Youth Group Games
Do you ever feel like you’re always playing the same games with your students?
Need an Ice-Breaker to get kids out of their shells?
Does Youth Group start in 10 minutes and you forgot that you were in charge of the game this week?
We made this list of Youth Group Games to help to give you some fresh (or last minute) ideas.
The games below have 3 ratings:
1. Equipment & Setup Complexity (0-5 Rating)
- 0: no equipment needed, very easy set up
- 5: A fairly elaborate setup with lots of equipment (not recommended for last minute ideas)
2. Energy/Activity Level (1-5 Rating)
- 1: Low energy, quiet game
- 5: Very High energy, running around game
3. Good As An Ice-Breaker?
- Yes or No
View a Google Sheet of all the games below. The sheet allows you to sort. For example, you may want a game that’s high energy AND requires minimal set up. The sheet lets you find that quickly. Then, simply return to this page to find the instructions.
- Everyone sits in the circle and picks an animal, a motion and a noise for that animal. For example, a student might pick a “cat,” put their hands up by their ears, and say “meow.”
- Decide on where the King spot, or top seat, is within the circle. The goal is to make it to that King spot.
- The king starts. He or she “sends” the action to another person by making their own noise/motion, and then someone else’s noise/motion.
- That person then makes their noise/motion, and then another person’s, and so on.
- For example, in a game with a cat, a dog, and a monkey, the action might be as follows:
- Cat – Dog
- Dog – Cat
- Cat – Monkey
- Monkey – Dog
- Dog – Cat
- and so forth…
- Cat, monkey, and dog are commonly used, but creativity is encouraged…the sillier, the better!
- If someone makes a mistake (stumbles over their noise, does the wrong combination of noise and motion, or hesitates too long), that person moves all the way down to the end of the line.
- Then, everybody else shifts up one position. The animals are tied to the position. In other words, when you move, your animal is now different. So it’s important to know what animal is in the seat next to you because you’ll have to be that animal in the next round!
- One person is “it.”
- Whenever someone is tagged by “it” they must hold a bandaid (their hand) on the spot where they were tagged. Then the game continues.
- When someone runs out of bandaids, (they get tagged three times), they are frozen until two other people come over to them and “operate.” The two other people need to tag the frozen person at the same time and count to five.
- Let the game continue for as long as it remains exciting and fun.
- Switch the person who is “it” often.
- 2 special balls.
- These can either be a different color dodgeball or a different type of ball. They just need to be clearly different from the other balls.
- This is an everyone-for-themselves dodgeball alternative.
- The goal is to be the last one standing.
- Start with dodgeballs scattered around the gameplay area.
- If you are hit with a dodgeball, you must sit down/kneel and you are down.
- If you catch a dodgeball that is thrown at you, the person who threw the ball is down.
- When you are in/up, you may only use the regular dodgeballs.
- While sitting down, there are several ways to get back in:
- You may tag players that are still in. If you tag a player, they must now sit down and you are back in the game.
- While sitting down, you may also throw a ball at a player that is still in. If you hit a player that is in, they must now sit down and you are back in the game.
- Players who are sitting down may cooperate with each other by forming a “chain.” A chain is formed when two or more sitting players throw a ball to each other. When a player who is in is hit with a ball by a player who is down, every downed player who has touched that ball is now back in.
- For example:
- Susie, Terrance, and Beatrice are all down. Cathy is in.
- Susie gets a ball and passes it to Terrance. Terrance passes the ball to Beatrice. Beatrice then hits Cathy. Cathy is now down. Because Susie and Terrance both touched ball before Beatrice hit Cathy, all three of them are now back up.
- There is no limit to how long a chain can be.
- If the ball is dropped at any time, the whole chain is broken.
- The 2 special balls
- These balls can only be used by players who are down.
- Players who are down may get up to go get these balls. However, they must return to their original spot and kneel back down, before throwing or passing the ball.
- For example:
- Form teams of 4 – 10 players.
