By Jeff Land
Team Leader, Bible Studies for Life: Kids
I love to play games. The kids in my class at church love to play games too. Recently I was visiting with a Bible study leader who scolded me a little bit for having games in the Bible Studies For Life: Kids curriculum. He was concerned because he only had a short time with the kids and he wanted to make sure that he was teaching the entire time that the kids were in his class.
I understood his concern, but I did have to explain to him that I believe you should use games to teach. For many years, I have had similar conversations with leaders who don’t really like to use games in their classes. There is concern that kids will get too “riled” up or that they are too competitive. It’s super important for the leader to always maintain control of the classroom, but it’s also important that you teach kids that coming to church and learning about God is fun.
Using games to teach can be a very effective way of teaching the life point or helping kids learn the books of the Bible. Every Sunday morning, we start the kids in our class off with some sort of Bible Skills game. And you know what? Kids are learning the books of the Bible. Games are not effective teaching method when the only goal is to occupy the kids attention. Whatever game you use in class, there should be some sort of application or learning goal.
Here are 13 tips for leading effective games in your class as adapted from a conference written by Jan Marler.
- Know your group. You need to know if the game will be interesting to the kids in your class.
- Know the rules. You must understand the rules before the kids can understand them.
- Prepare the room or playing field. A relay game won’t work in a 10×10 room with a big table in the middle!
- Have all the necessary equipment. Nothing like a toilet paper mummy game when there isn’t any toilet paper.
- Get their attention. Make sure that every kid is engaged.
- Explain the rules clearly and concisely. The more rules you have, the less the kids listen.
- Answer questions. Make sure everyone understands.
- The game begins when I say “go.” Kids will start as soon as they think they understand, not actually when you want the game to start.
- Lots of smiles and hugs. Be an encourager.
- Add variations. Kids bore quickly. Keep it interesting.
- Stop while the kids are still interested in playing. If you let kids lose interest, you can never bring the game back.
- Provide application. Don’t use a game in your class unless there is a point!
- Evaluate. If it is a game that worked, use it again.
Here are some quick game ideas. Remember though, PROVIDE APPLICATION if you are using these games to teach a point!