How to Teach Cooperation in the Classroom

Blog Posts, Cooperation, SEL Strategies, Social Skills

Written by: Angie Olson

More than anything, we need to help our lucky little learners work together through collaboration and cooperation! Teamwork is such an important skill to practice in the primary classroom. 

In the Lucky Little Learners Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for 1st & 2nd Grade, you’ll have several activities and resources to help teach your kids all about working together! Here’s a preview of some of those activities and a few of our best tips on how to teach cooperation in the classroom.

Review classroom scenarios.

Begin your classroom cooperation lessons by reviewing situations that may occur in the classroom. Cooperation scenario cards from the Social Emotional Learning Curriculum are great for whole group instruction, writing prompts, or reinforcing skills with individuals or small groups. One scenario you may choose to review with your students is what to do when students are trying to complete a task and start “bossing each other around”. In addition, you may talk to your students about what to do when there is a long line at the drinking fountain. These are just a couple of the scenarios you can introduce to teach cooperation.

cooperation scenario cards

Create a Cooperation Tessellation.

A tessellation is a series of shapes that fits closely together to form a project. Each student will complete a hexagon illustrating and writing about how they show cooperation. You’ll put these together to form a collaborative classroom cooperation tessellation! 

It’s about more than just creating the tessellation, however. Each student should present their piece, and then discuss as a class what cooperation means. You may also have your students take a pledge to be cooperative student!

The Social Emotional Learning Curriculum comes with everything you need to create your cooperation tessellation with your lucky little learners. 

collaborative classroom cooperation tessellation

Track cooperative behaviors and set goals.

Your students are not too young to set their own goals, especially when it comes to being a cooperative classmate and a team player! 

The cooperative behavior trackers in the Social Emotional Learning Curriculum help your students track their own behaviors and goals. There’s no reason for a public display of behavior charts. Instead, your students can stay on track and discuss their results with you and their parents. 

Goals like “I do my part of the work” and “I show respect for all group members” will help your learners get excited about cooperation! Give your students stickers or stamps to track their progress, and when they reach their goals, they can turn in the tracker for a special prize!

cooperation charts

Model cooperation.

Your students learn good character best when it’s modeled at home and school. Show your students that you work well with others by modeling cooperation with other teachers and colleagues in the building. Let them see you offer assistance and accept the help of others. Even if you are frustrated with a colleague, be professional and positive in front of your students!

Also – check out this blog post for dozens of read alouds and videos to provide additional modeling of cooperation!

Lucky Little Learners Resources for Teaching Cooperation

1- SEL Toothy! Reinforce essential SEL skills (including a full module devoted to cooperation and teamwork) with high-engagement Toothy games! Learn more about SEL Toothy in this blog post.

2 – You can cooperate and collaborate with fellow teachers through the Lucky 2nd Grade Teachers & Lucky 1st Grade Teachers Facebook Groups! You’ll love all the amazing ideas from teachers in the group!

3 – Help your students practice teamwork with these fantastic Social Emotional Learning Curriculum resources!


toothy task kits

SEL Curriculum

toothy task kits

SEL Toothy (printed)

toothy task kits

SEL Toothy (digital)

toothy task kits

Cooperation Unit


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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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