29 VBS Games (Outdoor & Indoor) Recreation Ideas

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Don’t let the kids down – Game time is often the favorite rotation in a traditional Vacation Bible School program. Download our easy game ideas and you’ll be ready! We’ve made this list simple and uses minimum supplies, just in case you need some last minute planning help. These are perfect for any VBS 2020 theme that you choose for your church.

North-South-Central (Video Example)

You need a large area with three lines, a basketball court or miniature soccer field works well. Sometimes we just mark off an area in the grass with cones to make the three lines.

Start by lining up the children on one end line “North.” Then stand at the edge of the center line and call out “Central.” The kids will all race to the line you called out. Repeat this and call out “South.” Again, the children will sprint to that line. After a few practice calls, begin to eliminate the players. This can be discouraging for some children, so I always give them a big high-five and praise them for trying so hard. Plus the kids that are eliminated get to help as line judges. In the end there is only one winner in this competitive children’s ministry game.

You can change the game by changing the way the kids have to sprint. Wheelbarrow teams or crab walking works well. Another angle is to have the children cheer for one another, boys versus girls is always popular. One other time, I changed the lines to be New Testament, Old Testament, No Testament. This makes an easy way to review where books are in the Bible. This is also a way to run this game without the competition element.

Drip-Drop-Drop (Video Example)

Supplies: Bucket of water and new cleaning sponge

This game is a fun variation of duck-duck-goose for Vacation Bible School. Have the children sit in a close circle, knee to knee. One child will take a turn with the wet sponge. As they walk around the circle, they let the sponge drip on each of the other players and say “drip.” When they are ready to tag another player, they let the sponge drop on that child’s head and say “drop.”

Once the sponge has been dropped, they must run around the outside of the circle and return to the tagged player’s former spot. The player who was tagged gives chase and then takes their turn saying drip, drip, drop.

Bible Trivia (301 Questions & Answers)

If you have limited space for indoor games, then download our massive Bible trivia list and host a quiz game. You can divide the kids into teams or simply make it an elimination game. For bonus fun pare one adult volunteer versus all the children. 301 Questions (print friendly PDF)

Object Freeze Tag (Video Example)

  • Supplies: Well defined play area, an outside field or gym would work well, Two soft objects to use for tagging, A whistle (optional)

Show the kids the boundaries and instruct them to stay within during the game. Designate one child as the ‘freezer’ and another as the ‘un-freezer.’ Blow the whistle to start the game. The freezer should tag people with their object to freeze them. The un-freezer will do the opposite. After about 30 seconds, blow the whistle and the players must hand off their objects to whoever is closest to them. After a few turns makes sure ever child gets a chance to play each role.


Captain Midnight (Video Example)

  • Supplies: Just a marked off playing area.

Have all the kids make a line at one end of the field/gym/open area. They all should be facing you while you are at the other end. Turn your back to them and have one child ask, “Captain Midnight, what time is it?” Tell them a time. For instance, if you say, “3 o’Clock,” then all children take three steps. If you say “10 o’clock” they take 10 steps. As the kids take their steps, have the same child ask again. Then give them an answer. Continue this process.

At some point, depending on the size of your playing area, you will need to end things so you will scream “MIDNIGHT!!!” after they ask you what time it is. It is at this point that chaos ensues. After screaming “midnight” or better yet, while you scream it, turn around and chase after the kids as they scurry back to the starting line. They will go absolutely bonkers. Make sure you call “midnight” before a child gets to you. Their goal is to be the first to tag you. Therefore, expect some children to take large steps and even cheat a little. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to turn your head a few times and check the progress. 

As you run, tag as many kids as you can. Those kids are then out. Keep playing until there is one child left. That child then gets to take over your job as the caller if you so choose to relinquish that duty. A good tip is to tag both young and old kids equally. In other words, don’t always tag the slowest or youngest first. You should be faster than the majority of your kids therefore you should be able to tag who you want. This creates more fun and an unexpectedness of who will be tagged as they run back to the line.

M&M Gauntlet

  • Supplies: Plastic Bowls, Spoons, M&Ms, and soft toy balls (jump pit balls)

Divide the kids into two or three teams (depending on the number of teams we had) line up on one side of the game area.  Each team was given a bowl and a plastic spoon.  On the other end of the auditorium, we placed several bowls of M&M’s.  The point of the game is for one team member (or two for more chaos) to go from one end of the auditorium to pick up one of the M&M’s on their spoon (without using their hands) and return without dropping the M&M. This will require slow walking!

Here’s the catch!  Standing on the sidelines are all the players from the teams not running the race.  Their role is to throw balls at the contestants and knock the M&M’s off of their spoons. This is the gauntlet part of the game!  If the player drops their M&M before they get back and place it in their team’s bowl, they run back to the start line, and give another player on their team a chance to go retrieve an M&M.  The first team to accumulate a predetermined number of M&M’s wins the round.

