Last year, I was released from my calling as an early-morning seminary teacher in Caldwell, Idaho. I taught for four years and so I know how hard it is to come up with something new and fun each time. I love a good scripture mastery game!
So, if you have an upcoming FLEX day in your seminary teaching schedule, then hopefully one of these ideas will make your class fun. But first, a tip.
Before the List of Games, Allow Me to Share 5 Tips to Make Doctrinal Mastery Successful
- I’m sure there are lots of great ways to do seminary games, but what my students loved about our games is that we did something CRAZY in each game. Jeopardy is BORING. It’s nothing more than what students would expect. So think of a fun way to make it a DIFFERENT type of Jeopardy. For example, you have to stand on your hands with your feet against the wall in order to answer, or you have to shoot a rubber band at the poster board target in order to get called on to answer, etc.
- Don’t let games take over the teaching. Obviously, seminary is not about entertaining teenagers by coming up with the most outlandish games. The vast majority of my lessons were nothing of the sort; however, mixing in some creativity and fun can really motivate students to participate.
- It’s okay to have some friendly competition. I can think of about 10 students off the top of my head who were COMPLETELY uninterested in seminary until we started playing games on Fridays, and their competitive nature lead them to want to learn the scripture masteries during the week so they could win on game day. It is WORTH THE EFFORT to make the games creative and fun. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I saw doctrinal mastery games change a couple lives. You just may reach someone who simply will not reach any other way.
- In four years of teaching, I had 4 or 5 students who were extremely intimidated by any possibility of being embarrassed if they didn’t know the scripture masteries and didn’t do well in games. They were very shy. In these cases, I asked these students after class in private if they would be willing to be the judge for scripture mastery games the next day. In each case, I could see the RELIEF on their face and they were extremely glad to be able to participate in a way without the fear of looking dumb in front of their peers. This worked really well for me.
15 Unique Scripture Mastery / Doctrinal Mastery Game Ideas
#1: Capture the Flag – Frozen Style!
Prep Items and Info: You’ll need a bit of space out of the classroom for this one, as well as colored handkerchiefs or paper to be the “flag.”
This one is best played in a church gym if you meet in a regular church building, or in a grassy area next to a seminary building. But make sure the area is SMALL. It shouldn’t be bigger than 50 feet in length or the game won’t work.
Split the class into two teams and line them up on the end lines. Place a colored piece of fabric on the ground as the flag in front of both teams.
Ask a scripture mastery question. As soon as either team gets 5 people who raise their hand with the answer, then that team wins the question. Ask one of the students with their hands raised to answer the question. If they answer correctly for their team, then each person on that team can EITHER take 3 step if they are across the middle line (on the opposing team’s side trying to get their flag), or 1 step if they are still on their own side (playing defense, trying to tag out someone on the opposing team).
The goal of the game is to cross over to the other team’s side and pick up and carry their flag back to your own side. If a player tags a player from the opposing team while they are on your side, then they are out.
#2: Back Draw Telephone
Prep Time and Info: No special items or time is needed.
This game is great because it requires no setup time, materials, or a large area to play. Simply split the class into teams with 5-9 students on a team. Place them in a straight line with all students facing the front of the class.
Write down a scripture mastery reference on a piece of paper and secretly show it to the last person in each line. No one in the room can speak. The person in the back of each line must draw the letters to the scripture mastery onto the back of the person in front of them with their finger. Once the player in front understands it, he or she passes the message to the next person in the line.
When the person in the front of the line receives the message, then they need to stand up and recite the words of the scripture. At the start of the year, we accepted when students just knew what the scripture was about or the gist of the scripture. At the end of the year, I required them to know it almost word perfect.
#3: Penny Wise
Prep Items and Time: Bring a jar of coins or Monopoly money
For this game, I broke out my coin jar from my closet and brought it to class. I didn’t have enough pennies so I just said that each coin was worth the same value. Each student got 15 coins.
The game works by the students carrying their coins with them in their hands. They walk up to another student in the class and pair off. Then, I called out a scripture mastery reference. The two students would quickly try and recite the words to the scripture mastery. If they both know it, then the winner is the one who finishes it fastest. If they don’t know it, then they have to decide between the two of them who knew more of the scripture.
The winner between each pair then takes one of the tokens from the losing student. Then, they’d move on to find a new pair. You can only face a particular student one time during the game, so each time a student will find a new partner. As soon as you’re out of tokens, you’re out of the game. Eventually, there will be one student who is the scripture champion of the day. I gave him a Twinkie as a reward.
#4: Vote Down. Vote Up.
Prep Items and Time: Organize the chairs in three or four rows.
Arrange the chairs in a new way, which always catches students’ interest when they walk in the room. Make three or four horizontal rows facing the front of the class.
The goal of this game is to move up to the front of the class. I would show a reference to a scripture mastery and all of the students at once would begin reciting the scripture out loud. It would become obvious that some of the students knew the verse well, and others did not.
