Using a book of games, EGAD! Ideas, the game generator from VerbNOW (among other sites) and the ingenuity of the “Game Dude,” I have come up with some games for kids in the pre-school through elementary age group. I have no problem with books of games for sale, but there is a general clamour of game requests in a controlled setting out there, particularily for this age group. It is my desire to share these games with others, leaving comments on what worked particularily well, so fellow Awana games commanders can use these ideas, modify them and share their own ideas with me.
Most games we play in our club have a point value of 50 for the winning team and 25 for second place. Some of these games have lower point values, but this is arbitrary. Points are cheap, so give them away! Many of these games could be modified for other age groups. I’m looking for more games, so if anyone can recommend games or a site with more games, especially for elementary ages, I’d appreciate any help you can offer. Let’s look at the games I have compiled:
Numbered Steal the Bacon:
This is a game for 2-4 teams. Each kid on a team is numbered. When their number is called, they run to grab a bean bag, which is the “bacon.” 10 points are awarded per victory. I suggest “bonus points” to follow. See below for details.
09/29/04: The kids loved this one!
52 Card Pickup: Now before you declare our club cruel and unusual, I’ll give you the details of the game. Take a deck of cards and “sprinkle” them around the center of the Awana circle. Then the kids played various games where they would run around the circle and around me, then to the middle, where they would have to find their set number. Somethimes they just had to find one card, toward the end, they had to find three of a kind.
Who Should you Listen To?
Blindfold a player with a paper bag and have their team tell them how to get to the goal. With 2-4 teams going for the goal at the same time, the player has to listen for the voices of their teammates. Heat 2 has one or two clubbers walking near them using only their voice to give instructions. The object lesson is to spend time alone with God, away from distraction.
Bring an over-sized sweatshirt for each team. Also bring about 10-15 small balloons for every 4 kids in your group. Have each team choose a guy representative or use leaders, and ask them to put on the sweatshirt. The object is to make a “muscle man” by blowing up, tying and stuffing as many balloons into the shirt of the guy until he is as “muscular” as possible. Give them about 2 minutes. Determine the winner by a panel of judges. The first guy to break all his balloons by himself is also declared a winner.
Keep your yard clean:
Preparation: Have many baseball sized newspaper wads taped up, so that the wads will retain their shape during the game. bean bags and foam balls work just as well.
Place equal amounts of “trash” within each teams area and let the kids “clean their backyard” by throwing their trash into the other team’s ‘yard’. Countdown the last five seconds and don’t allow the kids to throw any trash after the time limit. Thrown trash after the time limit results in disqualification (could be changed to double trash count, etc.) If The kids learn to gather their trash and drop it into the other’s backyard with minimal time remaining, this game can be tweaked a bit.
Give each player one Oreo cookie and ask them to carefully open it so that one side has the icing and one side has none. They can eat the non-icing side. When everyone has one half of the Oreo with the icing intact, ask each person to stick it to his or her forehead. The Oreo will stick at first but body heat melts the icing sufficiently for it to start sliding down the volunteer’s face in only a couple of seconds. The object of the game is to be the first person to get the Oreo in his or her mouth without touching it. with their hands.
Buoyant Leaders (any other ideas for the name of the game?):
Take your group and divide them into teams. Give each team a roll of duct tape and a bag of balloons. Use the small rolls of tape that only have about 20 feet on them. Each team then chooses someone to be the “Sticky Guy”. Take the roll of duct tape and then wrap that person with the sticky side out. No tape on the head at all!! On the count of three, each team has five minutes to blow up as many balloons as possible and stick them to their “Sticky Guy”. At the end of five minutes, have an adult leader take a pin and pop each balloon as the team counts out loud. The team with the most balloons win.
The kids wrap the leaders in toilet paper or newspaper/tape and judge the evening gown. Part two is a race for the leaders in their evening gowns. To win, their gown must be intact to a reasonable extent.
