While Bible Quest provides many review games in the third edition of the Old Testament and New Testament kits starting on page 119 (they are also in the Church Program Edition), there's always room for more! Today's post will be divided into high activity-level games and low activity-level games.
Have a game we haven't thought of? Share it in the comments!
High Activity-Level Games
Here are some high activity-level games we used in larger group settings at our classical-minded VBS. The whole point for the week was to get the students 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 these ideas are games that anyone would know, but we were able to find a way to recite Scripture as a part of the activity. So, we have kinesthetic action (moving around) combined with rote rehearsal (repeating the verse over and over again verbatim) while the kids are having a blast. Needless to say, these kids knew their Scripture memory at the end of the week.
Note: The theme for the VBS week centered on sea voyages like Paul's Missionary Journeys, so you will often see a "ship" or aquatic theme reflected in our choice of games. Obviously, the "verse" or "Bible verse" could be substituted for any verbal memorized content that you are wanting the students to review, such as the memorized answers to each week's "Who?" in Bible Quest.
VERSE FREEZE TAG
Setup: Go to a large, flat play area.
Verbal Instructions: "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! If you're 'it,' you cannot touch people that are currently saying the verse together - you have to wait until they are done."
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.
Setup: Set up an outline for two "ships" using string outside. For younger kids, place the ship outlines no more than 10 feet apart (but probably closer). For older kids, place the ship outlines no more than 15 feet apart (but probably closer to 10). Place one bucket full of water in each ship. Then, put equal numbers (two or more) foam balls in each bucket.
Verbal Instructions: "Today we’re having a water cannon battle between two ships 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 foam balls!"
Activity: Divide the kids into two teams, one in each ship. Students must stay inside the ship 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: When we played this game, 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!)
Setup: No real setup, but you'll need a large open space, with one area designated as the "ship" and one area designated as the "island." For extra immersion, consider adding a fake campfire and fake plants on the island and a fake mast and sail on the ship.
Verbal Instructions: "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! I want you to move with me as I read this. Wherever the ship moves, I want you to move. If the ship goes up, stand up! If the ship goes down, sit down. When I say SHIPWRECK, everyone should throw themselves onto the ground and then wait for me to come to you. You'll all have a pretend injury from the shipwreck, and I'll come around to each of you to tell you what your injury is. Then, when I say 'go,' you'll have to act out your injury and help each other make it to the island. Everyone must make it to the island, so some of you may have to go back and help others that can't make it on their own because of their injuries."
Activity: This game was used for a day based on Paul's shipwreck on Malta (see Acts chapter 27). Have the kids sit in an area designated the "ship." Read the following while having the students do motions when the boat is "moving" (move up and down when the boat moves up and down, etc.):
“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), they should repeat the day's verse.
Here is a list of possible injuries to assign to children:
Can’t move legs
Can’t move arms OR legs
Must talk like a parrot, kitty, etc.
For younger children, this game can be modified so that after the shipwreck, they simply crawl and help each other get to the other side of the room then repeat the verse.
SEA SERPENT'S TAIL
Setup: Large area with plenty of room to run. Have two "tails" (we used handkerchiefs) available that the kids can try to "take" from the other sea serpent.
Verbal Instructions: "We're going to play a game where everyone is involved! The Bible talks about a sea serpent called the Leviathan in the Book of Job. For fun, we'll play a game with sea serpents. We'll divide you into two teams, and each team will form a "sea serpent" by having each person hold onto the shoulders of the person ahead of them. The last person on each sea serpent will have a "tail" attached to them. The first person on each sea serpent will try to catch the tail on the other team. Everyone else will simply try to hang on! If anyone in a sea serpent loses their grip, the sea serpent can't capture the other sea serpent's tail until their whole team is holding onto each other again!"
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!). We recommend attaching the tail on their back - perhaps with velcro or even duct tape (have extra tape on hand to play again!). When the game begins, everyone should sing the song while one dragon tries to "capture" the tail of the other by ripping it away from the other serpent! If a sea serpent team captures the opposing team's tail, the "losing" sea serpent team repeats the verse.
Bear in mind that if a sea serpent has lost some of its members because they have lost their grip, they cannot capture the other team's tail; they must reattach their teammates first! This can be tricky, because the other team might still be trying to get their tail. Additionally, it may occasionally happen that one team might think that they have captured a tail, only to find that it didn't count because they weren't a "whole" sea serpent at the time. Sometimes, things can get crazy enough that it's worth it for game leaders to stop the game, reset the sea serpents, and start them off again afresh.
