Games for this (invisible) Innkeeper lesson are based on historical activities, the theme of welcoming and how we use our space. While you may have traditional Christmas games you wish to use instead these games are deliberately trying to break that mould.
Stubborn mules – For this game you’ll need some small bells or a Christmas decoration that jingles when moved and a bowl of sweets. Talk about how when lots of people are in a small space it gets hot quickly. Explain that during the winter months many families used to bring the animals inside to help everyone keep warm. However tonight the house is full of guests so the animals can’t enter, but one mule is really stubborn and wants inside… have the kids lay on the floor and pretend to sleep, the mule with the bells attached must sneak around the sleeping kids to the sweets. the children can’t move off the floor but can wriggle and stretch their limbs. if they touch the mule then they must lead the mule away from the sleeping people and can become the mule themselves. once the game is established you can increase the number of animals!
Invitation – Explain to the kids that staying in an inn would have been insulting to the extended family that Joseph had in Bethlehem, even if an inn may have been more comfortable. Talk about times when we are invited to do things out of obligation, invites that can’t be refused. Print the following page, separate and place in a hat or bag. In this game each child be be invited to do something they can’t refuse. Have a child volunteer to select an ‘invitation’ and complete the task – have everyone copy if suitable and to ease embarrassment.
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.
Straw search – This simple activity is basically a treasure hunt through straw or an alternative. Hide the various characters from Christmas in a big container filled with star or shredded paper. If you want a printout try THIS – it doesn’t matter about multiples. Talk about what is missing, what other Christmas characters could be added to this image.
Sardines – Sometimes traditional games work really well and this reverse hide and seek game where everyone needs to seek the first ‘hider’ and join them ties into the idea of welcoming, gathering and lack of space!