Top Tips to Keep Older Kids Busy
Finding games suitable for older children in a youth group can be tricky.
A youth group leader doesn’t want to patronise older children by offering “baby “games, but by the same token, these kids aren’t grown up enough yet to be treated as young adults.
Older children in youth groups still require supervision at all times, but they also require games and activities that will keep their attention and also keep up with their high energy levels.
Easier said than done, but these top tips should help you find activities to suit even the toughest to please member of your youth group!
Get to Know ThemEveryone is an individual, and when a child gets older his or her likes and dislikes become more pronounced. It’s easy to plan an activity that will suit ten five-year-olds, it’s much harder to find one that will keep ten 15-year-olds happy.
Take the time to get to know the members of your youth group, and find out where their interests and hobbies lie. This checklist should help:
- Do you like art?
- Do you like sports?
- Do you like music?
- Do you prefer taking part in group games, or more individual activities?
- Is science a passion?
- Do you like cultural activities, such as visiting the theatre or museums?
- Would you be interested in trips or activities that involve animals/nature/outdoor sports/quiet time spent reading or sewing?
Decide as a GroupOnce you have a rough idea of what the members of your youth group like to do, decide as a group on future activities. While the choice is, ultimately, up to you, having their input will make them enjoy activities and events all that much more.
Some activities, of course, will require money. With older children, holding a youth group fundraiser is a great idea. Whether you choose to have a raffle, a talent show or a quiz night, not only will they learn what fundraising is all about, but also appreciate the money more when they finally get it.
Buddy UpAnother way to make the most of the older children is to capitalise on their talents. The best way to do that is to pair them with a younger child, or ask for volunteers to work with the younger members of the group.
Here are some great games older children can play with younger children:
- Read-a-thon. Have a contest to see who can read the most pages in two weeks. A young child can read to an older one, or if the child is too young to read, then the older one can read to them.
- Designing women. Both little girls and teenagers love clothes – usually. If you have budding young and older fashionistas in your youth group, ask everyone to bring in scraps of material and have a design contest, using the little ones as models.
- Art attack. Hang a large sheet, break out the poster paints, and let the kids go wild. If you have several sheets, divide up into groups – half older and half younger children. The youth group leader can be the “judge”, making sure everyone wins a prize.
Outdoor GamesFun nursery games such as Musical Statues lose their appeal when a child gets older. Here are some games that will keep the older children going…
- Dodge ball. Children line up in two groups, then throw a large, soft rubber ball at the opposing side. When a child gets hit, they exit the game – until there is the last man standing.
- Obstacle course. Older children can have hours of fun designing this obstacle course, then running it for themselves, or for younger children. All you need is a bunch of fun items, such as a hula hoop to jump through and box to crawl though. One referee can have a timer (watch) to see who is the winner.
- Backyard bowling. Set up objects outside that can be easily tipped over with a ball, such as cereal boxes and plastic milk bottles. Keep score!
Older kids needn’t feel bored or left out just because they are the oldest in the youth group. Finding out what their own interests are and pairing them up with smaller children can make all the difference, as part of a one-to-one mentoring programme aimed at helping both age groups.
You can also allow the older children to plan a special day for the younger ones, with a modicum of supervision. They’ll appreciate the responsibility you’ll give them, and everyone will benefit!