Maybe it’s the bright colors, endless possibilities for fun, or the friends surrounding it; whatever it is, just the sight of a parachute makes kids yelp, jump, and nosedive. It’s funny really. Their sheer delight cannot help but make anyone smile.
A parachute is a simple equipment piece that is a perfect add to any children’s ministry environment. Parachute prices range from $20 to $100, but you can always acquire a used one at a great price. They are easy to store, have long-term play value, encourage cooperative play and teamwork, and can be used for many different age levels.
If you’re looking for games to play at your next VBS, day camp, children’s church, Awana, outreach, missions trip, or special event, bring out the parachute and get geared up for fun! Here are some simple parachute activities you can play:
1. Parachute Ripples: Have children hold onto the edge of the parachute and billow it up and down on the ground. You may want to pretend that you are creating ocean waves, sand dunes, a pizza bubbling with cheese, bubbles or balloons to pop, etc.
2. Parachute Ride: Have preschool children sit on the center of the parachute and take them for a ride with adult helpers pulling it in a circle. Repeat in the other direction. Allow the children to choose what ride they want to take: motorcycle, boat, car, bus, taxi, bike, etc. Act out each part: putting on the helmet, a seatbelt, or a life jacket, paying a fare, turning the keys of the ignition, etc.
3. Parachute Popping: Have children and adults seated around the edge of the parachute, with their legs underneath. Have everyone pull the parachute toward them so that it is taut. Throw lightweight balls (beach balls would be best), onto the parachute and watch them pop.
4. Parachute Launch: Have the children lift the parachute up above their heads and down with a quick fluid motion. Practice first and then throw balls on top. Watch them launch into orbit and see how far or high they go.
5. Parachute Peekaboo: For infants and toddlers, have them lay, sit, or stand underneath the parachute. Have adults play a game of peekaboo on their knees by hiding their faces momentarily with the chute and surprising the children.
6. Parachute Colors: For preschool and elementary children, assign them a color ahead of time. They can also choose their favorite color. Have everyone on the outside of the circle, slowly billowing the parachute up and down. Call a color when the parachute is lifted up and have the designated colors run under to cross to the other side before the parachute goes down.
7. Parachute Favorites: This is an adaptation of Parachute Colors and a way to get to know the children in your ministry. Pick categories of favorites such as favorite animals, pets, food, sports, teams, Bible individuals, book genres, flavors of ice cream or types of pizza toppings, etc.
8. Parachute Hot Air Balloon: Have students and adults billow the parachute up and down. On the count of three, have them step under, pull the parachute down in back of them, and sit on it to seal off the edges. You can sing songs once inside. With imagination, the balloon could also be a tent, house, a fort, the shade of a tree, or a cave.
9. Parachute Cat and Mouse: Everyone sits on their knees and billows the parachute up and down. One child is chosen to be the cat; another child is chosen to be the mouse. The mouse tries to make it all the way under the parachute by crawling, without getting caught. Meanwhile, the cat is on top of the parachute, trying to find the mouse.
10. Parachute Fly: Inform everyone that on the count of three, you will fly the parachute away. Pull it quickly towards you so that it looks like it’s flying.
11. Parachute Pinwheel: Have everyone standing on the outside of the parachute and quickly pass it in one direction so that the colors spin. Repeat in the other direction.
12. Parachute Keep Off: Have some children stationed around the edges of the parachute and others in the surrounding area. Place balls on the chute. The children holding onto the parachute need to work together to toss the balls off. The children in the surrounding area work together to throw the balls back on.
13. Parachute Lean: Have everyone stand around the edges of the parachute and hold on. All at the same time, have children lean back while still holding on. Everyone should be leaning back, fully supported by the parachute and the team.
14. Parachute Tug of War: Roll up the parachute and separate the children into two teams. Have each team at either end, holding on. Use the parachute to play tug of war.
15. Parachute Jump: Have most of the children kneel or stand around the edges, billowing the parachute up and down. Say, “If your name is ______, _______, or __________, jump into these bubbles!”
16. Parachute Air Conditioning: With everyone standing up, simply lift the parachute up and down and enjoy the cool breeze that it gives everyone! This game is perfect for a hot day!
17. Parachute Friends: Partner your students up with another child and have them go to opposing sides of the parachute. Everyone can billow the parachute up and down. While it’s going up, yell out, “Friends ________ and ___________!” Upon hearing their name, the children run under the parachute, give each other a high five as they cross paths, and find their way to the outside again.
18. Parachute Talk: Similar to the wordless book idea, go through each of the colors on your particular parachute and adapt as necessary. Have students sit on red, the color of Jesus’ blood that was shed for our sins. Have students find a seat on green, the color of growth once Jesus comes into our hearts. Have them sit on yellow, representing heaven. Discuss what the Bible says about heaven. Have them scramble for a seat on blue, which represents baptism. Use the parachute as a teaching tool.
I am sure that there are numerous parachute games for kids out there, but these are some of our tried and true favorites. What other parachute games or activities would you add to the list?