GOD'S WORD IS A TREASURE
Setup: Bring an object (a ball or something) to a medium play area for this game.
Verbal Instructions: "The Bible is the most important book in the world, because in the Bible, we find what the Creator has to say to the people He created! We'll play a game where God's Word is the prize, but it's going to be a challenge to get it. One of you will be 'it' and have this object, which represents God's Word, down on the ground in front of you. 'It' cannot touch the object. Everyone else will make a circle around that person and when I say, 'Go!' each person will try to grab God's Word. But, the person who is 'it' will try to tag you. If anyone is tagged, they are frozen until the end of the game. However, if anyone grabs God's Word and makes it outside the circle, they win and they'll be the next person that is 'it.' After someone gets God's Word, we'll all recite today's verse."
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" and manage to back out of the circle, then they win and everyone says the verse together. The person that captured the object is the new "it." If "it" manages to touch the person right away before they can get away, they should be frozen and the object can be put back where it was originally. "It" should never touch the object for any reason. If no one succeeds, then say the verse together to "free" the prisoners and start over again.
Setup: Divide the day's verse up and write it on cards so that each card has 1-3 words on each. Be sure to have enough card sets for the number of teams you wish to have play this game. A good size for a team could be from one to three people, four at the most. Shuffle each deck of verse cards and have one deck to each team.
Verbal Instructions: "These cards can be put together to form today's verse, but there's a problem - they're out of order! When I say go, I want you to work with your team to put it in order as quickly as possible."
Activity: Have the verse divided up into sets of cards and have each team get them in order, then everyone says the verse again. If you want to add a competitive element, allow the top few teams to then have a rematch to get the overall victor. For more variety, mix up the teams in between matches: have one person from each team switch with one person from another team. The next time you mix it up, mandate that someone who didn't switch last round be the one to switch this time.
Setup: Divide the verse into four phrases and place the phrases around the room, one on each wall.
Verbal Instructions: "Today's verse has been divided into four parts, one part on each wall. I'm going to call out a part of the verse, then I want you to yell out what I just said while you run to the side of the room where you see that part of the verse on the wall."
Activity: Call out a phrase of the verse and have all the kids yell it out and go to that side of the room. Begin by calling out the verse phrases in order to practice so the kids understand the concept, but eventually start mixing it up, occasionally calling out a phrase that the students don't anticipate. Say the verse all together at the end of the game.
SHARKS AND MINNOWS
Setup: Go to a large, rectangular play area with obvious boundaries and plenty of room to run.
Verbal Instructions: "I'm going to pick several of you to be 'sharks,' and you'll start the game in the middle of the field. The rest of you will be 'minnows' and you'll line up on the side of the field. When you hear, 'Go, Minnows!' you all need to try to get to the other side of the field without getting touched by a shark. If a you get tagged, you have to freeze until there are no more minnows still running on the field. Then we'll all say today's verse together to unfreeze you and you'll become sharks that will try to get the rest of the minnows when we have them go again!
Activity: Pick several kids to be "sharks," who should be positioned in the middle of the field. The other kids will be "minnows" and have to line 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 everyone recites the day's verse and the frozen minnows join the existing sharks as new sharks for the next round. Then, do the next round, which will be much harder with more sharks in play. Then another round, and so on until the very last minnow is tagged. Recite the verse together, then start all over!
CAPTURE GOD'S WORD
Setup: Find a large, well-defined play area with plenty of room to run. Use cones for a "center line" down the middle. Divide participants into two teams and give a "scroll" representing God's Word to each team to use as their "flag."
Verbal Instructions: "The Bible is the most important book in the world, because in the Bible, we find what the Creator has to say to the people He created! We'll play a game where God's Word is the prize, but it's going to be a challenge to get it. We're going to play Capture the Flag, and each team will place a scroll representing God's Word as their flag in their zone. The center line is the boundary separating one team's zone from the other. If you're tagged in the other team's zone, you'll have to say today's verse out loud. Once you've recited the verse out loud, you'll have to walk back across the center line before you can move about freely again. The first team to bring their opponent's flag back into their zone wins!
Activity: Play 'Capture the Flag,' where each team tries to capture the other team’s flag and bring it back into its zone. If members of one other team enter the other team’s zone, they can be "frozen" if they are tagged by the opposing team.
Players may only be frozen in the opposing team's zone. Once frozen, a player must recite the verse out loud. Players that get frozen must say the verse before they start to move back to their zone. They can then walk (not run) back across to their own zone, at which point they are free to move around as normal again.
