Bob Ross Painting Night!

games, Resources, Uncategorized, youth ministry

Hi friends!

It has been a LONG TIME since I have posted, HOWEVER I did something really cool with students at our Overnighter last month, and I wanted to share it with you here!

First of all — I LOVE Overnighters, and I realize I’m overdue with an “official” post on why they are so great, and what we do at them! But the basic trick to them is this: scheduling something every hourish to keep students engaged. This year, we added “Bob Ross” hour at 2am! That’s right, 100 middle schoolers were invited to paint along to a Bob Ross Video at TWO A.M. And you know what? It was a SUCCESS!


The most important part was choosing the right video. I wanted it to be simple enough we could follow along — especially since “real” painters use a variety of brushes and paint colors. Here is the video I chose:


  • Paint Tray Palettes. You could also, of course, use paper plates — but this was a really easy way for us to issue paint to students!
  • Spatulas. We also used plastic knives too — which worked just fine.
  • Fan Brushes. This is a variety pack — the size differences did not seem to matter.
  • Acrylic paint. Bob uses oil paint, but that was not realistic when painting with students. I purchased 3 cases for around 65 paintings. We only used one, and maybe an additional white.
  • One-inch brushes. Bob uses 2-inch brushes, but since we use a very tiny canvas, this worked better for us!
  • 8×10 Canvas – This was the best bang for our buck, and worked just fine for our paintings. Each size item we purchased accompanied this size canvas perfectly.
  • Flat Brushes – I don’t think Bob actually uses anything like this, but it’s nice to have a “normal” paint brush.


  • On each table, we set up cups of water, paper towels, and extra plates so that students could use them to blend colors
  • We learned the hard way: You should also put down plastic tablecloths or butcher paper.
  • On the Palettes, we put white in the center. Then we used the rest of the colors for the other holes. The only colors you don’t need are pink and orange. We also had adults do this — it was easier to create an assembly line than have students do theirs themselves.
  • We passed out canvas and permanent markers first and told students to sign their names on the back. The canvases we used give space for students to even name their paintings!
  • I led this activity, and painted along. I would tell students to listen to Bob fully, then I’d pause it after he did something and allow students to catch up.
  • We let students “skip” painting the parts that they didn’t love. As it gets to the end and Bob starts doing the bushes and the path, it doesn’t make sense at first. This would be an awesome thing to preach on, if you have a message that evening! Sometimes you can’t see what God is doing, but if you go along with it you might get something beautiful and unexpected.

Here is a look at my painting (the best art I’ve ever done!) and a few other pictures of our activity!


I would 10/10 do again! We finished around 3am, and they were dried and ready by 7am. We had several kids get frustrated (our boys, let’s be honest) and trashed so they could play foosball or “reinterpreted” their paintings, as you can see. But overall, everyone loved the activity.

7 Quick Christmas Games

christmas, games


MATERIALS:Panty hose, balloons.
INSTRUCTIONS: Divide group into teams. Each team gets one pair of pantyhose, and a set number of balloons. Give 2-3 minutes for each team to blow up their balloons, put in the pantyhose, and get the pantyhose on someone’s head (like reindeer antlers). Judge to see who has the best-looking reindeer antlers!


MATERIALS: Rolls of wrapping paper, tape, and bows for each team
INSTRUCTIONS: Each team must wrap one of their members up like a gift. The best wrap job in a 5-minute period wins!


MATERIALS: Cotton balls, vaseline
INSTRUCTIONS: Play up-front or in groups. One willing participant will put vaseline on their chin, and their partners will place cotton balls on their face to make a “beard”. There are SO MANY variations to this — make it relay-style, throw the cotton balls, or whatever makes it fun for your group!


MATERIALS: Stockings, bells or gift bows
INSTRUCTIONSThis is another game that you can use variants to make it relay style or an up-front game. One person holds a stocking, and the other tries to throw jingle bells or gift bows into it. Most in a minute wins!


