GAME TIPS

Preteens love playing games. In our 10 years of playing them with hundreds of kids, sometimes in small groups and sometimes in large, we’ve learned a few things along the way.

1. HIGH ENERGY GAMES ARE GOOD
Most of us adults have a low energy level. We like peace and quiet, which most of us rarely get, and we love to be in control of our environment. On the other hand 4th-6th Graders thrive on controlled chaos. They love high energy games that involve lots of movement. The louder and crazier, the more they like it. Let them think it is chaos, but make sure you’re really in control.

2. SAFETY COMES FIRST
No need to shy away from slime balloon tag or chocolate syrup tug a war, just make sure to always think about safety first. Think of how kids could potentially get hurt and take steps to eliminate the problem. In other words, water dodgeball on the cement is probably a bad idea, but on the grass is good.

3. AVOID FORCING EVERYONE TO PLAY
No matter how cool the game, there will always be some who don’t want to play. We’ve learned that is best to let them sit out. Some preteens like to sit back and observe rather than participate. Others are just having a bad day and don’t want to play. It is a good idea to have one adult leader to hang-out with those who don’t participate. Use it as an opportunity to connect with them. Or have them help you lead the game.

4. CONSUME A PACK OF SUGAR BEFORE LEADING A GAME
Your excitement and energy level is contagious. If you are excited about the game, they’ll know it and enjoy it more. If not, don’t expect them to be all that pumped up about it. If you’re not a high energy person, then recruit somebody who is. You don’t really need a pack of sugar in your system to be effective, just make sure you’re energy level is high and you have fun!

5. STAGE GAMES ARE GOOD FOR LARGE GROUPS
If you have a large group, then playing stage games is a great option. A stage game is when just a few preteens on stage play and everybody else watches. You can convert any game to one by adapting it a little bit. Also, think of ways to involve the audience. American Idol is popular because the audience gets to participate. Have them vote for who they think will win the game by yelling and screaming. Encourage them to cheer on for their friends playing. Get your creative juices flowing of ways to have everyone participate.

6. EVERYBODY PARTICIPATES
The best games are those where everybody gets to play. Large group games or small group games are both effective. Filter every game idea you have and think of a way where everybody plays. If kids are sitting there picking their noses and counting the tiles on the ceiling, they’re not engaging. Think of ways to have everyone participate.

7. BACKGROUND MUSIC ADDS TO THE EXPERIENCE
Having high energy music playing in the background during a game keeps the blood flowing. Play it not too loud and not too low. It adds to the “fun factor”.

8. JUST FOR FUN GAMES
It is okay, even a good idea, to play games that are just for fun and don’t connect to the lesson during a weekend or midweek service. Preteens connect to others through playing games. Think of it as the equivalent to having a cup of coffee with a friend.

9. APPLICATION GAMES
It is also a good idea to play games that relate to the lesson. Giving kids experiences that reinforce the lesson is a key element to driving home the point.

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