25 Sunday School Games and Activities
As Sunday School teachers, you have the most exciting story to tell! Keep kids from pre-K to high school engaged with these games and activities — and teach them some important biblical themes that they can apply in life.
Pre-K through Early Elementary
- Rock on, David – When teaching the story of 1 Samuel 17, make an outline of a very tall soldier and have students act as David (with a blindfold on) and try to throw their (fake) “stones” at Goliath. After spinning them around, have them throw a soft ball at Goliath, and then mark the spot with a circular sticker. Talk about how much faith David must have had to trust that a small stone would actually knock out a giant!
- Boat Fun – Use painter's tape to outline a boat on the floor of your classroom large enough for all your students to fit in. Try this when teaching about Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8:23-27. Cut strips from a blue plastic tablecloth to make waves. You can even use a spray water bottle and mist kids lightly with water just for fun!
- Lost and Found – Bring search-and-find books from the library and let students spend some time looking through them in pairs. Talk about the Parable of the Wandering Sheep in Matthew 18:12-14. For a craft, make paper sheep by tracing each student’s hand on black paper. Glue the upside-down handprints onto green paper, attach white cotton balls, making the thumb into the sheep's face and the rest of the fingers into the legs.
- Running Away – Set up three stations that represent the different parts of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. The first station can include a play cash register and a mini “store” where students will spend all the pretend money you give them. For the next station, set up some stuffed animals and pretend to eat the yucky pig food that the son ate with the pigs. After this station, tell the students to pretend to run home. Finish with a dance party and special treats, and talk about how God will never stop loving us, even when we disobey and run away.
Organize a curriculum committee meeting with a sign up! SAMPLE
- Ways to Worship Coupon Book – Have students make coupon books of ways they can worship God and “cash them in” with their parents. Have parents initial tasks completed during the week — reading their Bible, singing a worship song, worshipping God by serving others, praying, etc. Illustrate with simple pictures for non-readers. Give small prizes for those who return a full coupon book.
- Parable Planters – Bring in four small flower pots to illustrate Matthew 13's the Parable of the Sower. Put a different mixture of soil in each to represent how different types of soil get different results. You can even bring in a potted flower to show how the “good” soil grows something beautiful.
- Packed for Heaven – Use back-to-school supplies to fill up a backpack with familiar school items and discuss how God equips us with different aspects of faith as we grow to know him more — emphasize that we don't earn these things, but they are part of the grace God gives us. Examples could include an eraser to represent forgiveness, crayons for good works, an apple to represent the fruit of the spirit and a small wrapped present for spiritual gifts.
- Cross Toss – For a simple Easter game, make a grid of plastic cups: five by seven white cups with purple cups making a cross design in the middle. Hot glue the bottom of the cups to a foam core board and you have a fun game to play while kids are coming into class or to pass time while parents are picking up. Use foam balls, Easter eggs or small bean bags for throwing.
Late Elementary and Middle School
- Sticky Note Mix-up – When talking about becoming familiar with the Bible, write the books of the Bible on sticky notes, mix the order and have students try to put them in order as quickly as possible. Share tips to help remember the order. For instance, grouping them in a sing-song manner or “go eat popcorn” for Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians.
- Beach Ball Prayer – For a unique prayer time, inflate a beach ball and on different sides write messages such as, “Thank God for something in your home” and “Pray for a friend using their initials and their need.” Change it up with an all-thanks ball or an all-attribute ball, listing different attributes of God to praise him for. Toss the ball in the air, then catch sit, using the prayer prompt that lands closest to your thumb.
- BOB Hopscotch – Help your class memorize the Books of the Bible (BOB) by using a long piece of muslin or a disposable tablecloth to create a hopscotch board with 12-by-10-inch rectangles, and write a book of the Bible inside each rectangle. You could even make two hopscotch boards and divide the books into Old and New Testament to have two groups going at once. Have the kids speak the names of the books in order as they take turns hopping.
- The Colors of Me – Pass out three different-colored candies to each student and have the colors represent a question that the student will answer out loud. These can be related to the lesson being presented, personal experiences or their favorite Psalm, Proverb or New Testament story.
Recruit Sunday School volunteers with a sign up! SAMPLE
- Yoda or Proverbs? – Fun for youth groups, this game asks students to figure out which passages came from Yoda and which came from Proverbs. Create your own mix of Yoda quotes and Proverbs quotes for an entertaining opening game on Sunday mornings.
