Springtime activities will soon beckon children away from your church’s weekday club. Now may be the time to change your routine. You can shake up your kids’ club nights by using a little creativity. Tonya Calton of Lee’s Summit (Missouri) Bible Church shares ideas that she and her husband, Steve, use in their church’s Kids4Truth Clubs.
Shake Up Club Night with Themes
The shakeup begins with who attends the club on theme nights—entire families. Pastor Jim King, who also serves as his church’s Kids4Truth Clubs activity director, says the theme nights encourage visitors, include families, and provide fun for the children.
On each theme night, begin club 45 minutes early. Provide a game or craft for families to enjoy, plus dinner or snacks. Here are a few theme ideas from Tonya and Jim.
Ideas you may not already use
- When I Grow Up Night. Students dress up like a person in the occupation they want to be in when they grow up.
- ‘Wish It Were Summer.’ Students and leaders dress in their summer clothes (e.g., flip-flops, tees, sunglasses, and sun hats). Serve a super-long sub sandwich with chips and cookies or some other picnic-like food. Have students sit on picnic blankets. Paint sun catchers as a craft. (This theme is especially fun for February.)
- Mini Brick Derby. Tonya, Steve, and Jim’s kids’ club used to hold pinewood derbies, but the LEGO-style mini brick derby has been a fun alternative, says Pastor King; plus “it is more accessible for many children and parents.” At the derby, the church’s youth group runs a concession stand to raise funds for summer camp.
- First-Time Friends. Challenge clubbers to invite others to this specialized theme night, and provide them with invitation flyers they can give to their friends. Thank the first-time visitor and reward the clubber by giving each one a grab bag full of prizes, Bible bookmarks, candy, and the like.
Themes for other than springtime
Though it’s too late this year, try these during the winter months:
- Souper Hero Night. Invite clubbers to dress as superheroes. For supper, serve soup and sandwiches. Pastor King says their club held this theme night “as a way to collect canned goods during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season to donate to a local food pantry.”
- Happy Birthday, Jesus. Emphasize the Savior’s birth, but not only with a party. Encourage clubbers to dress as Bible characters from the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Photograph the children, then have them make frames during craft time.
- Hide It in Your Heart Night. Use this theme for Valentine’s Day. Hold a “pink and red” contest to see which boy clubber and which girl clubber wears the most pink and/or red articles of clothing and accessories that night. Serve snowman pancakes, and make Valentine’s bags for collecting the Valentine cards the kids bring.
And here is another idea from Pastor King: Invite your entire church to attend a kickoff on the first night of your new clubs season. He suggests providing a meal, such as walkin’ tacos and dessert. Be sure to announce your plans for the new Kids4Truth Clubs year.
Common themes that you can add to
Tonya, Steve, and Jim shake up their club nights even with themes that are familiar to most weekday children’s clubs:
- thgiN drawkcaB. Clubbers wear backward shirts, hats, etc., while you serve “backward pizza” (pizza rolls) and the families make backward ice cream sundaes.
- Build Your Own Pizza Night. Like the rest of these ideas, the theme is self-explanatory. But shake things up by playing carnival games and prizes on this theme night.
- Crazy Hat & Royals Sundae Night. Not only do clubbers wear crazy hats and the clubber(s) with the craziest hat(s) win a prize; but Tonya, Steve, and Jim serve ice cream in plastic Kansas City Royals hat-bowls that clubbers can take home afterward.
- Fall Fun Night. Serve snacks made from apples and/or pumpkins. Have visitors and clubbers decorate mini pumpkins. And hold a seed-spitting contest!
- Pajama Party. On this theme night, of course the clubbers are welcome to wear pajamas. Since the night also includes the entire family, serve breakfast for supper and include a theme-related game or craft.
- Skate Night. Invite the entire church to join your clubbers for a skating party in March.
Shake Up Club Lesson Time with Fun Activities
Tonya says that though kids have fun during their game time, “it is our goal to make lesson time the most fun part of the evening.” After the fun part, the director delivers a lesson that correlates to the night’s theme. Here are a few of Tonya’s favorite activities to make lesson time fun.
- Guessing Game. As the clubbers settle in for the lesson time, the director can show a PowerPoint presentation of things that the clubbers must guess. Those who guess correctly win a prize, such as Air Heads or a Tootsie Pop. Or shake up things even more another night by having students guess what an unusual word means. Tonya says that kids love this game, “and it is super fun!”
- Ice Cream for You and Me. Put leaders’ names in one bag and clubbers’ names in another. Each week, draw a name out of each bag. Provide time during the next club night for that leader and clubber to share one-on-one time as they enjoy ice cream together (in a public area, of course). This activity allows them to get to know each other better.
- Junk Drawer. Place a cover with a hand-size hole in it (about 8″) inside a lockbox. Then put items (cool or useless—e.g., old tools, yo-yos, Vienna sausages, small stuffed animals, bars of soap) under the cover. Tanya explains, “We found that when clubbers sit with their buddies, they are usually distracted or distracting, so we came up with this idea. We draw a name out of the ‘leader’ bag [see Ice Cream for You and Me above]. The clubbers sitting on each side of that leader get to go to the Junk Drawer and blindly put their hand in that 8″ hole, feel around, and pull out some junk to take home. . . . Now they all want to sit by a leader!”
- Meet the Clubber. Draw a name from the clubber bag. The clubber whose name is drawn should go forward and sit with the director, who then interviews that child while the rest of the children listen. Tonya suggests using a small microphone and speaker system, “like a Karaoke machine,” as the director asks questions: What’s your name? Where do you live? Do you have siblings? Do you have pets? What do you want to be when you grow up? The director should follow up on the answers and then ask a question that is unique to that clubber. Tonya also suggests making some of the questions funny, because “kids love to laugh!” Spend 5–10 minutes, as available. At the end, the director could hold the mic toward the rest of the children and ask, “What do we say?” They could yell back, “Nice to meet you!” Tonya points out that this activity has the added benefit of helping kids get used to speaking in public and using a microphone. “This could serve them well in ministry opportunities as they grow older,” she says.
Shake Up Clubbers’ Motivation with Bucks and Buying
Kids at Lee’s Summit Bible Church earn “Kids4Truth bucks” for bringing their Bibles, handbooks, and standards to the club. They also earn bucks for each memory work they complete. On random nights Tonya will visit each classroom. Every clubber who is wearing his or her standard gets more bucks, which encourages clubbers to wear their standards throughout the evening.
Five or six times during the year, it’s buying time (a.k.a. Store Night). Clubbers get to spend their bucks on a variety of items. At Christmastime instead of buying for themselves, clubbers buy items for their family members. Volunteers then wrap the gifts at wrapping stations.
Don’t Stop Shaking Things Up!
For more ideas to keep Kids4Truth Clubs nights exciting and to motivate learning, check out these articles: