We are stepping in to a new and exciting time. Restrictions are easing, activities are restarting, and in-person youth work has been given the go-ahead to reopen once more! Maybe you’ve been waiting for this moment; longing for a time when things would be “back to normal”. But while we’re now able to physically meet up, we’re not quite (and maybe never will be) back to our idea of pre-pandemic normal. The last year has changed us all and as we enter this period of transition from online to in-person youth work, the ways in which our young people have changed will become increasingly clear. Different young people will be facing different challenges, and so as youth leaders it’s important we identify the needs of the young people we work with and tailor our content to what they need right now.
Perhaps most pressingly, we need ideas. Ideas of games and activities that we can do with the young people we work with while maintaining social distancing and keeping masks on. So, we’ve put together a list of 25 such games. Some may be familiar, some new, some completely random, but all just possible ideas for you to use in your youth ministry context.
Choose some of the best tasks from the hit TV show Taskmaster (there’s loads on Youtube) and have the young people compete against each other to complete the tasks. For example, draw a portrait on a canvas from 2m away, throw a teabag into a mug from the greatest distance, make the tallest tower possible out of spaghetti and marshmallows, or surprise the youth leader.
2. Human guess who
Young people sit on chairs in a grid. They can wear props if they want to. Two young people stand up in front of the chairs. One secretly writes down their chosen person, and the other guesses who it is by asking yes or no questions. Young people “fold down” when they are eliminated.
3. Nerf gun war
Each young person gets a nerf gun and nerf bullets. The only rule is that young people cannot be within 2 metres of another young person.
4. Higher or lower
Get a pack of cards (works especially well with giant cards). Young people guess if the next card is higher or lower. Young person or team with the highest score wins.
This is a website game young people can play on their phones with each other in person. The website gives everyone the same location and each person a job role in that location – apart from one person who is the spy. The spy must guess where the location is. The workers must figure out who is the spy. Let the questions commence.
One young person leaves the room. Everyone else decides something the young person must do, e.g. walk to the window and open it. When the young person comes back in, they must guess the correct action based PURELY on the loudness of everyone ‘quacking’. The louder the collective ‘quack’ the closer they are to being right. Similar to the game hotter / colder.
The narrator shows everyone a piece of paper privately with either an M for Mafia, a C for citizen or a D for doctor. Everyone closes their eyes, the Mafia open their eyes and choose who they want to eliminate. The doctor then wakes up and randomly chooses someone to save. Then the narrator tells everyone who has been eliminated (unless the doctor saved the same person). Everyone has to figure out who the Mafia is and collectively vote that person out. The Mafia win when they eliminate everyone else. The citizens win when they vote the Mafia out. For further guidance on how to play Mafia check out https://www.instructables.com/How-To-Play-Mafia-with-And-Without-Cards/
The youth leader is the host. Each young person needs to write down a famous person and then privately show that name to the youth leader. The youth leader notes all the names down and then reads them in a random order to the whole group. Young people take it in turn to guess who is which famous person. If they are correct, that person becomes part of their empire and they guess again. If they are wrong, the person who was asked chooses someone to ask next. For further guidance on how to play Empires check out https://www.teampedia.net/wiki/Empires
Each young person chooses their own sign, they need to be different to each other. Each young person shows their sign to everybody e.g. peace sign, thumbs up etc. The sign gets passed around by a young person doing their own sign followed by someone else’s sign. One young person stands in the middle of a circle and closes their eyes while the group decide who starts the game. Then the person in the middle tries to catch the sign (by pointing to the person who has it) as it is passed around. If someone accidentally passes it to the person in the middle (using their sign) they become the person in the middle. If someone is caught signing, they become the person in the middle.
10. Family fortunes
Have teams of five and a list of family fortune questions and answers (you can find these online or make your own up!) Teams go head-to-head to answer the questions just like the show, and the team with the most points win. If young people are unfamiliar with the game show ‘Family Fortunes’, you can describe it to them as reverse ‘Pointless’.
