Every once in a while in Children’s Ministry, you need to find something to do to keep kids occupied. Games can be a great option for these times. Hopefully when you do this it has something to do with the lesson at hand, but at the very least it gives children a chance to play together and build relationships together. Oftentimes we look for newest, next greatest, most innovative thing to do with the kids. There is no harm in that, but sometimes the classics can be just as fun and just as fruitful.
If you’re like me, though, sometimes you have trouble pulling these out of long-term storage at the right time. If so, here is a list you can keep with you, just in case you need a quick game to play. Most of you probably know how to play these games, but I’ve included a brief description just in case. Here are nine classic group games you can play with kids in your children’s ministry. I am constantly amazed at how much kids seem to like these games even into later elementary years.
1. Duck, Duck, Goose
Have the kids form a circle sitting on the floor. One child walks around the circle tapping each child on the head and reciting the work “Duck” as they do so. When they tap the child they wish to select, they say/yell “Goose.” That child then has to get up and chase the child who selected them (the “tapper”) around the circle. The tapper tries to get back to the spot vacated by the Goose before the Goose catches and tags them. The Goose becomes the tapper for the second round.
2. Keep Away
Have the kids stand in a circle. Select one, or a small group of kids, to be in the middle of the circle. The kids on the outside throw a ball to other kids in the circle trying to keep the kid(s) in the middle from intercepting the ball. If a child in the middle of the circle does get the ball, they trade places with whoever threw the ball.
3. Hot Potato
Have the kids stand/sit in a circle. They pass/throw an object (with a large enough group you can use more than one) around the circle as music plays. Whoever has the object when the music stops is out.
4. Red Light, Green Light
All students line up against one wall. The leader/student “caller” stands at the opposite wall facing away from the large group. When the caller calls “Green Light” the kids from the group move towards the caller. If the caller turns and yells “Red Light,” those approaching the caller must stop immediately. Anyone who makes any additional motion after “Red Light”
5. Simon Says
Kids line up in lines facing the leader in the front of the room. The leader tells kids to do things (jumping jacks, turn around, touch nose, touch elbow, quack like a duck, whatever you can think of). If the leader says “Simon Says” before the instruction (as in “Simon says quack like a duck”), the kids do the activity. If the leader does not say “Simon Says,” then the kids should not do as instructed. For example, if the leader says “Simon says spin in circles,” kids should spin in circles. When the leader instructs “Stop,” the kids should not stop because the leader did not give the command “Simon Says Stop!”
6. Dodge Ball
There are many versions of dodge ball. Here is a great one for more confined spaces. Have the kids line up in a large circle. Designate a small circle/square inside. Put one group of kids in that area. Kids in the outer circle try to throw the balls (I advice you use foam balls or even beach balls) at the kids in the inner circle/square. Once a child is hit, they have to leave the game. Hits to the head to do not count. Once the first inside group is eliminated (or at set time intervals) put a new group of kids in the center circle.
7. Follow the Leader
This is a simple and fun game. Have the kids line up single file. The leader (first kid in line) make outrageous motions, etc. as he walks around the room. The kids behind must follow the lead of the person in front. For a competitive game, set up two lines and take players out as you notice them not following the leader.
8. Parachute Game
I am always amazed by how even older elementary aged kids love this simple game. This one requires a little more preparation because you’ll need one of those cloth multi-colored parachutes and some balls. Just have the kids circle around the parachute, throw the balls in, and you can have all kinds of fun. Have them try to keep multiple balls airborne. Try to hit the ceiling. Try to have the kids roll the balls off one side of the parachute. The possibilities are endless.
9. Musical Chairs
Set up a number of chairs less than the number of kids playing (For small groups use one less chair. For larger groups you might want to consider two or three less chairs). As you play music, the kids walk around the chairs. When the music stops, the kids scramble to find an empty seat and sit down. Any child left standing is out. Remove another set of chairs and start the second round with the remaining players until only one seat is left.