Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Saintly Games


Four years ago, My friend Kristy and I organized the 1st annual All Hallows' Eve/All Saints' Party for our local homeschool group. We had always attended our own homeschool groups All Saints' Day parties growing up, and we really wanted our children to have the same. What better way to sanctify Halloween than with a celebration of the Saints?

In the past, I have always coordinated the games, but this year I have taken a step back, and a couple other moms will be taking my place. I have kept notes with ideas I have run across, over the past years, and since I told the new coordinators that I would put a list of suggestions together, I thought I would share them with you all as well.

We always start the evening off with the Rosary and Litany of the Saints. The children then process (dressed as Saints) to the hall and tell everyone the name of their saint, and a little about him/her if they so choose. After this we have a potluck dinner, the children decorate their treat bags with pictures and quotes of the saints, there is always a Saint-O-Lantern contest, and then it is on to the games...


Now, we just had to have a game for my favorite saint! So, our first year, I decided to do a variation of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and call it Place a Flower in St. Therese's Bouquet. I asked both a friend of mine, and my younger sister to draw large (poster board size) pictures of Saint Therese, with empty bouquets. I purchased a whole bunch of rose stickers. The blindfolded children had to do their best to place the flower sticker on St. Therese's bouquet. (I am sure there are endless variations of this game. For example, how about Pin the Halo on the Angel, or Crown Mary Queen of Heaven?)


Last year, we added another game for St. Therese... You could never have too many, in my opinion! ;) This one we called St. Therese's Rose Toss. A very artistic and resourceful friend of mine spray painted an old children's basketball hoop red, and added images of St. Therese and artificial roses.

From various starting lines made from tape, depending on the size/age/ability of the child, the object was to toss a bouquet of roses through the hoop. If necessary, adjust the height of the hoop for the little ones, or just have some one lift them up! ;)


**Along the same lines, you could do a St. John Bosco's Basketball Toss, using a regular hoop and balls. Bushel baskets would work as well, and you could even label them with the names of the Sacrament, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the Cardinal Virtues!


Miniature Golf is another fun game for an All Saints Party... Our first year we used a little putting green, and named the game after Saint Sebastian, since he is a patron saint for ATHLETES. (A number of times we have used the awesome Saint Pictorials from the Group Copyright version of A Year With God for our game signs.)


Last year we decided to change it up a bit and changed the name to Seven Deadly Sins Golf. For this game, golf balls, labeled with the seven deadly sins, are putted into the "Hole of Virtue" (hole/holes labeled with the virtues), using a golf club "Stick of Virtue."


** This game could easily be converted to "Seven Deadly Sin Toss," using balls and buckets instead. You could also call it "Knock Down the Seven Deadly Sins" as a variation of a traditional beanbag toss, with the holes labeled with the seven deadly sins. Or even as a Bowling game with plastic bowling pins or empty soda bottles (we did this one once, and I would recommend weighing the soda bottles down with a bit of sand, or it is way too easy!).


Next we always have a Lost and Found... And what better saint to be patron of this game, than the beloved St. Anthony.


St. Anthony's Lost & Found:

For this game, I purchased a big orange box and cut a round hole in the top. I filled the box part way with bird seed, though packing peanuts would work as well.

One year we added medals (as indicated on the sign), and another year we added various items, both religious and non-religious. If the children pulled out a religious item they were allowed to keep it, or pick a treat out of the treat bin. The non-religious items were returned to the box.




If you have any sort of toy bowling game, you can play St. John Bosco's Bowling.

For this game, set up the bowling pins (once again soda bottles could be used!), mark the starting line with tape, and make sure you have a helper (or two!) ready to reset the pins.





Musical Saints is always a hit! I am pretty sure we initially found this game in CHC's A Year with God, as well. One of the benefits of this game is that many of the little children saints can play at the same time!!!

Place the chairs in an oblong circle facing outward. Tape a sign to each chair containing the name (and picture if you'd like -- I found beautiful images online and printed them onto card stock... They have lasted year after year.) Make a duplicate set of the saint's names and place them in a jar.

To begin the game, turn on music, using a tape or a CD player. (Be sure to have Catholic Music. If you don't know where to start, 24 Catholic Songs for Children is a great CD!) The children walk around the circle. When the music is turned off, the children must sit in the closest chair. Once all the children are seated, a saint's name is pulled from the jar, and whoever is sitting in the chair of that saint wins a prize. Holy cards make great prizes for this game, but treats can be used too!



I don't know about your kids, but mine *LOVE* going fishing, especially when they can reel in some treats! And what better than to go
Fishing with Saint Peter?

It is really simple to set up... We just hang a blue sheet over a rod to create the water barrier. Then, attach a clothespin to the end of the line on a fishing pole. The children hang their fishing lines over the sheet and are surprised with treat. For this game we use all sorts of things that we try to have donated including: holy cards, stickers, bookmarks, pencils, erasers, bracelets, etc.) If you wanted to get creative, the sheet could be painted to look like a lake and you could craft a "boat" from cardboard for the children's to step into while they go fishing. We haven't done that before, but it sure would be neat!



