For the last 10+ years our Junior CYC has ended the year with a CYC Bible Carnival hosted at the property of a brother and sister. This is a real highlight of the year for the children.
Each family is asked to prepare or run a game for the kids, parents taking turns running games and supervising the children. The Senior CYC also gets involved running games, making cotton candy and helping clean-up. The young children love having all the teenagers around for this fun evening.
It usually begins with an informal BBQ dinner. Families are asked to have their games set up before dinner. People bring lawn chairs or sit on the grassy lawn. After dinner, one of the brothers takes all the children aside and does a Bible reading and devotion with them while dinner is quickly cleaned up and last minute set-up is done for the games.
Once everyone is ready, tokens (purchased at the Dollar Store) and bags are handed out to all the kids. They use the tokens to play the games. Usually they are asked to play each game once before returning to their favorite games.
Usually there are a few random challenges open to everyone (guess how many jelly beans are in the jar type ideas)
Below are a few different games that have been played over the years.
Decorate plastic bottles of various sizes (soap containers, 2L pop bottles etc.) to look like Philistine soldiers. We made simple clothing by hot gluing left over cotton as a base, adding gold paper armor, polystyrene head with wool hair and a gold paper headdress. The children get 6 bean bags or tennis balls to knock as many “soldiers” as they can with three tries.
This is a great one to store and use yearly.
Fishing in the Sea of Galilee
You will need some sort of fishpond (a child’s plastic swimming pool works great!) At the dollar store you can normally purchase plastic fishing sets (you will need 2). Fill the pool with water, add plastic fish. The children try to catch a plastic fish. You can change the title to any bible verse/story about fish. We added blue tarps, a fishing boat around the pool and even some real fish in the water for decoration.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
Purchase 2 sheets of poster board from the dollar store. Fix them together so you can paint a tree on it. You may need to put some stiffener behind it to stand it up. Paint the tree green with a brown trunk. Tape Dollar Store lollies or candies on it. They stay on better if you stick them on at an angle. On the bottom of some of the candies (3-5 or more) paint a colour dot. Whoever chooses these dotted candies gets a bigger prize (again purchased at the Dollar Store.) We had the big prizes displayed at the bottom of the poster display. In order to pick their candy off of the tree the children had to name 1-3 trees (depending on age) mentioned in the Bible (depending on their age you could ask for types of trees, places where trees are mentioned etc.)
Quenching the Fiery Darts
Purchase long thin candles and set them in a firm base. We had red and yellow plastic table cloths as a back drop to look like fire. Purchase Dollar Store pencil-like squirters or spray bottles (we were careful NOT to use gun shaped ones) and a bucket filled with water. Have the children stand behind a line and try to squirt the water to put the candles out. We made sure this was in a safe area and an adult in charge. You can either have three children try to squirt the fire out at the same time to see who is first or do it singularly and see how long it takes. Distance from target decided by age.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16
66 Books of the Bible
Print out 3 lists of the books of the bible, cut them up and put in a container, bowl or ziplock bag. Each child takes out a specific number of names without looking (number depends on age.) Children have to put the pieces they’ve pulled out in order. They may need help depending on their age and ability.
Pressing Toward the Mark (Hoopla Place)
Place juice boxes and a few other things on a table. Give the child three small hoop frisbees (normally purchased at Dollar Stores). They have three chances to throw a hoop over a prize (or play until you win if you’d prefer)
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:13
Create a poster board with a Bible verse on it about hammers, nails or other construction themes.
Give child a hammer, depending on age of child give them 1-3 nails to hammer into a log or piece of wood.
“Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” Jeremiah 23:29
Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls
On two sheets of thick cardboard or using a piece of wood, cut a number of holes (or tape on paper bowls). Odd shaped ones are fine but should be big enough to throw a tennis ball through. Paint the board to look like the Qumran caves. Have the children throw balls or bean bags “into the caves”. Give the children three balls and have 3 levels of prizes if you want or the same prize regardless of number of balls you get in.
Breath of Life
Using a large cork board draw lines to make 50 -60 squares on it and mark them clearly in order. Place a small prize in each square. We used a ziplock bag pinned to the board with a prize in it. Write a number on a piece of paper and put it in a balloon. Each person chooses a balloon from a bowl, blows it up, pops it by sitting on it or if needed, with a pin. They then find the number in the balloon and receive the prize that matches from the number on the board.
