Helpful Things: Playing It Safe

By Crysten Sanchez
COVID times. Uncertain times. Unprecedented times. That's what everyone's email introduction says! You're still gathering with your youth group? Great! Looking for some things to do with them while also maintaining some distance? We've got you covered!

Circle Games

It's amazing how many games can be played in a circle!
Everyone stands in a circle with one person in the middle. Spread out! The one in the middle has different options to say to try to get someone else in the middle:
"Boppity-Bop-Bop-Bop" - the person she or he is talking to has to say "bop" before they finish saying "Boppity-Bop-Bop-Bop" If they don't say "bop" before the one in the middle is finished, it's their turn to go in the middle!

"Bop" - the person being talked to can't say anything. She'll think she  has to, and if she does, she goes in the middle!

For the following options, the command is given and then the person in the middle counts to 10. If the command isn't completed before 10, the participants swap and the new one goes to the middle! 

"Elephant" - the person has to put his arm out like a snout while the two people around him make ears. 

"Jello" means the person puts her arms in the air and jiggles while the two people around her form a bowl around her midsection. 

"Fire hydrant" means the person squats down in place while the two people around him lift their legs like a dog urinating on the hydrant. 

"Mosquito" means the person sticks her finger out from her nose and buzzes, while the two people around her use their hands to be wings and the two people around them spray bug spray at them. This one takes 5 people to complete!

Killer Winker
Everyone sits in a circle and one person is removed from the room. While he or she is  gone, the group chooses one person to be the killer winker. The person comes back into the circle and sits/stands in the middle, and the object is to figure out who the killer winker is. The Killer Winker looks around the circle and winks at people to kill them, and the person who was winked at has to die a loud and dramatic death. The person in the middle gets three guesses as to who is the Killer. If they get it, the killer is then in the circle. If not, choose a new volunteer.

Honey If You Love Me
One person is in the middle of the circle and approaches someone and says, "Honey, if you love me, will you please, please smile?" He can say it in any way or voice to try to make the person on the outside smile, but cannot touch the person. Eye contact has to be made the whole time. The person on the outside has to say, without breaking a smile, "Honey, I love you, but I just can't smile" three times. If she smiles, she's in the middle. If not, the person in the middle tries someone else.

Follow the Leader
Like Killer Winker, one person is taken out of the room, and out of the circle remaining, a leader is chosen. As the person comes back into the circle, the leader begins some sort of a movement (i.e., snapping fingers, moving feet, touching face, etc.) and the rest of the group follows. He does this as inconspicuously as possible because the person in the middle is trying to figure out who the leader is. She gets three choices. If she picks the right person, the leader goes into the middle, and if not, a new volunteer is chosen.

Big Booty
The whole group stands in a circle. One person is "big booty." The object is to get "big booty" kicked out of his or her place. Each person is then numbered from one to however many are present in order, starting at the left of "Big Booty." Do a knee-slap, clap, and on the beat chant "Aw, Big, Booty, Big Booty, Big Booty, Aw yeah, Big Booty!", followed by calling out peoples' numbers. They have to respond with their numbers and then call out another number. For example, (Big Booty always starts it out), "Big Booty, number 1!" Then the first person to the left calls, "Number 1, Number 2!" Then number 2 shouts, "Number 2, Number 5!" and so on. "Number 5, Number 8!" Number 8, Big Booty!" "Big Booty, Number 10," etc. If anyone answers out of beat, he automatically goes back to the last numbered place, and everyone is renumbered from one to however many people there are. If "Big Booty" is kicked out of his place, the person who kicked him out becomes "Big Booty" and everyone is renumbered.

Don't Look at Me!
The youth stand in a circle and all look at the floor. On the count of three, each person looks up at one other person. If the person  looked at happens to be looking back, they both sit down and are out. Game continues until there are two left, who are declared as the winners.


These allow the kids to get to know each other in a fun, non-threatening way.

The Big Wind Blows
This is a way to find out who in the group is like you. Everyone sits in a circle on chairs, with one fewer chair than the number of people in the circle. The one person without a chair stands in the middle and says, "The Big Wind Blows anyone who…" and fills in with something that is true about herself. It could be her eye color, somewhere she's visited, something she's wearing, etc. Anyone sitting in the circle for whom that is also true will then get up and try to find another chair to sit in (can't be one right next to him). The person without a chair is then in the middle and the game continues.

First Impression Game
Each student is given a piece of paper that is taped on his or her back and a pen or marker. The students circulate around and talk with the others, preferably ones they don't know, for 2-3 minutes. After they talk, a few minutes are taken to allow them to write their first impressions of the other person on that person's paper. Make it clear to the students that what they write on the sheets should only be positive things.

Other Games

These are not circle games or ice-breakers, but are still tons of fun!

Cucumber Slide
This game is played with slices of cucumbers and a long table. Each person gets a slice of cucumber that he has to try to slide down the table with his nose and nothing else. The one who reaches the end of the table first, wins!

The leader has two quarters in her hands. Every person in the group has to declare what they think the quarters will flip to. They do this by either: putting both hands on their heads (if they think both will flip to heads), both hands on their hips (if they think both will flip to tails) or one on each their head and hip (if they think it will go one and one). If they guess wrong, they sit down and it goes until there's a winner. This game is better played with a large group, otherwise it goes very fast.

Q-Tip War
Take about 20 Q-tips and split them up between two groups of about 5-6. Get straws that are big enough for a Q-tip to fly through (McDonald's straws work well). The objective of the game is to get as many Q-tips on the other side of the line as possible. This goes on for about 5 minutes. Whichever group has fewer Q-tips  on their side at the end wins!

Paper Game
The participants sit around a table or in a circle on the floor. Each has a piece of paper and a pencil. Each person writes down a sentence on the top of the piece of paper and hands it to the right. The new paper holder reads the sentence and has to draw a picture of what is happening. Then the holder folds the top of the paper over to cover the original sentence, leaving just the picture showing, and then passes the paper to the next person. The new paper holder then looks at the drawing and has to write a sentence of what is happening. The paper is then folded down to cover the picture, and the paper is passed again. This continues until there is no more room on the paper. Open up the paper and read the top sentence and see how it has changed! It's like "telephone" on paper.

Bigger or Better
This game requires parental supervision and cars. Split the group into teams of 3-4, having one parent with each team. Give each team a rubber band. The objective of the game is to get something "bigger" or "better" than what they have. They go door to door saying, "I'm looking for something bigger or better than this (hold up rubber band). It doesn't have to be more expensive--just bigger or better--and you won't get it back." Then trade the rubber band for whatever the person gives you. Whoever gets the biggest and best thing wins! My group played this and wound up with a headboard, a 10-foot piece of lattice and a tri-fold room divider. It's a great game! Just make sure you can get everything back to the church in whatever vehicle you have!

Crysten Sanchez has served as the event executive for Higher Things since 2019, but has been blessed to work for HT in one way or another since 2010. While also working as a youth coordinator through those years, Crysten solidified her opinion on youth: they aren't given as much credit as they deserve, and we "grown ups" can learn just as much from them as they can learn from us. That really forms her mindset while planning, refining, and nit-picking Higher Things events into perfection in order to serve those youth through life-giving worship, mind-growing teaching, and relationship-building fun.
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