- Each team stands in a straight line.
- One person is the leader and all of the others on the team need to put their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them.
- Then the team should crouch down, forming the crocodile.
- The different crocodiles then races out to a point and back or whatever adventurous, but safe, idea you can come up with.
- Lots of solo cups
- A marker (or a handful of solo cups that are a different color)
- Divide the solo cups into even stacks. The number of stacks depends on how many teams will compete at once. We recommend you play with at least 15 cups per team.
- One cup in each stack should be a different color. You can either mark the one cup with a marker, or simply throw in a cup that is already a different color.
- The goal is to be the first to get that colored cup all the way down the stack of cups and back to the top.
- Players must move each cup from the top of the stack to the bottom.
- Players may only move one cup at a time.
- Players must alternate hands each time they pass a cup.
- If a player drops a cup, they must pick it up and place it on the top of the stack before continuing.
Ducks and Cows
- Players close their eyes while one person goes around tapping them on the shoulders designating them either a duck or a cow. One tap = duck, two taps = cow.
- When the game begins, players keep their eyes closed and must find other members of their duck or cow team by “mooing” or “quacking.”
- The first team to assemble wins.
- You can add other animals to the mix if you want!
- This can be used as an engaging and goofy way to randomly divide the large group into smaller groups
Elephants, Cows, Giraffes
- Get into a circle with one person in the center. This person will then call out elephant, cow, or giraffe.
- The person that is pointed out, as well as the person on each side of him/her, will have to coordinate their actions and make each animal as described below:
- Elephant: center will stick both hands in front of their nose in a cylinder to form a trunk. On each side of them they will form the ears by leaning over placing one hand by the center persons hips and the other by their head.
- Cow: center person will enter lock their fingers and turn them upside down so that the thumbs point down forming udders. The outside people will then milk the udders.
- Giraffes: center places their hands directly over their head and together forming the neck, while the outside two arch their backs touching the middle person’s toes to form the legs.
- Speedy rabbit – the 2 side people face out to make the shape of the ears, and the middle person puts his or her hands in front of them like paws.
- Screaming Viking – the 2 side people make rowing motions on the outside, and the middle person bangs their fists on their chest yelling.
- Girl Scout – the 2 side people put their arms up on a diagonal and lean in to make a house, and the middle person crouches down and says, “Want a cookie?”
- If they do not get into this position by the count of 5 by the pointer then the last to get into position will become the center person.
- Writing Utensils (1 per player)
- Small slips of paper (1 per player)
- Bucket or bowl
- Every player secretly writes a character on his or her slip of paper. The character can be an historical figure, a fictional character, a celebrity, etc.
- Every slip of paper is placed into the bucket. One person (or the leader) is chosen to read each slip of paper. After reading through all of the slips, it is recommended to read through all of them a second time.
- Players must pay close attention and attempt to remember all the names listed.
- The player whose birthday is closest will begin.
- The goal is to match the characters to the correct player who wrote it down.
- The first player will make a guess. For example, let’s say the first player is Jamal. Jamal might say, “Susie is…Joseph Gordon Levitt!”
- If Susie is indeed the person who wrote down JGL, then Susie must join Jamal’s “Empire” by moving over to sit next to him.
- If a player guesses correctly, he or she gets to guess again. If the player guesses incorrectly, the person whom he or she guessed will go next.
- The members of your empire may help you in remembering and guessing.
- If a player correctly guesses the character of someone with an empire, then they’ve successfully conquered that empire and the whole empire must move and become a part of the guesser’s empire. For example, if Jamal has gained 8 people to his empire and Emily correctly guesses that, “Jamal is…Sylvester Stallone!” then Jamal and all 8 people in his empire are now a part of Emily’s empire.
- Eventually, someone will conquer the entire group and everyone will be a part of his or her empire.
Entourage (Rock, Paper, Scissors Game)
- This is a Rock, Paper, Scissors game
- Players will face off against another player in a game of rock, paper, scissors.