Bible Obstacle Course:
Set up chairs, pins, and whatever else you can come up with and have the kids go through the course to the other side of the game area. At the end of the course, they pick up a slip of paper from their team’s pile and run it back through the course, and the next kid would go. When all of the slips of paper are gathered, they open them to see a few verses from the Bible (color coded) to assemble like a puzzle. The first team to finish this task and read the verses to me won the contest.
This game is a real winner, and I plan to use it at least once again this Awana season. Next time around, I will use thicker paper, have a place for the kids to deposit their paper for assembly, and color code the paper, not just the writing on it.
This game takes more time than most, which is a good thing. It excites the kids, which is a good thing. It also is used to place Biblical passages in the forefront of their minds, which is a great thing. Even kids who wouldn’t be there were it not for the games were getting into it, reading verses out loud. I chose verses from their books, as they are very strong in presenting the good news and to reinforce them in their book time, where they must recite these same verses.
Alternate ideas include words of a single verse, passages from the Bible and so on. Have an equal number of paper slips for each team and encourage them to work together.
Pressure Drop (any other name ideas?):
Use balloons to blow a ping pong ball in a race to a goal. Make the ending goal something small that the ball must hit, as it isn’t easy to be accurate.
Players throw a ring to a teammate/leader who catches with a baton for 10 points per ring.
The players race while swatting a balloon before them. Of course, they can’t carry it!
Hoop on a Chain:
Each team (including leaders?) makes a chain holding hands. The last person is given a hula hoop and they need to work that hoop up the line to the first person, who must hold it when they go in for the pin/bag.
Corn Husker Relay:
Equipment: (4) Ears of corn that are dried (1) Bucket
The object of this game is to Husk the ear of corn so that all the kernels are off. The entire team will take turns. at the start the first player from each team enters the center circle and begins husking the Corn. The whistle will sound every 15-to-30 seconds at which time the participant will leave the circle and hand his ear to the next player who will enter and continue husking. A team is disqualified if they leave corn on the floor. The first team to complete the task will be the winner. Keep the cobs for relay races or other games. Be creative!
Chair for a Crown:
This game is played similar to the popular “musical chair” game, but with a different spin. Here there are no winners or losers. Place the chairs in a circle, one less than the number of children. Have the kids march around the chairs as you play the song “Jesus Loves Me.” If you can’t find a tape or CD, you can simply sing the song, and if the children know the words, they can sing too. When you suddenly stop the music, or shout out the phrase “sit down!” the children all grab a chair and sit down. The one who misses a chair will be given a crown to wear while taking a few moments to tell the other children why they believe Jesus loves them. This is for building up their self esteem, in that they are not “losers” because they did not get a chair, but are special because of Jesus’ love.
When finished, they give back the crown and are given a sticker that says “Jesus Loves Me” or a treat. They can then sit out and watch the others. Remove another chair and continue play until everyone has a chance to wear the crown.
Place four plastic tabletop on ground. Clubbers stand on top. They can not use their hands and they can not get off the carpet. Object the first one that gets the bottom up wins. You have to get the team to start with their feet and turn the ends over and work it over until it all flat at.
Two teams face off at least 10 feet from each other. Each player has a balloon (it’s best to have the color of the balloons the same for each team) and they crawl, hitting the balloon as they go to the opposite side of the area. When the teams meet, they can evade the other team or try to disrupt their progress. First team with all balloons on the other side wins. Add extra balloons for bonus points!
Tape a square to the floor or use a card table. The kids all blow on it to keep it from going out on their side, which would result in negative points.
092904 I tried positive points, and it flopped. Negative points aren’t exciting to the kids.
Bean Bag Relay:
Kids relay a bean bag back to front or front to back. The front person runs to the front to get the pin.
One Legged Race:
Each heat of the race has a jumper and a runner. The jumper has their feet tied and goes around the circle until they can touch the hand of the runner, who rushes in for the points.
10/13/04 More fun than it sounds!
Three of a Kind:
Take two decks of cards, shuffle them together, and spread them face-down in the center of the game circle. Explaine to the kids what a three of a kind is.
To play the game, each team has one runner at a time who must go around the circle and into the middle, pick a card without looking at it, and run back to their team. To win the race, the entire team must recite something together. A verse is appropriate, so is the Awana chant, “Youth on the March!” The winner of each heat gets 10 points and each runner returns to the team with a card.