“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4
Whatever your hand finds to do
Place different small prizes in a container that is filled with sawdust or wood chips (the sort you get for a hamster cage.) If you put each prize in a ziplock so that the prize can’t be felt might make it more interesting. Then the children have to feel in the saw dust to find their prize. This could also be done in water, as long as the prizes were all waterproof.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Ecclesiastes 9:10
Jonah and the Big Fish
We filled a whole table worth of plastic cups half full of water. In a random order we dropped bright colored sinking fish in 8 (or more) of the cups. Each child was given 5 ping pong balls (with faces on them to represent Jonah) into a cup that had a plastic fish at the bottom. Depending on their age/ability we made them stand further back. There were varying levels of prizes, depending on how many Jonahs they got in with a fish. It was harder than it looked!
Og King of Bashan
We made a life-size Og king of Bashan from his measurements in scripture and tried to keep the body parts proportional to the height. Then we stood it upright – joining each piece with dowels and cut out a few circles in each piece. The object of the game was to get a tennis ball through one of the circles to win a prize. The adults enjoyed a bit of a competition to see how many tosses it would take to get through the top hole 🙂
Perhaps you have a hobby farm with some friendly animals – you could bring your donkey to give “Balaam’s Donkey rides” or a horse for “Egyptian horse racing”….maybe you even know someone who could bring a camel!
“Hast thou given the horse strength; Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” Job 39:19
Finish the Course Mini-put
This one takes a bit of time and expense to build, but once you have a portable mini golf green you can reuse it year after year.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the COURSE.” 2 Timothy 4:7
On a large poster board write 1 Sam 20v20 “Then I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target;”
Give the children three tries to pop three different balloons with a bow and arrow.
Obstacle Course of Life
**This can be modified using anything you might have around your house/property**
We had the children take a ladle and put a water balloon on it. Then they had to run with the water balloon on the ladle around the polls (you can see them in the picture), but they were not allowed to hold the water balloons onto the ladle. Then they had to jump over a stool. After that we had a bunch of marshmallows attached to rope and they had to use their mouth to get the marshmallow off. Once they got a marshmallow off they had to jump over the stool again, and race around the polls. Anyone who participated got candy at the end of their race but we timed each child and the child with the fastest time at the end of the evening got a large chocolate chip cookie (the size of a dinner plate.)
Print off a map of Israel. Fix it to a thick piece of card stock or poster board. Each person was asked to put their name on a post-it sticker after wrapping it around a dressmakers pin. They then placed it on the spot they think the treasure is.
There can be two ways to determine who gets the prize. A) Place in a sealed envelope where the treasure is before the start of the carnival. B) At the end of the carnival get someone to choose a letter and number of map coordinates from the bag and this will decide the winner. If you decide to do this method, make sure to place letter and number coordinate on your map.
The Photo Forge
Bring an assortment of props and costumes. A simple backdrop will work –either sheer curtains with decorative lights behind them, or make a “rainbow” of Dollar Store plastic table cloths. Take a memorable photo and print it right then for the kids to take home as a reminder of the friends they’ve made at CYC. Families often will take a silly family photo.
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17
Additional carnival ideas:
These can normally be rented from party supply companies. We had some very good natured young brothers who were willing to take turns going in the dunk tank on a very cold June evening.
Again, these can normally be rented from a party supply company. This is a real highlight for the kids each year.
Sheep, goats, donkeys, pigs, rabbits, dogs and cats all have a places in the Bible.
Create a mini-bakery and title it Let them Eat Cake Pastry’s or Eglon’s Kitchen (or some other Biblical reference to food/baking). We made enough plain cupcakes for each child and adult to decorate one. Before baking the cupcakes we placed coins (nickles, dimes, quarters, loonies and one toonie) in each cupcakes. The kids picked which cupcake they wanted to decorate, had fun decorating it and then had the surprise of finding which coin was in their cupcake.
There are many tutorials online on how to become a balloon artist. The kids have loved getting their balloons made into their favourite animals!
If you have more ideas or photos, please share with us so we can include!