101 Games That Keep Kids Coming: Get-To-Know-You-Games for Ages 3-12

101 Games That Keep Kids Coming: Get-To-Know-You-Games for Ages 3-12

by Jolene L. Roehlkepartain


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Fun, Bible-based, get-to-know-you games and activities for children ages three to twelve.

Teaching children how to make friends and creating a sense of community are two key factors in building a strong Christian education program. Many children resist coming to Sunday school and children’s ministry events because they do not know the other children; they live in different communities and attend different schools. Here are 101 opportunities to help children make friends at church – and keep them coming!

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780687651207
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 08/18/2010
Pages: 146
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)

About the Author

Jolene L. Roehlkepartain is the founding editor of Children's Ministry magazine, and the author of 22 books, including Nuturing Faith in Families, Teaching Kids to Care & Share, and 101 Great Games for Kids. A veteran congregational lay minister and parent educator, Jolene's books draw on her 25 years of experience in working with children, youth, and families.

Read an Excerpt

101 Games That Keep Kids Coming

Get-To-Know-You Games for Ages 3-12
By Jolene L. Roehlkepartain

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2008 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-687-65120-7

Chapter One

Great Games for PRESCHOOLERS

Building community with preschoolers is about helping each individual child feel welcome and secure. Preschoolers thrive when they're met at the door by a smiling, caring adult who looks them in the eye, calls them by name, and gently invites them inside. For preschoolers, the first big issue is making the transition from the adult who drops them off to the adult who welcomes them to class. Make the transition time smooth by making it easier for them.

Your room can also make transitions easier. Preschoolers are attracted to a room full of interesting toys and bright colors. Instead of expecting preschoolers to sit at a table and wait for the rest of the class to arrive (or get picked up afterward), invite them to explore the toys. Have blocks, four- to six-piece puzzles, dolls, doll clothes, trucks, cars, pegboards, large wooden beads to string, crayons and paper, dress-up clothes, and more.

Once preschoolers are in your room, help children attach to the adults and teenagers who work with your program first. This process of focusing your efforts on individuals may seem slow at first, but it will pay off over time. Parents and grandparents will be thrilled when their preschoolers make the leap of walking into a classroom and going straight for the toys—without the fuss of saying good-bye or not wanting to come. Preschoolers will only do this when they know—and feel comfortable—with the leaders of their class.

Once preschoolers know your leaders and their room, begin building community among the children. Remember that your youngest preschoolers are moving from the developmental stage of parallel play (where they play individually side by side) to simple cooperative play (where they play with each other for short amounts of time interspersed with individual play). Begin by teaching children each other's names through the games in this section.

Your older preschoolers will begin connecting more with each other, and you may even see some close friendships develop. Encourage this whenever you can. Sometimes best friends are the same sex, but sometimes they're not. Let children lead the way in finding their friends, but create many opportunities for them to mingle with different children and see what develops.

With preschoolers, schedule short play times where children can choose what to play and who they want to play with. Although young children thrive on structure, they also thrive when they're given structured times to explore, to play, and to interact with other children.

However you choose to build community, have fun with your preschoolers. Help them feel comfortable, but also get down on the floor to play and laugh with them. Soon you'll have kids crawling in and out of your lap and forming a close-knit community around you. That's what you want: happy preschoolers who want to keep coming back, week after week.

When You Hear the Name

Topic: Names

Scripture: Mark 14:66-72

Familiarity Between Children: None to a lot

Materials: None

Game: Have the children sit on the floor. Say, "I'm going to read you a story from the Bible. Every time you hear the word rooster, jump up and say, 'cock-a-doodle-doo.' Then sit down and listen for the word again." Read aloud Mark 14:66-72. Pause slightly every time you read the word rooster.

After you read the passage, say that you're going to name children. When a child hears his or her name, that child should jump up and shout out his or her first name followed by shouting, "That's me!" Then the child should sit down. Let the children try this. Explain that periodically you'll say the word rooster, and everyone should jump up and say, "cock-a-doodle-doo."

Play the game. After awhile, end the game by naming all the children's names quickly and saying, "Now let's be like roosters and strut back to our lesson."

Silly Time

Topic: Time, being silly

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3

Familiarity Between Children: None to a little

Materials: None

Game: Say, "Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything. There is a time to be happy and sad, and there is a time to be silly and goofy. We're going to be silly while we get to know each other."

Have the children stand in a circle. Say, "We're going to take turns doing or saying something silly. When I call on you, be silly and then we'll do the same silly action that you do."

Demonstrate before you play. Explain that each time, everyone will say this phrase:

"Louie, Louie, (Name of Child twice), Silly Dilly

Can you show us something silly?"

Then have Louie (or the child named) do something silly, such as make monkey sounds, wiggle his or her body in a funny way, snort like a pig, make a silly face, or do something else that's completely goofy. After the child does something silly, have everyone do the exact same silly action or noise.

End the turn by having everyone say, "Louie, Louie, (Name of Child), you're so silly."

Have children take turns at being silly. Encourage them to learn each other's names.

End the game by saying your name. Do a silly action, such as making a burping sound or saying "look's like we're a crazy group" but starting each word with a w sound: "wook's wike we're wa wrazy wroup."

Ring, Ring

Topic: Communication

Scripture: Matthew 6:6-13

Familiarity Between Children: None to a lot

Materials: A toy phone

Game: Have the children stand in a circle. Say, "We're going to play a game with a toy phone. What do you do when the phone rings?" Let them answer. Then say, "For this game when the phone rings, I want you to say, 'Hello, this is (Your Name).' Pay close attention because later on you'll need to say the other children's names."

