Children's Ministry Guide to
Working with 9-13s
by Andy Back
Published in November 2004 by Children's Ministry
You can buy this book by clicking
Chapter 10: Go Bananas! The best of the bunch
The idea for Go Bananas! came originally from a
game played on Saturday morning tv. Adapted slightly, it provides an opportunity
for so many positive ideals and practices that it could easily fall into
over-use and lose some of its value.
At the end of your teaching time - let's assume you were teaching about
Moses - select three articulate young people, and send them with a helper
out of the room, beyond earshot. Then conspire with the young people let
in the room thus: 'We're going to get [John] to come back and review this
morning's topic. We'll ask him to speak for one minute on the topic of
Moses. But when he says one particular word, which we'll decide in a minute,
then I want you to go absolutely bananas: shouting, cheering, letting
off these Party Poppers and generally making a really loud celebration
out of it.'
Then agree with the youngsters which word which will trigger the celebration:
let's say you choose 'bulrushes', since you're pretty confident this will
come up when John returns to give his speech.
Invite John back into the room, and instruct him: 'John, welcome back.
How are you? Anyway, what we want you to do is to review the topic for
the morning, which, in case you've forgotten, is Moses, in about a minute.
Try to cover most of the points of my talk, and see how you get on. Okay?
Right, you may start when you are ready.'
John proceeds to review your talk, making the most of your whimsicalities,
'Well, Moses was born at a very early age; by the time he was just twelve
months old he was already celebrating his first birthday. He went to live
in the palace with Pharaoh and grew up as the Prince of Egypt, like in
the video we watched. A few other things happened and then he saw a burning
bush and he went through the sea on dry land. That's all I can remember.'
'Okay, John, well done, not bad. You've got a little time left, so why
not tell us a bit more about when Moses was a baby…'
'Well he was put into a Moses basket, although they didn't know that was
what it was called at the time, and he floated down the river until he
was spotted by the daughter of Pharaoh.'
'Okay. Where was he when she saw him?' Sometimes you have to help them
along a bit.
'In the basket'.
'Where was the basket?'
'Floating on the water.'
'What, just floating gently past?'
'No, it was hidden among the bulrushes…' At this point the room erupts
with sound as the others shout, cheer, whistle, set off their party poppers
and generally celebrate with great vigour.
John is a little taken aback by the loud reaction, but pleased to have
discharged his responsibility to the group.
Probably, someone from the 3-5s group will come and put their head around
the door to ask you to be quieter, but they often disturb your group with
their noise, so never mind, eh?
So, let's consider what has been happening here:
· peers teaching peers (young people always listen carefully to
each other in this context)
· your lesson is being reviewed
· everyone is listening intently (which is more than can be said
for when you taught the lesson in the first place!) to make sure the key
word is going to be said
· good fun
· some sense of competition, as well, as the excitement mounts,
and as some try to make more noise than the rest
· young people are having a chance to speak in public, which is
a good experience for them.
Jessica takes centre stage
When the noise has died down, John can resume his seat, and you may conspire
again with the young people, since [Jessica] is about to take her turn.
This time, let's say you decide that the key word is 'Egyptian'. Invite
the girl in and explain what you want her to do (same as John). Off she
'Well, Moses was born at a very early age…' (clearly your jokes go down
well with this group) '… and then he was found in the bulrushes by Pharaoh's
daughter and went to live in the Palace and was brought up there. He killed
a man…' (wasted opportunity: everyone was ready to go but had to calm
down) '…and went into the desert, where he met with God in a burning bush.
Then there were ten plagues and he led the children of Israel through
the Red Sea and into the promised land, but the water fell back and drowned
all the chariots.'
Desperately disappointed, you close in for the kill.
'What was the nationality of the charioteers?'
go bananas again, and the lady from next door comes back and starts to
remonstrate with you. Somehow you appease her and then set things up for
the return of [Kerry]. The key word is 'Aaron', as you realise none of
the speakers so far has mentioned him.
Kerry has a go
In comes [Kerry] and covers the same ground about the bulrushes, the murdered
Egyptian and the burning bush, and she cracks your joke about how Pharoah's
daughter was the greatest female financier in the world since she went
to the Bank of the Nile and withdrew a little prophet. Moses must have
been a wig-wearer, because you only ever see him with Aaron.
The crowd rewards her efforts with great rejoicing and merry-making. Mrs
Scroggins is incandescent with rage, so you ask one of your helpers to
try to calm her, with promises that this was the last time. The young
people have enjoyed being a little bit rebellious with you (they know
Mrs S has something of a short fuse and that you love to bait her - they
also realise this is naughty, but they forgive you).
The main benefits of this most excellent game: your talk has been reviewed
three times; three youngsters have had opportunity to shine in front of
their peers, doing something at which they excell; God's preparation of
Moses and his and grace towards him have been underlined…
The positive points go on and on.
Minor caution There is a natural temptation to over-use
this game, on account of the benefits. But for the sake of the young people
becoming dulled by overexposure to the same game, (and for the sake of
good relationships with the other childrens' classes with whom you share
premises), it's best to reserve this until the final session on a particular
In Y-Zone, the Children's Ministry Teaching Programme for 9s-13+,
Go Bananas! is occasionally employed at the end of a six-week series
of sessions. By limiting it's use, it remains fresh and also means the
young people have plenty of material for their one-minute talk.
(c) 2004 Children's Ministry