Island Survival: A Cooperative Game

Do you need a great cooperative game?

This one will sweep them away. I play Island Survival with year 4, 5, and 6s either at the beginning or end of the year and it is always a hit! They often ask for it again. It’s a great game that allows for problem solving, justification, reasoning, creativity and cooperation.

In Island Survival, students work in small groups to try and survive being marooned on an island through a story that unfolds piece by piece. They meet a series of challenges that require different types of thinking and ultimately aim to get off the island as a team.

For example, in one scenario, survival teams have access to a range of resources but a storm washes three away. They have to decide on and justify which ones they will lose in the storm. In another, they have to practically think about how they would respond to injuries in a group.

This game could be used on day one with your new students, after a holiday break, or at any time to reinforce teamwork skills or learning habits that you have been working on together.

You can use my slides above or make a copy for yourself to edit in Google Slides.

How to Play

  • ROOM SET UP: Group tables together and remove chairs. This encourages active participation. Some unsettling or ambient jungle sounds will help set the scene.
  • MATERIALS: Each group gets a large sheet of butcher’s paper and textas. Use something as survival points like counters, play money or gold bottle caps (if you are using points).
  • TEAMS: Select (or have students select) survival teams that will work together for the whole task. 3-5 in a team works well.
  • SLIDES: Use my slides (above) that walk through the scenario step by step with instructions and timers. Feel free to make a copy of my Google Slides and adapt them  – and ham it up with some dramatic storytelling!
  • GAMEPLAY: Each slide will describe a new scenario that groups are presented with. Show and tell teams the information, what you expect from them and how much time they have. For example, at one point they need to design a shelter. You could briefly explain that you will only accept structurally sound designs that only utilise resources and tools they would have access to, then give teams 10 minutes to discuss and draw their designs. Walk around and give points and prompts while they work. Once the time is up move to the next task.


There are lots of variations you can use and with some creativity it is extremely easy to adapt the game to what you need. Some are:

    • SURVIVAL POINTS: The game works both with and without a point system. If you use it, teams can only leave the island (win) after earning a certain amount of points. They earn points by doing things like justifying all the items they decided would be washed away in a storm. In the slides, I have included notes about how I give out points however you can adjust it to suit your students. You can easily play it without having any kind of point system – just skip those slides.
    • PHYSICAL CHALLENGES: All the challenges I have included are discussion-based but to get the kids moving you could add others such as “Get two of your injured survivors (team members) across the oval without them having to touch the ground” or “Fit everyone in your team on one piece of falling cliff (a scrap of paper) without anyone falling off for 20 seconds”.
    • ONE HOUR or ONE MONTH: I usually play Island Survival over 1-2 hours however you could easily break it into smaller parts and play it over a longer amount of time to build on the skills used during the game.
  • I would love to know if you try Island Survival, how you use it, or if you have something better that is great for teamwork! Let me know what you try. The Island is your oyster…

Edit: If you are having trouble accessing the slides:

  • Make sure you have a Google Drive account and you are logged in. You will need a Google Drive account to get a copy of the slides.
  • Is your internet connection blocking the site? Try accessing the slides on a different internet connection.
  • Leave me a comment below or tweet me and I can get in touch to help.

36 thoughts on “Island Survival: A Cooperative Game

  1. Hi,
    The survival idea looks amazing! I’d love to try it with my students at the start of the year!
    I’m received the same comment a that it won’t make a copy. I’m wondering could you email a link.

    Suzie Wylie


  2. This was so fun! My students really enjoyed, thank you. They want to do more, and I had to tell them I didn’t make it myself haha.


  3. Pingback: 40 Cooperative Games For Kids - Teaching Expertise

  4. Pingback: 40 Cooperative Games For Kids - Teaching Expertise - Mario Worlds

  5. Thank you for that great idea. I am doing one challenge a day with my students as a warm up, and they have to do everything in French (I am a French teacher.) I am also giving points if the grammar is correct.


  6. Emily: We are starting a coming of age unit in lit class with Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs, and I was trying to find a simple group survival challenge. I’m going to streamline this a LOT but the “what will you save?” slides are exactly what I need. Thanks for putting this out there and sharing so generously.


  7. Pingback: 40 Cooperative Games For Kids – Teaching Expertise – Game Free Canada

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