Large Group Game: Super Bible Trivia

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!!!!!”

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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:

  1. 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.Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 8.38.32 AM
  2. What book is actually a collection of 66 books and is considered God’s Word to us?
  3. 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?
  4. On what book do presidents place their right hand when they take the oath of office in the United States?
  5. What is the primary object that is meant to be placed in a pulpit when a pastor is preaching?
  6. What can be found in the nightstand drawer of thousands of hotels across the country?
  7. What ancient book has the most number of ancient copies still in existence today?
  8. How do you pronounce these five letters when put together into an English word: B-I-B-L-E?
  9. Video Question! (show a slide of a picture of a Bible and ask the kids to name what they see).
  10. 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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How to Balance a Hat on Your Face

Enjoy this new video I just posted on balancing a hat on your face. Always remember two main things:

  1. Keep your eyes fixed on the highest point possible on the object you’re balancing.
  2. Tilt your head back farther than you think you should.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Bring Me Game Ideas

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”).

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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.

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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
  • chocolate
  • 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)
  • lipstick
  • chapstick
  • 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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Palm Sunday Lesson

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Make a “Palm Sundae” in someone’s palms to open up your Palm Sunday. The kids love it and its a fun way to transition into teaching about the real meaning of Palm Sunday.

Here is a brief activity you can use on Palm Sunday in your Children’s Church service. It is designed to be humorous and then lead into teaching the kids the real meaning of Palm Sunday.

Title: “Palm Sunday”

Scripture:  John 12:12-15 NIV

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

Supplies:  

  • Ingredients for an ice cream sundae and a serving spoon. No bowl necessary!

  • A large trash bag or tarp (a large trash can will work too).

  • (optional) a palm branch.

Summary: You will energetically create an ice cream sundae in the open palms of another person (either another teacher/volunteer or a brave kid with clean hands). You are so thrilled that today is Palm Sunday and you tell the kids that Palm Sunday is the day you get to make an ice cream sundae in your friend’s palms and then eat it. Finally, a “wise person” (another teacher) interrupts you after your shenanigans and advises that Palm Sunday is not about ice cream in palms; it’s about worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ as King. You then proceed to teach the kids about the real story and meaning of Palm Sunday.

Preparation: Gather ingredients for an ice cream sundae. You can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. At least get the ice cream, some chocolate syrup, and some whipped cream. But if you want to go all out, get cherries, sprinkles, a banana, and anything else you like on sundaes. Avoid any nuts or peanut butter products since there may be a child with a nut allergy.

If you can get your hands on a palm branch, whether real or fake, that will help when you get to the real meaning of the story. Have the palm branch hidden from view.

Call up a volunteer (either an adult or a brave child) and tell them to hold out their palms over your trash bag/tarp/trash can (just something to catch dripping ingredients). Tell them to hold together their palms facing up…..

Presentation: With all your energy, tell the kids that you can’t wait for Palm Sunday every year because you get to make an ice cream sundae in your friend’s palms. “That’s what it’s all about kids, right?!” Some will try to interrupt you and correct you, but just keep talking and start making that ice cream sundae. Have fun with it and describe each step as you go. Use your spoon to scoop out some ice cream, then add some syrup, then all your other ingredients. If your friend starts complaining about cold hands, tell them it’s time to eat the sundae! They have to eat the sundae right out of their open palms. The kids will love it!

Finally, a wiser person interrupts you after you’ve milked the moment for all its worth. This other teacher will open up the Bible and read John 12:12-15 to you and explain that Palm Sunday has nothing to do with ice cream. It has everything to do with Jesus as King.*

Proceed to teach a lesson about the real meaning of Palm Sunday, using your Palm Branch as a visual aid. Back then, palms symbolized victory and the fact that Jesus came in on a donkey showed that he was a humble King. Now, we can celebrate Jesus as the one who conquered death and as the King who reigns forever.

*Sources for historical background:

Pat Alexander and David Alexander, Zondervan Handbook to the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 634.

L.A. Losie, “Triumphal Entry,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1992), 859.

 

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Developing a 45-minute Show

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Use lots of volunteers and have fun!

For many variety performers out there, one of the challenges is filling a 45-minute window of time with engaging content for hundreds or thousands of people. Since I work mostly with audiences that include lots of kids, I have found 45 minutes tends to be a good length of time for family audiences to enjoy a show by a single performer.

But the performance has to be good in order to entertain a crowd for that long. And the younger the audience member, the shorter the attention span. As a stage performer, I can hold the focus of a group of 2-3 year olds for maybe 20 minutes if I’m doing well. But ages 4 and up can usually enjoy a full 45 minutes, and then they start to fade no matter how good you are.