If a player holds the flag and is tagged, the flag should drop where that player was tagged, and they may not pick it up again until they have been freed once again after walking back to their own zone.
The flag may not be thrown, and a team must stay at least ten feet away from their own flag at all times (to prevent them from making capture all but impossible).
The first team to bring their opponent's flag across the center line into their zone wins!
These use a parachute (available from S&S Worldwide). Parachutes provide fantastic kinesthetic activities for younger kids (I like them too!), and if we can help them review memorized material at the same time, that's perfect! As an additional feature, parachute games tend to be cooperative rather than competitive, which can be very beneficial for some groups and circumstances.
Game 1 - The Moving Parachute, for young kids: Have the players all grab the sides and walk in one direction while you all sing the verse, then have one player yell "SWITCH!" and go in the other direction while you sing.
Game 2 - Parachute Popcorn: 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 - The Parachute House: Make a "parachute house" just for fun. Have everyone raise the parachute above your heads then step under the parachute and turn around as you bring the parachute down to the ground to make the "house." Have everyone say the verse when they are in the "house."
Game 4 - The Tricky, Moving Ball: 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 the students encourage each other and start again!
Game 5 - The Parachute Falls: 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!
Low Activity-Level Games
My girls and I are playing a game of Bible Quest Memory! I think I'm losing...
MYSTERY OF THE DIG
My daughter, Lydia, gave me the idea to include this particular review game... enjoy!
You and your companions are Biblical archaeologists... A mystery surrounds the identity of a person that once lived in the place you are digging. Searching for clues and good investigation may lead you to discover the identity of the person, but your fellow archaeologists may beat you to the prize and find the answer to the question, “Who is the mystery person?”
SETTING UP THE GAME
Make a "suspect sheet" that includes the names of each person you are investigating, then ensure that only those cards you wish to investigate are in the game's draw deck. We recommend at least five cards per player be in the deck.
Give each player a suspect sheet, and remember to hide your suspect sheet from everyone else!
Shuffle the mystery person cards, and place one, face down, in the middle of the table. This is the mystery person, whose identity players will compete to discover.
Deal three mystery person cards to each of the players, then place the remaining cards in the middle of the table.
Have each player roll a six-sided die to see who goes first. Play continues clockwise around the table.
Have each player select a 'pawn' to represent them (could be a coin, plastic token of some kind, whatever). If you choose to use the game board, place all of the pawns in the 'base camp' space.
You are now ready to explore the archaeological dig and solve the mystery!
OBJECT OF THE GAME
Each person in the mystery deck (the Bible Quest Review Card Game) has two primary characteristics.
WHO - the detailed clues for each person are listed under the picture, both of which are potential places that clues can be found about each person.
WHEN - the time seal in the upper right-hand corner provides one clue for when the individual was alive and/or active in the Scriptural account.
Each investigator’s job is to carefully question the other players to accurately uncover the specific characteristics (WHO, WHEN) and the name of the mystery person.
Players accumulate victory points for accurately revealing the mystery person's specific characteristics (WHO, WHEN) and name.
Players lose points when making an incorrect revelation or solution. The revelations and solutions are recorded throughout the game; the corresponding victory points attributed and totaled at the end of the game, once the mystery person has been seen by everyone.
The winner is the player with the highest number of points. This is often, but not always, the one uncovered the identity of the mystery person).
A GAME TURN
Players play in successive turns, clockwise, starting with the first player of the turn. Each turn consists of the player choosing to do one and only one action:
INVESTIGATE - Ask a question of one other player. They may either answer the question or hand you one of the cards in their hand. If they answer, they then may ask one question of you in return which you must answer. For more about asking questions, see INVESTIGATION QUESTIONS, below.
BASE CAMP - The BASE CAMP is where all players start the game. This is also where the archaeological team meets and makes their reports. You may make a Revelation or bring a Solution if you do the BASE CAMP action. For more about Revelations and Solution, see BASE CAMP, below.
SUPPLY TENT - The SUPPLY TENT is a great place to restock and research materials, revealing some secrets! Doing the SUPPLY CAMP action allows you to randomly draw a card from the hand of the player of your choice.
THE DIG - New clues can be unearthed when you perform THE DIG action. If there are still cards in the draw pile on the table, perform THE DIG action to draw the first one and add it to your hand. If there are no cards remaining, you may ask the player of your choice to show you a card. You must specify one or two (no more) characteristics of the card you want to see (i.e. “Show me a king” or “Show me a New Testament woman”). If the questioned player has one or more cards of the specified type, he shows you one (and only one). If he has none, he may say so and does not have to reveal any cards. Honesty still applies here.
