Timeless, vintage, lasting, unfailing, classic…you may think those words apply to music or old cars, but today’s they apply to games, Sunday School games to be exact. There are some activities that have been passed down through the years that still hold up. These six games are classics that you should keep in your back pocket. They can easily be whipped out at a moment’s notice and played with minimal set up and supplies.
Kids love games, and it’s important to incorporate fun experiences for them during your Sunday School hour. Anything they can do to think, move, or use their hands can help them experience the lesson in a different and better way.
One classic game that’s been around forever is sword drills. Each child simply needs a Bible. The teacher calls out a verse or scripture reference, and kids race to find the passage. Whoever gets there first begins to read the verse aloud to everyone. This can be done by focusing on verses that go along with your teaching from the day, or even random passages, to help kids better maneuver through the Bible, learning where different books are located.
Not everyone will be good at this game, especially those with little Bible experience, but it gives a hands-on chance for everyone to learn more about where Old and New Testament books are found. To make things a little more even, instead of playing individually, you could divide your group into two, and award points to the team who finds the verse first.
Duck, Duck, Goose
Duck, Duck, Goose is another timeless game that can be played with just a little bit of space, at any time and with any age. Preschoolers can learn this simple game of chase, but it can also be fun and competitive for older kids. Seat kids in a circle and choose one person to be it. That person will walk around the outside of the circle, gently tapping each person’s head, saying ‘duck’ with each tap. When they decide to choose someone, they will say, ‘goose’ instead. The person who was chosen must chase the tagger around the circle until they get back to the chosen person’s spot. Depending on the age and emotional level of your kids, if the tagger tags the person they are chasing, that person could sit in the middle of the circle, or you could just continue play as normal. Be sure to encourage kids to give everyone a chance to run and play.
This game is very adaptable, meaning you can change the words to anything you want. Unless you’re teaching about Noah leading animals onto the ark, don’t stick with ducks and geese. Change it up to whatever applies to your lesson for the day. Teaching about Moses and the burning bush? Play bush, bush, fire. If the lesson is on the fruits of the Spirit, make the game be love, love, joy.
Drop the Hankie
This one has been around for a while and is very adaptable. Drop the Hankie is similar to Duck, Duck, Goose in a lot of ways, but it involves an object. Have kids sit in a circle and pick one person to be it. They will have a small object. Originally, the game actually used a handkerchief, hence the name. You could use a Lego man or Little People figure and make it be whoever your lesson was about for the day. You could use a small gift bag if you’re teaching about the Magi visiting baby Jesus. The person who is it will walk around the outside of the circle and secretly place the object behind someone. Whoever was chosen must pick up the item (when they figure out it’s there) and chase the other person around the circle. The game continues until everyone has had a chance to participate.
For the next game, any room with four corners will work. Add some numbers and music and you’ve got the classic game of Four Corners. Write the numbers one, two, three, and four on paper, putting one number on each paper. Then tape a number to each corner of your space. Kids will enjoy getting their wiggles out by running, walking, or dancing around the classroom while you play music. When the music is paused, everyone must choose a corner to stand in. You’ll need to have those same numbers written on small papers that you can draw out of a cup or hat. Pull out a number and announce it. Whoever is standing next to that corner is out. Continue to play until there’s one person left, making them the winner.
There are simple ways to change the game up a bit. Instead of numbers, you could do four colors of paper. When there aren’t many kids left, make them all choose a different corner to go to when the music stops. Play new worship music that you’d like your kids to get to know as they participate.
Bean Bag Toss
Kids love to throw things, but balls may not always be a good option in your space. Bean bags are a good alternative. This carnival-type game is timeless and can be made easy or difficult depending on how far away kids stand from the goal. Have kids toss bean bags in a bucket or tote. Use hula hoops or even a cardboard box, really anything that can catch the bags. Designate a line for children to stand behind. Younger ones could be closer and older kids further away to make it more of a challenge.
You can relate a good bean bag toss to many Bible stories. Perhaps the bean bags are fish, and the buckets are the nets that the disciples used to catch them. The bean bags could be animals that Noah is getting into the ark. The possibilities are endless.
Mother, May I?
Following directions is something we all need to work on. A fun way to practice is by playing the old game of Mother, May I? No supplies are needed. Just line up kids on a wall. As the leader, stand several feet away from them and call out commands. You could ask one kid to move at a time or the whole group. Say things like, “Take five baby steps forward,” or “Take two large bunny hops forward.” Before kids can move, they must respond, “Mother, May I?” The leader will say, “Yes you may” in response. Whoever reaches the leader first wins and gets to be the new leader.
Much of the Bible is about obedience to God. Instead of having the leader be called Mother, change it to Joshua, as the Israelite army was obeying his commands from God. Or use it as a good reminder to obey parents, as Paul describes in Ephesians. Kids will have fun with silly movements and love it if they get a turn to be the leader.
These tried-and-true activities have kept children entertained for years. So, keep these Sunday School games in the file folder of your brain for the next time you’ve got an extra few minutes of class or just want to start your time getting kids moving and having fun.