We had a lot of fun playing this game and the kids almost universally asked to play it again.  Here are a couple of things I learned while playing.  One, make sure you use soft cushy balls rather than the hard rubber balls for this game.  Secondly, don’t utilize too many balls in the game.  We started with twelve balls and only two teams on scooters.  This meant six balls flying at each contestant at any given time.  That made it virtually impossible for them to get back with an M&M.  I would suggest no more than three balls for each team.  This gives the teams with the spoon a fighting chance.


Roll Up

  • Supplies: Rolls of toilet paper

This game is a play on the old “Over and Under” balloon game. Divide your teams into two groups. Select ten kids at random to represent your two teams or pull ten from the boys and ten from the girls. Girls against boys pair offs are always a popular competition. Line up the kids so that they stand in front of one another in the same direction. Hand the first person in the line a roll of toilet paper. Tell the leaders that when you give the signal they should loosen paper from the roll and carefully pass it to the person behind them. Each team member should alternate passing it over their heads and under their bodies. When the roll gets to the end of the line, the person on the end wraps it around his waist and passes it back. This should continue a pre set number of times or let them use the whole roll. Use a whistle or start festive music to signal the start of your game. With the cost being two rolls of toilet paper, this is definitely a low budget VBS game idea.

Trust Me

  • Supplies: You will need a blindfold and several empty, large cardboard boxes for this game. You will also need a way to indicate a finish line or flag area.

Choose two kids to represent each team. One child is blindfolded while the other yells out directions. The goal is to get the blindfolded child to the end of the maze first. It is best to do play this game one team at a time and announce the winner according to the time. Spray paint the boxes bright colors and set them up as obstacles along the path to the end of the maze. The blindfolded child has to trust the seeing child to tell him where to go. When the blindfolded child reaches the end, a volunteer should remove his blindfold so he can grab the prize and run back to the starting line. To make this game more challenging, have two children be calling out directions, one giving bad advice, one giving good. Tell the child which one she should listen to before she puts on her mask. Have helpers along the maze to keep the child from tripping over boxes or getting lost.

Beach Ball Bounce

  • Supplies: Two different color beach ball. (Alternately you can mark one with a sharpie with smile faces or Bible Verses)

Each ball should be different colors or look different some way. Blow up the beach balls and show them to the children. Show which ball represents the girls team and which the boys team. Tell kids the object is to see who can keep their ball from touching the ground longest while standing in one spot. Kids cannot move other than their hands. Kids can only touch the ball belonging to their team. There is no real way to declare a winner or even oversee this game but kids find it hysterical. Play this game outdoors if your sanctuary has chandeliers or expensive equipment in it.

Goliath’s Hungry

  • No supplies are needed

Choose a child to be Goliath. Divide the kids into two teams. The teams need to be spaced about ten to twenty feet apart with Goliath standing in the middle. When Goliath shouts, “I’m hungry!” All the kids run to the opposite side. Anyone Goliath touches joins the giant in the middle. Together, they hold a hand and grab for more kids as they run through again. Every time Goliath should shout “I’m hungry!” until all the kids are caught. This is also an excellent game for outside or auditorium play.

Banana Pass

This messy, fast-paced game is ideal for older kids. Kids will need to be barefoot for this game. Divide your kids into two equal groups. The kids should lie on the grass or floor head to toe in two lines. When the whistle blows, the first person in the line puts the banana between his feet. Next, he passes the banana over his head to the next person’s feet. This continues until the first person in the line has the banana. He stands and says “We won!”The first team to get their banana to their leader is the winner. If a team member drops a banana, they have to start over. This game can become messy so have paper towels for clean up. This one of our favorite 3 active games for children’s church.

Blob Tag

This active game for kids’ church is simply group “Tag.” Tell the group where the boundaries will be. There should a safe zone on both ends of the room. In between the two safe zones is the “tag area.” Select a child to begin this game as “It.” When the signal is given, like a whistle or the start of some music, the children run from one safe zone to the other. “It” stands in the middle to tag as many people as possible. If a child is tag, they become part of the “It” making a blob of people. Kids can hold hands or shirttails to make the blob as big as possible. The last person to get tagged becomes the winner.

Cat and Mouse

This fun game is good for outdoors or indoors if you have enough space. Select someone to become the “Mouse” and someone to be the “Cat.” Have the rest of the class form a circle while holding hands. Instruct the kids that no matter what they have to remain holding hands. The “Mouse” goes inside the circle and the “Cat” goes outside the circle. The “Mouse” goes in and out of the circle under the players arms while the “Cat” tries to tag him. The “Cat” cannot go in the circle. When the “Mouse” gets tagged he becomes the new “Cat” and the first “Cat” joins the children. Another child gets to be the Mouse. You could change the names of the two main players to David and Goliath if you like.