11. Quiz bingo
Create bingo sheets with answers to quiz questions on them. Make sure that each answer is on more than one person’s sheets but that not all the answers are on each person’s sheet. Read out the questions, and if a young person sees the answer (or the answer they think is right) on their sheet they can cross it off. When a young person has a row or column crossed off, they can shout bingo. They only win if their answers were correct and read out!
A classic game where young people take it in turns to act out a book, film, song, or activity without using words.
13. Murder mystery
There are plenty of free murder mystery scripts online. Print one out for each young person with any clues needed. Send them their profile in advance so they can come dressed as their character. Young people try to figure out the mystery!
Set out a few taboo cards in advance where young people are going to be sat (wear gloves and a mask when handling these cards). Young people can then take it in turn to play taboo using their cards. Alternately, use https://playtaboo.com/playpage and have the young people access taboo cards from their own phones.
Play the classic drawing and guessing game either by using one flipchart, where each young person has their own pens, or by getting each young person their own mini whiteboard and marker.
16. Paper plate game
Each young person is given a paper plate and a pool noodle. Standing 1m away from each other (with masks on), they need to try and knock the plate of their opponents’ hand whilst keeping their own. They cannot hold the plate with their fingers, it has to be balanced flat on their hand. The only thing that can touch their opponent’s plate is the pool noodle.
17. human table football
Arrange seats like the formation of table football i.e. a row of seats (chairs 1m away from each other) facing one direction, followed by a row of seats facing the other direction etc. You need to create goals on either end with a seat in front of each. Young people are split into teams, and sit in team rows. They are each given two wooden spoons. The youth leader throws a sponge football into the middle and teams, staying seated, must use their spoons to try and move the ball up the pitch and score goals.
18. Heads, shoulders, knees, shoes
Young people in twos sit opposite each other 2m away with masks on. They each take a shoe off placing it between them both. The youth leader yells out ‘heads’, ‘shoulders’, ‘knees’ or ‘shoes’. When ‘heads’, ‘shoulders’ or ‘knees’ are yelled out young people place their hands on those places, like in the children’s song. But when ‘shoes’ is read out they have to grab their shoe from the middle and using that shoe knock the other person’s shoe out of the way.
19. 10 Plastic cups
Line 10 plastic cups on each side of a table. Two young people stand on either side of the table and on go, have to quickly turn over their 10 cups. You can play variants on this where players have to use one hand, elbows, wooden spoons, closed eyes etc.
20. Mentos + Cone
Split young people into teams of two. One young person places an ice cream cone into their mouth with the open end up. Another young person stands 2m+ away with medical gloves on. Teams have one minute to throw mentos into their teammates cone. Team with the most mentos in the cone wins.
21. Knee potato
Young people need to get a potato from the start of a line to the bucket at the end of the line without using their hands. They start by putting a potato between their legs and waddling over to a bucket before squatting and dropping it in. The young person who does this quickest wins.
22. Water balloon volleyball
Create a volleyball court with a net in the middle. Each team has two people holding the edge of a piece of tarp 2m wide. Teams bounce/throw the water balloons using the tarp. Points are scored for landing a water balloon in the other team’s section.
23. Tennis ball tights
Each young person has a pair of tights with tennis balls in the feet. They pull the tights over their head. They then use the tights to complete an obstacle course that requires them to knock items down using tennis balls in the end of the tights.
24. Follow the leader
Have the young people sit in a circle. Choose someone to be the “guesser” and send them out of the room. Then choose someone to be the “leader”. Everything the leaders does, the rest of the young people in the circle must follow – e.g. waving their hands, stamping their feet. The leader must repeat each action until they decide to change action. The guesser is called back into the group and must try and guess who the leader is.
25. World Records Night
Choose some world records for the young people to try and break. Options might include number of jumping jacks in one minute (current record 123), number of plastic bottle flips in one minute (current record 47) or quickest time to eat a jam doughnut without using hands (current record 11.41 seconds).