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Josette and Ba Luvmour, 'Win Win Games for All Ages: Cooperative Activities for Building Social Skills'

New Society Publishers, 2002. ISBN ISBN 0 8657 1441 X, 144pp, £8.95

I reviewed this book with the help of a group of 11-14-year-old girls and a sense of trepidation: how well would this group of children take to playing games that involved no competition or eventual winner?

The tag games worked very well, the girls enjoying the time to run and chase. The games that involved the girls putting themselves at risk of capture to help out others (Help-me Tag, Clam-Free Tag) helped highlight the girls who were easily willing to take the risk for friends and those who needed to have this encouraged in them. Others, such as Amoeba Tag and Elbow Tag brought the girls physically closer together creating bonds, alliances and helping teach the girls how to work together.

Group non-winner games such as Hoochie Coochie and This Is My Nose were well received. These games allowed the girls to have fun in an environment that wouldn't produce any winners or losers. Those girls that were quick to laugh when others made a mistake learnt very soon the negative effects of their actions when this was returned on them when they slipped up.

Some of the more intimate games which involved the girls talking about themselves, their likes, dislikes, personality, etc (the Nickname Game, Psychiatrist for example) were not received well by the girls. I believe that this is in part because children of this age still prefer to spend their time outside of the school environment being active rather than quiet and thoughtful. Children are not often required to look at themselves in this way and quickly become bored and restless when required to do so. Many also did not have the patience to listen to what others have to say about themselves.

Other activities within this book encouraged team building, and working together as a team for the benefit of the whole rather than the individual. Whilst these activities worked well and had their desired effect, the girls were only really happy when they were working in groups in competition with another group. Whilst the book promotes win-win games with no competition, current education methods promote competition to the extent that children often cannot see the point in an activity that does not create competition amongst themselves or an outright winner.

Topics: Education