Air Mattress Stand-Off
Object: An Air Mattress
This game can be used in varying venues. If you don’t have access to a pool, then use a large open space.
- Inflate an air mattress and see how many kids can stand up straight on it without falling over. For more fun, do not inflate it all the way.
- You could also give a prize to the person who stays on the longest, etc.
- If you have a fairly small group, you can have everyone play, and if your group is larger, then use this as an up-front game.
Safety Note: Have adult spotters around the air mattress. Pushing and shoving is a no-go for this one. It’s all about balance. Also, avoid using a small pool/area, where students have a chance of falling into the side of the pool or something that could cause injury.
Object: A Football
This game is simple… It’s soccer, but with two differences.
- There is no goalie
- The ball of choice is an American football.
The rest of it is just craziness in watching a bunch of kids run around and try to score with a ball that bounces in some very odd ways.
Write On My Back, Yo!
Object: A Finger
This game is based on the old “telephone game” but involves touch rather than hearing. No talking is allowed.
- Divide the group into teams of about six each. Each team sits in a line, one behind the other.
- The last person is shown a simple hand-drawn picture of an object such as a house, a cat, or a Christmas tree, etc.
- The person who is shown the drawing then tries to draw an exact copy of it, using their finger, on the back of the person in front of them. The drawing can only be done once.
- The second person then draws what they felt onto the back of the person in front of them. This continues until it gets to the person at the front of the line
- The person at the front of each line then must guess what the original picture was. The team that guesses correctly wins that round. (This can also be changed to have the front person of each team draw out on a piece of paper what they think the original picture was.)
- Then, start over with the first person of each team moving to the last position and Write On My Back, Yo!
Note: Since the “winning” picture is up to a judging party, you may want to have a backup judge to help determine which finished picture is closest to the original.
Object: Boombox or sound system to play upbeat music
This game is kind of like Musical Chairs, only more fun to MC and way more dangerous… You’ve been warned.
- The game works best with an even # of people. Have the “extra” be a judge, who stands on a chair for a better view.
- Students pair up with one standing in a circle and the other standing next to their partner outside of the circle. This will naturally form two circles (an inner and outer circle).
- When the music starts, have the inner circle walk clockwise and the outer circle walk counter-clockwise.
- When the music stops the leader yells out two body parts (i.e. “Foot to ear!” “Nose to the inside of the elbow!” “Back of head to tricep!”).
- Partners scramble to get to each other and put those designated body parts together.
This game is meant to be fun and full of laughter . . . just think before you yell, (i.e. don’t yell “fist to throat!” or “knee to face!”).
Watch Out For The Can-Can
Object: A Trashcan – The taller the can, the better. Also, plastic ones are better than metal ones at keeping those pesky youth group injuries away. P.S. it’s always better to find a trashcan that hasn’t had anything put in it (find a clean one!).
This game should be played in a large area, indoors or outside. If you have a smaller group, then you may be able to swing this in a smaller space. Note the group will most likely move significantly throughout the game, so give enough space for there to be movement without collision into walls or other permanent objects.
- Gather everyone into a circle, holding hands. You don’t want the circle to start any bigger than 25 students. If needed, split into two separate circles with another can or have multiple circles playing around the single can.
- Once their hands are clasped, they are not allowed to let go as they attempt to get someone else to bump into the can-can.
- If a player touches the can-can in any way, they are out. Also, if the circle breaks, the two students whose hands came unclasped are both out.
- Pause the game after the elimination, giving a much-needed time for players to re-form their hand-holds, wipe off the clammy sweat from their palms and keep going.
- Eventually there will be two players left and the game ends when one bumps the can-can and the other stands victorious.
This game is meant to be tiring, and can be an excellent way to tucker out the jr. high student who seemed to have too much candy before coming to youth group. You can also get some good footage and action shots when filming kids attempting to dodge the can-can while not letting go of each other’s hands.
Note: If an elimination seems elusive, try adding another trash can to the mix to speed things up. You can also use any other object that stands tall and would be safe for a student to crash into.
Catch The Tail
Object: Large Handkerchief or Scarf
This game should be played in a large area and number of students can be between 5 and 30.
- Line all the players up in a single-file line and have the students place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them.
- The last person in line tucks one end of the scarf in his/her back pocket, belt, or waistband.
- The first person in lines tries to grab the scarf.
- When the front player of the line catches the “tail”, they take the scarf and become the new tail. The person second in line becomes the new chaser.
Object: Pool Noodle or Rolled Up Newspaper
This game can be used when you find some extra time in your youth night program or as a game to get students thinking (and some moving quickly).
- Have all students sit in chairs in a circle. Make sure they all have plenty of room between each chair.
- When everyone is seated, instruct everyone to think of an animal they like. Go around the room and have everyone say out loud the name of their animal. (i.e. one student says “lion,” another says “wallaby,” and another says “platypus”) Make sure no one in the circle uses the same animal. NOTE: It may be helpful to go around the circle a couple of times, asking teens to repeat their animal name. (The shorter the animal name, the better…but feel free to keep that secret to yourself!)
- Select one person to stand in the middle of the group with the rolled up newspaper or pool noodle. Then choose another person (let’s say the guy who picked zebra) to start the game by saying his animal eats another student’s animal in the circle. For example, he/she might say, “walrus eats elephant.”
