There is a delicate balance between making your kids listen during church, and just hoping that they are quiet so that they don’t distract others who are trying to listen.
This is the strategy for how to keep your kids distracted while you listen.
When I was younger, I remember when 3-year-old brother disappeared underneath the pew in front of us. We didn’t get to church early enough to get a good seat, so we were pretty far back. After a little while, I saw my brother’s head pop up in the very front row. Some nice people had him sit by them while my mother scrambled up to get him.
To avoid this situation in your future, I’ve compiled a list of quiet paper games to help you.
- Dots and Boxes
- Tic Tac Toe
- A little better (modified killing game)
- Counting to 21
- Random Drawing
- Drawing with your eyes closed
Dots and Boxes
The classic dots and boxes game can take as long as you need and can be done very quietly. Start with ten by ten dots like below. Take turns connecting dots. If you complete a square, write your initial in the box and get another turn. Refer to the Dots and Boxes strategy on how to win.
After a few times of the regular version, it gets pretty monotonous. At that point, you can change things up by changing the rules. Here are some suggestions.
- Reverse Tic-Tac-Toe. If the other person gets three in a row, you win.
- 4 in a row. Make the board 4 by 4, and you have to get 4 in a row to win
- Multiple playing areas. Make 2 or 3 Tic-Tac-Toe boards and on your turn, you get to play on any of them. You have to get 3 in a row twice to win.
A Little Better
My older brother and I made up a game called the killing game. Basically, you start by drawing someone or something and the next person draws a new someone or something that has to be strong enough to kill the thing you drew. This goes back and forth until there is an argument about whether the Death Star can be defeated by Voldemort.
Needless to say, my mom hated this game.
I since adapted the game to make it church appropriate. Instead of killing, you just have to draw something a little better. It works best with categories like; bad guys, super heroes, or Pokemon. We have even played the faster version around the dinner table where you just have to say someone a little worse. (The bad guy one got a little tricky with our kids because the worst guy they knew about was Bowser.)
There is an actual Telestrations game, but you can play it without all the extra frills. Take a piece of paper, and one person draws a picture. The next person writes what they think they are seeing in the picture and folds the paper so that you can only see the words. The next person draws a picture of the words etc.
You can have multiple papers going along the pew. You can even make it church themed by requiring the first picture to be scripture heroes.
Counting to 21
This is the same as the counting up game referenced here, except that you write it on a piece of paper. The game is pretty fast so it won’t last long, but you can change it up by adding multiple players, or changing what you must add up to. This is good for a few minutes of peace.
I don’t mean just draw something random.
This is where one person draws a quick squiggle on the paper and the other person has to make something out of it. We often would each draw a squiggle so that both players could be drawing. I’ve seen the youth play this, and some of them get really good pictures out of it.
One player names something that you have to draw, and both players have to do it with their eyes closed. Whoever has the most complete picture wins. You can judge yourselves, or rope someone else in afterward.
What ideas do you have to keep kids distracted in church?