Where did these games come from?
Most are secular world games that are adapted for Bible teaching. Many are pencil and paper or board games that can be adapted for giant scale.
Most games can be modified so as to be non-competitive. Depending on the ability levels and personalities in some groups, you may prefer to have non-competitive options. Games move faster if there are fewer players or teams. Dividing children into two teams of four is more interesting than having eight individual players, but could affect the input of quieter children. Teachers should almost always pick teams, or use a game to randomly select teams (remember being the last child chosen on the playground?) Separating best friends, or conversely argumentative siblings, can provide better interaction, especially among visitors. If you have a difficult child, make sure that s/he isn’t always with the same group.
The Temple Rotation should ALWAYS have a period of looking up things in the Bible, especially for 3rd – 6th grades. Remember Bible skills – not the games themselves – is the core learning of this rotation.
Some of the games are review games – which can only be played successfully after several rotations.
Review questions that are a single, double, triple or homerun in difficulty
(single T/F; double = simple multiple choice; triple = multiple choice with complex options ie all of the above, both a and b, etc.; homerun = open ended questions) Students can decide what “hit” they are going for. Right answers, all players advance that number of spaces. Wrong answers are an “out.” Limit 5 runs per inning unless the team is more than 10 points behind.
Need a minimum of 4 players per team (one batter, up to three baserunners). If you have fewer than 8 children, you can remove a base and eliminate homerun questions. You can also have only one team and have them compete against next week’s team.
For one session review, questions can be repeated as the repetition reinforces the material. For multiple session review, have a different questions set each inning. For example ask Daniel questions in the first inning, Prodigal Son in the second inning, etc.
Similar to Hangman, children guess letters that fit a word.
With wrong guesses a weight is added to the boat.
With a right guess the letter is put on the board.
Incorrect guesses of the entire puzzle add two weights to the boat.
Depending on how strong the boat is the goal can be to guess each word before the boat sinks or (if the boat is strong) see how many words can be guessed before the boat sinks. We would have to experiment to make boats. (?Perhaps a paper towel “raft” that has somewhat wet sponges placed on it, or a plastic toy boat that has wooden blocks put on it?
Tic Tac Toe
Divide children into two teams, X and O. Using masking tape make a giant game board.
Teams pick a space and then are asked a question. Xplays first. If they get it right they get their X, if they get it wrong the other team gets their O. Then O plays. The winner is the one who gets three in a row or in the case of a tie, who gets the most squares. (Variation: More difficult questions could be asked for center square, moderate questions for corners and easiest questions for sides.) If you have 8 or more children, divide into two teams and make a very large tic tac toe grids. Players either curl up like “O” or put their hands out like “X” to mark the spot.
Divide children in groups of 3 or 4 and have a game for each group. Have related items on cards, about 12 per game. Children flip over two cards and decide if they match or not. If they match, they pick them up, if not they turn them back over. For example
Abraham God sent on a journey
Sarah Had only one son in old age
Isaac Almost a human sacrifice
Switch games (if they are different) or compare answers if they are the same games. Have a master list to check contested answers. (In the example above, children might forget that Abraham had two sons in old age – Ishmael was his son by Hagar)
A popular game for kids is making a grid of dots and taking turns drawing perpendicular lines between two adjacent points. When a square is filled in, the person puts their initial inside and gets another turn.
To make this a Temple event, make a giant grid and have thick yarn cut to length. Children take turns answering questions. Correct answers earn them a piece of string. If they complete a square with their string placement, they write their names in the middle and get another turn. Divide into partners or two teams to make the game go faster.
Have 2 or more cars on a track representing each individual or team.
Children answer questions based on level of difficulty and more ahead one or more sections. Each time they complete a lap, give them something to keep track of laps. The car furthest ahead wins. Variation: Make a really big track and let children be the “cars.” You can even have hats in the shape of cars made out of foam which they can wear.
Number five spaces on the floor at least an arms length apart.
Give each child the name of a book of the Bible, or components of the Bible story and have them put themselves in the correct order, first to last. Let them know how many of them are standing in the correct place, but not which ones are in the correct place. Then they move around. Continue until the sequence is completely correct.
One False Move
Have a gameboard with verses of the Bible on them. Some of them are part of the Bible story being learned. Some of them are verses from other parts of the Bible. Children pick cards one at a time. If it is part of the story, a star will appear under the card. If it is not, it will be blank. A team (or individual) will keep guessing until they pick a wrong card, then play passes to the other team. When they think they have all the cards that belong in the story they stop. If they are right, everyone gets out their Bibles and puts the story verses in the correct order. If they are wrong, play passes to the other team.
Connect the dots
This takes someone with some artistic talent. You will need to make a giant connect the dots project, which will be connected with yarn. Instead of sequential numbers, you will use seqential books of the Bible or sequential pieces of the story. When the picture is “drawn” correctly, it will look like something important to the story.