In the past we have also set up a Doctors of the Church booth. Using the Catholic Jeopardy cards found inside A Year With God and/or Catholic Quiz Cards, the children are quizzed by "St. Thomas" with questions about our faith. If they answer incorrectly they receive a piece of straw. Correct answers win a prize. Along these same line, we have also handed out the "Name the Saints Quiz" provided in A Year With God, one year I made up our own saint quiz so we could have another variation, and one year we handed out a All Saints Day Word Search and Crossword Puzzle.

I've been wanting to order the Saint Search game from Illuminated Ink. It would make a fun addition to any All Saints Party. "Based on the timeless classic 'Bingo', players search for specific saint symbols instead of letters and numbers. As matches are made, players crown their saints with golden nimbuses. The first player to crown an entire row of saints wins the game."

Ok... Moving on.

Unfortunately, we have never tried having a Bobbing for Apples game, since it is messy and we have our party in the parish hall... However, a fun variation of this game, if you are having an outdoor party, would be to hang apples by strings, from either a real or model tree. It would be a little less messy as well as a little more difficult. You could remind the children that Adam and Eve really had to think about disobeying God, it wasn't an accident.

If Bobbing for Apples just won't work, how about having a Holy Water Pond? For this game, the children had to choose a holy water bottle from the pond, and if it was marked with a cross on the bottom they won a prize. It was very easy to set up, and the children seemed to really enjoy playing.




Now the biggest hit this past year, at least for the boys, was probably the addition of

David & Goliath!

The object of this game, is for the children David to try and "slay" Goliath by tossing a ball of foil stone at his head.

Goliath is made like a scarecrow, with a balloon for a head. If you use a strong balloon it won't pop, it will just bobble around.

Every hit is a success for David, and earns the child a treat!







Next up, Join St. Francis Xavier and be a Missionary. For this game the children board a boat to different lands and answer questions the pagans have about God (catechism questions).

You could make the boat many different ways. We just used an old (leaky) raft that someone tossing. It worked great for the party, and we didn't have to worry about damaging it!






For a Saintly variation of a Bean bag toss, we have St. Isidore’s Farm. On one side there is the Pumpkin Patch, where the children toss miniature pumpkins through the holes, and on the other side is the Produce Stand where the children can toss Plastic Fruits/Vegetables into Bushel Baskets or Bins. An outdoor variation of this game could be a St. Isadore's Produce Roll, where pumpkins could be rolled through an obstacle course, with the fastest child winning a prize.



I am sure there are tons and tons of ways you could expand on the ring and/or beanbag toss games... For a ring toss you could have another variation of the St. Therese Flower Toss, by tossing rings of flowers, or a Queen of All Saints Halo Toss using yellow rings.

Or, what about having a St. Patrick's Shamrock Toss? This could be easily put together with a large white wooden board, painted with large scattered shamrocks. Just Cut different size holes in the centers of the shamrocks and use beanbags to toss through the holes from the starting lines.

Well, I need to wrap this up, and I have shared almost all the games we have played in the past, but I just want to add a couple more suggestions I ran across for outdoor games:

One is called the St. Christopher Race. For this game, each participant carries a child on his back to safely reach the finish line. Larger children carry a smaller child, and the small children carry a large doll. Have the children race two by two as many times as they want.

And another would be to have a Piñatas. I guess this could be done inside as well, if you have enough space. You could do this one of two ways. You could have a traditional piñata with the seven points representing the seven deadly sins, and have the children beat it with the "Stick of Virtue." Or, you could hang seven piñatas, in this case, each individual representing one of the seven deadly sins. You would leave the one representing gluttony empty. As you beat the sin out of each piñata, explain the virtue that counteracts the sin.
(For instructions to make a piñata, click here.)

One of my favorite ideas, that we have not yet been able to implement, is to "create a backdrop of heaven (golden road leading to pearly gates, fluffy clouds, angels, etc.) for the parents to take pictures of their little saints-in-the-making." I wonder if we could find some talented member of our group to paint this for us?

I'd love to hear of any other "Saintly Games" you know of, since we are always on the lookout for new ideas... So, feel free to leave them in the comments!

All Saints in Heaven ~ Pray for Us!

18 comments:

  1. Those games are AWESOME!! I can't wait to tell my homeschool group about them!! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. We are definitely doing a few of these along with our already planned Saintly Search Game that you mentioned. A few games that I have seen done in the past are:

    1)Pin the halo on the saint. Just like pin the tail on the donkey only with halos and a saint.

    2) A variation on the hanging apples game that a friend of mine did (although now, I can't remember the saintly connection) was to hang powdered sugar donuts and tell the contestants that they had to eat them without the use of their hands. You basically end up with powdered sugar all over your face, but it is funny! Personally, I can't get over the germ factor behind bobbling for apples. Everybody's open mouths in the same water. Blech!

