Archives For Group Games

Tried and tested games for using with groups of young people

Indoor Chariots

8 December 2010 — 1 Comment

Photo: Chariot racer, Jerash , Jordan by Rikdom on Flickr

A frantic and silly race around the room for teams.

Numbers: 6 people or more
Suitable for: Any age (with appropriate supervision)
Preparation time: Under 5 minutes
Venue: A large space, room or hall
Safety First: Watch out for scrapes and grazes if people fall off their ‘chariot’
Equipment needed:

  • Sleeping bags or other suitable materials
  • Something to mark out a racecourse (cones, tape, chairs, etc)

The game:
The idea of this game is to have a simple race around a pre-defined course. The first team to cross the finish line are the winners.

Teams are usually made up of three people; one is the ‘rider’ who will get pulled around the course, and the other two are ‘horses’ who need to drag the rider. The actual chariot could be made of whatever material you have around. Sleeping bags work well on smooth floors, but you could use blankets or even flattened cardboard boxes.

The rider sits on the end of the chariot facing forwards, using their hands to hold on as best as possible. The horses each grab the other end of the chariot and hold it behind them, so they too are facing forwards. On your command, the race starts and the horses run around the track, pulling the chariot and rider along the floor behind them. Of course, the chariot is not very stable and the riders tend to slip off or lose their grip at some point. When this happens, the horses must stop and allow the rider to climb back on before continuing the race.

Try making it a relay race where on each lap, the ‘rider’ swaps places with one of the ‘horses’. If you don’t have enough space to race lots of teams, do time trials with one team at a time to see who can be the fastest.

Paper Snowball Fight

12 December 2009 — 2 Comments

Paper Balls
Regular reader Ralf wrote in with this game. It’s a very simple paper snowball fight that’s a lot of fun!

Numbers: 10 and over, enough for two equal teams
Suitable for: Any age
Preparation time: None!
Venue: Large room or hall
Safety First: As you will be throwing paper around the room, watch out for faces!
Equipment needed:

  • Lots of scrap paper
  • Optional tape
  • Optional Buckets

The game:
Ralf explains:

We have two teams in a bigger room, separated by a line. Every team gets a number of crumpled up paper balls (5 per person or so…) and has to throw it over the line into the field of the other team. The other team has to clear up their field and throw it back. You can play a song or just measure the time [e.g. 2 minutes]. When the song or the time is over, you count the remaining paper balls in every teams field.

Try giving each team a bucket and tell them to aim for the one on the opposite side of the room. At the end of the game, the team that gets the most snowballs in the bucket is the winner.

Photo Credit: net_efekt on Flickr

Santa’s Beard

3 December 2009 — 4 Comments

A silly, sticky Christmas-themed game!

Numbers: Up to around 10 at a time.
Suitable for: Ages 8 and upwards.
Preparation time: 5 minutes.
Venue: A large room or small hall.
Safety First: The game involves putting a sticky product on facial skin. Check with young people if they have any allergies or skin irritations before they take part.
Equipment needed:

  • A sticky spread like honey, jam or chocolate spread. Marshmallow spread can work well and fits with the theme!
  • Cotton wool balls

The game:
Get your leader or young person to sit at the front of the room and explain that they will have to cover their face with the spread you have provided. Check in advance that they have no allergy to the products. Half the fun of this game is the preparation, so make a big deal of them spreading it on their face!

When this is done, nominate a number of other young people to come forwards and give them a big pile of cotton wool balls. A smaller number like three is better as it doesn’t get too out of control. Explain that their task is to try to create the best santa-style beard by throwing the cotton balls and making them stick to the volunteer’s face! Allow a bit of space so that they don’t crowd the volunteer and so that and spectators can see (you might like to mark a line on the floor).

When you say “Go”, they can start throwing! The game ends when either the beard is complete or they run out of cotton balls.

Have two or more people at the front with teams competing to create the best beard in under a minute!

Image Credit: kevindooley on Flickr

Freezing Frenzy

15 June 2009 — 4 Comments

Image: Ice mask, C.T. Madigan / photograph by Frank Hurley on Flickr

A dressing-up game with a great twist: ice!

Numbers: 10 or under. If you have many more, play as teams where they nominate a player.
Suitable for: Ages 12 and up due to the physical nature of the game.
Preparation time: At least a day in advance (for freezing the clothing).
Venue: A large room or small hall.
Safety First: The game can involve some physical pushing and shoving, so take care and set some clear ground rules first!
Equipment needed:

  • items of clothing (e.g. T-Shirts)
  • a large freezer

The game:
In advance, you need to take your items of clothing, bundle them together and place them in a freezer! It is best to have all the items the same, for example 10 T-Shirts or 10 hats. When ready, this will leave you with one large ball of frozen material.