As the game progresses, the teams gather their cards and the first team with a three of a kind wins 50 points. It sounds overly simplistic, but those are the games that work! For the second time around, make the Jokers wild. The third time, the Jokers and Jacks are both wild. Increase the point totals each time. If there’s a tie at the end, have one player from each team run one time. 25 points for winning the heat, 25 points for having the high card. Keep the suspense going!
This isn’t really a game to plan for. This is more of a way to reclaim control when the kids get antsy. Instead of the standard 5-count, you yell out, “Rat Race!” and the kids all run a lap, then get back in line for standard points. This way you can get their attention without “punishing” them.
Bonuses and Variations
Squirt the leader with a water gun or get 10 bonus points for your team.
To play, you need marshmallows, some plastic spoons, and some small bags. Brown paper lunch bags work best. Tape a long strip of masking tape on the floor. This is the flinging line. Then, make a two-foot square on the floor out of masking tape, 10 feet from the flinging line. This is the box that the race winner/marshmallow catcher stands in.
The line leader/marshmallow flinger has to use the plastic spoon to fling marshmallows to his teammate, the catcher. You can have 5-10 point mini-marshmallows and 1-25 point big marshmallow. You can dictate a time limit to keep things moving. You can use this game to settle ties. Use your imagination and tell me what works best for you!
The kids crawl to the candy, eat it, and return for the next person to go. There are no losers in this game.
Instead of hockey sticks, players must use toilet brushes to hit the puck (a ping pong ball). Of course, even though the toilet brushes have never been used for their actual purpose, they start to get a little dirty and hairy after a few games, which makes it more gross and fun! They can play hockey or run a race, hitting the ball as they go.
10/13/04 This game was a huge hit!
Use a Frisbee to bowl over paper/Styrofoam cups. 10 points per cup. This may be a way to determine the total number of points for winning a race and not a bonus.
092904 Younger kids love this one. Haven’t tried it on the older ones.
Two kids must run a race while pressing a balloon between them. They can’t use their hands, though.
Ice Cream Delivery:
The balance a bean bag at the end of a baton and deliver the “ice cream” to the next runner in a relay fashion.
092904 It’s fun, but the kids don’t get excited. Keep in the mix.
Each team lines up single file. Each player sandwiches a balloon between herself and the person in front of her. Each team is a little caterpillar! (And you can’t use your hands to get the balloons in place!)
Get pizza boxes from a local restaurant. The runners must carry them over their head, like a waiter would.
Each team has a paper cup with mini candy bars in it. A runner holds the cup, eats a candy bar and runs a lap, giving the cup to the next runner. The next person cannot run until their candy bar is gone and the wrapper put in an appropriate container. Variation: Use bubble gum and make them blow a bubble before taking off.
092904 The kids loved this one!
Mix up the style of running. I mentioned a few ideas already. Try hopping on one foot, allowing the runner to change feet only at the corner. Make them throw a bean bag into a bucket to win while standing on one leg. Make them run backwards.
On the word “go,” the first player on each team puts a ball between his feet. Then, he waddles to the end of the course and back, kind of like a penguin. If the ball drops from his feet, he has to stop where he is and put it back. Once the ball is back in place, he can keep going.
Wrap the team in saran wrap and they all run together. The leader runs in for the points.
The kids need to run the race according to their rank. Skippers skip, Hikers hike, climbers must act like they are hiking. Encourages mixed teams!
Play “Connect the Dots” with a winning team making a line. 25 points for closing a box.
A game is not won unless the team recites a memory verse together.
Is using relay batons boring? Get a big hat, like a sombrero, for the runner to wear instead of carrying a baton. Depending on the game (blowing a ping pong ball, for example) this can really add a new element to a game. You can also run races with a ball in the hat.
Use paper bags for blindfolds instead of bandannas.
Build a box no bigger than 6″ square with “mouse holes”. The kids blow a ping pong ball into their hole. Or try a variation where you blow the ball into any hole but your own.