After they finish reciting the verse, I’d say “VOTE UP!” or “VOTE DOWN!” If it was a VOTE UP, then the group would decide amongst themselves who in the row knew the verse the best. They would get bumped up to the row in front of them. If it was a vote down, the opposite would be true. The row receiving the new player would have to decide on someone to move out so they could fit in. I found that the students didn’t have trouble voting themselves down when they just didn’t know the verse, and were able to laugh about it.
#5: Cosmonauts and Cheeseballs
Prep Time and Items: A big thing of puffed cheeseballs or cheetos, and a couple pieces of paper.
This game was a yearly tradition in my class and students talked and laughed about it regularly. I thought it was kind of a weird idea, but for some reason they just LOVED it. Possibly because it was weird enough to appeal to the teenage mind 🙂
Two teams. You say a scripture mastery and 3 students on a side have to stand up as soon as they know the reference. As soon as a team has 3 people who know it, then you ask one of them what it was. If they are correct, then their team has the OPPORTUNITY to earn a point.
The correctly answering student is handed a crumpled piece of paper. A large target is drawn on the chalkboard. The correctly answering student must throw the crumpled paper and hit the target. If they hit the center ring, they get 3 points, 2 for the middle ring, one for the outside ring.
BUT there’s a twist. Two actually. The losing team has a player lay on the ground on their back under the chalkboard. They are also holding a crumpled piece of paper that they can throw at the opposing team’s ball to try and block it from hitting the target.
The second twist was what made the students laugh uncontrollably and really made the game silly and fun. The correctly answering student must say the word “COSMONAUT!” in a fearsome yell as he or she threw the paper ball. The defending student must yell “CHEESEBALL!” as he throws the defending paper ball. If either student does not say their word loudly enough (what we called “in a fearsome fashion” in our class), then the judge awards the opposing team an automatic point.
It’s a silly game, but it’s just silly enough that it got the students excited for something different. It also helps the students learn the scripture masteries well because multiple people on each team must know the answer. Just give it a try.
The winning team gets a few puffed cheeseballs each from one of those giant plastic jars of cheeseballs that you can buy inexpensively at Walmart.
#6: Seated Basketball
Prep Time and Items: A crumpled piece of paper and two trash cans, or else a basketball and a gym.
If you’re in a traditional classroom, then this can be played using two trash cans up on desks on either side of the class. Use a paper ball as your basketball. Sometimes we played this game in the classroom, and sometimes in the gym with a normal basketball since we met in a church building.
I often found that students could easily memorize references, but I wanted them to learn HOW to use the scriptures. So for this game I would explain a life situation and ask the students what scripture mastery they could use to help the person in the situation.
For example, you could say “One day, you are sitting in math class when the students behind you start talking about a girl in the class in a lustful way. What scripture could remind you to not participate?” The answer in Book of Mormon year could be Alma 39:9 about going no more after the lust of your eyes. There will likely be a few scriptures that could be good answers, and all should be accepted if they can be reasonably justified.
If a team answers correctly, then all of their players can take 3 big steps (if you’re playing with a real basketball on a court) or else 1 step if you’re playing in a classroom with a paper ball. The team who won the point can always take the ball from the opposing team if they can reach the ball, and then can pass the ball 3 times to their own team without moving their feet. The opposing team must stay still, but can wave their arms to block passes or shots.
#7: Paper Blow
Prep Time and Items: Just bring a piece of paper.
Two teams. A crumpled piece of paper is placed in the center of the room on the ground and all tables chairs should be out of the way. The players are in a line on their team. The two players in the front of the line are asked a scripture mastery question.
The correct or fastest team gets to lay down next to the ball and give it one blow to push it toward the other team’s end zone.
This game can be kind of slow moving if you don’t ask the questions quickly and have the player take their blow as you’re asking the next question. Since only two students are answering the question at a time, you have to move quickly so it doesn’t leave students standing around. Rush!
#8: Scripture Selfie
Prep Time and Items: Be sure each team of students has at least one cell phone among the group. Shouldn’t be too hard 🙂
This game is great because students can use their cell phones, which they always enjoy. It also is a good opportunity for students to share a scripture on their social media when the game is over.
Split the class into small teams of four. Have one student from each team leave the room. Write a scripture reference on the board. The remaining students on the team look up the verse and then take out a cell phone and take a photo of themselves acting out a clue to that scripture mastery.
When the student from the hall returns, they have to guess. If they get it right, the team gets a point.
This is a great scripture mastery game for the start of the year when the students don’t know the verses very well.
#9: Scripture Tower
Prep Time and Items: Bring a bag of plastic or paper cups.
Bring a large package of plastic or paper cups. You can get them at the dollar store or just raid the scout closet or kitchen in the church building 🙂 There are always left over cups.
Divide the class into two teams and give each team an equal number of cups. Set a table under the chalkboard.
Ask a difficult scripture mastery question. The ENTIRE TEAM must stand up when they have opened up to the scripture, but cannot help each other. As soon as the entire team is standing, the team can rush forward to the table and begin building their tower of cups.
As soon as the opposing team is all standing, then the cup-building team must stop immediately. The teacher draws a line on the chalkboard equal with the top of the cup pyramid–showing how high they got. The tower is taken down for the next question.
The object of the game is to build the tallest tower. At the end of the class, the team with the highest line on the chalkboard wins.