There are a few rules about the questions that may be asked during an INVESTIGATION action.
All questions must be answered truthfully, to the best of the players’ knowledge or recollection.
You may ask any kind of question, as long as it can be answered without giving a mystery person's name. You may, however, supply one or more names as part of your question.
Examples of questions:
— “How many cards with the Early Earth time seal do you have in your hand?”
— “Do you have the ‘Adam and Eve’ card?”
— “How many Kings have you crossed out from your list?”
— “Have you eliminated ‘John the Baptist’ from your list?”
— “Are you going to make a solution next turn?” (Obviously, your opponent is then required to do whatever he or she answers to this).
Players can use the BASE CAMP action to make a revelation. A revelation is a public announcement to all the players that you have discovered one (and only one) characteristic of the mystery person.
All revelations are written down on a piece of paper, and verified at the end of the game, once the mystery person has been revealed. Each correct revelation is worth +2 points, each false revelation –1 point.
These are valid revelations: “The mystery person has an EXODUS time seal”, “The mystery person is a king”, “The mystery person was from Bethlehem”.
These are invalid revelations: “The mystery person is a king from Jerusalem” (you must specify only one characteristic), “The mystery person was not in the Garden of Eden” (you must positively specify a characteristic, the negative declaration doesn’t reveal whether it is someone from a specific location).
You cannot make a revelation that has already been made, but you can make a revelation that contradicts a previous one. If another player revealed that the mystery person is a king you cannot make the same statement, but you may announce that she is a queen.
No Solution can be made as long as there are still cards to be had from the middle of the table.
To make a Solution, a player must perform the BASE CAMP action and publicly name the mystery person he or she suspects.
If the mystery person’s card is in another player’s hand, this player must show it to all to disprove the Solution. The player who made the false solution loses 2 points.
If no player has the Solution card in hand, the mystery person has been discovered! (confirmed by the card face-down on the table). The game ends and the player who correctly named the mystery person scores 4 points.
Calculate each player’s score. (See Scoring below) The player with the highest score is declared the winner. In the event of a tie, the player who found the mystery person is the winner.
The winner is the player with the most points (not necessarily the one who found the mystery person). When the mystery person is discovered, players calculate the score as follows:
Each right revelation+2
Each wrong revelation -1
Discovery of the mystery person (correct Solution) +4
Each false Solution -2
In the event of a tie, the winner is the player who discovers the mystery person. Players may decide to play multiple games and add the total number of points to determine the overall winner!
The game rules were inspired by the idea of Mystery of the Abbey by Days of Wonder, a great clue-like game.
Here's an example suspect sheet that could be used specifically for the time from Saul to the Fall of Judah. Individual WHO information could also be added to this information if desired for an easier version of the game (this could be very important if the students are fairly new to Bible Quest):
Rehoboam and Jeroboam Kings
Elijah and Elisha Israel Falls
Jonah Israel Falls
Isaiah Israel Falls
Assyria Israel Falls
Hezekiah Judah Falls
Josia Judah Falls
Jeremiah and Ezekiel Judah Falls
Babylon Judah Falls
BIBLEKUB SETUP You may choose to use some sort of "hidden" rack or screen to keep your cards on for this Rummikub-style tile game. Divide into two, three or four players if you are using only one deck, up to eight if you are using more. The cards are shuffled face down, then spread out on the table. Each player takes a number of starting cards from the table that depends on the following chart:
Players 1 Deck 2 decks 2 14 14 3 10 14 4 7 12 5 6 10 6 5 9 7 4 7 8 4 6 Each player keeps their cards on a rack, behind a screen, or in the hand so that the other players cannot see them. The remaining face-down cards will stay on the table. This is called the "pool." The game is played clockwise.
OBJECT The object of the game is to be the first to get rid of all your cards by putting them into combinations on the table. COMBINATIONS Combinations consist of the same timeline icon in the upper right-hand corner of the card. Combinations ALWAYS consist of at least three cards. The 'Jesus the Lamb' and 'Father, Son, and Holy Spirit' cards are special and can be used as a substitutes for any card with any timeline icon to make up a valid combination (treat them as "wild" cards).
