloons in the air and starts to volley the beach ball.  How long can the group keep all the items in the air?  If this is too easy for a group, give each of the players a balloon and play the same activity once again.

Beach Ball Team Travel / Spiller Original / Posted 1-5-2010

Make a team of 6 to 8 players and have them stand in a circle facing in.  Place a regulation beach ball between each player and have them press the ball onto their neighbor’s hand.  No one should be holding the ball.  It should stay in place with pressure only.  Once this is done, there are many ways to challenge the group.  One simple challenge might be to sit-down and then stand back up again without losing any of the balls.  Perhaps, the goal is to make a complete circle for time without dropping a ball.  Maybe, the group would need to move through a given course for time without losing a ball.  You see what I mean when I say there is no end to the challenges available.  Make-up a few and let me know what you did and how it went.  Variation:  Use swim noodles (cut in half) for this activity.

Birdie on the Perch / Circle Game / Just For Fun / Cooperative

Have your start this activity in a double circle with each player facing another.  This is their partner.  During this game, there is much action with people moving quickly and in close quarters.  Make sure all the players understand that there is no running, but quick walking is okay.  Remind them to keep their hands raised in front of their chest to avoid collision.  The players on the inner circle are the “Birds” and the players on the outside are the “Perch.”  Have the circles moving in opposite directions and each couple should keep their eyes on each other.  On the sound of the whistle, all the birds move quickly to their awaiting perch.  On that same whistle, the perch will stop and stay where he or she is and kneel down to make a place for the bird to land (sit). All birds are flyin’ and the skies are full of flight.  The object of this activity is to not be the last couple to get together.  If you are the last to sit on the perch, you and your partner have to come to the center, sing and act-out the Barney Song or do a 5 sec. Chicken Dance or whatever the group has decided on.  Play additional rounds with the players shifting over 1 place and taking on a new partner.     

Body Add-On Memory Game / Posted 7-30-2010

One player makes a motion, e.g. stomp a foot, clap, jump up, twirl around, snap fingers. The next player does what the first did and adds another motion. The next player does the first two and adds their own, etc. Play until someone can’t remember all the movements; then start over with the child who couldn’t remember.

Body Letters and Numbers / Cooperative

Make sure that this activity is played on a carpeted or grassy area. Divide your group in half and see which team can form a number or letter first. Every team member needs to be involved to form the number or letter. Kids can lie down and connect hands and ankles – anything to form what’s asked.  Try a few letters and numbers. For example, have the kids form A, O, and K. Then say to them, “You kids are really aokay!” As a final formation, have the whole group for a one (1). When they are finished forming the one (1) they need to shout in unison, “We’re number one!”

DUD / Cooperative Activity / Posted 5-2-0 - Spiller Original

Equipment: one ball or Frisbee per team and one stop-watch

This challenge came to me when I was driving from Lincoln, Neb. to Peoria, IL.  I had a lot of time on my hands as I drove through Iowa.  I wasn’t sure that it would work so we tried it during the workshop with the teachers of the Peoria area.  It worked well and we came up with several variations.  They suggested the name, ”If It Works in Peoria?”  By the way, DUD stands for “down, up, down.”  Give each player a poly spot.  Have the team spread out all over the play area.  There should be at least ten feet between each player.  Give one of the players a ball or Frisbee to toss.  On the signal to go, the first player will toss the item to one of his teammates and then kneel down.  The second player will toss to the third and kneel as well.  This continues until the last player standing receives the ball and then kneels.  The last player to kneel will throw the ball to any player and then stand up.  This continues with each kneeling player tossing to another kneeling player and then standing up.  When the last player receives the ball and stands, the group will repeat the first part of the game.  This is a timed event so when the last player receives the ball and kneels, the time is stopped.  Have other teams of equal number challenge each other for the best time.

Variation:  If you have a large open area, let several teams compete at the same time.  The first team to finish the down, up, down series wins the challenge

Estes’ Swiss Challenge / Cooperative / Spiller Original

This is a group challenge that I learned in Zurich, Switzerland from a friend of mine that teaches High School PE classes. Make a

circle of players with 5 to 10 in each circle. Give each player the same type of throw able (safe) item (perhaps a tennis ball)

and give one of the players (the leader) a second item that is different from the others (perhaps a small stuffed animal).  The object of this unique challenge is to get the stuffed animal around the circle with no drops of the tennis balls or  stuffed animal. This is how it works. Have the group number-off from 1 to 5 or 10. Each number should be on the opposite side of the circle. Number 1 should be able to toss straight across to 2 and 2 then passes across to 3, etc. Player number 1 (the leader) has a tennis ball and the stuffed animal.

