While the theme of welcome ties nicely into the story I’ve tried to include some very simple games that Asher (fictional character from the passage retelling) and his friends would have been familiar with. If you have access to traditional games now would be a lovely time to bring them out, even if they are not of the era.
Obstacle races – this story just begs for the obstacle races that the crowd must have posed to the children. Be creative in your space and link back to the kids running through crowd to the arms of Jesus!
Taarp – This is a traditional Bedouin game from Jordan, and could easily have been a game Jesus was familiar with. The game needs 2 short sticks split lengthways (4 pieces) to play. The sticks are thrown or dropped onto the floor using one hand and score points according to how they land. If they land flat side up they score 1 point – so if all 4 land flat side up you get 4. However, if all 4 sticks fall flat side down you get 6 points. you can draw a counting grid to score or choose a total to reach. If you can’t source sticks then this could work with rulers or other stick like objects.
This game comes from the BBC travel show about Jordan.
Hopscotch – While this may seem an odd choice it’s clear that hopscotch has been passed down through the centuries. Drawing a grid of numbered single and double boxes on the ground is followed by a marker being thrown onto one number. the player then needs to jump in every square in order pausing on the return to pick up the marker. Use masking tape indoors. Experiment with variations, like ‘Sign On the Line’ or separating the squares.
Signs – If you have a slightly older group and haven’t discovered this game yet then the aim of the game is to pass the signs around the group without getting caught. First have each member of the group choose a unique but simple sign, – eg wave 3 fingers, scratch your nose, tug hair. go round the circle a couple of times to make sure everyone knows theirs and a few others. You pass the signs by making your sign followed by a different persons, that person then has the sign. The watcher then stands in the middle of the group and tries to guess who has the sign.
Joined tag – This is a simple game of tag where the person caught must then join hands with the catcher until a long chain of people are formed. Talk about how easy it was to run as a chain, talk about the cost of making everyone welcome, link back to the disciples thinking Jesus was too busy to hang out with the kids. Were the disciples being mean?
Musical statues – Once again a great traditional party favourite and always a good way to expel some energy. Talk about how everyone can dance, it’s not dependant on age or ability. Talk about how it felt to stop, was it refreshing, was it frustrating. The disciples must have thought Jesus spending time with the children was a form of stopping, do you think it was?