- As soon as the student in the circle says, “walrus eats elephant,” the student holding the newspaper/noodle begins hunting for the student who is the elephant so that he/she can “whack” him/her.
- The student whose animal is the elephant tries to avoid getting “whacked” by saying, “elephant eats dolphin,” or whatever other animal he/she chooses.
- If the whacker hits the student whose animal is elephant before that student can name another animal, that elephant student is out of the game, and must leave the circle. However, if that student re-directs to another animal in time (by saying he/she eats a different animal), the whacker just keeps on going until he/she finally whacks someone before they can spit out their line.
- The last two people left in the circle, win.
Here are a few rules to help govern play of this really fun little game:
- No going back and forth between players. For example: “Cow eats cat!” “Cat eats cow!” No one can call out the animal’s name that called them out. If they do, they are out of the circle.
- If someone sitting in the circle accidentally says the animal name of the person holding the newspaper/noodle, they get “whacked” and sent out of the circle. For example, if cow says, “cat eats groundhog,” and the groundhog is the “whacker,” then the student who is “cat” is out of the circle.
If a student calls out the name of an animal not in the game, or the name of an animal who has been put out of the game already, he/she is also out.
5. The person holding the newspaper/noodle cannot hit another player’s head. “Whacking” is only allowed on the legs and torso. Anything shoulders and up, and the “whacker” is out of the game, too. If this happens, just pick another player to become the “whacker” in the middle.
Object: A Stack of Paper
This game is a combination of the classic “Telephone” game, while using some of the elements of “Pictionary.”
- Put your students in a circle. Limit the circles to 9 kids at most. If you have more kids than that, simply make multiple circles. The circles MUST have an odd number of kids (3, 5, 7, etc).
- Give every student 1 piece of paper and make sure everyone has a pen or pencil.
- When you say go, all of the students write a short silly sentence on their piece of paper. It can be about whatever they want, so long as it is clean. Give them 30 seconds to do this. When time is up, ask everyone to pass their piece of paper to the student on their right.
- When the next student gets the note, tell them you will give them 90 seconds to draw a picture based on the sentence they just read (from the person on their left).
- When time is up, tell everyone to fold the paper so that the original sentence is unable to be seen and pass it to the person on their right.
- That person will then look at the drawing, and try to write a sentence that “says” what the picture “shows.” Once again, give them 30 seconds to do so.
- Continue alternating back and forth between drawing and writing – each time folding the paper to cover up the work of the student to their left.
- Finally, everyone will get their original “sentence message” back (it should end up in written form if it’s been done correctly).
People usually get a laugh out of seeing what happened to their original message. It’s good fun, so long as the students understand to keep it clean!
Protect the President
Object: Volleyball-sized Nerf Ball or Dodgeball
This game is EXHAUSTING, especially if the people in the middle are good. Be ready to sweat if you play.
- Have your students stand in a wide circle with two people in the middle. Establish one person in the middle as the President, and the other as the Bodyguard.
- The people in the surrounding circle have the Nerf ball and attempt to peg the President by throwing the ball.
- The bodyguard may do anything to block the ball with his body: jump, squat, dive, etc. The ball may NEVER touch the President.
- When the President gets pegged the person who threw the ball then becomes the Bodyguard, the Bodyguard becomes the President, and the President goes back into the circle.
Note: This game gets really exciting from the moment the President is hit. The new President becomes a sitting duck because the transition is instantaneous. The new bodyguard must be fast at getting into the circle to defend the President. This sometimes makes presidential turnover happen very quickly, but it’s fun.
One strategy for the throwers in the circle is to pass the ball around the circle and keep it moving to wear the people in the middle down and catch them off-guard. As the kids get more experience at the game, they will develop strategies and tactics, and you may become scared of how tricky they are.
Object: A Frisbee (or water-soaked Nerf ball to cool kids off)
- Divide into two teams, each trying to get to the opposite end zone.
- One team throws off and the other team receives.
- When a player catches the Frisbee they can take only 2 steps then they must throw it.
- The team must work their way down the field, passing to each other until a team scores.
- If the Frisbee hits the ground at all (by the opposing team knocking it down or a missed catch) it’s the other teams disc.
- Defensive players must give any person already holding a Frisbee an arm’s length of distance and cannot knock the Frisbee out of the Frisbee holder’s hands.
Bonus: Toilet Paper Blowout
Object: A Roll of Toilet Paper
This game can be done in two ways:
- Upfront: Pick a 4-person team from each class.
- Small group: Break group up into 4-person teams.
See how long they can keep one square of toilet paper in the air only using their breath. Time them and the winner may receive a prize… or a high-five.
About the Writer
Chris Wondree is a Master of Divinity candidate at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond in Virginia. After receiving his Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, he decided to follow the call to ministry. He is currently the Minister of Youth at May Memorial Baptist Church in Powhatan, Virginia. Upon graduation, Chris intends to pursue Navy Reserve Chaplaincy alongside his ministry in a local church congregation. One day he will eventually realize that he is no longer in his early twenties and refuse to host lock-ins at church… But that day is not today.