When most of us picture a famous creator, we imagine that person making grand discoveries while working late at night in their lab (or garage) by themselves. But this popular notion of the “lone genius” is actually inaccurate. In fact, most of the best creative innovations in society are a result of collaboration. Just look at Bill Hewlett and David Packard of Hewlett-Packard Company, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple. Their collaborations resulted in the creation of companies whose inventions pioneered new industries and business models.
Being able to collaborate with others is a valuable skill that is foundational to creativity throughout a child’s life. “Collaboration or working together towards a shared goal fosters perspective-taking and provides opportunities for children to synthesize alternative viewpoints, formulate explanations to others, and expand their thinking in new ways,” says Helen Hadani, Ph.D., Head of Research at the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. “Humans are inherently social creatures; however, collaboration is a learned skill.”
Group games are a great way to promote collaboration skills in children. “Avoid activities where children merely split tasks,” explains Hadani. “Instead, opt for activities where children build upon the ideas of another, and share and co-create something new.” This provides an opportunity for children to practice sharing ideas and communicating with others.
During your child’s next summer playdate, try these group games that promote collaboration and problem solving skills from Creativity Catapult, the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s online library of creativity-boosting activities.
1. Life Raft
Children must work together to flip a tarp over while the entire team is standing on it. This group activity encourages collaboration and problem solving skills. Best for ages six and up.
2. Switch Story
Everyone is an author in this group game! Each child takes a turn telling the story. Once the leader calls “switch” the next player continues the tale. This multi-player game promotes collaboration, flexible thinking skills, and improvisation. Best for ages six and up.
Standing in a diamond shape, children are challenged to create an original group dance on the spot by imitating the leader’s movements. But any time the leader turns right or left the dance leader changes to the next player. This game fosters collaboration, risk-taking, and movement. Best for ages six and up.
More Activities for Kids
Visit CreativityCatapult.org, the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s online collection of free activities that promote creativity development in children ages 2 to 14. The free resource features 80 activities that can be filtered by age, topic, number of participants, level of difficulty, duration of time, and skill.