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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Carnival Games

We love having company over.  Our house is usually full of kids.  Birthday parties all fall keep me on my toes.  One of our favorite things to do for the girls is to have a birthday carnival.  Here are some games we have found or come up with.

Bucket Head: 2+ people -  Hold a plastic bucket on the top of your head.  Catch three balls in the bucket while keeping it on top of your head.

Defying Gravity: 2+ people - Keep two balloons in the air for as long as possible.  First one to drop their balloon does not win

Breakfast Scramble: Assemble the front of a cereal box that has been cut into eight pieces.  You win if you get it put together in under a specified amount of time.

Dizzy Mummy: 4+ people -   Unroll a small roll of toilet paper with 360 degree spins of the arm and wrap your partner. (You may need to unravel some first to make it an attainable task.)  Winner is the first to run out of paper

Elephant March: 2+ people  Knock over bottles using a baseball hanging from panty hose worn on the head.  winner is the first to knock over all their bottles.

Tissue Toss:2+ people -   Using both hands, empty a tissue box.  Winner is the first to empty their box

Play it By Ear: Place five cans with varying quantities of pennies in the correct order. (With a sharpie, place the numbers on the bottom.)  Winner is the one who guesses the most correctly

Separation Anxiety:  Separate a pile of 25 multicolored chocolate candies into five separate containers in a set color order.  Winner is the one who can do it fastest

Candelier: Stack four layers of cans, with paper plates in between. Winner is the one who can do it fastest

Tweeze Me: Players use tweezers to relocate five Tic Tacs from one bowl to another. Winner is the one who can do it fastest

Duck, Duck, Goose: 4+ people - Have the kids form a circle sitting on the floor. One child walks around the circle tapping each child on the head and reciting the work “Duck” as they do so. When they tap the child they wish to select, they say/yell “Goose.” That child then has to get up and chase the child who selected them (the “tapper”) around the circle. The tapper tries to get back to the spot vacated by the Goose before the Goose catches and tags them. The Goose becomes the tapper for the second round.

Keep Away: 3+ people - Have the kids stand in a circle. Select one, or a small group of kids, to be in the middle of the circle. The kids on the outside throw a ball to other kids in the circle trying to keep the kid(s) in the middle from intercepting the ball. If a child in the middle of the circle does get the ball, they trade places with whoever threw the ball.

Hot Potato: 2+ people - Have the kids stand/sit in a circle. They pass/throw an object (with a large enough group you can use more than one) around the circle as music plays. Whoever has the object when the music stops is out.

Red Light, Green Light: 3+ people - All students line up against one wall. The leader/student “caller” stands at the opposite wall facing away from the large group. When the caller calls “Green Light” the kids from the group move towards the caller. If the caller turns and yells “Red Light,” those approaching the caller must stop immediately. Anyone who makes any additional motion after “Red Light”

Simon Says: 2+ people - Kids line up in lines facing the leader in the front of the room. The leader tells kids to do things (jumping jacks, turn around, touch nose, touch elbow, quack like a duck, whatever you can think of). If the leader says “Simon Says” before the instruction (as in “Simon says quack like a duck”), the kids do the activity. If the leader does not say “Simon Says,” then the kids should not do as instructed. For example, if the leader says “Simon says spin in circles,” kids should spin in circles. When the leader instructs “Stop,” the kids should not stop because the leader did not give the command “Simon Says Stop!”

Follow the Leader: 2+ people - This is a simple and fun game. Have the kids line up single file. The leader (first kid in line) make outrageous motions, etc. as he walks around the room. The kids behind must follow the lead of the person in front. For a competitive game, set up two lines and take players out as you notice them not following the leader.

Parachute Game: 5+ people - I am always amazed by how even older elementary aged kids love this simple game. This one requires a little more preparation because you’ll need one of those cloth multi-colored parachutes and some balls. Just have the kids circle around the parachute, throw the balls in, and you can have all kinds of fun. Have them try to keep multiple balls airborne. Try to hit the ceiling. Try to have the kids roll the balls off one side of the parachute. The possibilities are endless.

Musical Chairs: 3+ people - Set up a number of chairs less than the number of kids playing (For small groups use one less chair. For larger groups you might want to consider two or three less chairs). As you play music, the kids walk around the chairs. When the music stops, the kids scramble to find an empty seat and sit down. Any child left standing is out. Remove another set of chairs and start the second round with the remaining players until only one seat is left.

Roll Up: 6+ people - This game is a play on the old “Over and Under” balloon game. Divide your teams into two groups. Select ten kids at random to represent your two teams or pull ten from the boys and ten from the girls. Girls against boys pair offs are always a popular competition. Line up the kids so that they stand in front of one another in the same direction. Hand the first person in the line a roll of toilet paper. Tell the leaders that when you give the signal they should loosen paper from the roll and carefully pass it to the person behind them. Each team member should alternate passing it over their heads and under their bodies. When the roll gets to the end of the line, the person on the end wraps it around his waist and passes it back. This should continue a pre set number of times or let them use the whole roll. Use a whistle or start festive music to signal the start of your game. With the cost being two rolls of toilet paper, this is definitely a low budget VBS game idea.

Trust Me: 6+ people -You will need a blindfold and several empty, large cardboard boxes for this game. You will also need a way to indicate a finish line or flag area. Choose two kids to represent each team. One child is blindfolded while the other yells out directions. The goal is to get the blindfolded child to the end of the maze first. It is best to do play this game one team at a time and announce the winner according to the time. Spray paint the boxes bright colors and set them up as obstacles along the path to the end of the maze. The blindfolded child has to trust the seeing child to tell him where to go. When the blindfolded child reaches the end, a volunteer should remove his blindfold so he can grab the prize and run back to the starting line. To make this game more challenging, have two children be calling out directions, one giving bad advice, one giving good. Tell the child which one she should listen to before she puts on her mask. Have helpers along the maze to keep the child from tripping over boxes or getting lost.

Beach Ball Bounce: 6+ people - All you need for this game is two beach balls. Each ball should be different colors or look different some way. Blow up the beach balls and show them to the children. Show which ball represents the girls team and which the boys team. Tell kids the object is to see who can keep their ball from touching the ground longest while standing in one spot. Kids cannot move other than their hands. Kids can only touch the ball belonging to their team. There is no real way to declare a winner or even oversee this game but kids find it hysterical. Play this game outdoors.

Goliath’s Hungry: 6+ people - No supplies are needed for this game. Choose a child to be Goliath. Divide the kids into two teams. The teams need to be spaced about ten to twenty feet apart with Goliath standing in the middle. When Goliath shouts, “I’m hungry!” All the kids run to the opposite side. Anyone Goliath touches joins the giant in the middle. Together, they hold a hand and grab for more kids as they run through again. Every time Goliath should shout “I’m hungry!” until all the kids are caught. This is also an excellent game for outside.

Scavenger Hunts: 3+ people - Hide a group prize in the room before the party begins. Draw a map or give clues to the group and encourage children to work together. Get real interaction by giving them clues that must be solved together. Give each child a letter of a special world and have the children unscramble the word or phrase to locate the treasure.

Charades: 4+ people -Before the party begins, write several animal names or Bible characters on slips of paper. Kids get to randomly select and act out what’s written on the paper. For fun, have kids work together in pairs to act out their characters.

Icebreakers: 6+ people - These games are good for building stronger groups. There are lots of different icebreakers you can use but this one is my favorite. Start with a large ball of yarn. Hold the end string of the yarn and toss the ball to another person. Before you toss the ball, ask a question like “What’s your middle name?” Questions are asked, the ball is tossed and pretty soon there’s yarn everywhere!

Hula Hoop Game: 4+ people - You’ll need four or five large Hula Hoops to start this game. When the game starts have all the children gather together inside the Hula Hoops. Do this while the music plays. Remove the hoop and tell kids they have to squeeze into the other hoops or at least hold on to one. Keep going until you have one hoop and all your class inside and outside. Kids will work together to include everyone.

Catch the Mouse: 4+ people - Other non-competitive games like Catch the Mouse won’t have kids crying. You’ll need two balls for this games, a small one and a large one. Have kids sit on the floor, they will use their feet and legs to move the small ball or “mouse” around the circle. Once the mouse makes it back home, to the original person, introduce the “cat.” The cat is the larger ball. The mouse has to move around the circle without being passed by the cat. Kids laugh and have fun playing this silly game.