MATERIALS: Balled-up pieces of paper
INSTRUCTIONS: Dodgeball-style, divide the team into two, and have them use paper instead of dodgeballs, getting each other out!


MATERIALS: Items to decorate a Christmas tree — garland, bows, ornaments, ribbon, etc.
INSTRUCTIONS: You can play this relay-style, in groups, or up-front. One person gets decorated by a friend or a group into the best Christmas tree!


MATERIALS: A Christmas tree, a tape circle around the tree, two colors of ornaments
INSTRUCTIONS: Divide groups into teams, and put them against one another to see who can throw the most ornaments on the tree in a one-minute period. They must stay outside of the circle surrounding the tree. Ornaments that bounce off the tree and outside the circle are fair game.

Some Fall Games I’ve been playing!

games, Ministry, youth ministry

I haven’t posted in a while; I got married last month! I’ll post some pictures soon (and I’m excited to tell you our love story).

I just wanted to pop in to share a few of the games that we have been playing in our middle school ministry this fall. They’re a little random, but a total blast. Feel free to use any of this material, including the graphics, which I created quickly in Canva.

Gobble Hobble.png

The “Gobble Hobble” is the name I gave this game in a frenzy this last Sunday morning, when everything was going wrong and I needed to come up with a quick game. I remembered playing a version of this a few years ago and wanted to give it a quick funny name. Best part: It takes 3 minutes to prep.

Choose one person (we chose 4 — one from each grade) to go out into the hall and be blindfolded by a leader. Tell the group to, together, hid a “turkey.” The “turkey” can be anything, as long as you can decipher it with a blindfold on. In a pinch, we used a basketball. Invite the blindfolded person in, and lead them to the “turkey” only using “gobbles.” The same way you’d play hot-or-cold, the closer they get to the “turkey,” the more the crowd gobbles. First person to get to the “turkey” wins. It was complicated playing with four people, because no one knew if they were correct when we were gobbling. It worked out for us, though, and we were able to play two rounds (with instructions) in less than 7 minutes. Not a bad way to start off a Sunday morning!

dice wars.pngDice Wars is another great game — otherwise known as “1 to 100.” Since we are in a multi-purpose space, sometimes we find out last-minute that we have to switch to round tables for an event right after our youth group. That’s how I came up with this game. Here are a few games — that I, truthfully, copied and pasted from the internet. There are tons more games, too!

What you need: Each player needs a piece of paper to write on. You also need one die and one pen.

How to play: Everyone sits in a circle, either around a table or on the floor. One person starts out with the pen, and the person to their left starts out with the die.

Let’s say Paul has the pen, Tasha is to his left with the die, and Adam is sitting to Tasha’s left. When the game starts, Paul starts writing legible numbers, starting with 1 and going up to 100, as fast as he can on his paper, while Tasha starts rolling the die as fast as she can, trying to roll a six. As soon as she does roll a six, she gets to grab the pen from Paul and start writing numbers on her paper, while Adam grabs the die and tries to roll a six. As soon as he does, he grabs the pen, and the person to his left starts rolling. Play proceeds around the circle like this. The next time Paul gets the pen, he starts writing where he left off. The first person to write to 100 on their paper wins.

FALL PARTY GAME.pngI love puns, and I was inspired by a Buzzfeed post to create this game. I used some from Buzzfeed, some from elsewhere.

Click here to access my link from Canva, and edit or download for yourself!


This was a game I used at the beginning of the school year, in order for students to make some new connections. It was a blast, and a traditional youth ministry favorite!

Click here to download and edit from Canva.

Mission Impossible Night


One of the timeless games that is played in youth ministry is a variation of what we call “Mission Impossible.” I remember playing this game each year at camp, running around in the dark trying to find a secret “chip” and avoiding flour bombs.

In four years of camp, I don’t think I EVER found that secret chip.

Here’s the way we are playing the game THIS Friday night!