- The loser follows the winner, cheering for the winner very enthusiastically.
- Soon, groups will form. Whenever a player wins, the losing player’s “entourage” will join the winning player’s “entourage.”
- The game will end with two players left, each with a large entourage cheering them on with lots of enthusiasm.
Fifty Yard Scream
- Everyone lines up on one side of a large playing area.
- When the leader calls go, everyone runs screaming and stops only when they’ve run out of breath.
- You can then have the group go back and try to beat their distance.
Food, Friends, and Fireworks
- Begin by introducing the motions:
- Food- rub your belly and say “mmmmm”
- Friends- hold out both arms wide and say “heeeeyyyy”
- Fireworks- clap both hands over your head and then say “shhhhhhhh” as you slowly lower your arms to your sides.
- Ask everyone to find a partner. They stand back to back.
- Tell them that they are going to try to match one of the three motions with their partner. There is no talking or planning!!
- Count to three and say “Go!”
- Both partners turn and face each other and immediately make the motion and sound that they had chosen.
- If the pair match, they give a resounding “Yes!” and pump their fist in the air.
- If they do not match they say “D’Oh” and lightly bump themselves on the head.
- Try it again with the same partner or have everyone switch partners and see if a match can be created with someone new.
- Best for groups of 20-30.
- Everyone sits in a circle.
- One person is picked to be in the middle of the circle.
- That person goes into another room or plugs his/her eyes while the group picks someone to be the Frogger. Everyone else in the circle is a fly.
- Once the Frogger is picked, the person comes back into the room and sits in the middle of the circle
- The Frogger “eats” flies by looking at them and sticking out his or her tongue. If you are eaten by the frogger, you lie down. You can be dramatic as you get eaten, or you can be subtle about it.
- The person in the middle has to guess who the frogger is.
- Soccer ball, Frisbee (or volleyball), basketball
- Divide the team into two even teams.
- Make sure there is an even mix of boys and girls on both teams
- Decide which ball is the girl-only ball, which ball is the boy-only ball, and which is the gender-neutral ball.
- The object of the game is to score goals and earn more points than the other team.
- You can only defend against your own gender, or the gender-neutral ball.
- Players must use the appropriate rules with the ball:
- Soccer rules apply when using the soccer ball
- Basketball rules apply when using the basketball
- Ultimate Frisbee rules apply when using the Frisbee
- Alternatively, you can use a volleyball or different colored soccer ball while still using the same general rules that are used in Ultimate Frisbee
- Rotate which gender utilizes which ball/sport periodically.
- Sticky Notes or sticky nametags
- Every player secretly writes a character on a sticky note. The character can be an historical figure, a fictional character, a celebrity, etc.
- Every player will get a different player’s sticky note on their forehead or back. They must not be able to see the sticky note.
- Players must walk around the room and ask yes-or-no-questions to other players and attempt to figure out who is written on their sticky note.
Have You Ever?
- Chairs or placemarkers
- Everyone stands or sits in a circle in front of a place marker, such as a backpack, chair, or stool. The one person without a chair or a place marker is “it”.
- The “it” will say something about themselves. For example, “Have you ever gone swimming in the Atlantic Ocean?”
- Anyone in the circle that has that in common must move to a new spot in the circle. Each move has to be at least two place markers or chairs from where they started.
- Whoever is left without a place marker will be it and will tell the group something about their self.
- This game works best with more people. You get in a circle and declare a “Huh master” (usually a counselor).
- Everyone puts there hands above their head as if they are clapping.
- Everyone then bends at the waist and makes a samurai sound. The “Huh master” then puts his/her hands up and then points to a player across from them in the circle and says, “HUH!” (Hense “huh game”)
- The player who was chosen then puts his/her hands directly up, while the players on his/her left and right “strike” he/she as if they were striking a gong. Then the person who was struck picks another person across the circle and continues the pattern.
- The object is to keep the pattern going without getting out. A player may get out by messing up the pattern by getting off beat, or being unclear who has been chosen.
