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If You Can Dodge a Wrench

By Andrew

Skiing, sledding, snowball fights, hot chocolate, sitting next to the fireplace; these are hallmarks of winter retreats. All you need is a little snow and some insulated socks and you’ve got hours of fun for your group. But when those insulated socks are squishy from all of the melted snow and everyone’s ready to come inside, you need to be ready with some great indoor games to keep the party going.

Your group may already have some great games that everyone knows and looks forward to playing, but when you introduce a new game that the group really gets excited about, it can create the moments that your students will remember years down the road.

So here are some tips for choosing/introducing new games that will help your students buy-in from the very beginning.

Make it fun to describe, watch, and play.
Getting high schoolers to let their guard down and get excited about something can be difficult. Sometimes you really have to sell the idea of the game while you're explaining it. So give your games an epic title and describe it enthusiastically.

Also, don’t pick a game with lots of standing and thinking. If it’s not fun to watch, then those who aren’t involved in the action will lose interest quickly. You want an activity that’s going to garner the attention of those who aren’t playing and keep the interest of those who are out or waiting for the next round.

It can be competitive without being a sport.
Students won’t participate if they feel like there’s a chance they could be embarrassed. And so if you choose games that only test physical skills, then a lot of students are going to stop playing quickly and many just won’t participate at all. So try to find games that force students to do things they’ve never done or that will test their mental strength as well as their physical strength. Games will usually have a higher participation rate if players have to overcome a challenge rather than overcome another player.

Leave them wanting more.
Don’t be afraid to stop a game while the students are still having fun. No matter how exciting a game is, people will eventually get bored and move onto something else. So rather than wait for everyone to get tired of playing a certain game, move onto a new game while everyone is still feeling energized. You can always go back to it later, but this way you won’t have to watch your games die an awkward death when you realize you don’t have enough people left to play.

Now that you know how to create the perfect indoor games, here are a few of my favorite suggestions from the archive.

Reverse Charades
We’ve all played charades a time or two, but if you’ve got a group of students that don’t know each other well, this is a great way to make everyone feel like a part of the group. Instead of having one person act out a clue for the team, the entire team acts out the clue for one guesser. This gets everyone on their feet and acting silly without anyone feeling singled out or on-display.

Pro Tip: It’s much more fun when the group works together to act out the clue rather than 10 individuals acting the clue out simultaneously. Choose clues that force everyone to work as a team (e.g.: School Bus, Synchronized Swimming, Football Team)

Need a visual? Check out this video on how to play.

Noodles of Destiny
The last person standing wins in this pool noodle melee. Cut up foam noodles into 1-inch discs and give one to each player along with a 3-foot noodle. Players place the disc on the back of their hand and use their noodle to knock the discs of off other players’ hands. When a player’s disc is knocked off, they’re dead and sit right where their disc fell. The last person with their disc balanced on the back of their hand wins. Depending on the size of your group, this could require a lot of pool noodles. And if you’re going to play this in the dead of winter, you might have a hard time finding them in stores, so plan ahead.

Pro Tip: To up the ante, give players 30 seconds before the start of the game to make alliances. This will spice up the game play and introduce an element of strategy (and betrayal).

Need a visual? Check out this video on how to play.

Potholder Assault
This reboot of a classic game is quick, easy, and will get your group moving. Potholder Assault is basically Dodgeball, but instead of using playground balls that will destroy drywall, lights, lamps, and Jr. Higher’s glasses, you just use good ole’ fashioned potholders. The daintier the better. The magic of Potholder Assault is that it’s generally safe to play in any room, and because it’s relatively close quarters, the game moves quickly. It’s a ton of fun, and the necessary equipment can fit in a plastic sack.

Pro Tip: Number your potholders so you know if you’re missing any at the end of the game. You’d be surprised how quickly you lose these things when you’re flinging them all over the room.

It takes a little bit of planning, but finding the games to keep the party going is not difficult. Just remember that the goal is high energy and high participation.  And always remember: “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a potholder.”

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