Get your contestants to line up a few steps away from where you have placed the bundle. When you say “Go”, they must fight to be the first to separate an item from the bundle and wear it. Of course, as the clothing is frozen together, it will take much pulling, bending and effort to break them apart. This causes much amusement as the contestants struggle to thaw or break the ice and figure out which item will come free the easiest!

The winner is the person who first manages to put on the item of clothing.

If you’re concerned about the physical side of this game, you could simply freeze the items separately and make it a challenge for someone to dress up in a frozen outfit. Of course, don’t let them wear it for long!

Mini Volleyball

12 December 2008 — Leave a comment

This is a silly adaptation of the classic volleyball game except players must remain on their knees at all times!

Numbers: groups of around 10 or over (2 teams of equal numbers are needed).
Suitable for: ages 7 and up!
Preparation time: under 5 minutes.
Venue: large room or small hall.
Safety First: As participants are all sitting on the floor, the only risk is from over-enthusiastic individuals waving their arms around too much. Try and encourage the team to spread out and cover the court between them to avoid injury.
Equipment needed:

  • An Inflatable Beach Ball
  • Tape, cones, or some other way of marking the court
  • An optional net set-up across the court

The game:
Set up the court by marking out two equal sized squares divided by a central line. If you have a tennis or badminton court already marked out, that is the perfect size. If you have a net, set it up between the two squares. If you don’t have a net, clearly mark a line of tape down the centre between the two.

Organise the group into two teams and have them spread out across their side of the court. The more people you have on a team, the more silly the game becomes as everyone tries to get a touch on the ball! Have every team member kneel down on the floor and explain that they are not allowed to get up. That means no running, jumping or diving – everyone must remain with their knees on the floor at all times!

You then play volleyball! The obvious aim is to get the ball to touch the floor on the opposition’s side. Every time this happens, the team gains a point. A point is also given if the opposition team knock the ball out of the court (just like in tennis).

To start, throw the beach ball onto the court and watch as the team passes it around and tries to knock it over to their opponent’s side. With large groups it is best to allow them as many touches on the ball as they want rather than the usual three-per-team. You can play until a certain score is reached, or until a given time limit is up. The winning team is the one with the most points.

Adaptation: To make it even more difficult, you can get the teams to sit on their bottoms instead of kneeling!

Tail Grab

5 December 2008 — 4 Comments

This is a really simple and silly game that is a lot of fun for children, young people and adults alike!

Numbers: groups of 10 or over.
Suitable for: ages 5 and up!
Preparation time: 5-10 mins
Venue: any large room or hall
Safety First: watch out for people running into each other, and be aware of the potential for accidental touching of other people’s bottoms!
Equipment needed:

  • strips of paper! (A4 length, 30cm by 5cm should be fine)

The game:
Hand out a strip of paper to every person playing the game. Each individual should fold over a few centimetres of the paper and tuck it into their waistband at the back so that the rest of the paper hangs down their backside and looks like a tail. For those with no waistband, the neckline (back of a t-shirt) should work fine. It might be worth checking the tails before play begins as some participants may cheat and tuck the majority of their tail into their waistband!

When the game starts, all players must run around trying to grab as many tails from others as possible, whilst defending their own. When a tail is grabbed and removed, the player that loses their tail must go and sit out for the remainder of the game. All players should hold on to any tails they collect even when they are ‘out’.

The aim of the game is to stay in as long as possible, with the last remaining person announced the winner. The person with the most collected tails could also receive a runner-up or bonus prize.

Human Bowling

1 December 2008 — Leave a comment

This is a simple adaptation of 10 pin bowling which is very easy to play, but a fun way of involving everyone in a group.

Numbers: groups of 11 or over (10 to act as pins and 1 to bowl).
Suitable for: anyone.
Preparation time: none.
Venue: any open space or hall.
Safety First: Despite having large exercise balls thrown at each other, this is quite a gentle game. Watch out for people accidently diving into each other.
Equipment needed:

  • Tape to mark the floor
  • A couple of exercise balls

The game:
Using the tape, mark out a bowling alley on the floor. It is most important to mark the line where people bowl from and the places where the ten pins should go (usually in a 1,2,3,4, triangular formation). If you have a large group, you may want to make two or three lanes (depending on space).

Next, choose a group of 10 to act as the pins. They must go and stand on the spots marked out and are not allowed to move. You are now ready to bowl! Using a large exercise ball, the bowler must throw or push the ball down the alley in an attempt to hit as many pins as possible. Obviously the ball is unlikely to knock the human pins over, so instead the people acting as pins must make a dramatic dive to the floor if the ball touches them! This makes the game a bit more fun for the people acting as pins and the game a little less predictable. It may be a good idea to have an umpire or referee watching to see which pins the ball actually hits!