Supplies: glow sticks, flashlights, super-soakers


  • 1 Volunteer at the Lodge with glow sticks (enough for each student, plus extras)
  • Heather: Horn/Whistle/Megaphone. Located in the general area outside.
  • 4 color of bandanas and face paint for each team. We also got fake mustaches for “secret spy disguises”
  • 4 hidden buckets throughout the campus with labels on them for each color.
  • Volunteers scattered throughout campus with flashlight lasers (4 people) or super-soakers (4 people)
  • 1 Volunteer at each bucket (to make sure that no one steals those glow sticks). They are given a noodle that they can hit students with.
  • PJ is hidden with his secret costume — if a student finds him, they get a SPECIAL item in a secret envelope (immunity for one capture, ten extra points, etc.)

Object of game:

  • This is MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE. Students are faced with the impossible mission of getting their Glow Sticks to their team’s bucket, which is hidden around the dark parking lot. The team with the most Glow Sticks wins.
  • But it’s not that easy: Throughout the parking lot are leaders with flashlights and water guns. If a student gets “tagged” by either, they must stop, drop their glow stick, and go back to home base (The Lodge) and begin again.
  • There are four leaders by the buckets with pool noodles to “watch” the buckets and make sure no one steals from another’s bucket. They may tag students with noodles.
  • There are more leaders scattered with flashlights/laser pointers and water guns to tag students.
  • A student may grab a fallen glowstick and attempt to make it to their bucket with it.
  • Leaders MAY choose to instead torture/humiliate the student by making them do a challenge: Sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or do 10 pushups or propose to the next person who gets caught. Then students can go on and do the challenge.
  • Once students have dropped their Glow Sticks in the bucket, they will run back to Home Base and begin the challenge all over again.
  • The challenge will end at 8:30 sharp (so, about an hour and a half to carry out the mission). Buckets will be collected, and the winning team gets a prize!

If you play the game, research the SEVERAL ways to play it! Last year we played with Skittles, and if caught the students would eat their Skittle. The issue was that everyone’s hands were covered with dye!!!

“The Awesome Game”

games, youth ministry

A few years ago on our mission trip, we played a game one evening called “The Awesome Game” when a different outing was cancelled. We had THE MOST HILARIOUS time, and now it has become a staple for our youth ministry on Kickoff Sunday.

Here’s what you do:

  • Type up a list of different challenges — I’ll share mine below. You want these challenges to be a mix of things. You want to do some things that cause them to get to know one another, some that give good photo or video opportunities, or some that are just OBNOXIOUS.
  • Cut up those pieces of papers, and put one copy in a gallon-sized plastic bag.
  • Split your students up into groups (we did small groups). Give each group a bag and a time limit (anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes).
  • Give some way for them to count what they’ve done — give them another bag, tell them to ball up the ones they’re done with, or put the ones they’ve done in your pocket.
  • At the end of the time, the team that has done the most wins!

Here are some examples of challenges you can place in the bag:

