Five emergency ways of entertaining youngsters of different ages

Gfeef By Gfeef, 9th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Kids

I've been a youth worker for years and it's always a nightmare when you get left with a group of random kids and nothing prepared to do. Many people crumble in this situation but really there are loads of ideas. Here are five tried and tested activities that won't take hours of preparation or leave you a huge mess to clear when they leave.

How to avoid mayhem

Many things lead to someone being left with a group of youngsters. Waiting for the next activity to begin, or for them to be collected by guardians and parents, or simply because they have congregated and someone has deemed it your job to entertain them. It's difficult to manage the time constructively, especially when the opportunity for mayhem looms large. So here are five quick fire ways of getting them entertained, no real preparation and no big clearing away. There is no running about, and all the games can be modified to make them quieter games. These are my five favourites, they all work, you just need a little confidence and a bit of authority.

Play the animal game

Assign each person an animal and a sign to go with it. You can start by sitting down the youngsters in a circle, explaining the game and then getting them to chose an animal. Then get someone to make their animal sign (and noise if appropriate) followed by another animals, the chosen animal follows by doing the same and the activity gets passed across and around the group. Ideally the animals grow in size as you go round the circle until the Lion. If someone makes an error they they become the smallest animal and everyone moves to become the animal one size bigger than themselves to fill any gaps. With older children this can become faster and can be more complex, but with young children you can simply play passing round the sign until they master the game. Then you can go to the original rules where you become the smallest animal on error, or shout swap and let everyone become a different animal from the circle.

Set a challenge

Kids thrive on challenges and one that often works well is the spelling challenge. You need a phone or digital camera for this and a judge. Make sure you ask the kids to face away from the screen if you don't have permission from their parents to photograph them. (Faces disqualify a picture and it must be deleted immediately otherwise) Split the group up into teams according to how many cameras you have. Then set a word that has as many letters as the average age of the group. Each team needs to lay on the ground and photograph themselves spelling the word. They can do this letter by letter or as a whole word.

Create a character

Turn hands into characters and get them to personalise them. Normally the bottom lip is the thumb but it could be anything. Use any scraps you can find to dress your hand. If you have a suitable pen in your bag or pocket you have lips and eyes, hairbands can be hair or clothes, the imagination lets you run wild. Get them to name their creations, give them characters and then set scenes for the characters to play. From the two farm hands complaining about work, to the new boyfriend who wants a kiss!

Do a doodle

If you can find anything to draw on, or even sand and dust or write in then do a doodle. Make a swirl on whatever is your drawing board and then ask for suggestions on what it could be turned into. The favourite suggestion gets a chance to prove his artistic skills. Encourage good clean fun, some things can easy go the wrong way. Start with the obvious, like an S and say it could be a snake. This game is only as limited as the room you have to draw.

Clap a rhythm

This is an exercise that takes a group that will listen. Start the group clapping a pretty simple rhythm. You can clap, tap, and gently slap your own legs or sides or arms to change the sound. When you think the whole group has got it shout out someone's name and they can start a new rhythm going. The trick is to tell people they are not allowed to stop, this way one rhythm fades away as people pick up the next. After a two of three rhythms start adding words, this actually makes it easier, and the new rhythm creator gets to not only start a beat but also a chant. The longer you play the more complex it becomes. Younger players may end up just saying the words, in a mixed age group this is fine.


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Meet the author

author avatar Gfeef
a youthworker, a traveller, soon to be a wife, a christian, a girl who is still discovering life

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author avatar Sofia
16th Jun 2010 (#)

Your article is very useful for my job. I enjoyed reading it. and got many ideas.

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