Read an Excerpt
101 Great Games for Kids
Active Bible-Based Fun for Christian Education
By Jolene L. Roehlkepartain
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2000 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
Great Games for Preschoolers
Games that delight preschoolers tickle their imaginations and invite them to experience the world from a different perspective. Often preschoolers are already in one of these other worlds when they arrive at your setting. Some come dressed as superheroes or fairies, while others may look like nothing is up but begin to purr and meow when you compliment them.
Games for preschoolers not only should stretch their imaginations but also challenge their skills. Children at this age are learning a lot of labels —shapes, colors, animal names, numbers, and letters of the alphabet. They're learning how to hop, climb, kick, and throw balls. When preschoolers learn through play, they find that learning can be fun and enjoyable, which motivates them to learn even more.
The best games for preschoolers are simple. Three-, four-, and five-year-olds do well with games that have one- or two-step directions. They enjoy following instructions and trying new activities. Preschoolers are highly sensory, enjoying games that allow them to move, make sounds, touch, taste, smell, and see. Whenever you can make their world—and the worlds within their imaginations—concrete and real through games, preschoolers will jump in with enthusiasm and play and play and play.
Scripture: King Hezekiah needs gold (2 Kings 17-19)
This Game Teaches: When we need something that we don't have, we often can find it when we look.
Materials: Prior to the game, cut several circles out of yellow construction paper and place them around the room, taping them to walls, chairs, the floor, and so forth. Remember to keep track of the total number of yellow circles you placed.
* * *
Game: Say: "King Hezekiah in the Bible had a big problem. There was a bad king who wanted to hurt King Hezekiah and his people. So King Hezekiah told the bad king, 'If you leave, I will give you anything that you want.' Well, the bad king wanted gold. Lots of gold. King Hezekiah didn't have any gold, but he figured out that if everyone pulled the gold from the temple walls, that would be how he could pay the bad king.
"So, let's do that now. Look around the room. Look for yellow circles of gold. Run around and pull these circles from the walls, floors, etc." When they think they've found them all, count the pieces. If they don't have the total number you hid, send them looking again until all the yellow circles are found.
After the game ends, say: "King Hezekiah didn't know where he would get the gold at first, but then he remembered the gold in the temple. That's how he was able to pay the bad king. When we need something we don't have, we often can find it when we look."
Walk, Run, Walk
Scripture: Crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-14:1-31)
This Game Teaches: God keeps God's people safe.
* * *
Game: Gather the children around you. Say: "Moses and God's people were captured by a bunch of bad guys led by a guy named Pharaoh. One day, Pharaoh let Moses and God's people go. Let's pretend we are following God right after Pharaoh freed us. Let's spread out, and I want you to act out what I say to do." Name the specific instructions listed below one at a time, and do the actions with the children.
Pharaoh, the bad guy, just freed us. Jump up and down. Cheer!
Look up in the sky! God is leading the way in a cloud.
Let's walk and follow God all day.
Now it's nighttime. Let's put up tents for sleeping.
Lie down and go to sleep now.
It's morning. Time to stretch and wake up.
Look up in the sky! God is still there in the cloud.
Let's keep walking and following God.
Oh! Oh! I hear a noise! Who's behind us?
It's Pharaoh and the bad guys. Quick, let's run!
Stop! There's a sea in front of us. It's as big as an ocean. How are we going to get across?
Moses is raising his arms. Look! The sea is parting. We can walk across the sea! Let's walk.
Oh no! The bad guys are behind us! Hurry to the other side.
Whew! We made it to the other side.
But oh, no! Here come the bad guys again! I'm so scared.
Look! The water is closing! The bad guys are drowning.
Hooray for God! Hooray for God! We're safe.
Let's keep walking and following God.
After the game say: "God still is with us and keeps us safe. God was there for Moses, and God is here for us."
Come with Me
Scripture: Jesus calls the disciples to follow him (Matthew 4:18-20)
This Game Teaches: Jesus called many to follow him, and we should follow him, too.
* * *
Game: Have the children spread out around the room and sit down on the floor. Ask for a volunteer. Say: "[child's name] is going to be Jesus and will walk around the room. When Jesus taps your shoulder and says, 'Come with me/ jump up and follow right behind Jesus. Then Jesus will find another person and ask that person to also follow. That person gets at the end of the line. The game ends when everyone is following Jesus. Any questions?"
Play the game. Afterward say: "Jesus called many people to follow him. The twelve disciples are known for following Jesus. Even today, Jesus wants people to follow him. We should follow Jesus, too."
Two! Two! Two!
Scripture: Animals go two by two into the ark (Genesis 7:5-9)
This Game Teaches: No one went into the ark alone. Everyone got to bring a friend. It's good to have a friend.