  • Make a two-minute video talking about your love for cheese
  • Interrupt another Small Group completing their challenge.
  • Run around for 60 seconds yelling “We won! We won!”
  • Come up with a team chant
  • Join in another Small Group completing their challenge
  • SOMETHING STINKS! Walk around the room for 60 seconds and act like you’re trying to find the smell. Get obnoxious!
  • TIME TO PROPOSE! Have two people give a two-minute proposal, with everyone else encouraging them to break up.
  • Create your own “challenge” like Ice Bucket Challenge or  KeKe Challenge. Make a one-minute video inviting people to take part in your challenge.
  • Spell out MSM (for Middle School Ministry) on the floor by laying down!
  • FORM A BAND: Sing a nursery rhyme at the top of your lungs using full air-band motions and sounds
  • Go to the Ga-Ga pits outside and play one round of Ga-Ga Ball (basically–hitting the ball and not getting hit in the feet–if you get hit, you’re out!)
  • Play Duck-Duck-Goose for 2 minutes
  • Challenge another group to a dance battle. Battle it out for two minutes, even if they don’t participate back.
  • Run up behind other players and make farting noises for an entire minute.
  • I’m not crazy–you’re crazy. Create a straight jacket that one person must wear for the remainder of the game.
  • Choose one person to stand on one foot for the remainder of the game
  • GET ON ALL FOURS! Each person choose a different farm animal and act it out for one minute.
  • MAKE A PROMO VIDEO: Choose an accent and talk about why Middle School Ministry is awesome for an entire minute.
  • Each person must do 10 jumping jacks.
  • Do a runway walk from one end of the Great Hall to another
  • Have one person pretend like they’re underwater until the next challenge is completed
  • Try to get another group to dance like robots with you.
  • Each person talk to another person on your team like they’re your celebrity crush
  • Pretend like your clothes itch. Scratch, roll on the floor…JUST GET IT OFF!
  • Run up to another group. Narrate their challenge like a Sports Announcer
  • Have everyone spin around 5 times, then walk ten steps in a straight line
  • Run up to another group and tell them “YOU MADE ME CRY” and drag it out until they ask why!
  • Choose one player to talk like a cat the rest of the morning.
  • Run up to another group and ask them if they believe in fairies until someone says yes!
  • VROOM VROOM. It’s the Indy 500! We’ll let you off with just one lap, though: run one lap around the gym.
  • 1,2,3,4, I declare a thumb war! Have a thumb wars tournament. The winner gets cheered by the rest of the group!
  • Go around the circle and say your FULL NAME–INCLUDING MIDDLE!
  • Create a new Yoga pose and give it a name! Everyone must do the yoga pose.
  • RAP TIME. One person raps while everyone else beatboxes.
  • Choose a fitness instructor–lead the group in a workout routine for an entire minute!
  • TIME FOR THE GREAT DEBATE: Debate for two minutes on whether you are pro-pickle or anti-pickle.
  • TIME TO RAGE: Run up to another group, and start a mosh pit! (for those of you youngins…that means to jump up and down, bumping into other people)
  • Pick a random object in the room and make a one-minute commercial for it.
  • Start a back-rub train: Each person must rub the shoulders of the person in front of them. Once you’ve rubbed for 30 seconds, turn around and rub the other person’s shoulders.
  • Start a conga line–take one lap together around the gym.

Here are some videos from our adventures:

Grass Eating Challenge for @ywmissions . We tag THE WORLD.

A post shared by St Luke’s Middle School Min (@stlukesmsm) on

We love Playdoh. @ywmissions

A post shared by St Luke’s Middle School Min (@stlukesmsm) on


Let me know if you try it!

DIY: Giant Lite Brite

games, Resources, youth ministry

I’ve had dreams, okay?

Dreams of building a GIANT LITE BRITE for our Middle School Ministry’s NEON NIGHT.

I looked online, and I didn’t see much:

  • This really hard DIY that I don’t have the energy for
  • This really cool one used at a middle school ministry event, that would take a lot of drilling and water bottles (and we’re a green church, so that’s a no-go)
  • This Lite Brite Table that seemed cool
  • And this Lite Brite used for a stage decoration, but not for interactive play

SO. I had to do this from scratch! And it wasn’t easy. Thus begins my journey:

Step One – procure Lite Brite pegs

I found Lite Brite pegs on eBay, no where else. Not on Amazon, not on Facebook Marketplace, not on Craiglist. I figured initially that I would need 1500, but after I purchased the pegboard, I realized I needed more like 2500. It cost about $80 for all of the pegs…not a cheap venture. I also had to wait for some of the pegs to arrive (but that was no big deal – I was working in advance!)

Step Two – procure pegboard

I went to Lowes, and decided to make two 4×4 Lite Brites. I tested the pegs in the board to make sure they would fit. I realized it could work with just one peg board, but might be best with two. I thought “let’s just get this in my car first.”

