If you weren’t able to attend Orange Conference 2013 this year, we missed you!  In the Ages and Stages breakout about elementary kids, two of the things that seemed most helpful to leaders were:

  1. How to set up your environment with favorite supplies for each of the three main age groups (K-1, 2-3 and 4-5).
  2. How to give your small group leaders extra age-appropriate game ideas they can use if they have more time to fill.

I’m going to summarize these ideas here and I’d love for you to ADD to them… what did I forget that you’ve found works well? Please comment below, so I can include your thoughts in future editions.
Disclaimer: Don’t feel like you need to buy all needed supplies and games. You can ask for donations of gently used things from families in your ministry, put up a post-it note list of “wish list” ideas that parents can take as they walk by, even host an open house as kids move up to other age groups encouraging them to bring something they like to do with them to donate. You can provide special labels that they put on the item so that each time they or anyone else plays with or uses it, they see their name and feel like a special part of what’s going on here.

Kindergarteners to First Graders

  • Draw, color and create (with crayons/markers/paint/paper)
  • Cut and also glue or tape
  • Put together puzzles or simple crafts like beads
  • Build with blocks and other toys
  • Role play or “pretend”
  • Board Games or Cards
  • Time to answer my questions or talk with me
  • Active Games (see list below)


  • Hopscotch
  • Duck Duck Goose
  • Red Rover
  • Freeze tag
  • Red Light, Green Light
  • Mother May I
  • Musical Chairs
  • Telephone
  • I Spy
  • Simon Says
  • Follow the Leader
  • Rhyme Time (suggesting words that rhyme)

Second to Third Graders

  • Like to read, write and draw
  • Dance and listen to music
  • Put together more complicated puzzles or crafts
  • Build or create
  • Act things out or copying others
  • Board Games or Cards (especially dominoes)
  • Playing video games
  • Time with friends and you
  • Active Games (see list below)


  • Around the World
  • Heads up 7 up
  • Tic-Tac-Toe
  • Connect Dots to Make Boxes
  • Thumb Wars
  • Add on to Make Up a Story (1 sentence or word time)
  • NEW Matamosca (You’ll need a flyswatter or two plus a whiteboard or a large easel pad of paper and markers. Draw a tic-tac-toe type grid and put any kind of answers in each spot. Ask the first kid in line a question—they “swat” the answer as fast as they can, leaving the flyswatter on top of it. The answers can be erased or the page flipped and new answers added.)

Fourth to Fifth Graders

  • Friends
  • Video games/Technology
  • Problem-solving real-life tasks/projects
  • Acting out or role-playing
  • Music or other special interests
  • Sports/Games (see list below)

GO-TO GAMES (TIP: Make it “just for them”)

  • Monopoly Deal or card games
  • Banana Grams or Flash Scrabble
  • Minute to Win It (excuse to be silly)
  • Apples to Applies
  • Look up Improv games or Team-building challenges
  •  Shark, Waves, Surfer (rock, hammer, scissors) Kids stand back to back. On the count of three, turn around and make 1 of 3 motions. Shark -Spread arms wide vertically to make giant Jaws. Waves – Place arms over head leaning forward to make a giant wave. Surfer –  Place arms to the side pretending to balance on a surf board. Surfer beats the Wave, Shark beats the Surfer and the Wave beats the Shark. Add some fun music and turn it down as cue!

BONUS: Want more ideas? Other awesome ideas in our same 3 age groups can be found at https://www.greatgroupgames.com/children-group-games.htm
One more thing—think about creating bookmark-size cards for each different age group with extra age-appropriate games (like those above) that can be laminated and handed out to small group leaders or put in their supply kits/on their clipboard. This way they always have ideas on hand of what they can do with extra time to keep kids engaged.