This is probably the easiest large group game ever invented. If you can think of an easier one, please let me know in the comments.
Heads or Tails!
This game of heads or tails involves EVERYONE in your large group. It is actually better the larger the group gets. There is an elimination factor to it, so that you are left with only one winner. But the eliminating happens so fast that the people waiting to play the next round don’t have to wait long.
What you need: A lot of people and one coin (I like to use a quarter).
How to play: Have everyone stand up. Tell them that they need to select heads or tails before you flip the coin each time you flip it. They indicate heads by putting both hands on their head. They indicate tails by putting both hands on their rear. Whatever the coin says, those people stay in the game and advance to the next flip. The eliminated people (their side did NOT flip) must sit down and wait for the next game. Repeat this over and over until you are left with one final winner.
- Don’t worry, this game moves fast.
- Before you flip, say “ONE-TWO-THREE-Lock it in!” so that the players all lock in their heads or tails at the same time.
- No switching selection after you say “lock it in!” If a player does so, they’re out.
- Let the winner be the coin flipper for the game after they win.
Kids want to play this game ALL DAY LONG. You’ll be surprised at how crazy easy it is.
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Remember Bozo the Clown’s Grand Prize Game?!
If you don’t, then either you’re much younger than me or you had better things to do than watch television as a child.
His bucket game was full of pomp and craziness, but the basic idea of it is extremely simple and duplicatable in any setting where you want to have fun with kids.
All you do is line up some buckets or baskets and have kids try to toss a ball in each one – successively tossing the ball in the next farthest bucket each time (college students have another name for this game, but that version is not for kids).
If you miss, you’re out or go to the end of the line. The player who makes the farthest basket wins.
The super easy variation that I put on this game is having just one stationary bucket or trash can, then making the players take one step back each time they make a shot. The player who takes the most steps back and continues to make the shot wins.
The fun is endless, because you can have all the kids line up and simply try to make a shot from the farthest line drawn. If they make the shot, they keep shooting and stepping back each time until they miss. The next player then steps in at the new line and tries to push it back even further.
Another variation is to have someone shake or move the bucket back and forth while blindfolded. That way, they don’t move the bucket in such a way that helps the shooter. And it gives a funny challenge to the shooter.
What are some variations you’ve put on this game?
I do a lot of large group events. I’m always on the lookout for games that are fun and easy for huge crowds. When people come together in large groups, there is a lot of potential energy that can be tapped in the form of socialization, laughter, competition, and shared human experiences.
So here are some of the resources I have found to be particularly helpful in leading fun experiences for crowds of people:
This organization creates and sells (at super affordable rates) crowd games that you can run on your computer and then project on the big screen. Browse around at all they have to offer – http://crowdcontrolgames.com/
How about crowd thumb wrestling?! Invented by monochrom and officially called “massive Multiplayer Thumb-Wrestling.” Here is that game led by a game designer on the TED stage….
You can also lead your crowd in making the sounds of a thunderstorm. This video shows a choir on stage doing it. But you can just as easily lead an audience of any size in the same exercise:
I have also compiled a blog post category of group games over the years on this blog. There are over twenty entries and growing, so read through all these great crowd game ideas such as “Heads or Tails” and “Bring Me This.” Click here.
I got this idea from a friend of mine at Camp Orchard Hill, Derek Hodne. I did some searching online and discovered that many other people have taken this game and packaged it into various retail forms, such as Watch Ya Mouth, Speak Out, and Mouthguard Challenge.
The game is simple, and you can do it yourself with a small or large group setting with a little creativity. The supplies needed are the plastic mouth spacers (cheek retractors) that dentists use to hold back lips and cheeks while they work on patients. You can grab a dozen of them on amazon.com for about $12 ($1 per spacer).
You give a player the spacer and they put it in their mouth. Then you give them a phrase to try to say and the other players have to decipher the phrase. The spacer makes it near impossible to pronounce words with sounds like “M”, “B”, “P” or other phonetics that bring the lips together. So phrases like, “Mommy buys peanuts at the market” can be both difficult and entertaining at the same time.
When my friend Derek administered the game, it was at a gathering of hundreds of high school students. He called up about eight players onto the stage and split them into two teams of four each. Each team had one player with the cheek retractor and the other three were the phrase guessers. It was fun for the rest of the crowd to watch as Derek held the microphone up to the teams while they played.
Try it with your group (large or small) and have fun!
I attended a community event a few weeks ago at a local theater. Before the event started, a quiz game was running on the big screen. And anyone could join in and play if they had a personal electronic device and the game code entered into their web browser on the device. The game code was posted on the big screen before the game started. Lots of people in the theater played. The game kept score of the players based on correct answers and the speed in which they answered. At the end of the game, the winner was posted on the screen and the young man came forward to receive a prize.