Hold the phone. Make a ringing sound. Give the phone to one child who then answers it. After the child does it, take the phone back and repeat with another child. Continue until all the children have answered the phone at least once.

Once each child has had a turn, change the game. Say, "Now we're going to play the game in another way. I'm going to give someone the phone. Make a ringing sound and name a child in the circle. That child will jump up to answer it. After that child answers, stop making the ringing sound. Then the child who answered will take the phone, make it ring, and say another child's name. That child will jump up and answer, and so on."

Play the game. Do this until each child has had at least one turn.

End the game by asking, "How do we talk to God?" Get children's ideas. Ask if they can call God on the telephone. Then talk about prayer. End with the prayer, "Thank you, God, for being with us and helping us get to know each other."

Leaping Leaders

Topic: Leadership

Scripture: Numbers 2

Familiarity Between Children: None to a lot

Materials: None

Game: Ask the children to stand in a circle. Say, "The Bible is full of people who were leaders. We're going to take turns being the leader. When I point to you, say your name and name one action that we can do. For example, you could say hop, leap, jump, run, wiggle, and so on."

Start the game. Sometimes a child may have the children run and break up the circle. If that happens, have the circle form again once the children finish running. Give each child one turn.

When everyone has had one turn, ask, "Who remembers someone's name and action?" If a child can identify another child's name and motion correctly, have the group do that motion again. End the activity by saying, "Each one of us was a leaping leader. Let's all leap back to our lesson."


Topic: Names

Scripture: Luke 11:9-13

Familiarity Between Children: None to a lot

Materials: None

Game: Have the children stand in a circle. Ask for a volunteer to stand in the middle. Say, "The Bible says that when you ask, you will receive. When you seek, you will find. When you knock, the door will be opened to you. We're going to play a game where we'll learn each other's names better."

Explain that the child in the middle will say either "shout" or "whisper" before spinning around and pointing at someone. All the children will then either shout or whisper the name of the child whom the volunteer is pointing to.

Play the game. Have the volunteer do this three times and then ask for another volunteer. Children will gradually learn each other's names as you play.

End the game by saying, "Let's all shout the word group and then give each other a big group hug."

Sing Together

Topic: Names, friendship

Scripture: Proverbs 22:1

Familiarity Between Children: None to a lot

Materials: None

Game: Read aloud Proverbs 22:1. Say, "We can each live up to our good name by being a friend to each other."

Have the children sing together these words to the tune of "Skip to My Lou" as they hold hands in a circle and skip to the right.

Skip, skip, skip with my friends Skip, skip, skip with my friends Skip, skip, skip with my friends We are all such good friends.

When the children have finished singing the song once, tell them that you'll sing the song again. This time when they finish the song, you'll point to one child and that child will quickly shout out his or her first name. The child on the right will do the same, and you'll keep going around the circle until every child has shouted out his or her first name.

Sing the song again and ask for a volunteer to try to name as many children as possible.

End the game by saying, "We are all such good friends, and when we skip and play together, we have more fun."

Who Do We Appreciate?

Topic: Compliments

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:6

Familiarity Between Children: None to a lot

Materials: None

Game: Have the children form a circle and stand. Read aloud 2 Corinthians 6:6. Teach them this chant:

Two, four, six, eight Who do we appreciate? One, three, five, nine Who right here is mighty fine?

Once the children know the chant, say that there is a second part to the chant. After the chant, you'll point to one child, and all the children will shout that child's name three times. For example, the chant could go like this:

Two, four, six, eight Who do we appreciate? One, three, five, nine Who right here is mighty fine? Lisa! Lisa! Lisa!

Do the chant a number of times with different children's names. Once the children know the chant really well, challenge them further by choosing three different children for the ending chant, so they would say something like: Harry! Gina! Jorge!

Note that one child may notice that the chant leaves out the number seven. If someone notices, see if the group can figure out why the chant goes from one, three, five, nine and isn't three, five, seven, nine. (This has to do with the number of syllables in each word and the rhyme.)

End the activity by doing the chant one last time, except for shouting out God! God! God! at the end.

What I Like about You

Topic: Compliments

Scripture: Genesis 12:11

Familiarity Between Children: Some to a lot

Materials: None

Game: Have the children sit in a circle. Say, "In the book of Genesis, Abram told his wife Sarai that she was beautiful.

We're going to go around the circle and say something nice about someone. You can say something simple, such as, 'I like your blue dress' or something that you know about the person, such as 'I like that you hum a lot.' When it's your turn, point to the child you want to say something nice about, say his or her name if you know it, and then say something nice."

Play the game. If a child says something inappropriate, be ready to jump in with a compliment. You may also want to consider having children talk faster and move around the circle faster to make the game livelier.

End the game by saying, "I am very glad that you notice and say nice things to each other. I always like spending time with people who are nice to me, don't you?"

What We Do Together

Topic: Working together, disciples

Scripture: Acts 14:21-23

Familiarity Between Children: None to a lot

Materials: None

Game: Read aloud Acts 14:21-23. Explain that when the disciples worked together, they got more done.

Have the children form two groups. Have them line up on one side of the room behind a starting line.

Designate a finish line at the other side of the room. Clear the area between.

Say, "When I tell you to go, the first person in line will shout out his or her first name and then jump as far as he or she can. Then the rest of the group will join that child, and the second person in line will shout out his or her first name and then jump as far as he or she can. Each time a child finishes a jump, the rest of the group joins that child, and then the next person in line makes the next jump. Keep jumping until you get to the finish line."

If the children enjoy the game, form new teams and have them play the game again.

End the activity by saying, "When we work together like the disciples did, we make a lot of progress. All of you were great jumpers today."


Excerpted from 101 Games That Keep Kids Coming by Jolene L. Roehlkepartain Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. 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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