You will need a pillowcase – preferably not one of your best! Help the child step into the pillowcase. Have him grab hold of the top edge of the pillowcase and hop around the room. Be sure to move dangerous objects so the child has a safe place to hop.
A Cubbies Walk Home:
I have found that the kids really like to jump up and down, climb on me, and make noises like their pets. Very well, that’s what we did! Of course, it was more than just anarchy in the church basement. I made it into a story about all of the animals I saw while walking home one day.
I would act out a particular animal and ask them what I saw. You get some hilarious responses that way, let me tell you! In suburban Iowa, you won’t find many bears, seals, tigers or dolphins. I did go ahead and incorporate some of them into the story though, because the kids really liked acting like these animals. After a while, I asked the kids what all of these animals have in common. The popular response was that they all have mommies and daddies. “Very good answer! But do you know what else these animals have in common?” was my reply. Here’s a reproduction of the response they gave me:
So I explained what I was getting at. I told them that all of these animals were created by God and that He wants us to enjoy looking at His animals and to be safe around them, approaching them only when our parents say it’s OK.
Identical to “Simon Says’. I don’t use the “Cubbie didn’t say” aspect with 3-year olds, though.
Get some lengths of rope of yarn, maybe 12-18 inches in length, and tuck it into the waistband of the kids. They then try to pull each others’ tiger tails. This game will keep you busy, though, as the kids will return to you to have their tail set up again. They’re little kids, just do it!
Run to the Color:
The Awana circle can be confusing to the kids, so put up colored shapes around the room. Maybe 3-4 to keep it simple. Then tell the kids to run to the green shape or the square or whatever. If you don’t have these made up, have them run to different leaders they recognize.
Show the children the small leafy branch and tell them that they are to pretend that they are the dove that Noah send out to look for dry land. Tell them that they need to tuck their hands up next to their shoulders and flap their arms like they are wings. Ask the children to close their eyes while you set the branch out somewhere in the room. The first time hide the branch somewhere that they will not be able to find it. Tell the children to open their eyes, Noah is opening the window and has asked the dove to go find a sign of dry land.
Noah’s Mixed Up Animals:
Start by telling the story of Noah’s Ark, how God gave Noah the job of collecting two of each kind of animal. Tell the kids that you have a fun game for them. Say “Somehow all the animals got mixed together. Your job is to find the animal pairs and put them back into the Ark.” At this point dump the variety of animals out on the floor or tabletop and have the kids find the matches. Once the kids have finished ask them if they think Noah’s job would have been hard or easy. Would it have been fun to take care of all the animals? What would be the hardest thing to do? What would be the easiest?
Can You Do What I’m Doing?
Similar to Cubby Says, but the kids must observe you and act out what you are doing. It worked better than I had anticipated.
Good Dog/Bad Dog:
Have a few kids tell you what a good dog does and what a bad dog does and throw in an idea or two. Then call out “Good Dog” and let them act like puppies. After a few moments, call out “Bad Dog” and let them pretend they are digging up the yard. You’ll need to explain that they shouldn’t touch each other, otherwise you’ll end up with a pile-up. If that happens, “Good Dog” often diffuses the situation.
Let’s Make a Cake:
Sit the kids around you and go through the motions of making a cake. You imagine to add the eggs, flour, etc and make a huge imaginary mess as you do so. Then you bake it, frost it, put some candles on it, blow them out, and eat it. It sounds overly simple, but that’s what works with the Cubbies!
Frog Frog Toad:
There’s a zillion variations on this game. Kids love to impersonate animals, so mix up the game “Duck Duck Goose” by having different animals. Whatever the animal name you use, the kids have to run in that style.
I’ll be linking this post to my home page, so it is easy to find for myself and for you. If you want to use any ideas, that’s great. If you want to contribute any ideas in the comments, that would be wonderful! Much like my Glossary of Verbage, I’ll be adding to this post periodically.
Have fun with it! If you’re introducing a new game, or if you just want to be more interactive, perform the stunt as you describe it. Let the kids know you are to be respected, but also let them know you aren’t some stuffy, boring grown-up!