Write down the score of the bowler and then swap them with one of the pins to let the next person have a go. By rotating everyone after each go, they will all get a chance to play in each position!

Once everyone has had a bowl (or two) either announce the winners or have a re-match with the top scorers.


22 October 2008 — Leave a comment

Sometimes called Benchball, this is a classic youth work team game that has similarities to netball and basketball.

Numbers: groups of around 10 or over (even numbers make the teams fair).
Suitable for: anyone.
Preparation time: none.
Venue: any open space or hall.
Safety First: This is a gentle physical game that requires people to stand on a chair or bench. Care should be taken to avoid falls.
Equipment needed:

  • Two sturdy chairs or benches
  • A standard ball (e.g. beachball, volleyball)

The game:
Divide the group up into two teams and then place a chair (or bench) at each end of your playing area. One person should stand on the chair opposite their team ready to catch the ball – they act as the net or basket.

Play starts when the referee throws the ball onto the court. Both teams have to pass the ball down the court and try to get it into the hands of their team-mate on the chair. No-one is allowed to run with the ball so passing and teamwork is essential. Like basketball or netball, chairball is a non-contact sport so no-one should be grabbing or pushing.

If the team-member on the chair catches the ball, they get a point for their team and then swap with another member. This way the team rotates around and everyone should get a go on the chair. The game ends either after a certain period of time, or when a team reaches a pre-set number of goals (e.g. Ten).

If you have a bench, you could play a version where the person who scores a goal joins their team-mate on the bench. In this version, the number of players on the court slowly drops while the number of catchers on the bench increases. The idea is that the team who gets all their members on the bench first, wins. However if anyone falls off the bench, they have to go back on the court until they score another goal.

Extreme Musical Chairs!

15 October 2008 — 2 Comments

This is an adaptation of the familiar children’s game ‘Musical Chairs’ that makes it more physical and exciting for teenagers!

Numbers: groups of around 10 or over. Best with a large group of 50.
Suitable for: young people aged 11 and over.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Venue: a medium to large sized hall.
Safety First: The game involves some running and some physical contact.
Equipment needed:

  • Enough chairs for each person playing (minus one or two)
  • Large exercise balls or other soft balls
  • Sound system or other equipment to play music

The game:
Set up a circle of chairs in the middle of the room facing outwards. There should be nearly enough for every person playing. At one end of the room away from the chairs, set up a ‘safe zone’. This could be marked by tape on the floor or by placing cones or other objects around it.

The game is played just like regular Musical Chairs. People walk around the circle of chairs until the music stops, and they then have to quickly sit down on an empty seat. As there are fewer chairs than people, this often results in pushing and shoving.

This is where the extreme part comes in. Any person that did not manage to sit on a chair has to quickly run for the safe zone while leaders (or selected young people) throw the balls at them. If they make it to the safe zone without being hit, they are free to play the next round. If they do get hit by a ball before they reach the safe zone, they are out and have to watch from the side. If the players run to the safe zone and there are still chairs available in the circle, they must run back and try to get onto the chair. This adds an element of excitement to the game and gives the players a chance to remain in.

Once everyone is either safe or out, the next round starts and some more chairs are taken away from the circle. Keep going until only 2 people are left in.

Hopping Sumos

4 May 2008 — Leave a comment

This is quite a physical game that requires some contact but is a lot of fun.

Numbers: groups of around 6 or over. Works best with around 20
Suitable for: older children and teens (8-18’s) although many adults enjoy this too!
Preparation time: none
Venue: suitable for a small hall or area
Safety First: this game involves people knocking into each other, so has a slight risk of injury (although we’ve never had a problem). If you have particularly aggressive individuals, you might want to think about wearing padding or sumo-style suits.
Equipment needed:

  • pen and paper to write down scores

The Game:
Get everyone to pair up with a partner and stand opposite each other a few feet apart while lining up with other pairs. You should end up with two lines of people facing off against each other with a big space between. This is your arena! Now number each pair from 1 upwards and ask them to remember it.

When the game starts, the referee calls out a number and that pair steps forward into the arena – except that they have to keep hopping on one foot while keeping their arms folded! The idea is that by hopping around and knocking into each other, the opponents have to try and make the other put their second foot back on the floor.

By keeping their arms folded during the game, it stops people from grabbing each other and pulling their opponent down. Instead they must try and catch the other off balance
The person that remains hopping wins the battle and gains a point for their team before returning to the line. Then another pair has a go.

The referee continues to call out numbers until each pair has had a turn. You can then repeat and allow everyone another chance or you start to call out 2 numbers at a time to create bigger battles and tag teams!