It wouldn’t fit in my car. So I karate-chopped it.

Then I knew I’d need two more pieces– and I just knew they’d fit in PJ’s vehicle, since he has a crossover. I waited a week, we went to Manards and found the same 4×4 pegboard.

And it didn’t fit. So I karate-chopped it.


Step Three: Adhere pegboard with wood glue

I thought I could make it work: So I overlapped the pieces to make them strong. I used almost an entire bottle of Elmer’s Wood Glue.

But the pegs didn’t line up. I had two options:

  1. Drill each hole individually in order to get the holes to line up better
  2. Start over from scratch (yikes)
IMG_3734 (1).jpg

I called some buddies – a group of men at  our church that love doing construction projects. They took it off my hands, purchased four new pieces of pegboard, put them in their truck, told me next time to just call them, glued it together, and put studs in to keep the holes all lines up while it was drying. Bravo, men.

PS, I definitely called these men on International Women’s Day. I didn’t take it personally: The best thing a woman can do is ask for help when she’s overwhelmed. Did I mention I was fighting off a flu-like plague during all of this?

Step 4: Paint Black

It took me under two bottles of matte black spray paint to paint the peg board. I only painted one side, because… remember how I was initially ahead of the game? By this point it was the day before the event. I made sure to paint inside of the holes too to make the pegs vibrant.

Step 5: Light up

This was tricky, too: We were using the Lite Brite at our “Neon Night,” which was great, considering the pegs shined better with a blacklight. However, it still needed some bright light from the back in order to make the pegs shine bright. We were fortunate that our staff’s videographer came by, and he hooked us up with 3 lights that he uses for filming.


Thoughts for improvement:

I have a few ideas that might make it better:

  • glue a piece of black butcher paper or tissue paper between the two pegboards. This would allow it to be REALLY black in the spaces that are unused.
  • Block out the sides with blackout curtains or tablecloths. That way the light is super-contained behind the lite brite.
  • More blacklight! That would really make it special. We experimented with putting the light in front or in back.
  • Spray a clear paint over it, so that the black spray paint doesn’t transfer on our hands/clothes as we transported it. It’s too awkward to move without getting dirty.

PS – We spent about $130 total on this project. $10 per sheet of pegboard, around $15 per 500 pegs (2500 total). Affordable, but definitely an adventure! I will be thinking of ways to reuse it, for sure. 

All in all, this truly was an easy project; someone just had to be the first one to do it. You are welcome, world.

More about “Neon Night”

Neon Night consisted of many more components, including:

Last, we had a glow bar with:

Neon night is always a favorite of mine…but it is absolutely the most expensive evening of the year, and takes hours to put up. I was very fortunate to have some great volunteers, including DJ PJ, to help with all of it. Can’t wait for next year!

**By using my Amazon Affiliate Links, I will receive a small amount that helps keep my blog and Women in Youth Ministry Alive! Thanks!

GAME: Mario Kart

games, youth ministry

A few years ago, PJ took me on THE MOST CREATIVE date: Mario Kart down at Fountain Square. It was so much fun–there were people in costumes, racing around in a cross between a go-cart and a tricycle. The crowd could purchase water balloons to throw at them, and it was just amazing.

PJ and I wanted to recreate this for our youth ministry, so we tested it out last year, and it was a huge success…so we did it again! Here’s the video from last years’:

Mario Kart: Invite Night edition from St. Luke’s UMC Youth on Vimeo.


