Sometimes kids are just wild. It seems kids share energy, and it only takes one to start fidgeting before the whole class follows suit. Even when sessions are filled with active learning experiences, sometimes you just have to stop and drain some of that extra energy. Here are five quick and easy activities to use when your class needs a timeout to let loose and calm down.
5 Ways to Calm High-Energy Kids
1. The Flowers and the Butterflies
When your students are too antsy to pay attention to the lesson and are difficult to control, get the wiggles out with this seasonal activity. Form two groups: the Flowers and the Butterflies. Have all the children scatter around the room. Then have the children crouch down and cover their heads with their arms. The Flowers will pretend they’re seeds underground, and the Butterflies will pretend they’re in cocoons. When you call out “Spring’s here!” have the Flowers pretend to pop up out of the ground and the Butterflies pretend to pop out of their cocoons.
As soon as they pop up, the Butterflies chase the Flowers, flapping their arms like wings. When a Butterfly tags a Flower, the Flower becomes a Butterfly and chases the other Flowers. When all the Flowers have been tagged, call out “Fall’s here!” Have the Butterflies crouch down and cover their heads with their arms to get ready for the cold winter.
Then say: Now let’s get ready for the rest of our lesson.
2. A Trip to Jerusalem
Here’s another way to get the wiggles out: with a trip to Jerusalem. Explain to the children that in Bible times, people traveled to Jerusalem several times each year to worship God in the Temple.
Have the children follow your directions as they walk around the room in a large circle.
Say: The worshippers walked quickly because they were excited to go to Jerusalem. (Pause.)
There were many hills and valleys. Walk on your tiptoes to show you’re going over a hill. (Pause.) Now squat down as you walk to show you’re going into a valley. (Pause.) Here comes another hill-walk on your tiptoes. (Pause.) Here comes another valley-squat while you walk. (Pause.)
Oh no! You have a rock in your sandal. Sit down, take off your sandal, shake it out, and put it back on. (Pause.)
The sun is so hot-wipe the sweat off your forehead. (Pause.) Wouldn’t a cool drink taste good? Look! There’s a well. Stop by the well, and drop the bucket inside. (Pause.) Pull up the bucket, and take a long drink out of it. (Pause.)
We’d better get back on the road. (Pause.) Look! I see the gates of Jerusalem up ahead. Let’s walk more quickly to the city! (Pause.)Now I see the Temple! Isn’t it beautiful? Let’s tiptoe there and get ready to worship quietly. (Pause.)Now let’s go back to our lesson.
3. Go on a Journey
Take a journey to the Promised Land or to Egypt to get rid of some energy!
Designate one end of the room as Egypt and the opposite end as the Promised Land.
Say: When I call out “Egypt,” run toward Egypt. When I call out “Promised Land,” run toward the Promised Land. When I call out “Gather manna,” drop to the floor and pretend you’re gathering food into a basket.
Play the game for two or three minutes, calling out the three commands in any order. Then say: Now let’s get ready for the rest of our lesson.
4. The Beetles and the Beavers
Play a suspenseful listening game to help get out some wiggles!
Say: The leaders of the faith we’re learning about had one thing in common: They all listened and obeyed God’s directions. Let’s play a game about listening.
Have children form two teams, the Beetles and the Beavers. Have the teams line up on starting lines at opposite sides of the room, facing each other.
When you give a signal, the two teams will slowly creep toward each other. Meanwhile, you’ll begin to randomly call out a team’s name. The members of the team whose name you call will be allowed to instantly turn back and walk to the safety of their starting line as members of the other team try to tag them. Those who are tagged are out of the game.
You may even suddenly develop a hesitation in speech and will call out “Bee…Bee…Bee” as often as you choose before deciding to say “Beetles” or “Beavers.” If you choose, you can actually let the groups creep very near each other before calling out a name, building suspense and sharpening listening skills all the while.
5. Prayer Volleyball
Try a game of Prayer Volleyball to let kids move around as they call out places they can pray.
Before this activity, blow up and tie off a balloon. Place a masking tape line across the center of the floor. Have children form two teams, one on either side of the line.
Say: God hears our prayers, no matter where we pray. Let’s use this balloon to play Prayer Volleyball. Bop the balloon back and forth across the line. Each time you bop the balloon, call out somewhere you can pray, such as in bed, on the school bus, or at the park.
For extra fun, have children name praying places that begin with certain letters of the alphabet, or have them bop the balloon using only their heads, knees, or elbows.
Each of these activities-what we call fidget busters-was taken from our Hands-On Bible Curriculum. Fidget busters give leaders a chance to stop the lesson and let kids work out their wiggles before continuing on the day’s Bible point.
One final thought: your volunteers like to fidget, too. At your next meeting, bring a box of fidget busters into the room (including small items like stress balls, for example). Adults can work out their wiggles by playing with the small toys, and still, listen to what you have to say.
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