Going on a Trip: 2+ people - The first child says, “I am going on a trip and I am taking an (child inserts an item that begins with the letter A).” The next child says, “I am going on a trip and I am taking an (inserts the A item) and a (child inserts an item that begins with the letter B).” The third child says, “I am going on a trip and I am taking an (inserts the name of the A item), a (inserts the name of the B item), and a (child inserts an item that begins with the letter C).” This pattern continues around the room until the group of children has exhausted the entire alphabet.

I Spy: 2+ people - One child stands and silently chooses an object they can see in the room. The child then whispers the name of the object in the teacher’s ear, so the teacher can assist in the game as needed. The child then declares, “I spy something that is (the color of the item).” The rest of the children then take turns guessing what the object is until the class has identified the item the child was spying. Whoever guesses the item correctly gets to choose the item for the next round.

Four Corners: 4+ people - Someone assigns a number to each corner of the room, so there is corner number one, corner number two, etc. The children divide up and stand at a chosen corner. One child is chosen to be “it” and stands in the center of the room with their eyes closed. When “it” yells, “Go!” the other children proceed to walk about the perimeter of the room moving from corner to corner. When “it” yells, “Stop!” the children must go to the nearest corner and wait. While keeping their eyes closed the child in the center of the room will call out one corner number. The children standing in that corner are then out of the game for that round. This procedure continues until there is only one child remaining. That child will then become the next “it” and play continues with another round.

Heads Up 7 Up: 4+ people -
Seven children are chosen to stand in at the front of the room. The rest of the children close their eyes and lower their heads with one thumb held up in the air. Next, the seven children silently walk about the room looking for someone to choose. They each choose one seated child by touching their raised thumb. When a child’s thumb has been touched they will lower their hand into their lap. After all seven children have made a choice, the children return to stand at the front of the room. The teacher calls out, “Heads up, seven up!” The children whose thumbs’ got touched stand up and make a guess at who from the front of the room picked them. If their guess is correct, they will switch places with the child in the front of the room. If their guess is incorrect, they will sit back down. Play continues like this for as many rounds as you desire.

Drop off: 4+ people - We had two or three teams (depending on the number of teams we had) line up on one side of the auditorium. Each team was given a bowl, a plastic spoon, and a scooter board (we use the ones sold through Awana, but you can find them elsewhere if you search for term “scooter board” on Google). On the other end of the auditorium, we placed several bowls of M&M’s. The point of the game is for one team member to go from one end of the auditorium to the other while sitting on the scooter board, pick up one of the M&M’s on their spoon (without using their hands) and scoot back to the other end of the auditorium without dropping the M&M.
Here’s the catch! Standing on the sidelines are all the players from the teams not running the race. Their role is to throw balls at the contestants on the scooter boards to try to knock the M&M’s off of their spoons. This is the gauntlet part of the game! If the player drops their M&M before they get back and place it in their team’s bowl, they pick up their scooter, run back to the start line, and give another player on their team a chance to go retrieve an M&M. The first team to accumulate a predetermined number of M&M’s wins the round.
We had a lot of fun playing this game and the kids almost universally asked to play it again. Here are a couple of things I learned while playing. One, make sure you use soft cushy balls rather than the hard rubber balls for this game. Given that the kids are sitting on the scooter boards, there is a high probability that they will get hit in the head. The softer balls mean a lot fewer injuries. Secondly, don’t utilize too many balls in the game. We started with twelve balls and only two teams on scooters. This meant six balls flying at each contestant at any given time. That made it virtually impossible for them to get back with an M&M. I would suggest no more than three balls for each team on a scooter (two may actually be better). This gives the teams on the scooters a fighting chance.
This basic concept could also easily be adapted for other situations. I think it would be fun to try the game with marbles instead of M&M’s or use M&M’s but give the kids a plastic knife or a ruler rather than a plastic spoon. I also think this would make a great outdoor water game if you used wet super soaker balls rather than the soft foam balls. We also tried the game with one person riding the scooter and another pushing. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Photos are just misc photos found with fun ideas.  Not my kids or party (for privacy purposes)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reasons to Study the Bible and Memorize God's word

Proverbs 9:10 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Memorizing what God says is commanded in the Bible.  God told Joshua directly in Joshua 1:8  "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." 