Hunger Games Dodgeball
- Tables or other things that can be made into barriers
- Place all the dodgeballs in the in the middle. This is the Cornucopia.
- Set up barriers in various places around the area of play. Players may use these barriers as cover.
- Divide the group into pairs. Each pair is from their “district” and they form an alliance.
- The goal is to eliminate everybody and be the last one standing.
- Teams can make alliances with other partnerships.
- If the person who gets you out gets out, then you’re back in.
- You can’t run with the ball in your hand. You can toss it and go get it. Or pass between you and your alliance members.
I Have Never
- Everyone is sitting in a circle of chairs except for the person in the middle. The person in the middle calls out something they have never done.
- For Example “I have never been to New York.” or “I have never been Sky Diving.”
- The people who are sitting in the chairs who have DONE what this person has NEVER done must get up and switch seats. However, they cannot switch seats with the person sitting directly next to them.
- The object is for the person in the middle is to quickly take a seat from those that are switching seats before they become occupied again. This is a great way to learn about people.
Joke & Punchline
- Write a joke on one card and a punchline on another. Be sure to mix the cards up. The number of different jokes you use is up to you.
- Give each person a card. Explain that they may have a joke or a punchline on the card.
- On a given signal, they are to walk amongst the crowd trying to find the other part of their joke/punchline.
- When they find their other half, you may ask them to get to know their new partner by asking things like favorite ice cream or dream vacation, etc.
- When this is done, everyone can return to a circle and, with their partner, tell their joke to the rest of the group.
- A Sheet
- Split the group into two teams. Each team sits behind one side of the sheet so that they are out of the view of the other side. One person from each side will sit facing the sheet.
- When the sheet is lowered, the team that says the name of the person on the opposite side first gets that player on their team.
- The game ends when everyone is on the same side.
People to People
- Pair up in groups of two and stand back to back. Make sure participants introduce themselves to one another.
- Then the leader will say different combinations that the pair has to try to get to while maintaining previous instructions (right hand to right hand, left foot to right foot, head to head, right hand to left leg, etc…). The pairs must maintain all called combination until they switch partners.
- Once the leader says People to People they will then go switch partners.
- If you have an odd number of participants, the odd person is the leader. Once pairs switch, the odd person out is the new leader.
Race to 100
- 1 piece of paper per player
- 1 Pen
- 1 Die
- Have all players sit around a table. You can play this game on the floor if the surface is hard and easy to write on.
- The player whose birthday is the closest will start with the pen. The player to their left will start with the die.
- The player with the pen begins writing their way to 100, one digit at a time, on their piece of paper.
- Roll the die. If a 5 is rolled, all players pass their paper one person to the left. This results in the person with the pen having to continue the numbering where their new piece of paper has left off.
- If a 1 is rolled, the person who rolled it gets the pen.
- The first person to write 100 on their paper is the winner.
- Everyone sits in a circle.
- The person who is it stands in the center of the circle.
- Each person asks the person who is “it” an appropriate question.
- The only answer to every question can be “Sausage.”
- The first person to make the center person laugh wins a try in the middle.
- Ex: What color is your hair? Sausage.
- What do you brush your teeth with? Sausage.
- (Obviously other words can be used for variety)
- Everyone stands in a circle and looks down at the ground.
- One the count of 3, everyone looks up and stares at someone.
- If you are making eye contact with someone, both people (you and the person with whom you are making eye contact) must scream and you are both out.
- Do this until two people are left. They are the winners.
Star Wars Ball
- Big beach ball
- Obstacles (chairs, stools, backpacks)
- Divide the room in half
- Place all dodgeballs along the center line
- Place the big beach ball in the center
- Place a few obstacles on each side. Leave the rest of the obstacles on the side for now.
- Divide the group into two teams of players
- The goal is to hit the opposing team’s wall with the giant beach ball by throwing the smaller dodgeballs at it.
