I often have friends in ministry who ask me for directions on games I play and I typically just point them to the site. When a friend asked me about Spoons and I realized I had never mentioned it on this site, I immediately realized how incomplete the game library on here is. So, for those who don’t know, here are the instructions to the youth group game that I take much too seriously!
Spoons (one for every person)
This game is very simple. It is played like musical chairs where everyone is competing for a spoon and the one person who does not get one is out. You play the game until only one person is left.
It is ideal to play with no more than 8-10 people. If you have more than this, break it in to several games and have a championship table when each group is down to only a few.
Have everyone sit around a table and put one spoon for each person in the middle of the table. Take one spoon out so there is one less spoon than the number of people. Have one person deal four cards to each player. The goal with the cards is to get four of a kind (4 Aces, 4 Kings, etc.) To start the game the dealer will take one card from the remaining deck. They must decide if they want to swap the card out with one of theirs or pass it to the left. If they swap it out, they must pass one of their previous cards to the left, leaving them always with four cards. The person to the left does the same thing with the passed cards and the cards continuously go around the table.
When someone has four of a kind they can grab a spoon. Once one person has four of a kind everyone else can grab a spoon at the same time.
That’s it. Shuffle and deal again, removing one spoon each time and a eliminating a new player!
Here is video I found online of a group playing spoons.
In leading 100’s of games over about 16 years this has been one of the favorites.
a marked off area (either a square in a gym or made with cones)
dodge balls (softer is better)
Set up the boundaries. Have each person find a partner. One of them will be blindfolded and the other will not. Place a good number balls scattered around within the boundary. The blindfolded person will be in the boundary area and their teammate will be on the outside. To start, no one should be holding any balls and it works well to move the person around a bit so they don’t know exactly where they are at or which way they are facing when the game starts.
When the leader says “GO” the teammates on the outside of the play area will guide their teammates to grab a ball and throw it at the other within in the play area. When a person gets hit by a ball or goes outside of the boundary, they are out. Play until only one person is remaining.
I found many versions of this on YouTube. I’ve included a video I found of the version we played below.
A twist on the classic Mafia! Make sure you check that one out first so you have at least a small understanding of the rules.
How the game works:
Pick a few teens to be "mafia" members. This is done secretly, either having everyone close there eyes and hold out their hands, or by giving out cards and having the face cards be the mafia. Usually I do about 1 mafia for every 5 regulars. The game is played in rounds until all mafia members are eliminated or the mafia win.
Each round goes as follows: All lights in the area are turned off (youth minister and adult core team can have flashlights and walk around) and the youth are free to walk around the area. It needs to be as dark as possible for it to work well. Mafia members can eliminate townspeople at any time by walking up and lightly touching someone's neck. THERE IS NO RUNNING ALLOWED. Townspeople can't run away from the mafia or purposely try to give away who the mafia is. Once eliminated, townspeople have to lie down and "play dead".
When a townsperson finds a "dead" townsperson, they yell "PINEAPPLE" (because we don't want people to be screaming "Dead Body"). When PINEAPPLE is yelled, the round ends immediately and the lights are thrown on.
After the round ends, the townspeople gather for a town meeting. Everyone who has been eliminated gathers nearby, but they cannot speak AT ALL. The townspeople (with the mafia still pretending to be townspeople, then get a chance to try and vote off people who they believe to be mafia members. This is a game of deception and stealth. Mafia members are trying not to be spotted when they eliminate people, and they can even be the ones to find a "dead body" and yell pineapple. Townspeople try to hide, not get killed, and reason out who they think the mafia are.
This game works best in areas where you have multiple rooms (No closed doors for liability/protecting God's Children Reasons). Make sure there are core members around looking out for people. Also, if PINEAPPLE isn't called, it's best to set time limits. I've heard of people playing with a doctor and sheriff like the original mafia but I've never done it and am not quite sure how it work. Let me know if you have any questions!
You may have seen this game before and not really understood what was going on. The game is called Ninja. It is an extremely easy game to figure out and explain but can take a lifetime to master. Youth Ministers like it simply because they will play and analyze it more than anyone else, ensuring that they could beat any youngster up for the challenge.
Here are the instructions:
Size of Group:
You can play two people but I would recommend starting with at least four. If you have more than 20 people, it may be good to split them in to small groups of ten.
Goal of the game:
To hit/touch someone else’s hand with your hand. This eliminates them from the game.
