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More than 200 proven openers, questions, and activities that get students involved in your lessons! - A Primer on Leading Discussions . . . Starting a discussion, and keeping it going . . . The importance of confidentiality . . . Asking questions that get responses . . . And working with different personalities. - 35 Creative ways to start a discussion or lesson on any topic . . .Techniques general enough to fit just about any subject, but still quirky enough to attract adolescent attention. - Discussion & ...
More than 200 proven openers, questions, and activities that get students involved in your lessons! - A Primer on Leading Discussions . . . Starting a discussion, and keeping it going . . . The importance of confidentiality . . . Asking questions that get responses . . . And working with different personalities. - 35 Creative ways to start a discussion or lesson on any topic . . .Techniques general enough to fit just about any subject, but still quirky enough to attract adolescent attention. - Discussion & Lesson Starters, By Topic . . . What subject are you teaching this week? First, look up your subject -- apologetics, attitude, dating, disabilities, faith, family, the will of God . . . And more than 30 main topics, all arranged alphabetically. Then choose the opener that fits your purposes and your group. In fact, many of these openers are virtually complete lessons in themselves, with questions, activities, parables, object lessons -- all designed to draw opinions, thoughts, and feelings from your students. Whether you're a youth worker or recreation director in a church, school, club, or camp -- Discussion & Lesson Starters is your storehouse of proven, youth-group tested ideas.
Contents Alphabetical list of every idea in this book.....9
A Primer on Leading Discussions.....15
35 Creative Ways to Start a Discussion or Lesson on Any Topic Groupers..... 23
No-Risk Discussion..... 24
Tape Talk..... 24
Textimony Service..... 24
Yarn-Sharing Experience..... 24
Mystery Gifts..... 25
Mystery Guest..... 25
Relay Discussion..... 25
Spotlight Meeting..... 26
Wishing Well..... 26
Curing Discussion Dominators..... 26
Human Continuum..... 26
Legos Game..... 27
Straw Pictures..... 27
Study Bubble..... 27
Truth or Dare..... 27
Talk It Over..... 28
Phobia Month..... 30
Hangman Lessons..... 30
Lights On, Lights Off..... 30
Word Pictures..... 30
Crisis Response..... 31
Rug Discussion..... 31
Spiritual Adventureland..... 33
Sitcom Discussion..... 33
Triangular Teaching..... 34
Fish Bowl..... 34
On the Spot..... 34
Video Intros..... 35
Chutes and Ladders..... 35
How Do You Feel?..... 36
Kids on Campus..... 36
Name That Sin!..... 36
Stump the Speaker..... 37
This Bothers Me..... 38
Discussion & Lesson Starters, by Topic Apologetics Christianity Questionnaire..... 41
Attitude All Tied Up..... 41
Body of Christ Hanging from the Vine..... 43
Yellow Brick Road..... 43
Body Puzzle..... 44
Dependence Meal..... 44
Jigsaw Puzzle Object Lesson..... 44
Body Life Game..... 44
Football Stadium..... 45
Misfi t..... 46
My World..... 46
Co-Operative Play Car Relay..... 47
Simulated Planning Meeting..... 47
Parable of the Plants..... 48
and Cooperation..... 48
The Reciprocal Commands..... 50
Appendices, Unite!..... 51
Christian Life & Christianity My Life, Christ’s Home..... 51
Signs of the Times..... 52
What Is a Christian?..... 52
What Kind of Christian Are You?..... 52
ABC Christianity..... 54
Church, local Typical Sunday in Church Photo..... 54
The Life-Saving Station..... 54
Phoenix Game..... 56
Ideal Church..... 56
Values in the Church..... 56
The Man from Ick..... 56
Civil disobedience Black Arm Bands..... 60
Cliques Fellowship Game..... 60
Skits about Cliques..... 62
Cliques and Loners..... 63
The Cools and the Nerds..... 64
Your Majesty..... 65
Community (see Body of Christ)
Counseling Saying the Right Thing..... 65
Role Reversal..... 66
How Can I Help?..... 66
Dating Dating Data..... 68
Dating Round Robin..... 68
Dating Quizzes..... 68
Disabilities Persons with Disabilities..... 68
Understanding Persons with Disabilities..... 73
Discernment The Real Thing..... 74
Friend or Foe..... 74
Truth or Deception..... 76
Faith Let’s Pretend..... 76
Word Game..... 77
The Gospel According to Me..... 77
Role Bowl..... 77
Routine and Humdrum..... 77
The Crutch Walkers..... 80
Faith Inventory..... 80
Picture Testimonies..... 80
Family Family Crossword..... 83
Perfect Pair..... 83
Faith Sculpting..... 83
Family Choices..... 85
Dear Amy Letters..... 85
Parent Opinions..... 85
Teen Goofs..... 85
How to Raise Your Parents..... 89
