We ran a classical-minded VBS one week, and I'm excited to share some of our best review activities here at the end of the week!
So here are some games we used (admittedly in larger groups) to help kids review the Bible verse for each day of the VBS... our WHOLE POINT for the week was to get them to memorize God's Word. We told the story for each day, we did crafts, we did snacks, but through it all we pounded on the Bible verses over and over. Tons of fun, and very effective! You'll notice that most of the games are games anyone would know, but we just found an excuse to recite the verse as a part of it. So, we have kinesthetic action (moving around) combined with rote rehearsal (saying the verse over and over again verbatim) while the kids are having a blast! They KNEW their verses at the end of the week.
Game 1: Verse Freeze Tag!
Setup: Go to play area
Say: God's Word is TRUE, and Jesus says in the Bible in John 8:32 that the truth will set us free! We're going to play freeze tag, but the only way for you to get out of being frozen is for someone to touch you and then the two of you say today's verse together!
Activity: Go outside on the grass (if it's raining, stay inside and have the kids go on hands and feet like crabs (rear near the ground)). Play freeze tag, and have one of the leaders start out as 'it'! When someone is frozen, they can be touched by a 'free' person, but they must say the verse together out loud to be 'freed.' The 'it' person should exercise restraint and avoid tagging kids that are trying to say the verse.
Game 2: Verse Cannons!
Setup: Set up the outline for two ‘boats’ with string OUTSIDE. For the younger kids, have the boats be no more than 10 feet apart (but probably closer). For the older kids, have the boats be no more than 15 feet apart (but probably closer to 10). Place one bucket full of water in each boat. Then, put two nerf balls in each bucket.
Say: Today we’re having a water cannon battle between two boats to help us remember our verses, but since today is a warm day and we want you all to feel comfortable, we’re going to have the battle with some water-soaked nerf balls!
Activity: Divide the kids into two teams, one in each boat. They MUST stay inside the boat outline. Each team takes a turn reciting the day’s verse song, then one child throws a water-soaked ball at the other team’s ship! Go back and forth until all children have had a turn! (Note: we eventually went to volleys where 4 kids threw at once, which was a lot more fun and got us through the line faster, too!)
Game 3: Malta Shipwreck!
Setup: No real setup.
Say: God's Word is comforting… He’s always there, even in the most difficult times! We’re going to play a game of ‘Malta Shipwreck’ today, and as we play, just imaging how hard going through a real tragedy like a shipwreck would be! (This was for a day based on Paul's shipwreck on Malta.)
Activity: Have the kids sit in an area designated the 'ship’. Tell them (while doing motions when the boat is ‘moving’):
“You are on a ship in the days of Paul! The sea is raging under a black sky and a storm tosses water everywhere! The wind howls and the waves crash! The boat moves up and down, back and forth! The storm tosses your ship about as though it was just a tiny piece of trash. Suddenly, the boat groans and shakes as it crashes into a reef in the water! SHIPWRECK!”
Go to each child and tell them what their ‘injury’ is. Each child must act as though they have that injury. While they do, they need to try to help each other to get to an area designated as 'the island.' The game will not be over until EVERY child has been safely moved to the island. Once they are on 'Malta' (the island) (For the younger children, simply have them crawl to the other side of the room then repeat the verse.) Here are a list of possible injuries:
• Broken leg/arm
• Can’t move legs
• Can’t move arms OR legs
• Can’t talk
• Must talk like a parrot, kitty, etc.
Game 4: Dragon Tail!
Setup: Large area with plenty of room to run. Have two 'tails' available that the kids can try to 'take' from the other dragon.
Say: We're going to play a game where everyone is involved!
Activity: Have two teams. Each team will have all members holding on to each other's shoulders to create a line. The last person will have a 'tail' attached to them (that they cannot otherwise touch!). When the game begins, everyone should sing the song while one dragon tries to 'grab' the tail of the other! If they get it the 'losing' team repeats the verse!
Game 5: God's Word is a Treasure!
Setup: An object (a ball or something) in a medium play area.
Say: God's Word is for everyone, so let's get it and spread the news of Jesus!
Activity: One person in the middle is 'it' and will guard 'God's Word' (the object). Each other participant will try to grab it. if they are touched by 'it,' they freeze until the end of the game. If they get 'God's Word,' then everyone says the verse and the person that got it is the new 'it.' If no one succeeds, then say the verse together to 'free' the prisoners and then try again.
Game 6: Verse Cards
Activity: Have the verse divided up into two sets of cards and have each team get them in order first, then everyone says the verse again!
Game 7: Verse Phrases
Activity: Divide the verse into four phrases and place the phrases around the room. Then call out the phrase and have all the kids yell it out and go to that side of the room.
Game 8: Sharks and Minnows!
Setup: Large area with plenty of room to run.
Setup: A large play area.
Activity: Pick several kids to be 'sharks.' The other kids will be 'minnows' and have to live up on the side of the field. The leader says, "Go, Minnows!" and they try to run to the other side of the field without getting tagged by a shark. If a minnow gets tagged, they have to freeze until the end of the round, then they must recite the verse for the day to be set free!
Say: God's Word is TRUE, it COMFORTS us when we're having trouble, it ENCOURAGES us to do the right things, and it CHANGES LIVES!
Game 9: Capture God's Word!
Setup: Large area with plenty of room to run. Use cones for a 'line' down the middle. Have a 'scroll' representing God's Word on each side as a 'flag.'
Say: We know we need to hide God's Word in our hearts, but first we need to get God's Word in front of us to learn it!
Activity: Play 'Capture the Flag,' and have kids that get frozen say the verse before they walk back to their side safely.
Game 1 (young kids): Have them all grab the sides and walk in one direction while you all sing the verse, then have a kid yell 'SWITCH!' and go in the other direction while you sing!
Game 2: Just to get everyone's blood flowing, put some small balls on the parachute and have everyone shake their part of the parachute a lot so that the little objects 'pop' off like popcorn!
Game 3: Make a 'parachute' house just for fun and have everyone say the verse when they are in the 'house.' Do this several times.
Game 4: Get everyone around the parachute and place a ball on it. Then, try to get the ball to go around the parachute without falling off! Everyone should say the verse while they do this! Add another ball, and another, until you have 4! When they fail, have them encourage each other and go again!
Game 5: Have everyone take the parachute up as far as they can, let go, and let it float down. See if you can all say the verse before it hits the ground! Do it again and again until you get it!