Have important Biblical numbers in a hat. When the number is picked, the children are to list as many things that go with that number as possible. For example “40” could be days and nights of rain from Noah, years the Hebrews spent in the desert, or days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness.
A simulation game about poverty and spending money can help children understand stewardship concepts in the Bible. These are often found in youth group resources, but can usually be used as is, or slightly adapted, for younger children. Note that many simulation games take more than an hour, so make adjustments accordingly.
Place pieces of the story in balloons before you blow them up. Have children stomp on balloons to retrieve the pieces needed for the lesson. This could be used to put a story in the correct order, our could be the correct answers to the questions that will be asked by the teacher.
Encode the message of the day. Give younger children the code key, but let older children try and figure it out themselves. This could be the memory verse, a key portion of the Bible story, or a famous quote that relates to the topic at hand.
Place pieces of the memory verse, or components of the story on fish with paper clips attached. Using fishing “poles” with magnets, fish out the verses you need and put them in order. Have one complete set for each child plus a few extra so fishing doesn’t get frustrating. (Best for “fishy” stories such as the call of the disciples, Jonah, etc.)
A with-eyes-open version of pin-the tail on the donkey. Children put place names on a giant map of the Holy Land. Measure the distance between the child’s guess and the actual location – shortest distance wins.
Start with Noah and work your way up to Nebuchadnezzer. Bonus points if you can answer a question about the person. Can also be used for books of the Bible. Rather than having kids sit down when they make a mistake, simply have them go to the end of the line. Persons getting an answer correct can continue, although you may want to put a limit on it.
Name three (or more) persons, places, or books of the Bible. Children must choose which one is the oddball – that is, doesn’t fit. They get an extra point if they explain their reasons properly. For example in the list Jeremiah, Jonah, and Exodus, Exodus is the oddball. (score 1) The correct reason is that the other two are books named after prophets. (score an additional 1 pt.) An incorrect reason is because they both start with “J.” Keep your mind open to other possibilities that are the result of greater insight. For example a child could pick “Jonah” as the oddball because it is about an individual’s faithlessness, whereas the other two chronicle the faithlessness of a nation.
Tape paper plates on the floor in rectangle (for example 15 plates, 3 down and 5 across). Have children pick a plate to stand on. They can move to a plate next to them vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally. If there are no empty plates next to them, then they are trapped, and can’t answer a question that round. If there is an empty plate, they have a chance to answer the question and move to an open plate. You don’t need to keep score to have fun, but one possible way to score points is to award one point to each person surrounding someone who is entrapped. You could divide into two or three equal teams and have teams answer the question collectively and then decide which player to move to entrap someone else, too. Entrapped persons are not allowed to help their team answer a question.
Team A and B both come up with a list of questions and answers about the Bible story for the other team to answer.
The teacher takes turns asking each team question posed by the other team. If they get it correct, they “take a shot” and the other team’s goal.
Here’s the catch – the team that wrote the question gets to defend their goal. They will roll two dice to determine if the shot is blocked. When the question is read, the teacher will decide what rolls would constitute a blocked shot. If the question is very easy, the teacher calls out “odds” or “evens” which means the defending team has a 50/50 chance to block the question. If it is very difficult the teacher can say “snake eyes and box cars” which means that there is only a 2/36 chance of blocking the shot – if they roll a one or ten. If the question is of medium difficulty, the teacher can call “7-11” which would be 7s and 11s or an 8/36 chance of defending the goal.
In other words, if you write relatively easy questions for your opponents, you have a better chance of defending your goal – even if they get it correct. If you make the questions really difficult, you will find it almost impossible to defend your goal if the team gets it right. In addition, teachers have the right to call a foul if the question is completely unfair and out of line.
Here is a list of odds for teachers to use
Really hard questions Box cars and snake eyes (12 or 2) 2/36 chance
Hard questions 7s 6/36 chance
Medium questions 7-11 (7s or 11) 8/36 chance
Medium easy low/high (2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12) 12/36 chance
Easy Odds or evens 18/36 chance
Very easy questions 6 or higher (8 or lower) 26/36 chance
Fouls can be called for the following reasons
Make up your own fouls and penalties for a team that makes up unfair questions. Here are some ideas of how you could do that.
Question not contained in the story Penalty: free shot (you ask any question, no defense) Example: for a lesson about Daniel and the Lion’s Den, the question is about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Question asks for unreasonable details Penalty: Shooting team gets to look up the answer in the Bible, medium defense. Example: Name Noah’s sons in a Noah rotation.
Question would take too long to answer. Penalty: Simplify question for shooting team, but continue really hard defense. Example: Name the 12 tribes of Israel could be changed to name 8 of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Question asks for too much information Penalty: Defending team must answer their own question. If they get it right, THEY get a point, but if they get it wrong the other team gains a point and they lose a point. Example: In the story of Pentecost, name all the nations listed as being present on the first day of Pentecost. However, name all 10 commandments, is a reasonable question for an exodus rotation.