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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The GaGa ball pit game is becoming more and more ubiquitous as each summer camp season passes by. It’s an incredibly fun and simple game. It is like dodgeball in a pit where you hit the ball with your hands and you get out if the ball hits you on the legs or feet. Here are some variations from the common rules that you can choose to add…
I have discovered that there are some fun variations to the game. And even the “house rules” of each group who plays can vary from group to group. Here are some of the variations I’ve come across over the years:
- Knees and below versus legs and below: This is a rule that dictates how you get out. Some kids like to play where the ball must hit the knees or below for the player to be out. Other groups might play where a hit anywhere on the leg (waist down) is an out. You could even do shins and below (meaning that a hit on the knee means you’re still in). Whichever route you go, make sure it is clear and everyone agrees to the same rule at the beginning of play.
- Getting back in the game: This is a fun variation that says that if you’re out but you catch the ball “clean” (meaning it doesn’t hit the ground outside the pit), then you’re back in the game and the person who last touched the ball in the pit goes out. A word of warning: I saw a group once play where whoever retrieves the ball outside the pit (whether it hits the ground or not) can get back in the game. It was a disaster because the kids chased after the ball and wrestled for it in hopes to get back in the game. Someone could easily get hurt in a situation like that. So I like to say it needs to be a “clean” catch outside the pit (and you cannot reach in past the pit wall to try to catch it).
- Double Ball GaGa: I have provided a video example of this variation. You play the game with two balls at once and all the same rules apply. It’s like when you had two balls going at once in the old pinball machine. Just make sure you always look behind you!
What variations of GaGa ball have you seen or played?
Dad jokes are becoming ubiquitous these days. They’ve always been around, but for some reason they are enjoying a resurgence of popularity in our culture. The idea is simple: come up with a joke, usually a pun on words, that makes your kid roll their eyes. The cornier, the better. I’ve heard that there is a social value in Dad jokes in that it is a father’s attempt at connecting with their child (which is super important) by speaking the child’s language (which is playful and fun). Children are also still learning language, so puns and plays on words are fun ways to learn how the same word can have multiple meanings in various contexts.
Since I speak and perform at youth camps, I try to find group games that are simple and fun. Here’s one that I came up with that is super easy and uses the current popularity of Dad jokes. I call it “Dad Joke, Mom Joke.”
Here’s how you play: If I have a large group, I ask all the adults in the room to think of their favorite corny joke. Then I invite the men to come up (the women also get their own round; and it doesn’t matter what order you put the men and women rounds of course). Any adult is welcome to play whether they are a parent or not. I just call it Dad and Mom jokes because that’s what people generally call corny jokes these days.
For the Dad joke round, the men line up on stage and they each get one shot to tell their joke in the microphone to the kids. After all the jokes are delivered, the kids get to vote on their favorite one. I walk down the row with my hand above each contestant and the kids clap and cheer at each one. Whoever gets the loudest cheer from the kids wins. Repeat the process with the women (the “Mom joke” round).
I tell the kids to judge the joke on whatever criteria they choose, whether it be how corny, how dry, how funny, how witty, or whatever is important to them in a joke. It is a fun time for all and you learn some new jokes along the way!
If you work with kids in education, ministry, or some other setting, you need to check out Kahoot! I’ve spoken about it on here before and it is a digital resource for teachers and leaders who want to facilitate interactive trivia or feedback with their students.
One problem with using Kahoot! in venues with lots of kids, though, is that children do not always have devices on them (and arguably shouldn’t have devices on them in the first place).
So I want to share an idea with you that comes straight from my friend Evan Dickson at Concord Baptist Church in Anderson, SC. You can play the Kahoot! trivia game on a large projector screen for all the kids to see. Then, instead of the children having to answer the trivia questions on their devices, just have them pick an answer in their heads.
But how do you know what answer they are selecting? Just ask them to move to a corner of the room that corresponds with their answer (most of these Kahoot! games have four options for the answer). These options are coded by color and shape. You can even set up flags or some other indicator in each corner that shows the kids which color/shape corresponds to that corner. Congratulate those who selected the right answer and then move on to the next question. You can make the game questions roll along automatically at whatever speed you like in the settings. There is no need to keep official score. Just have fun with it.
It’s a simple idea, but brilliant! Thanks, Evan, for the great idea.
Do you have a great idea for games or activities with children? Leave a comment or send me a message and I’d love to share that idea on here too!
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!