What’s the best Bible game for kids? It’s difficult to choose just one because so much depends on where, when, and with whom you are playing. But after years of inventing and writing Bible game ideas for the largest children’s ministry on earth; I’ve noticed one game that stands out above the rest. One game so fun; kids will play it a hundred times. One game so versatile; you can play a hundred different ways. One game so simple; teachers will use it a hundred times. One game called ZERO. (aka *ZONK.) (For maximum effect, click here to play the Indiana Jones theme song and then read that paragraph again.)
I’ve played ZERO hundreds of ways with thousands of kids in Sunday School, AWANA®, Good News Club®, VBS, 5-Day Club®, and other kid min events. Ironically, ZERO isn’t even my favorite Bible game, but I still think it’s the overall best Bible game for kids. At the end of this article, I’ll even tell you how to get FREE pieces and instructions for 10+ versions of this extraordinary game!
How To Play Z-E-R-O!
In this game, kids try to collect as many points as possible, but they have to be careful because collecting a ZERO means they lose everything and get ZERO points for that turn.
Prepare ZERO game pieces by writing point values like 1,000 and 5,000 on most of your pieces and also make several extra pieces that say ZERO. (No fair just writing “0”, you’ve got to actually write out Z-E-R-O to make it authentic.) Put all the pieces in a container or facedown on a table so kids can’t see how much each piece is worth. Next, prepare Bible questions to review or reinforce what you’ve been teaching. (Incidentally, the FREE resource I’m going to tell you about at the end includes 3 sets of Bible questions that are already prepared for you. Just in case you’re interested.)
Explain to the kids that when they correctly answer a Bible question, they can grab pieces from the container one at a time to collect points for their team. They can keep grabbing piece after piece to collect points as long as their little heart desires. But they have to be careful because if they grab a ZERO card, their turn is over and they get ZERO points for that turn. They have to decide whether to play it safe by grabbing just one or two cards or to risk it all by trying for more and more points.
Let the teams (or individual kids in a smaller class) take turns answering Bible questions and trying to grab as many points as possible during each turn without getting a ZERO. If your location allows for lots of noise, you can encourage kids to cheer on each contestant by shouting things like “GO! GO! Go!” or “STOP! STOP! STOP!” to help them decide whether they should keep trying for more points or play it safe and stop with what they already have.. When their turn is over, have someone write down how many points they won and then put the pieces back in the container and play again.
Ok, that’s the basic gist of how this game works. Now for the fun part. You can easily turn this into a Bible Game that goes along with any lesson you could possibly teach in Sunday School, Good News Club, AWANA, or family devotions!
ZERO for Any Occasion
All you’ve got to do is choose a picture or object that relates to your Bible lesson and use that as your game piece. Here’s a few examples in this picture…the possibilities are endless!
Write points and ZEROs on pictures of sheep for lessons on Psalm 23 or the Good Shepherd and have kids “Baaaaaaaaaa” like a sheep as they grab each card.
Write points and ZEROs on hearts for Valentines Day lessons or lessons about hiding God’s Word in your heart.
Write points and ZEROs on pictures of pretty much any animal (preferably dinosaurs or penguins) for lessons about Creation or Noah’s Ark.
Are you teaching a holiday themed lesson for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or 4th of July? You can find seasonal holiday shapes at Dollar Tree. All you need to do is write points and ZEROs on them! (AFTER purchasing them of course.)
Write points and ZEROs on pictures of emojis for lessons about attitudes or emotions. You can even add to the fun by having kids copy the expression of each emoji they grab!
And you don’t have to stop with pictures. There are plenty of objects you probably have on hand that you can use to create a simple Bible game that relates to whatever lesson you’re teaching.
For instance, you could write points and ZEROs on LEGO® bricks to review lessons about Nehemiah or the Battle of Jericho. (If you happen to have a son who prefers that you not write on his LEGO® toys, you can choose a different color to represent each number. Ex. Green = 1,000, Blue = 500, Yellow = 100, Red = ZERO.) Here are some more ideas from our free booklet, “10 Quick & Easy Bible Games for Kids.”
It’s super easy! And to make it even easier, you can download our FREE resource 10 Quick & Easy Bible Games for Kids where the game pieces and instructions for many fun versions of this game are just waiting for you to print and use them the next time you teach kids!
Still not convinced this is the best Bible game for kids? What if I told you there are even more ways to play this already super versatile game? I’m not just talking about different things you can use as game pieces. (Though you can do that to create hundreds of versions of this game.) I’m talking about simple ideas that revamp this Bible game into something NEW and fun for kids! Once the kids have mastered basic ZERO, you can move on to ZERO SPEED, ZERO FREEZE, HERO ZERO and more!!! In fact, there are so many ways to revamp this game that I’ve written a whole other article about it! Stay tuned for The Best Bible Game for Kids Part 2!
With almost ZERO effort, you can create a Bible game kids love that matches almost any lesson you could possibly teach. It’s like a hundred Bible games packed into one! And all for the low LOW price of FREE! I enjoy and use many other games with kids, but this is hands-down my favorite game to share with new teachers because it’s so easy to use and adapt. It’s also easy to play with kids because once they’ve got the hang of it, there are lots of ways to keep it fresh and exciting.
Do you have more ideas about how to play ZERO (aka *ZONK)? What’s your favorite Bible game for kids? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments.
*If you’re thinking, “Wait a minute! This sounds a lot like the ZONK game I’ve been playing with kids for years.” You’re absolutely correct. Same game. New name! I didn’t invent this game and have no clue who did, but I’ve stopped calling it ZONK because I had kids asking what a “ZONK” was and I had no clue. Upon googling it, I discovered it has something to do with an old TV game show. My guess is during the pre-Google era Sunday School teachers adopted the name for this beloved game from that TV show. But when I consulted my friend Merriam Webster and discovered that to “zonk” can also mean to pass out from alcohol or drug use or to stun someone by hitting or zapping them; I decided to officially start calling it ZERO instead. But you are free to call it whatever you want in your children’s ministry. I won’t judge you—much 😉