Have everyone stand in a circle, take a bow (like on the Karate Kid), and strike a pose like a Ninja. One person will move at a time and you will go in clock-wise motion. Basically the person whose turn it is will try to touch/hit the hand of another person with their hand with ONE motion. The person they are trying to attack can make ONE motion to move out of the way. Both people stay where the end of their motion ends and are frozen until it is either their turn again or they are attacked.
How to Win:
You play until one person is left in the game and they are declared the winner.
Things to Know:
You always go after the person who started to your right at the beginning of the game. The circle will eventually collapse and people may get out of order. Always remember who you go after.
If someone goes out of turn, have them return to where they were.
Can set a rule that your hands must visible (recommended)
A role, jump, or spin is considered one motion.
Once your youth start to understand the strategy to this game it can become extremely competitive. It is a great game that most enjoy (especially the volunteers!)
This game was a huge success at our summer camps.
To start you will need one dozen eggs for every two teams. Seven of the eggs in each dozen should be boiled and five should not. Mix them up in the carton so you can't tell which ones are which.
We had the teams (small groups) send a representative up to challenge a representative from another team. They each selected one egg and (on a count of three) smashed it on their head. The first team to get three of the raw eggs lost.
Here is a video of Jimmy Fallon doing this with Ryan Reynolds:
Please share other ideas and stories of your experience of this game below!
Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash
I can’t believe it has taken this long for me to find this game. Grab some potatoes and some buckets and you are good to go! Divide your youth into groups or run it individually. The person takes a potato, puts it between their legs, takes the potato to the bucket and drops it. If they drop the potato anywhere else on accident, they must go back to the beginning and try again. The person or team with the most potatoes in the buckets after a set amount of time wins!
This is a hilarious youth ministry game that someone showed me this last summer at camp. You need NO supplies and can do it with two people or 100 people. I found a pretty humorous video on YouTube of two guys who explain the game well. This is a different variation from what I saw, but the concept is the same. Two people have to look at each and do little slightly embarrassing actions with each other. The person who smiles first, loses the game. Typically the actions will build off of each so you are doing several things at one time. In the video below they choose to just do a single action at a time.
Actions could include:
putting your hand on the other’s shoulder
putting both hands on the other’s shoulders
hopping on one foot
spinning in a circle
tapping each other’s nose
bopping your head
If you want to skip right to the part where they are playing the game, go to the 3:54 mark.
Have your own actions you think would be fun? Please comment below!
I was in a meeting this past summer at one of summer missionary training times and heard a crazy game going on outside. When I walked out and watched them, they were playing this game. Before I even give the instructions, the reason I love this game is because there is so much energy that comes from it.
First I will teach you the motions that are required for the game.
Bunny – Make your hand into a duckbill (thumb touching four fingers). When making this action you will say Bunny four times. The first two times you will have the duckbill facing your own face. The second two times you will point the duckbill at another person.
Hoki Toki (means rabbit in Korean) – Wave your arms while saying Toki (four times)
Have everyone stand in a circle (as per 95% of youth ministry games).
Explain to them the motions.
The game will start with everyone doing the Koom Cha.
One person will start by doing the “Bunny” sign and passing it on to another person, then that person continues by doing it and passing it on the next person.
Whenever someone is doing the “Bunny” sign, the two people beside them can try to mess them up by doing the “Toki” sign (see video).
You can play it a couple different ways.
Whenever someone messes up the bunny action they are out (less fun version)
Whenever someone messes up the bunny action they have to run around the circle one time saying “Dink N’ Farkle” repeatedly in rhythm while holding one of their thumbs to their forehead with the rest of their fingers in the air.
If the group is really good at it, you can make it harder simply by speeding it up.
This is fairly new game that has made it’s way into the youth ministry world. The kids introduced it to me. It is sure to lighten people up, embarrass some, but most of have a ton of fun.
Ideal Number of People
How It Works
To begin, everyone will stand or sit in a circle. Everyone must make a face where their lips cover their teeth. If you show your teeth, you are out.
One person will start and they are it. They have the option either say Pterodactyl or make a sound like a Pterodactyl to one of the people on either side of them. If they say Pterodactyl, the action continues in a similar direction. If they make the sound, then it reverses the order.
Quick example: Person one says “Pterodactyl,” then person two is it, person two says Pterodactyl so person three is it, person three makes the sound of a Pterodactyl so person two is now it again.
Who Wins the Game?
If you show your teeth you are out and if you act out of turn you are out. Play until there is one person left.
I’m a Youth Minister, I want the advantage…
Be very creative and do things out of the ordinary. Be the loudest and the craziest. If it seems like there is a constant timing, respond really fast.
This is probably one of the greatest games for retreat type atmosphere when you need to lighten things up a little bit. To start have group of between 6-8 people form a circle. You can just have one or two groups. They do not compete against the other groups and there really is not a winner.