The online platform used was called Kahoot. It is an app, but it also has an old-fashioned website so that players can play without having to download the app or even register with an email and password (which I love).
I had an event at which I was speaking a few days later, and I dove into Kahoot to find out how to use it myself at this event. I was so glad I did, because I found out how much fun it is for both the teacher and the learners.
So here is how it works. First of all, it is free (for now…currently they make money by offering it to large corporate clients who use it for various purposes). While you do not need to register an email and password in order to play, do you have to register if you want to administer Kahoot games. Once you sign up for an account, you can write your own trivia games or select one from the thousands that have been uploaded by different users. You can browse by keyword, and you can pre-scan the questions and answers of each uploaded game so you can see if it is one you want to use or not.
This event I spoke at was a family retreat for a church in Texas, so we did trivia games in three different categories: Bible, Texas facts, and Disney. The crowd loved it. Since the event was for families, we played the option of one device per team (per family) and everyone gathered around the device and tapped the multiple choice selection on their device. You can also set up the game to be every-person-for-themselves, but that only works if everyone has their own device.
Apparently, there are many more uses for Kahoot than just trivia games. That is nice because trivia can sometimes be merely that: trivial. You can use it for crowd-sourcing, opinion gathering, voting/polling, testing, and real-time feedback and input on public speaking presentations. Basically, if you need to gather information from a crowd, whether in a fun game or in something more serious, this app lets you do that in a simple and user-friendly way.
Check it out and discover all the great uses here: kahoot.it
I’ve played a fun game with large groups of kids over the years that I call “Super Bible Trivia!” This contestant-driven stage quiz game is more of a staged drama than an actual serious quiz game. But it is set up so that the kids think it is a normal quiz game at first. Don’t worry, they’ll all pick up on the fun and join along pretty quickly. The goal is to get kids excited about the Bible.
Remember that this game is just a tool. Ultimately, I believe the Holy Spirit instills in us a joy for God’s Word – by God’s grace. God’s Word is exciting in and of itself. We don’t need to make it exciting. I do believe, however, in creatively facilitating activities that foster a love for God’s Word.
Basically, it is a quiz show with two contestants from the audience who have to answer a series of questions. Pick a boy and a girl and tell them they are playing for the boys and the girls, respectively. The groups can shout out answers to their contestant.
The first question is a countdown of the most read books over the last fifty years (from 10 to 1). Most kids will not know the top ten list, so they will just stand there confused as you ask for each ranking and then read the answers off (keep reading below for the list of questions I use).
Finally, you ask them “What is the best selling book of all time in the history of the world?” They may give you a blank look again. Or some kids may answer, “the Bible!” Either way, when you finally confirm the right answer (the Bible), you jump all over the place and have adult leaders as cheerleaders running all over the place with lights and noisemakers going off.
After a great deal of celebrating, you return to the game for the next question. At this point, the answer to every question is “the Bible.” After the first few questions, the contestants see the pattern and start laughing along as you ask more questions. Whenever they answer, “the Bible,” you and the other leaders start going crazy and cheering for the answer. Eventually, all the kids will get into the celebrating of each answer as well. You can have as much fun as you can handle!
If you want to have a surprise ending, make the final question (after 8 more questions where the answer is “the Bible”) something like, “What is the longest story book ever written?” (saying “story” eliminates encyclopedias and the like). The kids will probably say, “the Bible.” But that is incorrect. It is actually In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. Then you can finish off by saying, “But that book is not nearly as great as…… the Bible!!!!!”
It makes for a lot of fun and noise. The idea is not to make fun of the Bible, but rather the opposite: to have fun getting super excited about the Bible. It is a great lead-in for a lesson about God’s Word and its importance in our daily lives and in the scope of eternity.
So here are the quiz questions:
- What are the top ten most read books over the last fifty years? Note: go through the list individually, which each ranking being one question. Here is the source of the list I’m using for this.
- What book is actually a collection of 66 books and is considered God’s Word to us?
- What book has been translated (at least in part) into nearly three thousand languages, which is far more than any other book on the planet?
- On what book do presidents place their right hand when they take the oath of office in the United States?
- What is the primary object that is meant to be placed in a pulpit when a pastor is preaching?
- What can be found in the nightstand drawer of thousands of hotels across the country?
- What ancient book has the most number of ancient copies still in existence today?
- How do you pronounce these five letters when put together into an English word: B-I-B-L-E?
- Video Question! (show a slide of a picture of a Bible and ask the kids to name what they see).
- What is the longest story book ever written? (answer is NOT the Bible – but rather In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust). But again, you can finish off by saying, “But that book is not nearly as great as…… the Bible!!!!!”
