2. WHO AM I?
Prep time: 15 minutes
Supplies: flashcards, marker
You’ll need one flashcard for every kid and leader. On each card, write the name of a celebrity or fictional character. The more well-known, the better. They can be actors, musicians, athletes, public figures, superheroes, or characters from books or movies. Pick people your students will know and appreciate, not just the famous people your leaders grew up with!
Give everyone a card and don’t let them see the name. Have them hold or tape the card on their forehead with the name facing out. Then they need to ask another person one yes or no question about the name. Provide plenty of examples, such as:
- “Am I someone who’s alive right now?”
- “Am I a real person?”
- “Have I been in a movie?”
- “Do I make music?”
- “Do I have a beard?”
Make sure kids ask each person only one question so they have to move around and talk to multiple people. Once they feel ready, they can try to guess who they are. When kids guess correctly, they can still help give other people clues. You can end the game after a certain amount of time so nobody feels singled out if they can’t figure out who they are, or you can give bigger hints toward the end.
3. ALL HANDS ON DECK
Prep time: 0 minutes
This game is intended to get kids into small groups, and it takes a little more explaining and demonstration up front. (You may need to borrow kids to demonstrate.)
First, designate a leader to call out instructions. When the game begins, everyone will be walking around, waiting for the leader to give an order from the list below. Each order requires a different number of people to create a scene, and everyone has to scramble to form a group with the people around them. (Make it competitive by removing the slowest group each round or doing a countdown people have to race against, or just let everyone keep playing.)
You can change up the scenes to use more or fewer people, but here’s a template of orders the leader can give:
All hands on deck (one person): Everyone stands at attention, facing the leader with a salute. You can make “standing at attention” and “saluting” more interesting by telling kids to pose in different ways too.
Man overboard (two people): After one person forms a “railing” by getting on their hands and knees, another person puts a foot on their back and pretends to look for the “man overboard.”
Walk the plank (three people): One person lays on the ground to form the plank. Then a second person puts their hands behind their own back and stands by the plank. Finally, the third person stands behind person #2, pretending to hold a sword.
Lifeboat (six people): Each group sits on the floor in two rows of three and pretends to row their lifeboat. If you have a lot of kids, you can increase the number of people to eight, ten, or twelve for fun.
If you want to bring this game back for another gathering, you can invent other scenes or choose a non-nautical theme with all new combinations.
Team Youth Group Games
Next, let’s turn to team youth group games, which invite kids to work together and encourage and support people they don’t know. They also allow for friendly competition. You can give prizes for the winning teams or just play for fun.
4. COSTUME RELAY
Prep time: less than an hour
Supplies: two or more absurd (and large) outfits, preferably with a couple of layers
The only prep for this youth group game is to find some weird costumes or outfits. They should be awkward to run in and take a while to put on and take off. Make sure you have a big room, gym or outdoor space for kids to move around.
To start, have students form even teams and line up on one side of the room. When you say “go,” start music or give some other signal to begin. The first kid in line puts the outfit on and races to the other end of the room and back. (You can mark the “end” with a leader, a cone, a coat, or literally anything.) As each kid runs down and back, they take off the outfit and the next person in line puts it on. The first team to have everyone make it down and back wins.
Pro tip: Once kids are finished, have them sit down so you can see who’s left on each team. If you have room, take this game to the next level by introducing an obstacle course or challenges. Ideas include hopping on one foot to the end, hula hoops they have to use for 10 seconds, objects to jump over or run around, etc.
5. HUMAN KNOT
Prep time: 0 minutes
For this game, you need an even number of people on each team—so have the students form teams and then fill in with leaders. Teams can be anywhere from 4–20 people. (But it gets much harder the more people you have per team.)
Each team stands in a circle, and every person grabs a hand from two different people across from them. When you give the signal to start, each team races to untangle themselves without letting go of anyone’s hand. The goal is to end in a circle with no hands in the middle. As the groups untangle themselves, some people will wind up facing the inside of the circle and others will face the outside.
This game takes a lot of cooperation and communication as kids try to problem-solve, give directions, and maneuver around.