By Darby Jones, United Methodist Communications
Many children find it difficult to open up right away and share their thoughts in Sunday school. The following games and fun icebreakers are designed to put children at ease.
Ski-Slope Shuffle. You'll need enough shoeboxes for everyone in your group to have two. Split the group into two teams. Everyone steps onto the shoeboxes and slides to and fro across the floor. You can play tag this way or have a relay race.
Musical Balloons. Instead of the traditional missing chair, the last chair has a balloon. The final player must sit on and pop the balloon. Play continues with a fresh balloon.
Line Tag. "It" chases and tags another. These two players hold hands, run and tag together. When the line gets to be four to six people long, split to form two groups. When everyone is caught, they go after the teacher.
Sharpshooter. You'll need a stopwatch, candles and squirt guns. Light a few candles and see how long it takes each contestant to extinguish the candles.
Leaning Tower of Pisa. Provide plenty of blocks or tin cans for children to stack as high as they can in one minute. The highest standing tower wins.
Instruction Mix-Up. Players hold a sheet or blanket. The leader yells, "Let go," and players hold on. When the leader yells, "Hold on," the players let go. Players that mess up are out, and the game goes on until there's a winner. Fake outs confuse players and make the game fun.
Chatter Bee. Two players stand back-to-back. At the signal, they face and chatter/talk nonstop for 30 seconds about a specific topic such as a Bible story they recently studied or another familiar subject. Just do two at a time so it's not chaotic. A judge decides who did the best talking. Criteria for the best could be: fewer hesitations, creative, funny, most accurate and informative.
Guess Who I Am? The teacher picks a "guesser" to start. The "guesser" faces a wall with his or her back to the group. The teacher points to another person. That person stands behind the "guesser" and says, "Guess who I am?" Funny voices make it harder to guess. The player gets two guesses, and then the "voice" becomes the "guesser."
Secret Code. Give players a piece of paper and a pencil. The leader reads four or five letters and children "break" the code. Example: ZIBOP could be "zebras in Bryan's office play." Everyone reads his or her message. Complete sentences are encouraged.
Identify the Flavor or Object. You will need gourmet jellybeans and handkerchiefs. Blindfold contestants and have them hold their noses while tasting each bean. Whoever identifies the most correct flavors wins. An alternative game could be identifying objects such as a sponge, cold spaghetti, grapes and the like.
Favorite Song. Children bring CDs of their favorite Christian song. You could even bring in a special guest to teach the children some dance moves on appropriate songs. After listening to a song, the teacher discusses the song topics with the class.