Parent-Teen Eye-Opener..... 89
The Parenting Game..... 91
Fear Rotating Fear..... 91
Freedom Freedom for All..... 91
Realizing Our Need for God..... 92
Future Future World..... 92
Future Fantasy..... 92
Looking Ahead to High School..... 93
Tabloid Prophecies..... 93
Gazing into the Future..... 93
Fantasy Reunion..... 94
Gambling Win, Lose, or No!..... 94
Godhead (Father, Son,
Modern Day Jesus..... 95
Name That Jesus..... 95
Describe the Counselor..... 96
Matthew One..... 96
Your God Is Too Small..... 96
Long-Distance Role Play..... 98
Creation, God, and You..... 98
God Is Like…..... 99
Graven Images..... 99
Attribute Ads..... 101
Canned Illustration..... 101
Egg in a Bottle..... 101
To Tell the
(Holy Spirit) Truth..... 102
Heaven Heavenly Trip..... 102
Holy Spirit (see Godhead)
Humility Lamed Vovnik Convention..... 104
Individuality (see Self-image)
Jesus (see God)
Judging others Lethal Labels..... 104
Legalism New Rules..... 105
Legalism Stroll..... 106
Marriage Dating and Marriage..... 106
To Marry or Not to Marry..... 107
Twenty-Five Cent Mate..... 107
Money Birthday List..... 107
The Wealth We Wear..... 107
20th-Century Talents..... 110
Unfair Money Practice..... 110
Shopping Spree..... 110
The Game of Life..... 110
Morality (see Sexuality, Values)
Music American Bandstand..... 111
Rock Music Council..... 111
Musical Blanks..... 111
Music in the Bible..... 111
The Music of the Gospel..... 112
Music Messages..... 112
Rewriting Rock..... 112
Parents (see Family)
Patience Patience Role Play..... 112
Prayer Prayer Survey..... 113
Screwtape Letters..... 113
Cliché Prayers..... 115
Prayer Bag..... 115
Please Answer My Prayer..... 115
Prayer Candles..... 116
Prayers in the Wind..... 116
Prayer Lab..... 116
Relationships Love Lists..... 116
Make Way for the Queen..... 117
Scripture memory Hidden Treasure..... 117
Commercials for Bible Memory..... 123
Self-image First Impression Collage..... 124
Imaginary Me..... 124
The Individuality Game..... 124
What Others Think of Me..... 127
What’s Number One?..... 127
Apples and You..... 127
Map of Me..... 128
How God Sees Me..... 128
Shoes of Christ..... 128
Show and Tell..... 128
The Tator Family..... 128
Refl ections in a Rock..... 129
Ego Talk..... 129
How Many F’s?..... 130
Sexual Purity (see also Values)
The C.O.N.D.O.M..... 130
Speech Personal Speech Inventory..... 130
Spiritual Growth Spiritual Pilgrimage..... 134
Where Are You Letter..... 134
Grab-Bag Testimonies..... 134
Where Are You?..... 135
Spiritual Growth Chart..... 135
Stereotypes Stereotypes..... 137
Thankfulness Counting Biblical Blessings..... 137
Thanksgiving Exchange..... 137
Trinity (see Godhead)
Trust in others Trust Test..... 137
Obstacle Illusion..... 137
Unity (see Body of Christ)
Values What Would You Do?..... 138
War Games..... 139
The Food Store Robbery..... 140
Monitoring Your Morals..... 140
Paul’s Dilemma..... 140
Euthanasia on Trial..... 144
Free Association Game..... 145
If Survey..... 146
Value Trading Game..... 146
Earthling Collage..... 150
Managing Your Time..... 150
No Other Gods..... 150
Life Skills..... 150
The Moral of the Story..... 150
Picture That..... 150
Priority Auction..... 153
Face to Face..... 153
Problem Letter..... 154
Gospel According to Dear Abby..... 154
Vulnerability Broken Banana..... 156
Wealth (see Money)
Will of God Will of God..... 156
The Envelope, Please..... 156
How God Works in My Life 158
Discussion & Lesson Starters Copyright © 1997 by Youth Specialties ISBN-10: 0-310-22034-3
Youth Specialties products, 300 S. Pierce St., El Cajon, CA 92020, are published by Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Ave. S.E.,
Grand Rapids, MI 49530.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version (North American Edition). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan.
The material in this book may be photocopied for local use in churches, youth groups, and other Christian education activities.
Special permission is not necessary. Otherwise, the contents of this book may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—without the prior permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Ideas in this book have been voluntarily submitted by individuals and groups who claim to have used them in one form or another with their youth groups. Before you use an idea, evaluate it for its suitability to your own group, for any potential risks, for safety precautions that must be taken, and for advance preparation that may be required. Youth Specialties and Zondervan are not responsible for, nor have any control over, the use or misuse of any of the ideas published in this book.