The leader will toss his/her tennis ball high in the air, call “#2!” toss the stuffed animal to #2 and then catch the tennis ball. This is where it gets tough. Number 2 has to toss his/her tennis ball in the air as the stuffed animal is coming to them, catch the stuffed animal, Call “#3!” toss the stuffed animal to #3, and then catch his/her tennis ball before it bounces on the ground. This cycle continues until the group has been able to complete the circle and the stuffed animal is back to the leader. This is a very difficult challenge so let the groups have plenty of time to put together their plan and perhaps set their own group goal. 
Variation: As we sat at the dinner table in Zurich, another friend named Jan (Yan) said that he worked with younger students and this is how he did the activity. Give each player a balloon to toss as opposed to the tennis ball. This will allow them a little more time to catch, call the next number, toss and then catch. You might want to start in groups of three and then add players as they become more efficient.

Find the Ball Team / Posted 7-30-2010

Equipment:  1 blindfold per group, 1 ball per group

The group divides into teams of about ten each.  The teams stand in lines, at least 6 feet apart one behind the other at one end of the playing space.  The first person in the team is blindfolded and given the ball.  He or she throws it forwards (mark a line over which it must go).  The team has to guide the blindfolded player to the ball.  He or she picks up the ball and, again guided by the rest of the team, has to throw it back to be caught by the second player who is unable to move his or her feet.  If the ball misses or is missed by the second player, the blindfolded player is guided back to it and tries again.  This may require several attempts!  The blindfolded player is then guided back to the team, gives the blindfold to the second team member (who throws the ball away again) and then joins the back of the line.

Note:  This game may need to be walked through first.  The leader should keep an eye on the blindfolded players so that they are not guided into any hazards. It may take time for teams to work out the best way of guiding their searchers.

Half Fast Track / Tic-Tac-Toe / Circle Cooperative Game / Spiller Original

About 20 years ago there was a simple game called "Fast Track."  Simply, how fast could you send a word or action around a large circle of players.  I took this idea and added my variation to it and it has been very popular with all  the groups I have taught. 
Make a circle of the players and split them in half.  Each group leader is given a ball.  On the signal to begin, the leader passes the ball to the next player and so on down the line.  When the last player gets the ball, they spin around one time and send the ball back down the line again to the leader.  The first team to get the ball back to the leader wins the round.  Play the best 3 out of 5.
Variations:  Make a Tic-tac-toe poster or Connect Four poster and put it in the center of the circle.  When a side wins a round, the captain, at that time, (change captains and end players each round) comes to the center of the group and makes a play on the poster.  Make sure you change the game a bit each 2 rounds.  For example, 1st - regular pass with a spin by the end player, 2nd - place ball on a cone, play as normal with the round going to the captain that balances the ball on the cone first, 3rd - each player must pass the ball around their waist before passing to next player, etc...  This keeps the game fresh!  If you don't have a poster and marker handy, play the game with the less fortunate side having to do 10 Jumping Jacks or run to a point and back after each round.  There are no limits to the variations for this neat, high-energy game. 

Heads and Hands / Cooperative / Spiller Original

This is a great activity that I saw while working in a high school in  France.  The object of the game is to get as many points as your team can get in a 1 to 2 minute time period.  Points are only awarded for “Headers” (balls hit with head).  In this activity, one of the players needs to be the “Counter.”  On the signal to begin, the beach ball is hit into the air by hand.  From that point on, the group tries to keep the ball in the air by using hands or heads.  A point is scored and counted for each head-hit.  If the ball hits the floor A) pick it up and hit it with hand to start the action again or B) take a point away for each floor hit.  Have each group announce their totals and ask them to try again to better their previous score.  Team Play - Have several group start play at the same time.  If a group allows the ball to hit the floor, they are out and will sit down.  Play continues until there is only one team left bopping the beach ball around.  Remind each group to count the "Headers."  A team, even though seated, could win the challenge with a greater number of Headers.  Give it a try - they will love it!

High – Low Noodle Passing Contest / Posted 5-11-2010

Make a big circle of players.  For this contest the circle should have an even number of players.  Number the players off 1, 2, 1, 2, etc…  You now have 2 teams.  The number one team will remain standing during the contest and the number two team will squat, kneel or sit (their decision) during the challenge.  Each team will have a ½ swim noodle to pass around the circle.  All the players on team 1 will pass the noodle clockwise and the number 2 team will pass it counter-clockwise.  Each team is trying to get the noodle around the circle and back to the original starting spot as quickly as possible.  Play the next round with the teams switching positions – team 1 squats and team 2 stands for this round.  I like to play best out of 5 for this interesting challenge.  The noodle must go from person to person around the circle.  Each player needs to receive the noodle and then pass it on to the player next to them.