Watermelon Head

  • Supplies: large melons, cans of Crisco, long plastic tarps

Team members will roll a Crisco coated melon down the plastic tarp with their heads. First team that has each member complete the task wins. For extra fun have teams decorate their melon first.

Pass the Water

  • Supplies: big trash cans, Styrofoam cups with holes poked in them

Poke holes in Styrofoam cups. Children line up side by side in between the trash can full of water and the empty trash can. The line leader next to the full trash can fill the cups with holes in them and passes it down the line of children. The team that collects the most water wins. 

Let’s Go Fishing

  • Supplies: donuts, chocolate syrup, poles & yarn, & chairs

Make a fishing pole using the poles and yarn. Tie a donut to the yarn and drizzle chocolate syrup all over the donut. Teams will each pick members to hold the pole and members to eat the donut. Children being fed a donut sit in the chair and the children using the pole to feed them stand with the pole over their heads dangling the donut in front of the seated child. The donut must be eaten without the use of hands—the seated child can only use his or her mouth to eat the donut.

Head Dunk

  • Supplies: buckets & water

Team members will duck their heads in the bucket of water and then run down to the empty bucket and squeeze their hair into it. The team with the most water wins.

Fish for Marbles

Supplies: small pool, containers of oatmeal, marbles
Directions: Pour the oats into the pool & add water to make it ankle-deep (you want it nice and thick). Each team member must fish in the pool of oatmeal for 3 marbles and pull them out with their toes.

Buckets & Sponges

Supplies: buckets & large sponges
Directions: Each team will have a bucket of water. Team members must fill their sponges with the water and run to the empty bucket. When time ends, the team with the most collected water wins.

Relay Games

  • Supplies: Whatever you have available; We used hoola hoops, plastic cones, balls, & bubbles with wands

Directions: Leader spins each child 5 times. Each child must hoola hoop for 10 seconds, stand behind the cone line and shoot a ball into the bucket, blow five wands of bubbles, complete 10 jumping jacks, and then run back to the start line and tag the next team member.

Water Balloon Spoon Races: 

Fill up small water balloons and race them on a spoon, much like an egg race.  First to the finish line with balloon intact wins!

Water Balloon Toss:  

Grab a partner and stand across from them.  Toss a water balloon back and forth, stepping further back with each toss.  For a variation, consider catching the balloon in a bowl, bucket, or towel.

Dunk Tank, Water Balloon Style: 

There is no point to this one, except for getting wet.  Place the water balloon on your head and squeeze until it pops.  Substitute water balloons for water balls or giant sponges.  Who looks the wettest?

Water Balloon Teamwork:  

Divide children into two teams.  Have the children pair up within their team with a partner, back to back and linking arms.  Place a water balloon between the two players.  Have them carefully walk to a designated spot with a bucket.  Together, they must get the water balloon in the bucket without popping it.  After they run back, the next two players can go.  The team with the most intact water balloons is the winner at the end.

Water Balloon Smash:  

Divide players into two teams and give everyone one water balloon.  The objective is to run to a designated place with the balloon, sit on it to smash it, and run back.

Wet Sponge Relay:  

You will need two buckets filled with water, two empty jars, and two large sponges (like car wash sponges) for this game.  Form two teams.  Each team makes a line next to a bucket filled with water.  When the game starts, have the first member of each team put the sponge in the water, put it on their head, and run towards a jar at the other end of the playing area.  Squeeze the water into the jar and run back.  Continue on with the rest of the players.  The first team to fill the jar to overflowing wins.

Wet Sponge Over and Under Relay:  

You will need the same supplies as the Wet Sponge Relay.  Form two teams.  Each team makes a line.  There is a bucket in front of the first player and a jar behind the last player.  The first player fills the sponge and with two hands lifts it over his/her head to the next player.  The next player takes the sponge and hands it back under their legs.  Continue to hand it back over and under until you reach the last player, who squeezes it in the jar.  Then he/she runs towards the front of the line to fill the sponge again and pass it.  The first team to fill the jar to overflowing wins.

Wet Sponge Hot Potato:  

Everyone sits in a circle.  Play music or sing a song.  Pass the wet sponge around the circle.  When the music has ended (just play a short segment) or the song is over, the person left with the wet sponge can squeeze it over their head.  They can also choose to squeeze it over another child’s head.  Refill the wet sponge and play again.

Wet Sponge Tag:  

One of my favorite water games for kids. Play the traditional game of tag.  Designate a person to be “It”.  “It” should have a wet sponge and run around to chase the others with it.  The first person tagged becomes the next “It” and refills the sponge with water.

Wet Sponge Basketball:  

Divide the children into pairs and give each pair a wet sponge.  One child will hold their arms in a hoop in front of them.  The other will shoot for the hoop with the sponge.  Substitute hula hoops if they are available.

Need More Ideas? Be sure to check out our planning guide for Vacation Bible School. We’ve also posted 9 Classic Group Games for Kids that would work well for VBS.

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