12 Free Games

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On a retreat and running short on games? Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by learning and playing some of the games listed below.

Name That Tune:
As a way to bank on your students’ love of music, pull four students up front to play a modern version of “Name that Tune.” Explain to the two teams the specific category, such as “duets or bands.”  The starting team would then say, “we can name that tune in four mp3 counts.” Play the song for the challenged time. If they are unable to name it, the other team can steal with or without hearing more counts. Since our students are not as enlightened as those of us who have seen the original “Name the Tune,” it would be great for you to locate a short clip from the original show on YouTube in order to introduce the game.

The Color Game:
Start with a color. Go around the room as fast as you can for each person to name something that is that color. Allow no more than three seconds to think. If a person cannot name something s/he is out of that round. Play until you have a winner for each color.

Divide your van into two groups. The object of the game is to see which group can make the longest chain using only what is available to them in the vehicle. They can use belts, shoelaces, things they find on the floor of the van. When ready, have them “step out of the vehicle” to compare lengths.

John Wayne:
Have someone think of a famous person (start with John Wayne). The next person has to come up with a famous name that uses either John or Wayne in the first or last place (John Legend or Elton John) The next person can use any of the names the last person did. Keep going until someone gets stuck. Names cannot be repeated. You can establish rules of your own, such as: they must be living persons, or no people from your church or school.

The Round-Robin Question Game
When taking your students on a trip and your mode of transportation is a big bus, intimacy (in a good way!) doessn’t happen naturally! Students often group together and stay that way for 14 hours. Shake things up a bit one hour into the trip. Have them locate and claim a seat (not that YOUR students would be wandering around the bus unsafely!) two to a seat–and hand out question sheets to each student. It’s important that the questions be numbered. With the bus loud speaker or your built-in load speaker, say “On this trip we want to get to know the REALLY important stuff about each other, so you have 90 seconds to each answer number 21.  “What makes you want to vomit?” When the 90 seconds is up, have the outside student move counter clockwise to the next steat–inside kids stay stationary. Once they’ve gotten the hang of it, you can say things like, “You have 109 seconds to ask and answer two of the odd numbered questions.” Continue until each student is back to his/her original spot.

Write Your Own Novel
For some of your retreats or camps, you may end up traveling for quite some time. For most kids, it’s a great ime to connect, but for new students it could be a long time of pondering how they will ever fit in! Try to connect them and have fun by playing the “Write Your Own Novel” game. Simply walk over to the seat of a newer student, lean toward the window and, as a truck with three guys packed into the front seat slowly passes your bus, say something like, “Oh, no doubt these guys are on their way to their fantasty football draft. Chuck, there in the middle, his wife made the chips and dip. but he couldn’t wait to eat them, so that’s why the guys’ windows are rolled down when it’s 34 degrees!” Kids may laugh at you and look at you strangely, but just say “You try.” Have the student learn toward the window as another car passes by and have him explain, in detail, the life of the woman in the fake pink fur, driving a Smart Car.

The Question Game
Tell small groups to form a circle. One person will point to someone in the group and ask a question. That person doesn’t answer, instead they point to someone else and ask them another question (and so on).
You are out if:
1. You answer the question (that is asked of you)
2. You repeat a question (that’s already been asked)
3. You hesitate more than 3 seconds before asking a question, or
4. You ask your question to the person who just asked you
(unless there are only 2 of you left)

Have people sit down when they’re out. The last person left is the winner.

Song Birds
Divide audience into 4 groups. Announce that when it’s the first group’s turn, that group must IN UNISON sing a lyric to a song that has the designated word in it. Choose a fairly common word (i.e. Love, Friend, Eye, Blue, Sun). Point to the first group; give them 10 seconds to come up with a song. After they sing their lyric, the next group must come up with a new song that includes the same word. Keep going from group to group. If a group cannot come up with a song lyric after 10 seconds, they are out. Repeating a previously sung song means your group is out too! Last group left is the winner.

Find the Leader
One person stands in the center of a circle with their eyes covered. The Youth Minister designates someone in the circle to be the leader without the person in the center seeing who it is. The person in the center uncovers their eyes while the whole circle begins to clap their hands. The leader can change what the group is doing at anytime (hopping on one foot, swinging arms, running in place, waving one hand, pulling on one ear, etc.) Everyone follows the leader’s action. The objection is for the person in the center to discover who is the leader. If the leader is guessed, that person gets in the center and the game is played again with another designated leader.

No Rules Game
The basic idea is to create rules within your group that you know will be broken. You’ll begin with the person who was most into the acting on the last game, then move clockwise, with each person adding more rules. Each person creates a rule, and a consequence for breaking the rule. Again, make the rule something you think will be broken. An example could be: In our group, your feet can never touch the ground, and if they do, you have to stand up on your chair and cluck like a chicken. Or: in our group, you cannot use the word “and,” but if you do, you have to run up to someone in another group and give them a hug. Your group should be self-monitoring–you enforce your own rules. If someone’s gone from your group carrying out a consequence, continue creating rules. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know the new rules–they still have to live by them. Ready? Go! (Play for approx 5 minutes, or until the room begins to get loud and a bit chaotic).

Guess the Gargle
All this requires is a glass of water. Secretly show a volunteer the name of a well-known song or tune. It can be a chart song, worship song, nursery rhyme, etc. Have the volunteer take a mouthful of water and gargle the tune while others try to guess what song it is. This can result in some hilarious water-coming-out-the-nose episodes.

Elephant Stampede
This game can be played inside or outside but the boundaries for the playing field must be clearly communicated to the group. Have one, two or three be “it” depending on the size of the group. Cut a styrofoam pool noodle in half or use two pieces of foam pipe insulation available at any hardware store. The person who is “it” holds one piece of styrofoam (about 18″ long) in each hand and chases people within the boundaries. The person who is “it” attempts to hit people below the knees with either piece of styrofoam. When someone is tagged they hold hands with the person who tagged them and with their outside hands each holds a piece of the styrofoam. They are now both “it.” They chase after other players. As they tag people they hold their hands and pass the insulation to the outside person on each end of the line. The object is to be the last person tagged.

Check out even more great games here:
Game Ideas

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