I have spent the past 14 years putting together performance sets using a variety of performing arts. So here are ten things I’ve learned over the years about how to put together quality content for a 45-minute stage show:

  1. Strong Opening and Strong Closing – make the first and last tricks some of your strongest. You have about 3 seconds to make a good first impression to your audience when you appear, so bring out one of your best tricks at the beginning. Then close the act with something just as strong, if not, stronger. Thanks to Bob Cates who told me this tip.
  2. Short Sets – I have about 10 different tricks/stunts/routines that I perform in a 45-minute set. That’s an average of 4-5 minutes per routine. Some of my tricks take only 2 minutes, some take 8, but most are in the 3-6 minute range. Keep each bit short and exciting and then quickly move on to the next routine.
  3. Smooth Transitions – speaking of quickly moving from trick to trick, try to have a smooth transition from one to the other. Know exactly what order your tricks are in and have a set list written out on a piece of paper on the floor or in your prop box. You can lose the momentum of your show if you spend too much time looking around for what’s next. If the transition takes a few extra seconds, call up a volunteer (to do anything) and make your transition moves while they’re coming up on stage.
  4. Volunteers – speaking of volunteers, use LOTS of them. This is one of the secrets of good performing that I learned early on. The audience feels more connected to you if you involve them somehow. One of the best ways to involve them is to invite normal people from the crowd to help you and assist you. Not everyone has to come on stage. Just having a volunteer up there makes someone else in the audience think,”that could be me,” and that includes everyone in your show in a special way. In another blog post, I have written ten commandments about how to use and treat volunteers in your show.
  5. Stage Presence – this goes for any kind of performing, acting, dancing, public speaking, etc. Be awake, alive, energetic, and SMILE. Because you are so small on a big stage, the audience cannot read normal one-on-one mannerisms. So everything you do has to be bigger, from your smile to your movements to your facial expressions.
  6. Patter – speaking of stage presence, a major part of your show is what you say. Unless you are Anthony Gatto (or a really good mime), your juggling/magic/variety skills will only entertain without words for a short period of time. If you want to fill 45 minutes with quality content, then you should have some good “patter” lines, which are things you say during and in between tricks. This is where the audience connects with you. They see you as a real person, and the things you say will make them laugh. And quite honestly, most of your audience wants to laugh more than they want to see you do a spectacular trick. The more shows you do, the more lines you will develop as your own. I have said many things that make the crowd laugh and many things that fall totally flat. I never knew which lines would lead to which response until I tried them (or accidentally said them). I simply keep the lines that lead to a positive response and ditch the lines that fall flat. The best way to develop this is to just go out and do tons of shows for whoever will watch for any amount of money (as low as nothing). I did hundreds of volunteer shows for the first 4 years of performing (it was a side gig). And then that eventually turned into a full-time career because I had lots of practice and I enjoyed it so much.
  7. Tricks and Routines – write out on a notepad ALL your tricks and routines. Then find about 10-15 of your favorite ones and put them in an order for a 45-minute show. Write out the details of each trick (such as props needed, music needed, volunteers needed, patter lines, etc.) and then perform the show with that piece of paper near you on stage for quick reference. I always have a set list on stage with me. I rarely look at it. Sometimes I do the whole show without looking at it at all. But I still go through the process of writing out a set list for every single show I do. That helps me mentally prepare for the order and the special nuances of that particular crowd and venue.
  8. Music – speaking of music, it really helps to have good background music for your routines. Make sure the volume is loud when you want it loud and soft enough when you want to talk over it. I have an iPod with with my song list on stage with me. That way, I can control the volume of the music from the stage. You need a direct box on stage plugged into a sound channel and then a cord to go from the direct box to your iPod or MP3 player (usually 1/4-inch male to 1/8-inch male).
  9. Feedback – your 45-minute show can really improve when you get honest feedback from people who see your show – including yourself. If you get a video of your show, watch it and scrutinize yourself. Have peers watch the show with the intention of getting honest feedback from them (thanks for that tip, David Cain). Get your hosts to fill out an evaluation sheet after your show. That way you can improve on the things they saw as needing improvement and you can use their positive feedback as quotes and references for future gig opportunities. Don’t be afraid of feedback. Most people will love your show. And take the constructive criticism as an opportunity to grow.
  10. Just Do It – just go out and do as many shows as you can. The best way to develop a good 45-minute show is by lots and lots of practice – both by yourself and in front of audiences.

Large Group Game: First Time on the Potty

restroom-99225_640I 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. At the end, have the audience vote on their favorite competitor. Then thank the competitors “for showing us your first time on the toilet!”image

A Performing Legend: Victor Borge

Have you ever been struck with a memory that had been lost for many years in your psyche? When I was a child, I watched many clips and shows of the great Danish comedian Victor Borge. He had escaped my memory for many years until tonight. He just came to my head and I looked him up on YouTube to see what he was up to. Turns out, her lived a good life and died in the year 2000.

Watching the clips of his comedic piano act was a pleasant escape. I am dumbfounded that he can do an entire evening of entertainment with nothing but himself, a mic, an assistant or two, and a grand piano – and he barely plays the piano! When he does, we see how extremely talented of a pianist he is. But his knack for comedy and working the audience is just as good. I’ve never seen anyone else mesh those two skills like Victor Borge did. For instance, every time he nearly plays the piano, he gets easily distracted by something and then he runs down a rabbit trail of humor with the audience. No wonder his nickname was “The Clown Prince of Denmark.”