- Bible Race – Test your students’ knowledge of the Bible. Make sure they all have a Bible, and place the book under their chairs. The teacher will call out a passage (i.e. John 3:16) and the first person to grab their Bible and flip to that page is awarded points. Split into two teams to make the competition less personal.
- Wacky Worship – To help kids understand what worship is, collect pictures of favorite foods, magazines and a sports or movie poster. Have students make a paper collage of things they are tempted to worship in the world instead of God, and talk about ways they can stay focused on worshipping the one who is worthy of all praise.
- Helping Hand Game – Divide your class into two teams, with the goal to have the entire team make it across the finish line first. One team will walk heel to toe to get there as individuals. The other team will have a “helping hand” — one person who can run back and forth, grab the elbow of one teammate at a time, and walk (or run) with them to the finish line. See which team finishes fastest: the one going it alone or the one using a helping hand.
- Secret Scribbles – Ask for a volunteer and whisper a Bible story for the student to illustrate in 30 seconds. The twist is that they have to draw it on a paper plate while the paper plate is on their head (basically drawing it blind). See if the rest of the class can guess the Bible story, and let other students test out their artistic skills.
Plan outreach activities for Sunday School classes with a sign up! SAMPLE
- Bible Guess Who – Make cards ahead of time with three “I am” statements. For example: I am in the Old Testament. I am known for killing a giant. I am a man after God's own heart. Who Am I? Use your best radio announcer voice for this game and give bonus points if people/teams can find a verse or two that mention the person by name.
- Reaching for Greatness – When studying the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12-17, tape candy to the ceiling around your classroom — high up where the pieces are impossible to reach. Have students try to jump and get them without any help. Then divide the class into teams and have them help one person get the candy, not using any furniture, just working as a team. Talk about the roles and spiritual gifts different members of the body have and how each member is important for the group to function.
- Encouragement Circle – Give everyone a piece of paper and have them write their name at the top. Tell them to pass it to the right, and each person writes two or more positive characteristics about the person whose name is at the top of the paper. Just a note: You might want to collect these before they get to the original student to make sure comments are appropriate.
- Eleven to Heaven – Give each student 11 craft sticks and have them decorate one side. On the other side of each stick, have them write the initials or first name of someone they want to pray for (challenge them to pick people at school who they may not necessarily be friends with, people in their community or a sibling they want to get along with better). Give them a jar or bag for keeping the 11 sticks together, encourage them to pick one out to pray for every day or carry one in their book bag or Bible for the week. Circle back around to Eleven to Heaven throughout the year and ask how prayers are being answered.
- House Activity – “My Heart: Christ's Home” by Robert B. Munger is a great text to use for an activity where students examine how Jesus fits into each “room” of their life. You can have students make floor plans of a house to represent their hearts and reflect on what is in each room that keeps Christ out (this can be personal for each student). Finish with a time of prayer.
- Armor of God – This may take more than one week, but take each of the items of armor listed in Ephesians 6:10-18 and personalize it. For example, have students take a piece of string for the belt and attach notes with verses of truth that they need to hear for their belt of truth. For the next activity, make a breastplate out of paper and write what righteousness looks like (or could look like) in their life. You might save the helmet of salvation until last and offer the opportunity for students who have not made a commitment to Christ to do so and make their armor complete.
- Candy Contentment – Give each student a cup with their name on it. When you say “go,” they leave their cup on their seat, run to a bowl of candy and run back, filling their cup one piece at a time until the teacher says, “stop.” Don't tell students ahead of time, but only those touching their cup when the time ends get to keep their candy. Dump the candy in non-touched cups back in the bowl and challenge students to figure out the secret rule. Play several times until students figure out the secret rule and note who risks all their candy to get more and who waits with what they have for the timer to go off. Discuss what this reveals about contentment, risk, greed and the real secret to being happy for others.
- Bridges Challenge – Divide students into teams and give them materials to build a simple bridge over a bowl of water (e.g., craft sticks, play dough, paper clips, string). Have students test the strength of their bridge with small rocks. This is a great metaphor for building bridges to friends who are turned off by the idea of church. Ask students to think about how they can build a bridge to their friends without it collapsing under the weight of taboos or preconceived notions about church.
If you have been entrusted with teaching children about God, remember that you are part of a wonderful journey. These games and activities will help teach important lessons that will last a lifetime!
Julie David is married to a worship pastor and after 20 years in ministry together with three daughters, she is still developing the tender balance of thick skin and gracious heart. She currently leads a small group of high school girls.