  • 10 boxes total will be set up, in 2 sets of 5.
  • Under each box should be one of the following: a dodgeball (AKA a “shell), a printed out picture of a Mario Star, or a toy banana
  • Finish line with tape
  • Tape around the room to mark off the course (take a look at the video to understand how we did it!)
  • Trikes at the finish/start line (we rented ours from a local party rentals place)
  • We purchased helmets for each trike


  • Students will race the course using trikes and helmets.
  • Twice, there will be a set of 5 boxes that students MUST stop for and choose an item.
  • Shells (Dodgeballs) students take with them and may throw at another student. If hit, student must stop for ten seconds and shout ONE MISSISSIPPI…TWO MISSISSIPPI…
  • Bananas stop students suddenly for ten seconds. They must shout ONE MISSISSIPPI…TWO MISSISSIPPI…
  • Stars give STAR POWER. An adult will push a student for ten seconds, giving them a huge boost! During this 10 seconds they can’t be hit by dodgeballs.
  • First student to the finish line wins!

It’s that easy to play! We had this as part of our “Giant Games Night,” with giant Jenga, Checkers, Hungry-Hungry Hippos, Twister, Human Fooseball, and more!

Nerf Night Games

games, youth ministry

Nerf Night is a favorite of our students, one that they look forward to each year. I’ve put on Nerf & Nachos Night for the last three years, and we are looking forward to it again Friday!

We purchased:

We communicate to our students that they may bring their own Nerf gun (we label it with painter’s tape and duct tape as soon as they walk through the door), but to leave the darts at home. As a note, our Communications Director at the church advised me several years ago to be careful about the language I use for Nerf: saying “darts” instead of ammo, things like that.

Another thing that is important is to establish the rules for the evening:

  1.   Load the gun properly.
  2.   Wear your goggles at all times.
  3.   No aiming toward the head.
  4.   If you get shot, you are out until the next game.
  5.   Ricochets do not count as hits.
  6.   Darts that are on the ground is fair game to pick up and reuse.
  7.   Each round might have specific rules for that game–listen to your game leader!
  8.   When you are listening to the rules, gun is on the ground and hands are in the air.
  9.    Have fun!

Nerf Games

Round One – Basic Nerf

  • Students will be in four teams (designated by paper wristbands)
  • Students will use barriers to eliminate the other team.
  • Once out, people will come to the sides of the gym and root their team on.
  • You can add in bases–essentially, a target on all sides of the gym for teams to protect. If a team’s base gets hit with a dart, the game is over for the team.

Round Two – Hunger Games

  • Each person gets a gun, and scatter them around the four sides of the room.
  • Put the darts in the center of the room in the “Cornucopia.”
  • Students race to the center to grab darts for their gun and shoot each other.
  • Last person standing wins.

Round Three– Zombie Nerf Tag

  • One to five people are designated the “Zombies.” They each are equipped with a gun.
  • All other guns are put into the center of the room (if students brought their own gun, that also goes into the center–we allow students to grab whatever gun they’d like, but you can have the rule that students who brought theirs get theirs).
  • The Zombies shoot the living with their guns. When a person is shot, they go grab a gun.
  • This continues until the last person without a gun wins!

Round Four– Dodgeball Style

  • The people are split into two teams
  • Each side has a gun. All of the bullets are sprinkled along the center line of the room, like you would for Dodgeball.
  • Students race to the center to grab bullets for their gun and shoot each other. They must stay on their team’s side.
  • Like dodgeball, the last person standing wins for their team! At a certain point, like when there are five or less on one side, you can call “NO BOUNDARIES” and they can cross to each other’s side.

Round Five– Capture the Flag

  • For this game, the teams will use the hallways of the church on the first floor only. We close all rooms in the church, so that students don’t go in. We tell students “if the door is open, you can go in, but you cannot go into closed doors.”
  • Each team gets their color of bandana for their team.
  • Each team hides their color flag around the church–point each team in a general direction. Have an adult go with them so that it’s “semi-visible.”

**By using my Amazon Affiliate Links, I will receive a small amount that helps keep my blog and Women in Youth Ministry Alive! Thanks!

Youth Ministry Olympics

games, youth ministry

Each year for the past four years, I’ve celebrated the Olympics in some way with our students. This year I had help–our high school director and I created some really fun games that our students really enjoyed.