As a juggler, my hope is that I can be excellent in my juggling skills, but I realize that the audience is not really interested primarily in juggling skills alone. They want to have an enjoyable evening, which means interacting with them in memorable and comedic ways. Furthermore, I often have a message of faith or inspiration to share with them, and that is far more important than the juggling. Like Victor Borge was always drawn from his piano and towards his audience, so I want to be a good juggler who is drawn from his juggling rings and brings home a solid message of hope and love.

Look up “Victor Borge” on YouTube or watch this clip here:

Eight Original Corny Jokes

I’m currently falling in love with corny jokes (also known as bad jokes, laffy taffy jokes, and pun jokes). Why? Because they’re great for kids! And I love working with kids and making them smile. I had fun writing these new ones (my wife gets the credit for the third one).

Why did the girl mushroom agree to go on a date with the boy mushroom?
Because he was a fungi.

What did the philosophy professor do with the frozen chicken?
He thawed it out.

Why do bears hibernate in the woods?
For-rest.

How do forest nations keep peace between one another?
They write treaties.

What camp game does 3 play with 5?
Tug a 4.

Why did the surfer sleep in school?
Because he was board.

Why did the law student lose the high jump competition?
Because he didn’t pass the bar.

Why was the novel upset with her agent?
Because she never got booked.

Your turn. Give me some original ones…..

Now Bring Me This!

Here’s a game I learned from my friend Brandon Rushin.  The game is called “Now Bring Me This.” Kids love it!  And it’s perfect for 2 kids or over 1,000 kids (not many games can do that).  So you can use it in a classroom, in a Children’s Church service, at camp, in a youth group, or wherever kids are found.  Here’s how it works:

Split the group into multiple teams (if over a hundred kids, then one team per every 30-50 kids)

Tell the kids that you’re going to ask for something.  The first team to produce what you ask for gets a point for their team.  The team with the most points at the end of the game wins!  Its that easy.  

You can come up with your own list of things the kids need to produce, but here is a list to get you started….. (note: the list will look different depending on your setting and what the kids may or may not have access to at the time; this particular list is good for summer camp)

  • a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter (no more, no less)
  • 2 double-A batteries
  • 5 shoelaces (off the shoes) knotted together in a string
  • 10 hats stacked on top of one another, worn by a team member
  • a photograph (either hard copy or on a digital device) of a mother and her son
  • the signatures of 7 adults on your team
  • a signature of an adult from another team 🙂
  • something sticky
  • something with all the colors of the spectrum on it (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
  • a line of 9 kids from shortest to tallest
  • a staple
  • a rubber band
  • something that is alive and visible to the naked eye (non-human)
  • something that glows in the dark
  • a kid with 8 sunglasses on their face
  • a human pyramid three levels high (with adult spotters)
  • 15 bandanas tied together
  • 10 kids standing in front of me, each one wearing non-matching socks

If you want to get a little gross with this game, like my friend Keith Connor does, then here are some more….

  • belly button fuzz
  • chewed gum
  • something that looks like puke
  • a fingernail clipping
  • a recently used tissue
  • a kid who can wear another kid’s sock on their head like a hat

Welcome to camp!

Leave a comment with your own lists or ideas…..

If You’re Happy and You Know It

I have stumbled upon an immensely wonderful game to play with elementary age children. It works especially well with very large groups (even hundreds of kids). I play it with kids at the camps I visit in the summertime and most every kid seems to love playing it.

It’s called, “If You’re Happy and You Know It….”. We’ve all heard of it. But there is a twist I put on it that has endless possibilities. I’m sure plenty of people have done this twist before. Basically, you sing the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.” The kids will of course clap. This starts the game. Then you sing the line again and change the words to anything you like, such as “If you’re from Mississippi clap your hands” or “If you’ve ever kissed a frog clap your hands” or “If you can name all four of the Beatles clap your hands”, and so on and so forth. The kids will clap their hands after your line if their answer is positive to your questions. If you do a question that requires proof, such as the one about naming the Beatles, point to a kid that clapped their hands and ask them to name the Beatles.

The kids never tire of this game. You could go on and on and on. They love answering all the different questions that come up in the game and clapping their hands to it. I make a list of 30 or 40 lines to the song each time I play the game with the kids.

I’ve got a dozen or so lists that I’ve made over the past 3 summers in playing this game at camps. So I’ve probably got about 400 or 500 different lines to the game written down. Again, the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few more examples:

If you have red hair….
If you can juggle 3 balls…
If you were born in another country….
If you can speak another language…
If you are a twin….
If you still sleep with a blankie….
If you do your own laundry….
If you are homeschooled…

I think you get the point. Come up with your own list and have fun getting to know those kids in ways you never knew you could!