- Teams must touch their own wall before the game begins.
- Explain to them that the big beach ball in the center is the “Death Star.” Players must destroy the Death Star by pelting it with their dodgeballs.
- At a given signal, the game begins. Teams run to the center to grab balls.
- OPTIONAL: Play Star Wars music and have the start of the music be the signal to begin.
- Players may only throw their dodgeballs at the Death Star. They may not intentionally throw their dodgeballs at other players. It’s up to the judgment of group leaders to determine whether or not a player is violating this rule.
- As the game progresses, add more obstacles (space-debris) onto each side.
- When the Death Star hits a wall, the round is over. Reset the balls in the middle.
- Duct Tape
- Two colors of sticky notes or slips of paper
- This game works best when you’re able to use a large space with hiding spots.
- Divide the group into two teams.
- Assign each team a color.
- Give each team a plethora of sticky notes/slips of paper that corresponds to the color of their team.
- Each team selects a team member to be their Tape Man (or woman).
- Wrap each Tape Man in duct tape with the stick side facing out.
- CAUTION: Ensure that the Tape Man’s hands are free. They will be running around and may fall down.
- Each Tape Man goes off and hides somewhere.
- The goal is to find the other team’s duct tape man, chase him or her around the building, and stick him or her with as many of your team’s sticky notes as you can.
- The round ends after a certain amount of time or at the discretion of the leader.
- The team with the most sticky notes stuck to the opposing Duct Tape Man is the winner.
- No tackling the Duct Tape Man.
Transformation (Rock, Paper, Scissors Game)
- This is a Rock, Paper, Scissors game
- Players will face off against another player in a game of rock, paper, scissors. The winner moves up a level, the loser moves down a level (see levels below).
- You can only compete against someone who at your same level.
- All players start out at the same level.
- You cannot move down past the lowest level.
- You cannot move up past the highest level.
- The levels are as follows:
Is the gym not quite ready yet? Did the projector go off right before worship and takes FOREVER to boot back up? These next few youth group games are for those times when you just need to distract or occupy students for a few minutes.
In My Grandmother’s Attic
- The first player says, “In my grandmother’s attic, I found (name something that starts with “A”).
- The next player says the same phrase, the object beginning with the “A,” and then something that begins with a “B.”
- Continue this way, each player reciting the previous items and adding another, all the way through the alphabet to “Z.”
- This is more challenging than it sounds…
- Ask the group to stand in a circle. Set a numeric goal for the group to reach (start with 15 or so). Explain to the group that once the activity begins, participants can only say a number – no side conversations or strategies!
- Once the leader says, “Go,” someone (whoever decides to start) in the group starts by saying, “One,” followed by someone different (whoever decides to speak next) calling out, “two,” and so one until the group reaches its goal.
- The challenge is that if more than one person calls out a number at the same time, the group needs to start over at the beginning. Since there is not a set order, this happens quite a lot!
- As a variation, you can give the group a time limit (say 10 minutes) to reach the highest possible number.
This is a brain teaser. See how many students can figure out the pattern without giving it away to anyone else.
- Tell your students that you have a really weird friend named Silly Sally.
- Silly Sally likes doors but not windows
- Silly Sally likes puppies but not dogs
- Silly Sally likes the pool but not water
- Silly Sally likes Jeeps but not cars
- Silly Sally likes kittens but not cats
- Silly Sally likes the floor but not the ceiling
- The Secret: Silly Sally likes things that are spelled with a double letter For example, Silly Sally likes doors but not windows because doors has a double letter (oo).
- You can create as many variations as you would like. It depends on how long you would like the game to last!
Slap, Clap, Snap
- Assign everyone in the group a number, starting at number one and progressing consecutively.
- Have the entire group get the rhythm of slapping their hands on their legs twice, clapping twice, then snapping twice. Don’t go too fast, you won’t be able to play the game!
- Have everyone start doing the slap, clap, snap sequence.
