Preteen Youth Group Game: High Five Surprise

Written by Sean Sweet

Have you ever gone to give a preteen a high five, only to have him or her return the gesture with “knuckles” (a closed fist pump)? This is sometimes called a “turkey”.

Here’s a game for all the turkeys out there. It’s a game that involves EVERYBODY in your preteen group.

This game requires NO supplies, NO prep, and can be played at any time as a planned element or as a spur of the moment activity.

You may find that once you introduce your preteens to this game that they’ll play at other random times. It’s really fun once you get the hang of it.

Use this game as an experiential learning component for lessons about disappointment, surprise, and/or Jesus knowing peoples’ thoughts.

Preteen Youth Group Game: High Five Surprise


1. Have everybody stand facing a partner. If you have an odd number of students, you can have one leader jump in and play.

2. Explain that one person is going to be Player A and one person is going to Player B. Have each set of partners decide who is who. (You might make sure that everybody’s role is clear by having all the “Player A”‘s raise their hand, and then have all the “Player B”‘s raise their hand.)

3. Explain that everybody will have a choice of two moves: either a “High Five” open hand hit or a “Knuckles” close fist pump.

4. Ask another leader to stand facing you so that you can give an example of the four possible things that can happen as the game is played:

  • Show the students that if you and your opponent both do “High Five”‘s, it creates a match.
  • Show the students that as you and your opponent both do “Knuckles”, it also creates a match.
  • Show the students that if you do a “High Five” and your opponent does “Knuckles”, it doesn’t match.
  • Show the students that if you do a “High Five” and your opponent does “Knuckles”, it doesn’t match.

5. Tell the students that each time they match their partner, Player A gets a point. Each time they do not match their partner, Player B gets a point. The first person to get to three points wins that round.

6. Demonstrate a round of the game with the leader facing you. You can show how both players start with their hands pulled back, either with open or closed hand and then you bring your hands together in the middle. As you are bringing your hand forward, you can change hand position, but you can not pull your hand back. Both players’ hand must keep moving forward until they meet in the middle.

7. Caution the students not to bring their hand forward too quickly (especially if it’s “knuckles”) so that they don’t accidentally hurt somebody.

8. After everybody understands the game, let the students play and have all the winning partners remain standing while the losing partners have a seat.

9. Have the students who are still standing (the winning partners) now get new partners and start the process over again.

10. Continue this until you have one winner.

Follow Up Questions:

Use these questions to transition to a lesson about disappointment or being surprised/shocked by what your friends and family do. You could also use these questions to transition to a lesson about Jesus NOT being surprised that he was arrested and hung on the Cross.

How did you decide whether to do a fist pump or a high five each time? (Some will say they just did it randomly, while others will say they tried to figure out what the other person was going to do.)

If you were playing this game with Jesus, and Jesus wanted to win the game, who do you think would win? Why? (You can read Luke 5:22, Mark 2:8, Matthew 9:4, and especially John 2:24-25. All of these verses point out how Jesus knows what’s in our minds and hearts before we do anything. So of course Jesus, if he wanted to win the game, would win the game.)

Who can tell about a time when they were surprised or disappointed by something that a friend did? How about a family member?

Why are we sometimes surprised and disappointed, but God can never be caught off guard by people’s actions?


Enjoyed this preteen game? Then you’ll love this one: 

Preteen Ministry Game: Snow Removal

Sean Pic 2Sean Sweet is the Community Facilitator for, and is dedicated to raising the value of your ministry to preteens.

Check out FourFiveSix’s Preteen Ministry Leader’s Online Conference coming in April.

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