As important as it is to help children develop as individuals, it’s also wise to start teaching them about teamwork early and often. Case in point: 77 percent of U.S. adults believe teamwork is one of the most important skills children need to get ahead in the world as we know it today.

Kids will use teamwork again and again throughout the course of their educations, their jobs and their interpersonal relationships. And, as the experts at Tinkergarten point out, teamwork for kids is something that must be developed with age and practice rather than something with which people are naturally born.

So, it’s time to help your little ones start learning the ropes when it comes to collaborating and becoming an effective member of a group. Here are three (fun!) ideas for teaching kids all about teamwork.

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Play a Game of Follow the Leader

Being an effective member of a team requires the ability to lead and follow, which is why children need to work on developing both these skills in turn.

Games like “Follow the Leader” give each participant a chance in the spotlight as leader — but also require them to pass off that role to a playmate and become a follower in rotation, too.

Here’s how it works: The kid at the front of the line is the leader. Whatever motions or sounds the leader chooses to perform, the rest of the children in line should imitate. As the experts at Momtastic write, it helps to encourage the leader to express as much creativity as they can and explore their full range of actions during their turn. After a certain amount of time, the leader goes to the back of the line and another participant takes their place. Repeat until every child has had at least one turn as leader.

Besides providing plenty of goofiness and laughter, this exercise helps kids develop their abilities to:

  • Think imaginatively on the spot
  • Get comfortable leading a group
  • Observe what others are doing
  • Follow instructions set by others
  • Take turns in order

Set Up a Group Scavenger Hunt

Working toward a common goal is a crucial element of teamwork — one kids will use again and again throughout life. Setting up a scavenger hunt for small teams is a great way to reinforce this concept, plus it’s flexible enough to take place outdoors on days when the weather is nice and indoors when it’s too rainy or snowy to play outside.

The great thing about scavenger hunts is that they can be as specific or flexible as the situation dictates. They’re also very adaptable to age groups from preschool upward. It generally helps to pick a theme around which to design the activity. A color-based scavenger hunt — in which kids track down items from the yard or home that match a palette of colors — is a great example.

Make a Collaborative Masterpiece

We often think of art as an individual pursuit, but why not make it a collaborative effort in which everyone brings their own perspective and talents to the table?

This activity can be as simple as setting out a large piece of paper or poster board and something to color with — a combination of colored pencils, crayons, markers, paints, etc. Ask the kids to create a masterpiece together that fits the theme, emphasizing the importance of sharing materials and space. Ask participants to talk about what they’re working on and communicate with their artist teammates to make sure everyone plays a part in the final creation.

There’s a lot of potential to expand this activity to include three-dimensional mediums with clay, cardboard, wood, paper and more. The final work of art will stand as a wonderful testament to the collaborative teamwork of everyone who contributed and a sweet keepsake.

These activities show that teaching teamwork doesn’t have to be a drag; it can be fun, creative and energizing for everyone involved.