Project editor: Vicki Newby Cover and interior design: Curt Sell Art director: Mark Rayburn
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 • 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7
GROUPERS Groupers are unfi nished sentences like “I wish I were....” They can be used to stimulate discussion.
Through them, young people can express and explore their beliefs and goals. As a result, kids can discover what their values really are.
One way to use Groupers is to follow these steps:
1. Give each participant a pencil and index card.
2. You can read aloud the groupers, write them on the board, or distribute them on index cards. Then have each person complete the groupers.
3. Encourage kids to complete their groupers honestly. No one will be graded or judged right or wrong. Every answer is acceptable. Each person has the right to decline to participate and the right to anonymity.
4. Collect the completed cards, read them aloud, and discuss them.
5. Conclude your discussion by reading your own grouper, and ask for feedback. Or read your grouper with the others so that kids won’t know it’s yours. Conclude with your own comments about the discussion.
Instead of reading answers for them, have kids read their own responses aloud. This works best if kids know each other well and if there is an atmosphere of freedom and trust among them. Kids can elaborate on their responses and answer group questions or not. All answers are acceptable, and kids can decline to participate.
Here is a sampling of groupers:
I fear most...
I wish I were...
I wish I were not...
I wish I had...
I wish I had not...
I wish I could...
If I were the leader of this country, I would...
The leader of this country should...
The happiest day of my life was...
If I could start this year over, I would...
35 CREATIVE WAYS TO START A DISCUSSION OR LESSON ON ANY TOPIC Here are techniques general enough to fi t just about any subject,
but still quirky enough to attract adolescent attention.
My favorite place is...
My parents should...
I wish my parents wouldn’t...
What hurts me the most is...
If I had $25, I would...
I would like to tell my best friend...
The worst thing a person could do is...
What always makes me mad is...
If I could do anything without being found out, I would...
I always cry when...
I always laugh when...
If I were the principal of my school, I would...
If I had a million dollars, I would...
If my parents left me alone, I would...
The most important thing in my life is...
If I had X-ray vision, I would...
The hardest thing for me to do is...
NO-RISK DISCUSSION Many young people are intimidated in church situations when asked to express opinions on controversial issues in front of their peers and/or adult leaders. This approach will allow them to say what they feel without fear of what others might think.
Cut up paper strips, about 111/2” x 8” long. Give everyone a pencil and a strip of paper. Ask questions that only require short answers and ask them one at a time. Each student writes a number 1 at the top and answers the fi rst question, then folds the paper down to conceal his or her answer. The papers are then passed to the person on the left and question number
2 is answered just below the folded-down portion.
With each question, the paper is folded and passed to a new person until all the questions are answered.
Collect the papers and redistribute them again and have everyone unfold the paper they received. As you repeat the questions for discussion, each person answers the way their paper reads. Usually the result will lead to further, less inhibited discussion,
especially when students discover that their views are probably shared by quite a few others in the group.
Whitey White TAPE TALK One of the best ways to get discussion going in a youth group is to bring in various points of view on a subject. One way to do this is by interviewing people outside of the youth group on tape or video and playing it for your youth group. For example, if the subject is love, interview a young child, an elderly person, and someone from an urban neighborhood,
asking them how they would defi ne love. Edit out the bad or dull ones and this can make an interesting program and a good discussion starter.
TEXTIMONY SERVICE Do you have trouble getting your young people to share their experiences? Try a Textimony Service.
On slips of paper write verses of Scripture dealing with some specifi c promises that the Lord makes to believers for their everyday lives. Then pass out the slips to the group and have them share how the Lord has been keeping that promise in their lives. If you like, you could let them pick their own verse to illustrate something that has been happening in their lives. Perhaps someone hasn’t taken full advantage of a promise to which he is entitled; he might share that with the group. Someone else may have a helpful insight for that person. The group could pray for individual needs and needs that the whole group may have. Possible promises can be found in the following verses: Gal. 5:18, Eph. 2:14, John 16:23, John 14:27,
John 10:10, Ps. 91:15 (Reprinted with permission from HISWAY, 1445
Boonville, Springfi eld, Missouri 65802)
YARN-SHARING EXPERIENCE In order to get your group to open up and share their inner feelings and Christian experience, try using this technique. Take a ball of yarn (size is determined by the size of the group involved) and explain to the group that you are going to ask them to participate in a little experiment. Tell them that in a moment you are going to throw the ball of yarn (while holding onto the end so the yarn will unwind) to someone in the group. The group should be standing in a circle.
When that person catches the ball of yarn, she should share either:
• What God has done for her
• What God has done for someone she knows
• What God has done for all of us (Christ’s death, given us his Word, etc.)
• Something that she is thankful for Then after she has shared one of the above,
she will throw the ball to someone else in the circle
(while holding onto the yarn) and the next person who catches the ball will also share one of the four things above. Keep this going until everyone in the group has had a chance to share at least once (several times is best, but this depends on the size of your group and the time you have).