This happens every Sunday morning somewhere to someone and it will most likely happen to every one of us at some point during our time serving in children’s ministry.
You have studied your lesson and planned in advance the answer to every question the children might ask. You are well prepared for your lesson. The curriculum states the lesson should take approximately forty-five minutes and you are prepared to teach for forty-five minutes. Or so you thought…When Sunday morning comes, the children sit before you and you teach your forty-five minute lesson. At its conclusion, you check the clock in anticipation of dismissing the children only to find your lesson did not take forty-five minutes. You finished with time to spare. You are stuck with extra time and think to yourself, “What do I do now?”
This scenario may be happening to your volunteers more often than you know. As leaders it is our responsibility to equip our volunteers to be prepared for these occasions of having extra time to fill. You can provide support to your volunteers by having a prepared list of filler games ready for them in advance. This list can be printed on cardstock, laminated, and posted in their room or put with the supplies they access every week. These games do not require materials and therefore can be played on the spur of the moment lasting anywhere from two to fifteen minutes depending on how much time the teacher has to fill.
Game One: Going on a Trip
The first child says, “I am going on a trip and I am taking an (child inserts an item that begins with the letter A).” The next child says, “I am going on a trip and I am taking an (inserts the A item) and a (child inserts an item that begins with the letter B).” The third child says, “I am going on a trip and I am taking an (inserts the name of the A item), a (inserts the name of the B item), and a (child inserts an item that begins with the letter C).” This pattern continues around the room until the group of children has exhausted the entire alphabet.
Game Two: I Spy
One child stands and silently chooses an object they can see in the room. The child then whispers the name of the object in the teacher’s ear, so the teacher can assist in the game as needed. The child then declares, “I spy something that is (the color of the item).” The rest of the children then take turns guessing what the object is until the class has identified the item the child was spying. Whoever guesses the item correctly gets to choose the item for the next round.
Game Three: Four Corners
The teacher assigns a number to each corner of the room, so there is corner number one, corner number two, etc. The children divide up and stand at a chosen corner. One child is chosen to be “it” and stands in the center of the room with their eyes closed. When “it” yells, “Go!” the other children proceed to walk about the perimeter of the room moving from corner to corner. When “it” yells, “Stop!” the children must go to the nearest corner and wait. While keeping their eyes closed the child in the center of the room will call out one corner number. The children standing in that corner are then out of the game for that round. This procedure continues until there is only one child remaining. That child will then become the next “it” and play continues with another round.
Game Four: Heads Up 7 Up
Seven children are chosen to stand in at the front of the room. The rest of the children close their eyes and lower their heads with one thumb held up in the air. Next, the seven children silently walk about the room looking for someone to choose. They each choose one seated child by touching their raised thumb. When a child’s thumb has been touched they will lower their hand into their lap. After all seven children have made a choice, the children return to stand at the front of the room. The teacher calls out, “Heads up, seven up!” The children whose thumbs’ got touched stand up and make a guess at who from the front of the room picked them. If their guess is correct, they will switch places with the child in the front of the room. If their guess is incorrect, they will sit back down. Play continues like this for as many rounds as you desire.
Game Five: Simon Says
One child or the teacher is Simon. Simon yells out a command such as, “Simon says, march in place!” The students would then follow the command because “Simon says” to do it. If Simon does not use the phrase “Simon says” before stating the command and a child still follows, then that child will be seated and is out of the game until the end of the round. Play continues with eliminations until one child remains who will become the next Simon.
Game Six: Telephone
The children make a line across the room. You can use one line or the children can form several lines, which could make for a more entertaining game. The teacher thinks of a phrase and whispers it in the ear of the first child in line. That child then turns and whispers the phrase to the next child. This chain of whispers continues down the line until it reaches the last child. The last child says the phrase out loud to hear how much the phrase changed as it traveled down the telephone line. The last child in line then moves to the front of the line and the next round begins.