This game is played like ‘Hot Potato’ with a twist. Have one person volunteer to use their shoe as the hot potato. Start off by playing one round like hot potato and start the music. When the music stops, have the person holding the show stand. You will give this person an action that must be done every time they are given the shoe from now on. You start the music again and when you stop have the person who ended up with the shoe do a different action. If it was the same person as the first round, they must now do both actions before they can pass the shoe.
Here are some examples of actions.
Yell ‘I HAVE THE SHOE’
Give everyone in your group a high five.
Sing “It’s fun to sing at the Y.M.C.A. while doing the actions.
Do the chicken dance
Do the Macarena
Blow Kisses to everyone in your group
Skip around the group once
Say two words that rhyme.
Do the entire head, shoulders, knees, and toes
Flex like a professional body builder (must do different flex each time)
Usually this is enough actions. Keep a look out for people who have several actions and those that think it is a little too funny and be sure ‘accidentally’ stop the music on them.
I am coming to the realization that the game that our youth group played more than anything is not well known by other youth leaders. Luckily I have a platform to tell the world about it. So here it is!
Pin Guard = Dodge ball With Pins
It really is that simple. If you know how to play dodge ball, Pin Guard is the exact same game except that you can either win by getting everyone on the other team out of the game (like Dodge ball) or by knocking down the all of the other teams pins.
We typically played in the gym and would place three pins along the back line of the basketball court, one on each corner and one in the middle.
How Do You Play Dodge Ball?
I feel sorry for those who may be asking this question (I love Dodge ball). So I did a little research and found a great quick YouTube video for you to watch here!
Materials Needed – None
Size of Group – Could have anywhere from 5 to 50!
This is one my favorites to use with new groups or as an icebreaker for large groups. It is easy to explain, allows for some creativity in the group, and allows kids to chat and bond as a group through it out.
Have everyone sit in a circle and have one or two people leave the room. They will be the psychiatrists. They must figure diagnose the problem(s) of the group by asking yes or no questions. Some problems may have several parts and they must figure all of them out.
When the psychiatrists leave the room, you must come up with a problem for them to solve. You, as the leader, can have one or two ready to make it easier or you can have the group decide. It can be absolutely anything. The one thing to be cautious of is whether or not it is too difficult for the psychiatrist to figure out. Once everyone in the group understands what to do, you can have the psychiatrists come back in and try to diagnose the problem.
Here are a couple examples that have worked well in the past:
Every time the psychiatrist asks a question, everyone either crosses or uncrosses their legs.
Anyone who is sitting to the right of a female has a constant itch in their left arm.
We have also done chains of events. Like when the psychiatrist looks at a specific person, that person stands up. After that person stands up another person claps twice. After the 2nd person claps twice, everyone shouts ‘WOOO!’
This is a youth ministry game that we started playing about two years ago and is always a great game because it is quick to put together, the supplies are minimal and it is extremely competitive and engaging.
The Ideal Setting
This game works if you have anywhere from 12-99 people. Those may seem like random numbers to you, but the trick is that people are in teams of three. So as long as you have a dividend of three you are good, but the more teams you have to more crazy it gets.
Game Set-Up (image below)
You will set-up a circle game area using cones, tape, or maybe the center of a basketball court. Then you will have all of the groups line up outside of the circle and have the three people in each group form a line. Then you will have random objects (or just small balls) in the middle of the circle.
How The Game is Played
Each person on each team will be given a name. The first person is named Larry, the second is Curly, and the third is Moe. The person leading the game will say one of those three names. Whichever person has their name called will run around the circle, around all of the other teams, until they get back to their team. Then they will go under the legs of their two teammates and rush to the center to grab one of the objects in the middle. There will be less objects in the middle than the number of teams and the teams that do not get an object are out of the game. You play until you are down to one team.
Be sure to state that teams can not “back-up” to slow the other teams down.
As you get fewer teams, have the spread out evenly across the circle.
A good strategy is to have the two members get really close so that is it easier to get through their legs.
Usually better if you can have gender separated teams.
Have fun and trick people by saying one of the names leisurely instead of shouting it out.
Image of play
This youth group game is great for larger groups and does well in a bigger room or outdoors in the grass. It is a pretty simple game, and when done with a quick explanation seems to do great! It is something the youth from retreats and camps that I have been a part in have always remembered and wanted to do again.
