Top Ten Tips for Hosting Youth Group Games for Kids – Epic Fun for Everyone!

You have an amazing game in mind, a group of eager kids, and a chosen place to play. What could go wrong? Hopefully nothing… however, to ensure your success when hosting youth group games, here are my top 10 tips.

Turn everyone on!

It is imperative that you come with a lot of energy! Before you take on the kids, take a deep breath, jump up and down, and cheer up! If you are flat, then children will be too.

Then turn on the kids! Get them excited. Your energy will ignite those around you. You can do this by asking choral questions, “Who’s ready for an awesome game of…?” “Blue team, are you ready? Red team, are you ready?” Have them repeat their answers until their energy level matches yours. Maybe they can come up with their own team names and team chant.

love the game

You must believe in the game yourself. Any hint that you’re not 100 percent sure this is a great game, kids will pick up on it. So get to know the game well, making sure it’s perfect for the youth group you’re working with. Read the rules, watch a video of other children playing, and ask questions of other teachers or youth leaders who have led the game before. Keep it simple, especially if this is your first time running youth group games for kids.

preparation is king

You can never be too prepared. Once you have studied the rules of the game, write them down on a hand card to have with you when instructing the children. Select a suitable place to play the game. If you are outdoors, consider the weather, safety, and limits for children. Make sure you have the equipment you need to play, and set up as much as you can before the kids arrive to play. Think about where the children will be when you give directions. For example, don’t make them squint in the sun and make sure their eyes are away from distractions.

Consider beverage stops and catering for children with special needs. Consider how you will encourage the children and how you will enforce the rules of the game. Identify boundaries for play and have a plan to control behaviors. Will you use a whistle to get the children’s attention or will you use another signal?

Have the goal in mind

Before starting with all the rules of the game, make sure that the children know the goal or the objective of the game. If they have the goal in mind, they will understand the rules better. If you have the goal in mind, it will be easier for you to explain the rules of the game.

Tips for applying the rules of the game

Make sure the children are seated and focused on you. They should not be chatting or looking at distractions around them. Make sure all the children who are going to play are present. You don’t want latecomers to be halfway through their instructions.
Children have short attention spans, so be precise with your rules and keep them simple. Tell the children that they can ask questions after they have given their instructions.
Once the rules have been given, I like to have the players review them. To do this, ask them to find a friend and repeat the rules to them.

If necessary, give a short demonstration of the game, or one aspect of the game, with children who are familiar with it (you may need to prepare for this in advance with selected players or helpers).
Always allow children to ask questions to further clarify their understanding.

shared ownership

Players will be more motivated if they are invited to suggest improvements to the game. This works fine once you’ve played a round of the game. What I do is get everyone together and then invite players to suggest an improvement for group play. A show of hands will indicate if the idea is accepted by all. Tell everyone that we will test this idea and if it works well, please keep it in the game. This gives ownership to everyone. There are always great ideas suggested that I never would have thought of.

Stop the game before it crashes

Now that all the kids are having a lot of fun playing the youth group game you introduced, it’s time to end the game before the kids get tired. Ending on a high note will have the kids eager to come back and play again another day.
Never whip a dead horse. If your youth group game isn’t going to plan, or you see the kids lose interest, bring it in and take a break, then play the next game you’ve prepared.

Create the experience

Introduce a story or theme to your group game. Maybe you have characters, accessories, or even a special costume. This improves the experience of your players. Games like Narnia, Star Wars, and Treasure go into a story with characters for which different players can choose.

no spectators

Get viewers involved in the game. These can be siblings or parents. Put them on a team or have them referee the game. Make sure you are playing the game too. The children will be excited that you are enjoying the experience with them.

pit stops

Lastly, make sure there are regular breaks between games or during longer games. This allows children to catch their breath and rehydrate. Make sure breaks are short. You do not want the children to disconnect. With team games, allow time for players to have short team meetings to strategize.

There you have it, my best tips for organizing youth group games for children, accumulated over many years working as a specialized game school teacher.

Epic fun for everyone!

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