Here I’ll recap the games that we did yesterday, along with the graphics that I made on Canva (you may steal them for yourself!). I”ll also throw it back and re-discover some of the games I did in years’ past.

2018 – Winter Games


This year we combined all of 5th-12th grade together for our Olympics. We planned our games for 144 participants, to be placed in random teams through paper wristbands at checkin. We gave all of our Adult Leaders pinnies to wear (leftover from another event), and called them our official “Olympics Referees.” As this image flashed on the screen, the Olympic Fanfare played to get students’ attention. We planned for 12 teams of 12, eliminating 3 teams per round. For teams that were eliminated, we had plastic clappers so that they would have something to “play with” to keep them engaged.2


Biathlon is a game I’ve never given much thought to, until I realized it’s the most youth-ministry game ever (next to Curling!). We gave each team two shoe boxes–we had several leftover from Operation Christmas Child years ago. We placed tape at the “start line”, then placed Nerf Guns on the other side (two per team to keep the game moving quickly, so that adults had enough time to reload Nerf guns). Students did this relay-style.


Remember those ice packs you’d get as a kid from the nurse, made from paper towels and zip-lock bags? We made ice packs by making a thick stack of paper towels, wetting them, putting them in baggies, then placing a little more water in them and some food coloring to make three different colors of ice packs. I made a score board with painter’s tape on the table (I’m mad I didn’t get a picture of this!). Three teams went at a time, and the team that has the least points at the end of round is eliminated.4

One of my favorite games of all time is a game my good friend Elisa taught me, called “Snot River.” You give the teams two two-by-fours, and they have to figure out how to get their entire team across the river without touching the floor. We gave the two-by-fours to the students and told them that however they could get across, go for it! They just had to remember that the floor is lava/snot/ice and they can’t touch it. We had a time limit, and at the end there were only three teams left, but the team that had the most people across won. We placed them in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd going into the final rounds.5

We pre-chose ten songs for the students, and our high school director even made some hilarious videos to go in the back of each of the songs. We chose:

  • Uptown Funk
  • My heart will go on
  • …Are you ready
  • Don’t Stop Believing
  • Despacito
  • Filthy
  • Thunder
  • U Can’t Touch This
  • Havana

The first place team got to choose their song first, then so on. While teams chose their songs and did their strategies, I played this workout video that I’m obsessed with to get students moving…so they didn’t get bored. Middle schoolers are always bored and demanding that I entertain them. What’s more entertaining than this?


The medals we gave out were pieces of candy on ribbon. Creative, right? Cheapest way to award your participants, and let’s be honest; they’ll throw anything you give them away…but they WILL eat candy.

Summer Games 2016

We did an Olympics “Invite Night” (which is our outreach-ceneterd monthly event). One of my favorite pieces of the evening was the Taco Bell Olympics games that we did up-front with students. Purchase that here–I highly recommend it! The games included:

  • Baja Blast Relay
  • Crunchwrap Curling
  • Loaded Griller Javelin Throw
  • 12-Pack Marathon

We gave students stations that represented some games you might play at the summer games:

  • basketball
  • volleyball
  • soccer
  • broom ball (like hockey, but in the summertime!)

Shout to Hebrews 12 on “running the race” as your lesson theme. You are welcome. We also had inflatable globes that students could hit during worship, and hung flags around our chapel.


Winter Games 2014

My games get less clever as we throw it back further and further. This year I did Hockey and Ice Skating, and they were a hit! But we ALSO had:

Field Curling–There’s one hula hoop in the center, and each team gets three frisbees. One team member from each team takes turns throwing their frisbee. Whoever is closest wins their round. Whoever has most round wins gets the medal!


Medal Hunt — fill a kiddie pool with Orbeez and plastic medals. Place up to 4 people around the pool. Put one minute on the clock. The kid who collects the most medals using their feet wins! Hint: do this outside. It took us a while to clean this up from the retreat center we were at!

