Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Amazing Race Kids Activities

I've gotten a couple queries about the activities we used for our "Amazing Race" nights at Detour, our Wednesday night children's ministry. Since I recently went through the photos from that time, I thought I should try to make a more complete list. Credit for most if not all of these ideas really belongs to Sarah Morris.


Week 1:
  • From a table filled with stuff, locate one particular item (I think a printed word) and point it out to a judge
  • One team member eats a jar of baby food. We were nice and had fruit not peas. For the teams that lagged behind this got shortened to five spoonfuls.
  • One team member pushes / pulls a stack of chairs across the room. This was harder than we thought. You should test the size of the stack with one of the smallest kids.
  • One person from the team finds a specific verse in the Bible and sculpts the 3rd word of the verse from Playdoh for the team while they try to guess what it is.
  • Given a sample greeting card and supplies, make an identical card (for nursing home residents)
Week 2:
  • From a list of 30 names, circle the one that is not a book in the Bible
  • From a table filled with toys, find one specific item and write down the location for a judge
  • Balance a pencil on your nose for 30 seconds
  • One team member eats a spoon full of mustard
  • Take a popsicle stick and wrap it completely in yarn
  • Something where the one team member got dressed as a Bible character and had to recite something. I can't remember exactly what this was, but it was funny to watch.
Week 3:
  • Untie a rope with a dozen knots in it
  • Unscramble 12 church-related word scrambles
  • One team member stands on their head (against the wall or with someone holding their feet) while the others recite /sing something
  • One team member eats a pack of pudding, fed to him by the rest of the team, with spoons in their mouths, and with everyone's hands behind their back. One of the funniest activities. Amazingly not very messy.
  • A three-legged race down the hall
  • The team got 5 balloons and had to pop them by sitting on them. The lighter kids couldn't pop them and needed some help.
  • From a bowl full of eggs, the team must pick one at a time and crack it open until they find a hard-boiled one. I didn't get to watch (or photograph) this but I heard it was probably the most disgusting activity we had.
Week 4:
  • The team solves a Bible-themed word search
  • The rest of the team wraps one team member completely in toilet paper. The judging of "completely" got looser for the slower teams.
  • Each team members puts Vaseline on their face and uses cotton balls to make a beard. Really funny to watch (and photograph) but probably the messiest activity we did.
  • Given a stack of magazines, the team cuts out and glues letters on paper to spell Jesus.
  • Make a balloon animal. Judging of "animal" got looser for slower teams.
  • One team member drinks a small baby bottle full of water. This took fooorrrrevvveeerrr. You should test this with a kid and consider use a small amount of water like a quarter of the bottle. Great photos of teams standing around in frustration watching one poor kid try to suck down a whole bottle through a pinhole.
Week 5:
  • Assemble a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle. This took too long, probably nearly 10 minutes per team, even with the whole team working and adults helping. The kids were ready to explode.
  • One team member drinks a small amount of pickle juice. We even watered it down. This was the only time we ever had a kid puke from an activity.
  • String 25 buttons on a string
  • Walk down the hall holding a spoon in their mouth with a pom pom ball on it without dropping it
We had a couple challenges every week, besides just coming up with ideas. The kids, especially the older ones, could just blow through challenges much quicker than we thought. So we made sure to add activities that would have to slow them down like word searches and puzzles. Then we had teams falling way behind that wouldn't finish without help. It's very tough to work out a balance for everyone. What I'll do when we do this again is make sure to have some adjustable difficulty so we can slow down the fast teams without stopping the slower teams. Things like having a hard and easy version of a word search or word scramble or having a 100 piece and a 25 piece jigsaw puzzle would accomplish that. That takes a little more instruction for the volunteers though.

Speaking of volunteers, this activity can be very volunteer intensive. The setup (and teardown) took a lot of work of course. We (Sarah) had to walk through and make sure that the clues the team receive sent them to the right rooms in the right order. There also had to be adequate instructions so that any volunteer could walk in and run the activity. During the activity we often needed volunteers in 3 or more rooms at a time. If you do this, you'll definitely want to have one or more designated photographers. Some of our funniest photos came from these nights.

One challenge we had was with the competitive aspect of the activity. We had a couple kids get frustrated with "losing" but the majority of them were having too much fun to worry about that. The bigger problem was with the fast teams of older kids. They were so competitive that every week we had accusations of cheating. That wasn't fun to deal with. Especially since everyone got the same prizes at the end.

When we did this activity last year it was only one of several activities kids could sign up for at the time. We had about 5 to 6 teams of 3 kids each week and that was a good number. We tried to limit it to kids that were 2nd to 5th grade so they were decent readers and could understand and follow the directions.

Update: Peppers and Pollywogs has a list of activity ideas meant for birthday parties.

Update: I created a quick hopefully non-infringing logo for this blog post, using this photo as a base. You're free to use it for your own personal use as long as it is clear that this is not affiliated with The Amazing Race television show.


[The Amazing Race is a trademark of CBS or the production company for the show. I was told that we were cleared to use the term "Amazing Race" as long as it wasn't The Amazing Race and we did not use a logo from the show.]

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