Human Obstacle Course / Large Group Games and Activities / Posted 5-13-2010

Split your group in half and send each to their side of the gym or playing area.  The objective is for each group to create several different fitness obstacles for the other team to do.  I usually have each team make smaller groups of about 5 for this event.  Each group of 5 will come-up with an idea that will challenge the other players.  In this event, the small groups will be the obstacle and will be a part of the action as well.  For example, one group might sit face to face with legs raised and touching the player across from them to make a pyramid shape.  Four players do this and the 5th player stands at the end of the pyramid line in a straddle position.  When a player comes to them, they give him instructions of what to do at their station.  One player would say, “Crawl on your tummy, Army-style, through the pyramids and under “Straddle Man!”  The players would then go to another obstacle and continue until they have been through all the groups on the opposing side.  After this, the sides reverse rolls and the other team will go through the obstacles made by the other team. You’d be surprised as to what the campers will create.  Note: always check each group to see it their obstacle is safe for others to do


Kick-Zerk / Small Group / Cooperative / Posted 5-4-10

Make a group of about 5 players and give each player a tennis ball, Whiffle ball, football, or any item that rolls fairly well.  This is a timed group initiative so have your stop-watch handy.  The leader needs to have about 6 other balls ready to roll in during the challenge.  On the signal to begin, all the players begin to kick their ball around - keeping it moving at all times.  Every 10 seconds, the leader will roll another ball into the group.  Now the group must keep all the balls rolling at one time.  If a ball stop dead in it's tracks, the challenge is over and the time documented.  Have other groups try to beat the new record set by the first group.  This is a good one for Campers VS. Counselors at the end of the camp day.

Kubic Kids  / Group Cooperative / Posted 5-2-10

Divide into teams of equal size.  Each team tries to see how many kids they can get inside a hula hoop.  If a genuine hula hoop is not available, then any strong hoop or a thick rope tied into a circle also will work.  If your kids enjoy this quickie mixer, try packing them into other things like tractor tires or any other safe object.

Poison Ball / Posted 3-25-10

I have been playing this game for 20 plus years now and it is always a wonderful and enjoyable activity.  Divide your group into four equal teams and have them form a giant square.  A line should be drawn or a rope stretched out in front of each team to establish a boundary line that can’t be stepped over at any point during the game.  Provide about 10 soft throwable items to each team and place a slightly deflated beach ball in the center of the square.  Explain that on the signal to begin, each team will be trying to knock the deflated beach ball across any one of the other team’s lines.  In this game, you don’t want to accumulate points, and a point is given to a team if: 1) the beach ball crosses their team line, 2) a player steps over their boundary line while throwing at the deflated beach ball, or 3) a safety violation occurs.  A safety violation is anything that creates a safety issue for participants (for example – throwing items at other participants instead of the deflated beach ball, or going inside the square to retrieve an item [remember a player's feet cannot cross their team line] ). Play for a predetermined length of time and the team with the fewest number of points scored against them is that games “Poison Ball” champion!  This is a game I guarantee your kids will eat up and never get sick of!!!

Stack 5 or 10 Challenge / Posted 5-2-10

Groups of five or so sit around a table or on the floor facing each other.  The leader will ask them a True / False Question.  The teams make a decision if they think the question is true or it is false.  If they think it is true, they will make a “T” sigh with both hands exactly like a coach would call time-out.  If they think it is false, no sigh is necessary.  The teacher will give the correct answer and if a team is correct, one player will place a closed fist in the center of the table or floor.  Play continues and if the team answers correctly once again, they put another fist on top of the first one.  First team to stack five fists wins.  Regroup your teams and play again.  Remember the questions should be age group appropriate. 