* * *
Game: Have each child find a partner. If an odd number of children are present, play that everyone has a partner.
Say: "With your partner, choose an animal that both of you can be. Pick an animal with a sound that you and your partner can make, such as a dog that barks or a horse that whinnies."
Have each pair demonstrate its animal sound to the group. Then have the partners separate and spread out around the room. Encourage partners to move far away from one another. Say: "We're going to skip around the room. When I say that it's beginning to rain, start making your animal noise. Run and find your partner and link arms. (Demonstrate this.) Then we'll form a line and march into the imaginary ark over there. (Point to a certain area of the room.) Any questions?"
Play the game. After you march into the ark, play the game a couple more times. Then say: "No one went into the ark alone. Everyone got to bring a friend. Everyone went into the ark two by two. It's good to have a friend."
A Good Helper
Scripture: The good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)
This Game Teaches: The Samaritan was a good helper, and we can be good helpers, too.
Materials: One self-adhesive bandage for each child
* * *
Game: Ask for a volunteer to lie on the floor as if he or she is hurt.
Say: "We're going to act out a story in the Bible called 'The Good Samaritan.' First, we're all going to act like the men who wouldn't help the hurt person. Let's all walk by our hurt person and not stop and help." Do this with the children. Then take them to another side of the room. Give each person a bandage.
Say: "Now we're going to be good helpers. We're going to be like the good Samaritan. This time when we see the hurt person, we're going to stop and each put a bandage on the person. Any questions?" Lead the children to the hurt child. Have everyone put her or his bandage on the child.
After the game ends, say: "The Samaritan was a good helper, and we can be good helpers, too. We can help people when they're hurt. We can help our parents when they need help. We can all be good helpers."
Love One Another
Scripture: Love one another as God loves us (1 John 4:7-10)
This Game Teaches: It's good to love one another.
* * *
Game: Have children sit in a circle. Say: "We're going to say 'love one another' in many different ways. Listen closely and say 'love one another' in the way that I tell you."
Use a variety of ways, such as:
Let's use our lowest voices.
Let's use our highest voices.
Let's say it slowly.
Let's say it really fast.
Let's say it a bunch of times.
Let's say it all together one more time!
After the game say: "God loves us, and God wants us to love one another. It's good to love God, and it's good to love one another."
I Know Your Name
Scripture: God knows us even before we are born (Psalm 139:13-15)
This Game Teaches: Each one of us is important to God.
Materials: A beach ball
* * *
Game: Have the children sit in a circle with you. Holding the beach ball in your hands, say: "We're going to play a name game. We're going to take turns rolling he ball across the circle. Before youroll the ball, however, say the name ofthe person you're rolling it to. Even if the ball rolls to another person, the person you named should get it. After you get the ball, choose someone else in the circle, say that person's name, and roll the ball to her or him. Any questions?" Play the game.
Afterward say: "Our names are so important. They tell who we are. God knows each one of us by name. God even knew us before we were born. Each one of us is important to God."
Pass the Food!
Scripture: Feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8:1-10)
This Game Teaches: There was enough food for everybody. Jesus took care of people in Bible times, and Jesus takes care of us today.
Materials: Plain doughnuts
* * *
Game: Have children stand in a circle. Hold up a doughnut and say: "Oh no! We're all hungry, but we have only one doughnut. What should we do?" Invite ideas. Then say, "I know. Let's share. We'll pass the doughnut around the circle. Tear off as little as you can so that there will be enough for everybody. After you tear off your little bit, eat it." Start the doughnut around the circle. If you run out before it gets around the circle, start another doughnut in its place. If a large portion of the doughnut remains after everyone has had a little to eat, keep passing the doughnut around until it's gone.
After the game ends, say: "There's a story in the Bible about a time when many, many people came to hear Jesus talk. It got to be late and everybody was hungry. So the disciples passed around the little food that was there. Everyone got a little bit. There was enough food for everybody, just like everybody got a little bit of the doughnut. Jesus took care of the people then, and Jesus takes care of us today."
Tell the Truth!
Scripture: Micah steals silver (Judges 17:1-2)
This Game Teaches: God likes it when we tell the truth.
Materials: A small toy that children can hide in their hands
* * *
Game: Have the children stand in a circle. Give one child a small toy. Ask for a volunteer to stand in the middle of the circle. Say: "We're going to play a guessing game. Hold your hands behind your back. Pass the toy around the circle so that the person in the middle can't see who has it. You can pretend to pass the item, or you can really pass it. Try to fool the person in the middle. When I say to stop, everyone stop, and the person in the middle must then guess who has the toy. If he or she is correct, the person with the toy must come into the middle. If he or she is incorrect, we'll keep playing. Any questions?"