    3) Guardian Angel (or Patron Saint) obstacle course. Two players at the same time. One is the person (blindfolded), the other is the angel or saint who leads them through an obstacle course. For the older kids, the angel or saint can only tell them what to do from the sidelines. For littler ones, they can actually lead them through. This one always included a "Leap of Faith" section.

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  3. This is AMAZING! Thanks for all of the ideas!

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  4. Charlotte ~ Thanks for the suggestions!! I *LOVE* the donut one!!

    Here is a quote from Mary Reed Newland that explains the significance of donuts for All Hallows' Eve:

    "Begging at the door grew from an ancient English custom of knocking at doors to beg for a "soul cake" in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household. Soul cakes, a form of shortbread — and sometimes quite fancy, with currants for eyes — became more important for the beggars than prayers for the dead, it is said. Florence Berger tells in her Cooking for Christ a legend of a zealous cook who vowed she would invent soul cakes to remind them of eternity at every bite. So she cut a hole in the middle and dropped it in hot fat, and lo — a doughnut. Circle that it is, it suggests the never-ending of eternity. Truth or legend, it serves a good purpose at Halloween.

    The refrains sung at the door varied from "a soul cake, a soul cake, have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake," to the later:

    Soul, soul, an apple or two,
    If you haven't an apple, a pear will do,
    One for Peter, two for Paul,
    Three for the Man Who made us all."


    The Guardian Angel Obstacle Course is a great idea TOO!! Thanks!! :)

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  5. W.o.W.!!

    why don't you get busy instead of spending hours on your blog!! LOL

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  6. Actually, this post has been in my draft folder since last October!! It only took me a year to finish it!

    Honestly, I haven't been feeling well today, and have been online very little, though you wouldn't know it, would you?

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  7. oh, i'm sorry. that's stinky. well it makes me feel better knowing that you didn't do this On a School day among all the other goings on of every day life! But i know you usually do it all!! LOL

    Feel better dear!

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  8. Wow!!! Great Post!!!! I love love love all the ideas!! I like the basketball one, but our hoop thingy is not red, it's orange and black!! I like the holy water thing too, I like how it can stress the importance of it, prizes could also be bottles of holy water!

    I liked others too, just am thinking about those for our party!

    Charlotte, I loved the guardian angel obstacle course, great idea!

    Every year I do a game I call "Toss a flower in God's garden" It's big plastic flowers (the size of frisbees) thrown into a hula hoop. It works for little kids and big kids, (we have 6 flowers, 6 chances) and everyone wins candy no matter what. It's always a hit, but I'm kind of tired of it.

    I showed my kids this post and they said "can we still do our flower game too?"

    Thanks Jessica, great work!

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  9. The All Saints Party is the highlight of the year, imho! You have always done a great job and I know the moms this year will do a great job too!
    Now if I could just come up with costumes this year. I don't think MIL wants to crack open the sewing machine, lol.

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  10. Hello,
    We do an All Saints Day festival with our group and have used the ideas you posted. I love seeing how excited the kids get when they see all the booths.
    Us moms get dressed up too. Why should the kids get all the fun, hee hee. There is always one mom dressed as the unknown martyr saint.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas, they are great.
    Elizabeth
    CA

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  11. OH MY GOODNESS! Jessica you are superduper cool and I check this blog just to see what you are up too and all those ideas. Thanks for sharing them and not keeping them a big cool secret!

    love and prayers
    Christine

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  12. hey christine, I want to know where you went!?

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  13. Excellent material here as usual.Thanks for sharing these ideas

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  14. =) hey Jessica!!!
    I cant wait to help out this year! I don't think I got to last year for some weird reason!! hm.....
    Well anyways I love your pictures! They are always so great!
    Love you Jessica!
    <3 mary

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  15. These are incredible ideas. I've seen a few before, but it's always great to see the variations. And all the pictures you shared are so helpful. I'm forwarding this to the women who are coordinating our local party this year.

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  16. These are wonderful! I wish I had time this year to plan a party, but alas, I did not.

    For more Catholic music: check out K4J (Kids 4 Jesus). It is a fully Catholic program.

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  17. Some moms in our group made a "heavenly" background with a blue sheet and some well placed polyfill "clouds". :) It came out nicely in the pictures.

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  18. What fun! I'm taking notes :)...

    God hasn't blessed us with children, so I end up playing with my hubby...I recently set up a date night of bowling based on St. Therese encouraging one of her novices to bowl with the Child Jesus, aiming her "love ball" at the souls she wanted to reach.

    Chess (for older children) could be used for All Saints' Day too, since St. Alysious Gonzaga (and I think St. Maximillian Kolbe too) are recorded as having played chess (I think it was fairly common at recreation in monasteries).

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