Have fun and let me know how it goes. In my next post, I’ll list out some practical ideas on how to get kids excited about God’s Word (that are not game related).
By the way, I later discovered that there is a website by the same name (Super Bible Trivia) that is a great resource for Bible Trivia questions. My game idea is not related to that website, but I would still highly recommend that site. You can try out their quizzes here.
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Here’s another great group game that requires ZERO set-up or materials. It’s called The Line Up Game.
There are many variations to the game. This can work with any group with three or more people. You can split the group into smaller groups to compete against one another.
The goal/point of the game is for the kids to form a straight line in the order of whatever command you give them. You can time them or have smaller groups race against one another.
Here are some categories of order you can challenge them to (all of them can be reversed, of course):
- Shortest to tallest.
- Darkest hair to lightest hair.
- Oldest to youngest.
- Earliest birthday to latest birthday in the year (January through December).
- Alphabetical order of first name.
- Alphabetical order of last name.
- Day of the month of their birthday (1st through 31st).
- Darkest eyes to lightest eyes.
- Smallest shoe to largest shoe.
- Total number of siblings (most to least).
BONUS: Try any of those “line up” challenges in “silent mode” (where the kids cannot make any noise – they must use hand motions, sign language, and whatever other methods they can to get in order).
Do you have any good “line up” game ideas?
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Here’s a great group game that actively involves everyone and no one gets “out.” It also involves an element of juggling that anyone can do without practice. It is like large group hot potato juggling. Here’s how it works:
Have the group sit in a circle. You can do multiple circles if you want to and have each circle compete for speed in the game.
Start with one ball in the circle. I suggest a ball sized anywhere from a tennis ball to a volleyball. Hand it to a person that will be identified as the “starter.”
Give a “ready, set, go!” Then the starter person passes it to the person on their left (clockwise around the circle) and the ball must be passed around the circle in the style of hot potato. Everyone must physically handle the ball and physically pass it. If the ball skips a person, the facilitator must take the ball and re-start it at the point where it was last touched by a player. You can time the players to see how fast they can get it back to the starter player (kids LOVE this). You can also have multiple circles race against one another if you like.
So far, this is pretty much “hot potato” without the element of randomly halting it.
Now for the extreme version: Add more balls to the circle. The starter passes the first ball. Then count to five (or whatever number you like) and start the second ball. See how fast the group can successfully make a full revolution with both balls making it back to the starter (and every player has passed it).
Try this with three or more balls at the same time. The players have to stay focused on the next ball coming! Again, time the group or have multiple groups race against one another.
For a very challenging variation, try passing one ball clockwise and another ball counter-clockwise around the circle. Or do that with multiple balls in both directions. Add these challenges accordingly based on the average age and skill of the people playing the game.
I’ll warn you that it is very easy for the players to pass a ball and then “check out” no matter how many times you remind the players to look for the next ball coming. It is an interesting exercise in “juggling” multiple tasks at the same time. If you play the game, you’ll find that you will get distracted by watching other balls and then you’ll miss one of them coming your way.
I like to use this game as a way to introduce the idea of juggling to groups in a way that everyone can quickly learn. It is fun and there will be a lot of frustration and a lot of laughter. Enjoy!
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What do you do when you have a room full of children causing havoc (or could potentially do so) and need to engage them in a way that is both fun and simple to execute? Well, education is a good idea. But perhaps you’ve taught and they’ve learned all day and it’s time to kick back and play a good old-fashioned group game.
Play the “Bring Me” Game!
The Bring Me Game concept is simple and the variations are endless. You, the game leader, should stand up front with a microphone (or not if your group is small enough) and ask for random objects/items. I’ve got a list to get you going below.
The first person or group or team to produce the requested item and bring it to you gets a point for their team. WARNING: Kids tend to RUN a lot in this game. So make sure you remind them to not trample one another or trip over anything in their effort to bring the items up to you. You can decide how long to play (such as “first team to ten points wins”).
One major thing to keep in mind when playing the game and coming up with ideas is the fact that nearly everyone has a device these days (even youth). If you’re at an event where most everyone has a device on them or at least some representatives of each team (such as adults in mostly-kid events) have devices, then make the most of technology in your requests. The internet is an endless supply of “scavenger-hunt” challenges. Just ask for a picture of BB-8 from Star Wars or a map of the country of Malaysia or any other fun idea they can search for.
The types of things you call up will vary depending on the size and the average age of your group. For example, not many kids will have a credit card on them if you ask for one. So be creative with ideas that fit what you think is out there in everyone’s pockets, purses, and accessories.
Here is a list of ideas to get you going. You can come up with your own ideas by thinking of other things similar to or related to items on this list.