#10: Destroy the Tower
Prep Time and Items: Bring a bag of plastic or paper cups.
This game is very similar to #9, but is a twist on it that may be fun. When we played this game one year, we spent the first half of the class building towers, and the second half of the class destroying them.
Each team gets 12 cups and builds a traditional cup tower with them on the table at the front of the class. The winning team throws a crumpled paper ball at the pyramid and gets as many points as the number of cups that fall to their side when hit.
#11: Scripture Baseball
Prep Time and Items: Bring a piece of paper, chalk, a chalkboard, and draw a picture on the board before class.
Before class begins, draw a baseball player on the chalk board holding a bat, standing at home plate ready to hit a ball. If you aren’t talented at drawing, even better! Chances are you have a student who likes to draw and will feel special if you ask them to come early to class to draw the picture the next day.
In the “strike zone”, draw a target with three big rings.
Ask scripture mastery questions to both teams. The correct team has a player stand at the “pitcher’s mound” (a piece of tape on the ground in the classroom) holding a soft nerf ball or a crumpled piece of paper. Whichever team answers correctly has a pitcher go up to the mound and pitch a ball at the board. Encourage them to use a big wind up like a real pitcher to add some fun.
If they hit the middle, three points, then two points for the second ring, and one point for the outside ring. If they hit the batter, the OTHER team gets a point.
As the teacher, make the game fun! Call Ssssstttteeeeeerike! Ball! Foul ball! Be willing to let loose and have some fun so your students can feel comfortable letting loose as well. It’s incredible how doing something like this on a few flex days during a semester can dramatically improve the camaraderie and openness of conversation that develops in a classroom.
#12: What Scripture Am I?
Prep Time and Items: Bring a packet of scripture mastery cards.
This is a quick game that you could do in as short as 5 or 10 minutes at the end of a class period on a Friday or when you can feel that your students need a little break from the routine.
Take a packet of scripture mastery cards and place one on each student’s desk. The second you set it down, have the students cover their card with their hands so they don’t see what card they have.
Each student puts their card to their forehead and the other students in the classroom give them clues about their scripture. None of the clues can be words in the scripture except for small words like “and” and “the.”
#13: Scripture Volleyball
Prep Time and Items: Bring a string and a couple pieces of tape, as well as a piece of paper.
Before class, split the chairs into four lines–two lines on each side–facing each other. Then stretch a piece of string from wall to wall between the seats and tape each end to the walls.
Sit the students on both sides of the “net” (the string). Ask a scripture question. When it is answered correctly, the answering student gets the crumpled ball of paper that he or she can “serve” over the net. They simply throw it over the net. The ball must arch up and down and can’t be spiked.
The other team can only stop the serve by catching the paper before it hits the ground. If the ball hits the ground, the serving team scores. If it is caught, there is no point. Now ask another question.
#14: Finger Duel
Prep Time and Items: Nothing needed!
Split the class into two teams. One student from each team comes forward. Ask them a question. The correctly answering student must then stand on a chair and declare “I challenge (insert a student’s name) to a duel!”
The student from the other team who they selected then stands up and does “finger fencing” with that student. If the challenging student wins the fencing, then he successfully moves the defending student over to his team. If the defending student wins, then he successfully blocks the other team. The object of the game is to get all of the students from the one team over to your team.
Finger fencing is where you grasp hands and have to push the clasped hands to the other person’s body and have the clasped hands touch their body. If you’re not sure what finger fencing is, watch this youtube video, but I’ll bet your students already know what it is.
#15: Sing Me a Song, You’re the Scripture Master
Prep Time and Items: Nothing needed!
Take a minute before class and separate the scripture mastery cards into verses that would be appropriate for this game. Some of the verses about Christ or sacred matters wouldn’t work for this game.
Two teams. Each team is handed a scripture mastery verse. They quietly meet together and come up with a tune to sing the verse to. Even better if it’s a fun tune that will help them remember the verse.
Before class, select three students (I find shy students prefer to take this roll as they won’t be asked to participate in the outgoing parts of the game). They are the judging panel. They pick the team who made the best song out of the verse.
Encourage the students to have a little fun by building in harmonies in their songs, having a solo during the song, etc. Just be sure the songs are appropriate to the verse and don’t in any way become disrespectful to the scripture.
#16: Mini Marshmallow Mash!
Prep Time and Items: A bag of mini marshmallows.
Each team designates a “marshmallow catcher” who comes to the front of the classroom. A bowl of mini marshmallows is placed in front of both teams. Ask a scripture mastery question.
As soon as anyone on the team can point to the scripture, they can run up to the bowl of mini marshmallows and toss one up in the air to their teammate. If the marshmallow catcher gets it in his or her mouth, the team gets a point.
Have fun with your flex days and think of ways to reach students who may not respond to more traditional teaching techniques. just be sure as you do so that you use this time wisely as a way to help students develop friendships, learn the scriptures, etc.
Don’t let your flex days be a reason for students to skip class because they won’t learn anything that day. They are coming to be spiritually fed, so don’t just give them entertainment. Entertaining and fun games are just ONE technique to help you teach your class.