Here are three games, which are each capable of adaptation in different ways to introduce various aspects of the Bible. They make ideal, simple icebreaker activities to do before a session on a particular related Bible story or character.
No special equipment required
1. The first game is one of many possible adaptations of a traditional format often known as ‘the fruit salad’ game. To play this, ask the children to stand in a circle and then give out one of three words to each member of the group and check they remember it. Ask then for a volunteer to stand in the middle.
This volunteer is now without a place in the circle but can find a place again, when the others move. They do this when the leader calls out one of the three words. When their particular word is heard, those children must quickly walk across the circle to stand on the opposite side. As this is happening, the one in the middle is able to take up one of the empty spaces. The last one back becomes the one who next ends up in the middle.
After a few goes like this, introduce a fourth word, which when announced will mean that they all have to move. This is often very chaotic but is usually much enjoyed!
One version of this game that would connect to an understanding of the Bible and how it is put together would be to use three words: chapter, verse, book. The all-move word would be Bible. The basic format of this game of course works with any group of four related words on a theme. Why not invent some examples of own to suit the topic you want to cover in your next session?
2. The second game is again one that is open to endless variations for introducing keywords, ideas and themes for your session. It is a drama warm-up game with the loose title of ‘in and out’. Have the children stand in a circle but all facing outwards.
The idea of the game is that, on a given signal, the children will jump and turn so the circle is facing inward. To activate this, the leader calls out a word and on the count of three everyone jumps and turns to mime their version of that word. Each child will then be ‘frozen’ in a particular mime, which they believe best illustrates it.
Try it out first with an example, like ‘sausage’. Although there are often several similar statues formed, it is amazing what a variety of interpretations do emerge.
A version of this game that would connect to an understanding of the Bible would be to use words that describe different landscapes from the Bible such as: desert, mountain- top, seascape, busy city etc. What sort of statues will the children create? Or you could try the different ‘occupations’ of the authors of the various Bible books such as: soldier, priest, king, doctor, fisherman, scholar etc. Or different moods and activities from the Bible such as: romance, fear, sadness, celebration, fighting, and travel.
It is best to keep the signal one simple word. Why not invent some more keywords of your own for the children to mime. You could introduce Bible characters if your group are familiar with them, or perhaps some Bible animals. The field is wide open!
3. The third game is a very old one and is based on the traditional ‘paper, scissors, stone’ type of game. In this, each of the elements can ‘beat’ one but can also be beaten by one of the other two. Link this to a Bible story – e.g.
David’s sling; Goliath’s size; Saul’s sword and armour. Create some funny actions and sounds to go with each of these such as: the swishing of the sling, the roaring of the giant and the clanking of the armour.
Now divide children into two teams. Secretly each team should decide on which of the three ‘weapons’ plus words/actions they will use. On a given signal and from separate base lines, they should then, as a team, march towards each other, to a set rhythm, and where they meet, on the count of three, act their chosen word. In this version:
- Goliath’s size beats Saul’s armour
- Saul’s armour beats David’s sling (remember how he could not move once he was wearing it!)
- David’s sling beats the Giant’s size
The winning team can now choose to capture two from the opposing team. If it is a draw they all ‘about turn’ and go back to the starting grid muttering! The game goes on until one team is victorious.
Why not try this same formula for some other Bible stories? You just need three elements from the story, which in some way beat or are beaten by each other.