The game is an elimination game that cuts people out slowly until you are down to one or two people. The leader will shout a command and everyone will follow that command. Each time a command is shouted more people will be eliminated based on their speed or in some cases their cooperation in groups. Will do my best to write the directions out as I you were saying them out loud so you can read word for word when saying them to a large group.
Ships – When I say ships, everyone runs to the this side of the room (point to one side of the room). The last one there is out.
Sailors – When I say sailors, everyone runs to the other side of the room. The last one there is out.
Hit The Deck – When I say Hit The Deck, everyone must get down on the ground as low as they can go. The last one down is out.
Man Overboard – When I say Man Overboard, everyone will find a partner. One person will get on their hands and knees and act as a ship, the other will put one foot on top of them and look out in to the sea. The last group or anyone who does not find a partner is out.
Three Men Rowing – When I shout Three Men Rowing, you will find a group of three. All three will sit behind each other and row in their boat. The last group or anyone who does not find a team of three is out.
Four Men Eating – When I shout Four Men Eating, you will find a group of four. All four will sit like they are at a table and pretend they are eating a meal. The last group or anyone who does not find a group of four is out.
Five Men Pointing North – When I should Five Men Pointing North, you will find a group of five. All five will gather close together and point north. The last group or anyone who does not find a group of five is out.
You play down to one person and that person is the winner.
Leaders Tip – You will want to do number games to eliminate people so you do not have to worry about the ‘last’ group. Meaning if you just did Five Men Pointing North and have 20 people left, do something like Three Men Rowing next because there will be an odd man out. Be sure to keep things moving and act quickly after you eliminate people. The quicker the games the more fun they are. When you are down to two people, really use the ships, sailors, or hit the deck to eliminate the last person. Also the cues ‘ships’ and ‘sailors’ are great transitions in between the other cues. It splits up groups (alliances) and keep their blood flowing. You do not have to eliminate someone each time you say ships and sailors, you can just make them run around a bit also and then say one of the other cues.
Photo by Flavio Gasperini on Unsplash
This game is one of the more funnier games to watch. It is very simple but is wide open for variations.
Hats (usually simple winter caps are fine)
How the game works
Have as many people that you want playing to put on one of the hats. Then you will cover the hat with tape, sticky side facing out. On the floor, you will have a lot of small objects (we have used coins or q-tips before). When the leader says GO, everyone with a taped hat on will move around on the floor trying to get as many objects as they can stuck on their hat. They can only use their head to do so (no hands).
A couple of extras or variations
We have had a great time putting the hat over their eyes so they could only move around by the help of their teammates voices.
You could place different objects that are worth different values
You could place several different objects around the room and call out what they should go for. After a set amount of time, call out the next item.
This youth group game is a great icebreaker. It gets kids to move around a bit and definitely brings out personalities a bit. You need no materials and you can sit or stand. The game is simple.
There is one or two people in the middle (depending on the size of the group) and that person must try to get out of the middle. They go up to a person in the circle and say:
"HONEY, IF YOU LOVE ME, WILL YOU PLEASE PLEASE SMILE?"
The person in the circle will respond:
"YES HONEY I LOVE YOU, BUT I JUST CAN’T SMILE. YES HONEY I LOVE YOU BUT I JUST CAN’T SMILE."
If the person responding smiles at all they take the place of the person in the middle. If they are able to say the phrase without smiling then the person in the middle must move on to someone else.
There is one main rule and that is that the person in middle can not touch the person they are trying to get to smile. Other appropriate actions or accents are allowed.
This is a community youth ministry game where the youth will be going door to door. It is best to send the kids in groups and have an adult with each group. It is very simple.
Start everyone at the parish with a small item like a rubberband or paper clip. Give them one hour to run around door-to-door saying that they are playing a game with their youth group and they are wondering if they can trade their item for something bigger or better.
When they make a trade, they move on to another house and do it again until their time is up.
Keep in mind that the item can be bigger OR better.
We have had youth come back with tractor tires, snow blowers, large screen t.v.’s, and a toilet in the past. This game is truly a gem!
We have done tons of different versions of coke relays, but this is definitely the one that has stuck out as the best. This youth group relay is extremely messy but something the youth will definitely remember.
Give each group a 6 pack or 12 pack of coke and a pen. Have a pitcher or glass on one end of the room (or parking lot) and have the youth stand on the other end. The youth must shake the can, stab it with a pen, and squirt the coke in to the mouth of another youth. Using only their mouth, each youth must take as much coke over to the other end and spit it in to the pitcher. Only allow one youth to run at a time.
The winning team will be either the first to fill the glass or the one with the most coke in their pitchers after a set amount of time.
There is obviously a slight danger because of the stabbing with the pen, so watch the age and maturity of the youth you let handle the pen.