Sled Relay — First person in line puts the second person in line in their sled, and they race them to the other side. Second person gets out, runs the sled back, and then carries over the third person to the other side. First team to finish the relay wins!

ending thoughts…

There is so much more that I could say about how to incorporate the Olympics into student ministry. It’s such an easy win to do the games in some way each time it rolls around. For us, each year has been different: This year, on a Sunday morning; two years ago, at a special event; four years ago, as a part of a retreat weekend. It’s an awesome way to get students interacting on teams and relating a sport that should be appreciated to their own story.

I encourage you to consult Pinterest for more–there are lots more games, snack ideas, and cool ways to customize the Olympics, no matter the size group your have

Youth Group Birthday Games

games, Uncategorized, youth ministry

it's a bowling birthday party.png

My birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, and I decided to throw a birthday party for my middle school students!

I took inspiration from my dear friend Elisa, another youth worker, who at a former church shared a birthday week with her co-diretor of youth ministry. They threw a huge birthday bash for all of their students. For them, they called it “everyone’s birthday party”–so no matter when your birthday is, your celebration was that evening. For me, I marketed mine as “Heather’s Birthday Party…FOR YOU!”

I love the idea of sharing your birthday with students! I came up with some silly games. Enjoy!

Balloon Stomp

PREP: Balloon Stomp is one of the most classic youth ministry games of all time–each person has a balloon and a piece of string. They blow up the balloon, tie it to the string, and tie it to the foot (make sure that they tie it so that there is slack on the string–some of my students like to cheat and make the balloon TINY and then tie it to the ankle).

OBJECT: Students stomp on each other’s balloons. Once you’re popped, you’re out. Last balloon standing wins.


  • As the number of students dwindles down, make sure to also reduce the space.
  • One way to do this is to have everyone make a circle, hold hands, and stomp on each other’s balloons.
  • To make it chaotic, I like to call out to those who have been eliminated to get back in there and stomp on the balloons to eliminate quickly. You could even play a version where, from the beginning, when someone is eliminated they still play!

Human Piñata

OBJECT & PREP: Students are holding candy (in their pockets, on their person, etc) and a pool noodle. Students will hit each other, and if so, they give up candy.


  • Each person has a pool noodle and has candy (in their shirt, pockets, wherever). Essentially, students just go crazy and hit each other. When you get hit, you have to drop some candy. This game doesn’t really go smoothly, it’s just an excuse to hit each other and give out candy. After a certain amount of time, you yell out and everyone collects candy.
  • Each person has a pool noodle and candy. When a person is hit, they’re “out” and must drop all of their candy. At the end, you tell the last person that they get all of the candy. Then, say “just kidding” and everyone else gets in there and collects too!
  • One or a few people have a pool noodle, and a shirt that has candy taped to it (or, a bucket taped to their back with some candy in it). Students try to grab candy from the person’s clothing. If they get hit, they are out.

Extreme Pin the Tail on the Donkey Relay

PREP: Put a “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” game on the wall (we used “Pin the Like on the Emoji” from Five Below). Make enough Tails for each person–in sticker form or with tape on it. Since this is a relay, you can have on Pin-the-Tail game per team, or have them all race to one board.

OBJECT: Students spin around ten times (counting out loud), then run to the board and pin their Tail on. They then run back, tag the next person in line’s hand, and they do the same. The first team to get all their Tails pinned wins!

Cupcake Wars

VARIATIONS: You can play this as an up-front game with a large group, or you can include all students with a medium or small-sized group.


  • Bake or purchase enough cupcakes for each student.
  • Get some supplies to decorate the cupcakes: Frosting, icing, sprinkles, candy (Skittles, Mike & Ikes, M&Ms, Red Hots, Runts, etc.), chocolate chips, etc.
  • Place supplies in the center, put plates in each placeholder.

OBJECT: Best cupcake wins!