- Then start the game by having the person with number 1 say, on the snaps, 1 then another person’s number.
- The person that had their number called then says their number on the first snap of the next time through the sequence, and another number on the second snap.
- The game goes on until one person makes a mistake by not saying the correct numbers or not being on time with the snaps.
- The person who makes a mistake must go to the end of the numbers and everyone after that person shifts down a number.
- This game can go on as long as you like, HAVE FUN!
Follows My Rule
- Tell the players that your numbers are 2, 4, 8
- THE TRICK: the rule appears to be that the progression goes up by doubling the previous number. Or is it that it’s only even numbers? No. The actual rule is simply that the numbers are going up and not down.
- The players must figure out your rule by giving you a different set of three numbers. If it follows your rule, then you say “Follows my rule.” If it does not follow your rule, you say, “Does not follow my rule.”
- They can guess what the rule is at any time. If their guess is incorrect, they can suggest another set of three numbers and attempt to guess again.
- This will keep students stumped for a while.
- Of course, you can come up with other rules and see if they can guess it!
Mr. and Mrs. Right
Have everyone stand. Read the story. When you say “right” (or “Wright”) everyone takes a step to the right. When you say “left” everyone takes a step to the left.
This is a story about Mr. and Mrs WRIGHT.
One evening they were baking cookies. Mrs. WRIGHT called from the kitchen, “Oh, no, there is no flour LEFT! You will need to go RIGHT out to the store.”
“I can’t believe you forgot to check the pantry,” grumbled MR. WRIGHT. “You never get anything RIGHT!”
“Don’t be difficult, dear,” replied Mrs. WRIGHT. “It will only take twenty minutes if you come RIGHT back. Go to Fifty-first and Peoria, and turn LEFT at the stop sign.
Then go to Sixty-first Street and turn RIGHT, and there it will be on your LEFT,” declared Mrs. WRIGHT as her husband LEFT the house.
Mr. WRIGHT found the store and asked the clerk where he could find the flour. The clerk pointed and said, “Go to Aisle four and turn LEFT. The flour and sugar will be on your LEFT.”
Mr. WRIGHT made his purchase and walked RIGHT out the door. He turned LEFT, but he couldn’t remember where he had LEFT his car. Suddenly he remembered that he had driven Mrs. WRIGHT’S car and that his car was in the driveway at home
RIGHT where he had LEFT it. He finally found the RIGHT car and put his purchase
Eventually, a weary Mr. WRIGHT found his way home. Mrs. WRIGHT had been waiting impatiently. “I thought you would be RIGHT back,” she said. “I LEFT all the cookie ingredients on the kitchen counter, and the cats got into the milk. You’ll just have to go RIGHT out again.”
Mr. WRIGHT sighed. He had no energy LEFT. “I am going RIGHT to bed,” he said.
“Anyway, I need to go on a diet, so I might as well start RIGHT now. Isn’t that RIGHT, dear?”
#1: Trigger Finger
- Extend both your arms in front of you.
- Make one hand into a thumbs up, and the other with index finger pointed.
- The challenge is to then simultaneously switch the action of each hand, so one hand makes the thumbs up from the pointer action and the other makes the pointer from the thumbs up.
#2: Is this your chin?
- Ask the group to hold one hand out in front of their bodies in the “ok” symbol.
- Ask the group to do a series of movements, such as look through the hole, raise the hand over their head, make three circles and count aloud, etc.
- You demonstrate the movements as you give the commands.
- While giving the last command, “Put it on your chin,” you place your own hand on your cheek.
- Most of the group will follow your actions and will have placed their hands on their cheek, to which you can tease the group with, “Is that your chin?! That is not your chin!”
#3: Alternating Arms
- Ask the group to extend their arms out directly in front of their bodies, with the thumbs on each hand pointing towards the other hand.
- Then rotate one arm in a rowing motion away from the body.
- Then rotate the other arm in the same motion towards the body.
- .. challenge the group to rotate both their arms at the same time in the opposite motions.