Anytime I had some budget money to buy supplies for my Education Rooms (although they would be useful for many areas) at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Smoky Mountains, I made sure that we had a few super simple go-to activities on the shelf for times when we finished another activity early, or members earned some *structured* free choice time, or I had an unexpected schedule change (which I’m sure NEVER happens in your Club……. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL), or some other circumstance where I needed to adjust the daily plan. Since this is a time of year when you may receive some gifts or be thinking about budgets for the new year, I want to share some of those items with you here on the Club Experience Blog.
The best thing about Boys & Girls Clubs are the relationships we build with youth, so none of these suggestions are for just keeping kids busy. Get in there and play too! Use these supplies as tools to get to know your members, to engage in some creativity, and to have the most fun right alongside them.
Rory’s Story Cubes: These nifty little guys are dice that have images on them. They can be used for SO MANY THINGS. I had members roll three to six (based on their age- more elements is more complicated) and then use the results to write stories or comics, or even a short skit with a group. You could even theme them, for example you could introduce the components of a mystery story, and then have them use the cubes to write a mystery, or do the same with a myth or tall tale. There are tons of applications to an Art activity as well! They come in lots of variations now, and are pretty inexpensive. Available at Amazon, Walmart, and many other retailers.
Scattergories: This is a classic game, but if you haven’t played, each round you roll an alphabet dice and then have a set amount of time to fill out a list of random things that start with that letter. It is a GREAT way to get your mind working! It was always a fun go-to when I had my middle grades or older members in the room. They would beg me to go head to head- they in groups of 2 or 3 versus me. I would usually flip the timer twice since it can be difficult. If you don’t want to buy the game, many teachers online have created their own worksheet versions, but I found having it on the shelf was convenient. It is available basically everywhere, including Amazon, Target, and many other retailers.
You Gotta Be Kidding Card Game: This deck of cards are perfect as fun discussion starters when you need to fill a few minutes, or to use as an icbreaker. You could easily use it in a Gym- assign each side of the room an answer choice and have members run to their answer. This version is suitable for ages 7 and up, and has silly gross choices that my members always thought were hys! terical! You can get it on Amazon, and I’ve bought them off the shelf at Walmart but all they have on their website right now is a book version, which may also be great? *shrugging girl emoji*
Dominoes:I’ve shared a bunch of dominoes ideas before on the blog, and you probably have a million kicking around your Games Room. Have some helpers sort out some complete sets and steal one or two away for other Club areas, because dominoes are so versatile. And if nothing else, you know kids love to build things with them and set them up in long snaking lines to knock them down. Easy fun! Another idea to make a longer activity with dominoes is to introduce Rube Goldberg machines to older youth or teens, showing them this fun video and challenging them to create their own:
Brain Quest: These card decks are full of grade-level questions and answers over lots of different subjects. (Although I do find them pretty hard, so you may consider choosing a deck lower than their actual grade level, especially at the start of a school year.) They are convenient for a game of trivia, or as a time filler. I played a game I called Gladiator where I would have members come up two at a time and compete head-to-head to get the right answer. It is a bit pricey to go out and buy them all at once, so I did it over time, first getting every other grade (1, 3, 5) and then filling in as I had budget to do so. You can get all of the versions at Amazon.
Toy Cash Register: So this one is a little out of left field, but one day while browsing IKEA, I came across these cute, simple cash registers, and ended up getting one for all of our Club units. They don’t make noise or use batteries, and its basically just a simple calculator. I thought with some plastic food or other items in the room that my littles would love to play pretend. Well, not only was I very much correct, but even my older youth played with it! It quickly became a hot commodity for all of my groups. I laminated the money, and though it quickly disappeared they didn’t seem to mind. This exact one is from IKEA, but this model at Amazon, Target, and Walmart seems similar. (And I bought this set of play food at Amazon and stored it in a basket from the Dollar Tree.)
What off-the-shelf games or toys or activities do you love in your Club? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and YOU could appear on the Club Experience Blog!