After the game ends, say: "In the Bible, there's a story about Micah and his mom. Micah stole silver from his mom, and she was wondering who took it. Micah hid it like we hid the toy. But Micah eventually told his mom the truth. God likes it when we tell the truth."
Giggles and Laughter
Scripture: Sarah laughs about the idea of having a baby (Genesis 18:1-15)
This Game Teaches: We sometimes laugh when things are funny or we think something is impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.
* * *
Game: Have the children stand in a circle. Say: "We're going to go around the circle and take turns laughing. I'll go first. Then we will go this way (show the direction) around the circle." Begin the game. After everyone has had a chance to laugh, ask the children to follow these commands:
Everyone laugh soft.
Everyone laugh loud.
No one laugh. (Do this when children have the giggles and may have a hard time stopping-)
Laugh around the circle again.
After the game say: "Sarah was an old, old woman. She laughed when she heard she was going to have a baby. We sometimes laugh when things are funny or we think something is impossible. But nothing is impossible with God."
Here Comes the King
Scripture: Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey (John 12:12-19)
This Game Teaches: We can worship Jesus.
Materials: An 81/2-x-11--inch piece of green construction paper for each child
* * *
Game: Before the game, decide if you're willing to be a donkey so that a child can ride on your back, or if you need to recruit another willing adult.
Ask for a child volunteer to be Jesus. Give each of the other children a piece of green construction paper. Help the children form two parallel lines with enough room in between so that Jesus can ride the donkey through the middle.
Say: "In the Bible, there's a story about Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem. Everyone along the way held a green plant branch called a palm, and they waved it back and forth as Jesus passed. We're going to do that now. Any questions?" Have the children practice waving their green paper. Then get on all fours (or have the other adult volunteer do this) and have Jesus climb onto your back. Walk between the two lines of children waving their papers.
Afterward say: "We should worship Jesus. While we may not have palms to wave, we can sing songs, we can go to church, we can read our Bibles, and we can pray. There are many ways to worship Jesus."
Scripture: Baby Moses in the basket (Exodus 2)
This Game Teaches: People took good care of baby Moses in the basket. We can take good care of one another, too.
Materials: A doll; a doll blanket; a basket for the doll
* * *
Game: Wrap the doll in the blanket, and place it in the basket. Hide the doll in the play area. (If there are children present, have them leave the area or close their eyes.)
Say: "We're going to look for baby Moses, who is hiding. Moses is a baby doll in a basket. Let's all start looking for baby Moses." Play the game. After the game ends, say: "The only way baby Moses could be saved was to be placed in a basket and put into the river. But people found baby Moses, and they took good care of him. Moses grew up and became one of God's leaders."
Ask: "How can we take good care of one another?" Give children time to respond.
Say: "We can take good care of one another like people took care of baby Moses."
Come, Children, Come
Scripture: Jesus blessed the children (Matthew 19:13- 15)
This Game Teaches: Every child is blessed by Jesus.
Materials: Two balls
* * *
Game: Before the game, decide if you will be the adult Jesus or if you need to recruit another adult.
Have the children sit in a circle. Say: "I want you to roll the ball back and forth around the circle. When you hear your name called, leave the circle and go to Jesus. The rest of the children should close the circle."
Give the adult Jesus the other ball. Explain that you're going to create another circle where children play the same game. Have the Jesus volunteer call the names of the children one at a time. When a child comes to Jesus, the volunteer should say: "Jesus blesses you" and lay her or his hands on the child's head. Have the first child in the circle simply sit with the ball. When another child joins the new circle, have the next child (after receiving a blessing) roll the ball back and forth with the other child.
Play the game. Eventually the first circle of children will disappear as the new circle forms. After all the children have been called and had a chance to roll the ball to one another, stop the game.
Then say: "In Bible times, adults were considered more important than children. But not to Jesus. Everyone is important to Jesus—each one of you. Jesus blesses every child, just as you were blessed today."
Thanks a Lot?
Scripture: The psalm of thanks (Psalm 107:1)
This Game Teaches: It's good to thank God for everything God gives us.
* * *
Game: Have the children form a circle. Then have them take four large steps backward so there's a lot of room within the circle. Say: "The Bible says to give thanks to the Lord. We're going to do that now. Let's go around the circle and take turns clapping and saying the name of someone we're thankful for." Have the children do that. Then have them go around the circle and do some or all of the following:
Do a jumping jack and name the food you're most thankful for.
Sing la, la, la and name the song you're most thankful for.
Sit down and name the animal you're most thankful for.
Jump up and name the toy you're most thankful for.
Turn around in a circle and name the color you're most thankful for.
Hug the person next to you and name the person you've just hugged.
Excerpted from 101 Great Games for Kids by Jolene L. Roehlkepartain. Copyright © 2000 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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