To meditate on something day and night means to think about it all of the time.  Constantly.  Consistently.  Unfailingly. You cannot meditate on something if you don't have at least some of it memorized.  A Christian must deliberately meditate on the Word of God in order to "be careful to do everything written in it."

If Scripture memorization is so essential for Christ followers, then doesn't that inevitably mean that we are also to demonstrate this to our children, and help them to remember His Word (Prov 22:6)?

It is vital that young Christians have key passages for trials in your life.  During times of temptation, testing, anxiety, or trouble it is ideal to have Scripture already hidden in your heart (Psalm 119:11) because you may not have a Bible on hand.  If God’s word is already implanted in your heart, the Holy Spirit will use it during those times, bring it to your mind, and bring you comfort.

Certainly, if the habit of memorization is established very young, a child is given a heritage that will help him considerably in future memorizing.  Many adults claim that it is difficult for them to memorize.  Whether that is true in every case is open to question.  It may be that they have never been taught to memorize – either at home or school.


Paraphrased from Teaching Bible Memory – Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If Jesus had a blog- Air 1

I was listening to one of my favorite radio stations the other day and heard one of the dj's talking about a blog he started - he called it 'If Jesus Had a Blog.' 

I had to check it out.

I'm a writer. While I love reading, I would rather be writing.  So, I don't read a lot of other blogs. At least not on a regular basis- just when I am looking for something specific. 
This is one I will read often. My 9 yo loved it as well.

The dj, Brant Hanson, puts himself into the shoes of Jesus in the 21st century and talks about Jesus' works. Along with Brant's usual goofiness, you get a very profound, thought provoking idea of what Jesus himself would say to us today.
There are a few quotes at the bottom - also from Brant. These are his thoughts. Things that we would cluelessly post to His blog.

Read it. Whether you are a believer or not, the things you will read will make you think and rethink what you do believe.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Get excited about Bible memorization

 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word.   I seek you with all my heart;     do not let me stray from your commands.   I have hidden your word in my heart  that I might not sin against you.   Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.   Psalm 119:9-12

To teach memorizing effectively, we need to realize that memorizing is hard work.  This is some of the hardest work there is.  Therefore, we need to keep in mind that students will not be overly enthusiastic at the suggestion of memorizing yet another thing.

As a teacher we must be enthusiastic and diligent about your memory work in order to inspire the children.

The most effective way to inspire enthusiasm for memory work is to see the need.  Then set a personal goal.  Obviously, an adult will see the need long before a child, and the adult will set goals in accordance to the passages they desire to memorize, their competence, and the intensity in which it will involve.

However, a child will be slower to see the need and will need an adult helper to explain the urgency and help them to not only set a goal, but also to obtain that goal.

We must emphasize to our children that when we memorize Bible verses we are not just like Satan and the Pharisees who can repeat what we read, we are learning and remembering Gods message to us in order to obey Him.  The words that they are learning are the most  important words they will ever read, hear, or learn because they are the words of God.  It is our job to explain that only the words of God can help them to live a life according to God’s way.  The words of God show us the way to heaven.  The words of God can only be found in the Bible.

No matter how excited we get, or how excited our children (finally) get, if they have no idea what they are memorizing, none of our effort will ever matter.  If you are told to memorize a random ten-digit number what are the chances of you remembering it in a week?  A year?  What if that was your home telephone number?  I remember my first phone number from when I got my own phone line at the age of 13 (I won’t tell you how many decades ago that was). 

The same goes for Bible verses.  If the words have no meaning, they will not stick.  Conversely, if the passage is meaningful to the student and if they comprehend what the passage is saying to them, they are much more likely to remember that particular verse for a lot longer time.

One of our favorite tricks for getting excited about a new verse is to sing and dance to it.  The tune is usually silly, but catchy and the ‘dance’ moves are our own made up version of sign language.  It’s fun and interactive and the kids really remember the verse.  I still sing the books of the Bible when I am looking for a book. 

portions paraphrased from Teaching Bible Memory from Rod and Staff Publications, Inc.