This is a simple icebreaker that I have used several times. It is great in that it requires people to share about themselves, but in a competitive way.
You will need 20-25 pieces of paper for each person. I just give everyone one sheet of paper and have them tear it into 20 pieces.
How It Works
One person will start by saying one fact about themselves. It should reveal something about their person that others may not have known about them. The goal is to come up with something that as many people as possible would NOT have in common with them. For the other people, if they have that thing in common with the person, then they do nothing. If they do not have it in common with them, then they have to throw a piece of paper in the middle.
The goal of the game is to be the last person with paper in your hands.
One person could start by sharing that they have never broken a bone in their body. For everyone else, if they have broken a bone in their body, they would throw a piece of paper in the middle. If they have not broken a bone, they keep their pieces.
It is best to break them up into small groups so that you go around the circle several times, getting to know each person a bit more. You should also continue to remind them that it should be something that reveals something about you that the others may not have known. “I am wearing Red shoes” is boring and obvious.
A game that we had great success with, was a dry version of marco polo, but it needs to be played at night.
You can create an arena using tables turned on their side (this also helps with safety).
Then you pick who starts as "it" turn off the lights & play like you were in the pool.
When someone is tagged, they , as well as the one searching, say out loud "FREEZE". At this point you turn on the lights. No one is allowed to move again until the lights go back out.
Its easy, free & the Teens loved it.
This youth ministry game is a favorite and very simple. Buy some lifesavers and toothpicks. All of the youth are given a toothpick and put in to teams with even numbers and each team is given a lifesaver.
Have all of the teams stand in a line. When the youth leader says go, the youth will pass the lifesaver to each other using only the toothpick in their mouth. If the lifesaver is dropped, the group must start over from the beginning of the line. The first team to pass it to all of their members without dropping it wins.
If teams have more people than another, have some people do it twice to balance it out.
This is pretty clever youth ministry icebreaker that I found while searching YouTube for some ideas.
Have two or more teams. Have them lie down on their backs in a long line (one persons head at the other persons feet). The person at the front starts with a banana in between their feet and must lift their legs up to pass it on to the next persons feet. The first team to get the banana all the way back to the end of their line wins!
Here's an example I found on YouTube.
We actually purchased a bible version of "TABOO"
Our teens LOVE it.
You could easily do it yourself without buying the game though.
All you need is a timer, a buzzer & some Bible/Catholic trivia questions.
We have also discovered, this game is great at giving you insight to their personalities.
You see who is competitive, who leads naturally as well as who is reserved.
Supplies Needed – Lots of Plastic Cups. 15-20 of one color per team and one of another color per team.
This is a quick and easy youth ministry game that can be used as a relay or if you have a smaller group can be done with everyone against everyone. I actually got this idea from the big show ‘Minute to Win It’ and made it work for our youth group.
Give every person/team a stack of 15-20 cups of the same color with the one of a different color showing on the bottom of the stack. The goal is to be the first to take one cup from the top of stack and put it on the bottom and keep doing that until the odd colored cup end up at the bottom again.
If you do it relay style have the same number of youth on each team complete it and have the team sit down when they are done. If teams have a different number of people, some people can do it twice to make it fair.
This is one of the weirdest/craziest youth ministry games that requires no set up, no supplies, and typically 5-20 people. The more people the better I think.
Everyone sits in a circle and everyone works as a team to stack as many "layers of chaos" as they can and can handle before your brains are fried.
So what is a layer of chaos?
One person will be the leader for the group. They will begin and end each layer, keeping track of how the group is doing.
Starting the first layer.
To begin the first layer, the leader will decide on a topic (we will use foods as an example). They will say a topic and point to another person passing the baton to them with that topic. Then that person points at another person saying their food. It goes around until everyone has went once. The last person will go back to the leader.
This will be the standard order for round one. So for the food level you should remember who you receive from and who you pass to. Practice this a couple of times as a group and then you are ready to move on to round two.
For round two the leader should pick a different category and a different start person. Go through and practice round two. Ideally, everyone will receive from and pass to a different person than round one.
After you have practiced just round two you are ready for the chaos. The leader will begin both rounds so they start again with round one by saying their food to the person who they said it to in round one, once that person receives level one, the leader will pass the level two category to the appropriate person. The group will pass through both levels at the same time. Once the leader has received both levels the group moves on to adding a third level.
Typically you will do this until the leader has chosen every person in the circle to start with or until someone’s brain is fried and they just can not do it any longer.
Good luck. We have seen groups get up to 14-16 levels at one time. See if you can do more!