Swap Knots / Cooperative / England / Spiller Original

Twenty or so years ago, while teaching in a British school, I was shown this great activity.  I have used it for years with great success.  In Great Britain they have a game called Dr. Tangle that the kids love to play on the playground.  The game of Knots has been around along time and is a favorite among ROPES facilitators.  This game is a combination of both of these fun games and I think you will see the value to it.  Make groups of 8, 10, or 12 members each.  Give a bandana or three foot piece of rope to ½ the group.  The players with the rope put them on the floor so they cross each other in an asterisk like shape.  Once this is done, invite the other players in the group to take hold of the other ends of the ropes.  This is where the Dr. Tangle comes in.  Allow each group two to three minutes to tangle the ropes as much as possible without letting go of the ends.  At the end of the time, ask the teams to carefully place the tangled ropes on the floor so the ends of the ropes can be seen.  Once this is done, ask the groups to move to another team’s tangle.  Each player will grab the end of one of the ropes and the group will try to untangle the ropes until they are standing in pairs.  The first group to untangle is awarded 10 points, second will get 7 points and third will get 4 points.  After each group has become free, ask them to repeat the process and play again.  Play to 25 points or play for a set amount of time.  You’ll like this one.


Switch, Change, Rotate

I have been playing this game / Initiative for over 20 years now and it never fails to entertain and educated participants.  This activity really makes a group of three players think, communicate, and work together.  Have participants get into groups of 3’s and ask the groups to space themselves out about the area. Once spaced, instruct each team to stand in line (one person behind the other) with all participants facing in the same direction. Using a volunteer group, explain and demonstrate the following three commands that will be used in this activity:

Switch - means that the lead player and the back player exchange places.

Change - means that the entire group simply turns and faces the opposite direction.

Rotate - means the lead player goes to the back and the center player becomes the

new leader.  To begin the activity, have all groups face you and explain that you will call out commands and it is the job of the group to try to execute each of the commands. Start calling out commands slowly, but pick up the pace as you see groups being successful. To challenge the groups further, have them walk (anywhere in the area) while trying to complete your commands. Next, try having groups power walk while following the commands. Advanced groups might even be able to jog while following your called out commands. This activity is a favorite of ours and lends itself beautifully to some wonderful processing.

Team Noodle Flipping Initiative / Posted 5-11-2010

This is a team initiative that requires a lot of directional communication.  Several teams will compete at one time or 1 team can race for its best time.  Stand one player on the start line with a blindfold and a bean bag in his/her hand.  This player is the Team Tosser.  A long swim noodle is placed on the floor about 10 feet away.  The noodle is in line with the Team Tosser and the end of the gym.  The Tosser can look at the noodle initially and then put the blindfold on.  At this point the Tosser will attempt to toss the bean bag so that it lands somewhere between the 2 ends of the noodle.  If it is a good toss, the noodle is flipped one time to advance it and the bean bag is given (handed) back to the blind Team Tosser.  If the toss landed before or beyond the noodle, the team would retrieve the bag, give it to the Team Tosser and give instructions for the next toss attempt.  They might say, “It was short about a foot.”  This gives the Team Tosser an idea how to toss it the next time.  The object is to advance the noodle beyond a point some 30 feet away.  Fist team to flip the noodle over the finish line wins the initiative.  This is a super communication game.

Two – Can Race / Relay / Posted 5-11-2010

This is a Race or relay for pairs or relay teams in pairs.  Each pair will have their inside ankle tided (loosely) together.  Each team is given a Gator ball or a Nerf ball to kick.  A plastic bowling pin or plastic 2-liter bottle is placed some 30 to 40 feet in front of each team.  The objective is for the pairs to work together and kick the ball until it knocks the pin down.  They can only kick with their inside legs as they hobble along.  Once a pin is knocked down, they set it back up, pick up the ball and return to their team as quickly as possible.  The 2nd pair places the ball on the ground and takes a turn.  Play continues for a period of time.  When the leader sees that all the pairs have had a chance to go, the game is stopped.  The leader can then ask, "How many pairs went for your team?"   This activity can be played with 4 players tied together and kicking the ball with tied legs only. 

Wordle Reversal / Posted 12-8-09

We all know what "Wordles" are.  Sometimes the activity is called "What's the Meaning."  It's the little box with a mixed up set of letters or words in it and we try to figure out what it means - right?  For example, if the box had the word "Sand" in it - the answer would be "Sandbox."  If the box had the word "America" written in the center of the box - it would be "Central America.  So, this is a new idea using this activity.  Give your groups a paper with empty boxes and another with the word or statement you want them to diagram in the empty boxes.  For example, each group might have 6 empty boxes  in front of them and are given six different terms or words to create their own wordles with.  Each group makes their wordles and then the groups exchange the new wordles and they try to see how many they can solve from the other group/s.  For example, my group received the movie "Top Gun."  My group might draw a pistol in the top of the box and that would do it.  If you give the groups 4 X 4 cards to create the new "Wordles," you could laminate them and use them in a number of ways  later on.  Here is an example of some "Wordles" I have used for this Holiday Season.