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Co-operation games: Compliment beanbag


  • to practise giving and receiving compliments

  • to have fun and shared laughter together in a physical activity

  • to practise throwing skills

Background information

Many children are not used to giving or receiving compliments. Girls, and some boys, often become embarrassed and recoil when compliments are given. Similarly, boys and some girls are more used to criticising each other than giving compliments. Often children who give compliments or applaud others are seen as 'sucks,' 'mummy's boys' and given other less than complimentary names. When this happens, positive communication can be silenced.

It is worthwhile devoting time, especially at the beginning of the year, to making explicit ways of giving and receiving appropriate feedback, and to model and practise this regularly. It is vital that we reinforce the use of encouraging behaviour and language. This activity is one quick example of how to do this. It can also be extended by using written follow-up activities.

Note: A beanbag rather than a ball has been chosen for this activity to avoid the possibility of criticism for poor ball-handling skills.

Teacher considerations

When was the last time that someone complimented you on your work, your talents, etc.? How did the compliment make you feel? How do compliments concerning your appearance affect you? How well do you take compliments?

This game provides you and the children with a chance to compliment each other and, through this, to build up trust and acceptance within the group. There may be initial awkwardness in giving and receiving compliments but, like any other skill, children's ability will improve with practise. This game can be played on a regular basis and children can be encouraged to notice each other's positive qualities throughout the week.

What you will need

  • one beanbag

  • large space

What to do

  1. Ask children to sit or stand in one large circle

  2. Start by throwing the beanbag to one child. At the same time they give that child a compliment about something they have done well. It may be related to their behaviour or work.

  3. The receiver then has to do the same. Rules can be made to enable everyone to have a go. For example: a boy must throw to a girl or a child with light-coloured hair must throw to a dark-haired person, or the beanbag must be thrown to someone who hasn't had a turn. The activity continues until everybody has had a turn or a time limit has been reached.

Gender dimension

  • Who were the children who found it hard to say something nice?

  • Which children were able to accept compliments easily?

  • How did they acknowledge the compliment?

  • Were there occasions when boys made fun of girls? Vice versa? How was this commented on by you and by other members of the group?


  • Use a ball when children have good ball-handling skills

  • Make time for children to give each other and themselves a pat on the back.

  • Put your 'warm fuzzies' in writing.

  • Make a board with enough envelopes attached for all children. Post letters to each other giving compliments for things done well.

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Last revised April, 1999
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