TURN SEQUENCE A turn consists of either drawing one card from the pool or combining one or more cards from your hand with other cards, either from your hand or else already played on the table. Cards are always played face-up on the table. FIRST COMBINATION The first combination made by each player must consist of one or more combinations of at least three timeline-icon-matching cards formed entirely from the player's own hand of cards. If the 'Jesus the Lamb' and 'Father, Son, and Holy Spirit' cards are used, they can count toward the three-card requirement for any combination. After they have played their first combination, a player can make more combinations by placing one or more cards from their hand face-up on the table in the current or in any subsequent turn. If necessary, they may rearrange the cards on the table to consolidate or even form new combinations, but all combinations that they form must follow the rules for 'COMBINATIONS,' detailed above. Players that have made their first combination may play on any cards that are played in the middle, even cards that were originally played by other players.
At the end of the player's turn at least one card must have been added from their hand. If no cards can be played from their hand, a player must draw a card from the pool. If there are no more cards, they must simply "pass" their turn to the next player. The "Jesus the Lamb" and "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" cards may be picked up and re-used as any type of card elsewhere on the table, so long as the combination that they were removed from still has the minimum of three cards.
TIME LIMITS It may be helpful to set a time limit for a turn. Two minutes seems to work well. When a turn is finished, play passes to the next person.
If a player begins recombining cards, but do not finish by the time the turn time limit is up, they need to return the cards to their original position.
WINNING AND SCORING The first player to play all of their cards wins! The other players add up the number of cards they still have in their hand. Each card is worth one point. The winner gains a number of points equal to all the cards still in the losing player's hands. Then, add up all the cards that have been played face-up. Every player, including the winner, gains a number of points equal to the number of "played" cards minus the number of cards they still had in their hand at the end of the game. This game is similar to Rummy-style games, such as the classic Rummikub.
BIBLE CODES GAME SETUP First, divide four or more players into two opposing teams and designate a team "leader "for each side. One side will be the "X" team, and the other will be the "O" team. Second, make the game "map." To do so, draw a five by five grid on a piece of paper, so that there is a large square full of 25 smaller squares. Write 9 X’s and 8 O’s randomly into any empty squares in your grid. Place 25 Bible Quest Review Card Game cards onto the table in a five card by five card grid on the table. Your paper grid now serves as a map of the cards on the table. So, if an X appears in the up-most, left-most square in the grid, then it corresponds to the card in the up-most, top-most position on the table. The team leaders for each side will be the only players able to see the game map, and they ought to be in agreement which direction the map is to be held.
EXAMPLE: X O O - O X X - - O O - X X O - X - - X O X - X O GAME PLAY The X team goes first. The X Team Leader will say a single word, followed by a number. The word is the ‘code’ for the cards that the team leader is trying to get their team to guess. For instance, if the code is "apostle," then the "Peter," "John," and "Paul" cards on the table could all apply. The number that the team leader states is the amount of cards on the table the team leader believes that their code applies to. The team leader may ONLY state one code word and ONLY state one number – they should not say ANYTHING ELSE (or wink, or gesture, or anything!).
Once the code and number are stated, the team leader’s teammates must try to guess which cards their intrepid commander has tried to lead them to. Note that it is entirely possible that the team leader could make a mistake and give a clue that could apply to a card that they do NOT want their team to select! Shhhh!!! Once the code and number is stated, the team leader needs to be blank-faced and silent! Cards are selected ONLY by physical touch, not by questions or "almost touches" or anything of the sort. If a current team’s teammate touches a card with their finger, it is counted as a "final answer," and their team leader may look at the game map and then tell them, “Yes, that card is one of ours,” “No, that card is one of the other team’s,” or “No, that card is neither team’s.”
If the card belongs to the team leader’s own team, the teammates turn over the card (to indicate it had already been selected) and give their team a point. They may then guess again!
If the card belongs to the opposing team, then the card is still flipped, but the opposing team earns a point and the current team’s turn is OVER! Play passes to the opposing team.
If the card belongs to neither team, the card is flipped over, no one gets a point, and the current team’s turn is OVER! Play passes to the opposing team.
The current team may continue guessing, provided that they keep getting accurate cards, until they have guessed a number of cards equal to the "number" that their team leader called out at the beginning of their turn. As long as all of their guesses that they have made so far have scored their own cards this turn, the current team may make ONE MORE GUESS. So, the maximum number of guesses any team can make in a turn is the number that their leader calls out, plus one more. After all of their guesses have been used, the current team’s turn is over, and play passes to the opposing team.
WINNING THE GAME Play continues until one side or the other successfully scores all of their cards on the game map. MODIFICATIONS The game can be made more challenging if team leaders are not allowed to make code words based on physical descriptions of people on the cards or their timeline seals. Maximum learning can be achieved by reading each card’s clues every time it is guessed by either team. This game is similar to the fantastic party game of Codenames, which I highly recommend.