- two different shoelaces tied together
- five different socks bundled up in a ball
- a selfie on a device
- a photograph of exactly ten people on a device
- something edible
- something that has a picture of a rainbow on it
- a double-A battery and a triple-A battery
- something that is completely blue
- two people wearing glasses doing jumping jacks next to one another
- two unrelated people with red hair
- a human hair
- a non-human living thing (this will usually be a bug or insect found on the floor)
- nail clippers
- six people forming a human pyramid
- a red pen or marker
- something with a disney symbol or character on it
- two unrelated people with braces
- a nail file
- a one dollar bill, a five dollar bill, and a ten dollar bill (exactly)
- a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter (exactly)
- a liquid
- something that feels cold
- something that feels warm
- something that lights up (that is not a phone or tablet device)
- ten people in a line that goes from tallest person to shortest person
- a pencil
- a tissue
- a crumpled up piece of paper
- something silver
- something gold
- a person wearing two different kinds of shoes
- a rock
- a visible piece of dust/dustball
- something sharp (and if it is a dangerous/forbidden object, you can confiscate it 🙂
- something conical
- something circular
- something in the shape of a cube
- a ball of some sort
- something chewable
- five breath mints
- three different kinds of breath mints
- a picture on a device of the White House in Washington D.C.
- a picture on a device of a mother and a son
- someone who can say the alphabet backwards (for real, not someone saying, “alphabet backwards”)
- pocket fuzz/lint
- a device playing the United States’ National Anthem
- a device playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
- a paper towel
- a circle of exactly twelve people holding hands
I posted about this back in 2012 with more ideas you can use as well!
Please share your lists and ideas in the comments below and we can have a trove of items for people to say “Bring me……!”
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A crazy new word has entered my vocabulary this summer – MVOTW. It stands for “Memory Verse of the Week.” I have learned that elementary kids and preteens love weird words. They also love doing silly motions to spell out or act out something. So each week at camp this summer, I have taught the kids a MVOTW. It usually goes along with the camp theme or the Bible Study for the week. At Mt. Lebanon Camp in Dallas it was Psalm 127:1. At Highland Lakes Camp this past week it was Hebrews 12:1. I have the kids stand up and slowly move their hands to their head to form the letter “M” over their heads. While we do that we are slowly crescendoing into saying “MAAAAVOTWA!” Then the guys act like bodybuilders and the girls act like cheerleaders (and some kids just do either one if they feel like it).
Then we simply act out the memory verse using motions for each word. It is an easy and effective way to teach kids how to memorize God’s Word. I had kids come up to me this summer and do the memory verse from two summers ago. They had remembered it because they had silly motions to go along with it.
Often I get a chance to teach kids the “why” behind memory verses. It is not just a meaningless memory game. It is a chance to hide God’s Word in our hearts. And that comes in handy when we are tempted to sin (among other benefits of memorizing Scripture). I teach them about the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4). Three times the devil tempted Jesus and three times Jesus responded to the temptations by saying “It is written…” He was quoting memory verses to the devil and eventually fended him off because each temptation was struck down with a passage from God’s Word. Jesus memorized Scripture (he probably did so as a boy growing up in the Jewish school system of his day). So I challenge the kids to memorize God’s Word so they can wield that “sword of the Spirit” when Satan tempts them.
I have a toddler, so potty time is full of excitement, celebration, and incentive awards. Here is a large group game that is hilarious with any age group (especially elementary-aged kids) that plays on the theme of potty time. I use it at camps and other events. I learned it from my good friend Justin Brooks, who is a super Children’s Pastor/Speaker.
Here’s how it works:
- Pick 4 volunteers from the audience. It helps if they are very expressive and dramatic people. If there are adults in the room, it makes it even more funny to make at least 2 of your 4 people adults. These 4 people are the competitors in the game.
- Take your 4 competitors out of the room, far enough away so they cannot hear people talking in the main room where the audience remains. Explain to them that they will be competing to act out their first time on a roller coaster. They will sit in a chair and act out going up the hill, down the hills, around the bends, screaming, yelling, calling for mommy, etc. They can make sounds, but they cannot say anything about a roller coaster or what they’re doing. Tell them that it is like charades and the kids will be watching to see what they do.
- Meanwhile, have someone else (or yourself if you want to do double-duty) coach the audience in the main room (make sure the competitors are still out of the room and out of ear-shot). Tell the audience that the 4 competitors are coming in one at a time and acting out their first time on “the big potty” when they were potty training. Tell the audience they can laugh and cheer and make noise if something is funny, but they CANNOT say anything about toilets or potty.
- Call in the competitors one at a time (keep the others out of the room while each one competes). Give each of them the chair and 30 seconds. Watch and laugh away!
- At the end, have the audience vote on their favorite competitor. Then thank the competitors “for showing us your first time on the toilet!”