Kids love Bible games! I played “WILD ZERO” with my AWANA Cubbies recently. They loved acting like dinosaurs, hissing like snakes, and forming a giant ZERO with their arms. In my previous article, I explained why ZERO is one of my very favorite Bible games for kids because it’s so easy and so adaptable. It’s like a hundred Bible games packed into one!
This game is great for Sunday School, Good News Club®, AWANA, VBS, and even family devotions! It’s so easy to revamp that I couldn’t fit all my ideas for it into just one article. Welcome to part 2! I’ve already explained the rules and basic ways to play this game in part 1, but just in case you lack the time or patience to click this link and read that article, here’s a screenshot of the basic instructions from our free game guide “10 Quick & Easy Bible Games for Kids.”
#1 ZERO SPEED
Prepare the game pieces to suit whatever lesson you’re teaching, but instead of kids collecting points by choosing pieces one at a time you can speed things up a bit. Tell them they get to reach into the container once and grab a handful of pieces as big or as small as they want. When they pull their hand out, you’ll add all the points together and keep track of the score. But they need to be careful because if they grab a ZERO in their hand, their turn will be over and they get ZERO points. This variation works great with older kids, especially since they can do the math themselves. It also comes in handy if you need to speed up the game because you’re running out of time.
#2 ZERO WORDS
Write different words (the attributes of God or Fruit of the Spirit for example) or Bible characters (Mary, Jesus, Joseph, Shepherds, Angel, etc.) related to your lesson on strips of paper and write point values on the back of each of them. (Or you can use Band-Aids to create a themed game!) Then make a few blank strips of paper with points and ZEROs on the back and put all the papers together in a box or bag. Play ZERO with the added twist that when a child pulls a word from the container, he can double the points on the back if he can tell you what that word means or what it has to do with the lesson.
#3 ZERO MEMORY VERSES
Write each word from the memory verse on a separate strip of paper and write points on the back of each word. Make a few blank strips of paper with ZEROs on the back and mix them in with the other paper strips. Play ZERO with the added twist that when a child pulls a word from the container, he can double the points on the back if he can say the word of the verse that comes either right before or after the word written on the paper. If he gets a blank paper with ZERO on the back, his turn is over and he loses all points collected during that turn.
#4 ZERO FREEZE
Play the normal way with the added rule that any child who grabs a ZERO piece loses all points for that turn AND must freeze in place until another child grabs a ZERO piece.
#5 HERO ZERO
This is a fun version to play when a new superhero movie is released. In addition to pieces with points and ZEROs, add some pieces with pictures or names of superheroes on them. Tell the kids the HERO pieces can defeat the villainous ZERO pieces. If a child gets a HERO piece during his turn, it gives him immunity to one ZERO piece during that same turn. (So if he gets a ZERO piece after getting a HERO piece, he can keep on going.) If he gets a ZERO piece before getting a HERO piece, he gets one attempt to grab a HERO piece to defeat the ZERO. If he doesn’t get a HERO piece on that extra turn, the ZERO villain wins and steals the points from that turn. You can make this extra fun by wearing a superhero mask while you play and saying superhero catch phrases!
#6 UNPREDICTABLE ZERO
Kids have to predict how many times they’ll draw before they begin grabbing pieces to win points. Ex: Larry gets 10,000 points on his first turn and doesn’t want to risk trying again because he might get a ZERO, but he has to keep going because he said he would try 3 times. OR Susanna gets only 100 points on her first try and would prefer to try again, but she has to stop because she said she’d only try once.
#7 ZERO NOISE
Let each team choose a fun noise or cheer they will say every time someone on their team grabs one of the game pieces. (“Boing! Boing! Boing! ZERO!!!!) This is a fun yet controlled way for kids to cheer and let out some pent-up noise. Challenge them to make ZERO noise in between each turn.
#8 BACKWARD ZERO
Change the rules so that the team with the least points is the winner. In this version, the kids will want to get a ZERO piece every time. Tell them they can try up to three times to get a ZERO during their turn, but after three attempts they must keep whatever points they have collected and their turn is over. For example: If Jubilee grabs 100 points on her first try, she may choose to end her turn and keep that low number. But if she grabs 5,000 on her first try, she may want to try two more times to grab a ZERO to erase her high score. But if she still doesn’t have a ZERO after her third attempt, she is stuck with however many points she collected during that turn. This is a fun variation for older kids.
#9 ZERO JUNIOR
Many preschoolers don’t grasp the concept of having zero of anything. (And if they do, they may cry about losing all their points.) For little kids, you can simply have them all work together as they take turns grabbing pieces from the container to win points. If someone grabs a ZERO piece, they all get to form a “0” with their arms and shout “ZERO!” but they don’t lose any points.
#10 ZERO NAMES
Lastly, I want to leave you with a sneaky little secret. You don’t always have to call this game ZERO (or ZONK). You can give it creative NEW names and make a brand new game. Like this!
Don’t Go Extinct! This is what I call this game when I use pictures of dinosaurs as the pieces. Most of the dinosaurs will have points on them, but if you grab the T-Rex, you go extinct and lose your points for that turn. The D-I-N-O Story digital download on our resource page.)
Shark Bait! If you’re using pictures of fish. Add in a few pictures of sharks. You can even have everyone hum the JAWS theme while each kid takes their turn. As long as kids “catch” fish they keep collecting points, but if they “catch” a shark, their turn is over. (They can also shout “Shark Bait! OooHaha!” in between turns!)
Points or Pirates! I used this variation when teaching kids about St. Patrick (Pirates kidnapped Patrick as a lad and took him to Ireland as a slave. Learn more about St. Patrick here.) Most cards have points, but if you grab a card with a pirate ship you lose all your points for that round and you’re turn is over. Arrrrrrrgh! (A free printable for this version of the game is included in our St. Patrick digital download.)
God’s Word Rocks! Write points and ZEROs on rocks from your yard and use them as game pieces. In between each turn remind the kids that God’s Word is a firm and unchanging foundation for their lives and have them shout “God’s Word Rocks!”
As you can see, the possibilities are endless! Have you played this game before? Do you have more ideas to share? Please share your ideas in the comments. If you’re brand new to this game, you can download “10 Quick & Easy Bible Games for Kids.” It has instructions and game pieces to help you get started. Let the games begin!