When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

The Barefoot Olympics: Let the Games Begin!

on April 13, 2013

This was probably my favorite kids night event that I’ve done so far.  I loved it and the kids did too!  Below is the plan that we followed for the evening, but you could certainly substitute your own foot-related activities.  Don’t be afraid to get a little wild and crazy.  That’s what makes an event like this fun!

Goal:  The goal of this event is to provide an opportunity for the children of Fillmore Wesleyan Church to have fun together and learn that God loves us and accepts us, no matter what we have done. This event also presents the opportunity for children from the community to engage with the Fillmore Kids program in a non-threatening environment.

Key Scripture: “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” – Luke 15:22-24

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Storage tote
  • Balloons (red, yellow, green, and blue)
  • Construction paper (red, yellow, green, and blue)
  • 4 hole punches
  • String
  • 4 black markers
  • Scissors
  • 4 lengths of butcher paper
  • Washable paint (red, yellow, green, and blue)
  • 8 paper plates
  • Stickers for each team
  • Baby wipes
  • Bed sheet or blanket
  • Brown paper bags
  • Marshmallows
  • Cotton balls
  • Cooked noodles
  • Dry cereal
  • 4 aluminum pans
  • Jell-O
  • Marbles
  • Bread
  • 8 styrofoam bowls
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Dixie cups
  • Grapes (or another snack that you would rather serve)
  • Living Inside Out “Rescue 911” DVD
  • TV
  • DVD player
  • Hula-hoop

Decorations:  Décor for this event can be minimal.  Each team’s area should be decorated with a few balloons of their team’s color, then they will add the team banner that they create.

Barefoot Olympics Decor

This is what our space looked like at the front of the room.  I stored the materials for the games under the small table on the left and had instructions for all the games on the podium in case I needed to reference them.  The three chairs up front were used for one of the games that you’ll read about.

Arrival Time (10 minutes):  Have each child check in at the registration table.  Place a large tub next to the table where all children will deposit their shoes.  Divide kids into teams as they arrive – red, yellow, green, or blue (Note:  I only had 3 volunteers, so I nixed the green team for our event).


Having everyone’s shoes in one place will be important later on. Don’t skip this step 🙂

Have the following team activities available as the children arrive.  (Personnel Needs: 1 leader for each team)

  • Foot Necklaces:  Have each child trace his or her foot on construction paper (same color as their team) and cut it out.  Use a hole punch and string to create it into a necklace.  Provide markers for the children to write their names on them. Explain that they will receive stickers for their necklace throughout the evening – 1 sticker for each point their team earns.
  • Team Banner:  Provide a length of butcher paper for each team and washable paint on paper plates.  Allow the children to use their feet and the paint to create a team banner.  Provide baby wipes for the kids to wipe their feet off.

Team Area Set-Up

This was each team’s set-up.  I attached the balloons to the chairs, then the kids attached their banners to the chairs – that way we wouldn’t have to worry about wet paint on the walls.  Each station was also equipped with a box of baby wipes and a small trash can (not pictured).

Guess Who? (10 minutes):  Gather all the children into a group, sitting on the floor.  Choose one team to stand behind a sheet or blanket.  After the kids behind the sheet have been sufficiently mixed up, lift the sheet just enough so that the children’s feet are visible.  Have the other three teams try to guess whose feet are whose.  Correct responses earn 1 point each.

Senses Activity (10 minutes)  Fill several brown paper bags with different items.  Have each team send a representative to the front.  The representatives from each team will stick their feet into the bag (one at a time) while a volunteer holds the bag.  After each representative has felt inside the bag, they must guess what is inside the bag.  Correct responses earn 1 point each.

  • Round 1: Marshmallows
  • Round 2: Cotton
  • Round 3: Cooked noodles (let these dry a little before putting them in the paper bag)
  • Round 4: Dry cereal

Jell-O Dig (10 minutes):  Give each team a small bowl and an aluminum pan filled with Jell-O, embedded with marbles.  Assign each team the task of using their toes to dig all the marbles out of their pan.  Each marble is worth 1 point.  Provide baby wipes for the kids to wipe their feet off.


Oh this was so much fun.  So, so much fun.

Sandwich Contest (10 minutes) Provide each team with a few slices of bread, along with some jelly in one bowl and peanut butter in another.  Challenge each team to work together to make the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich that they can using only their feet.  Explain that each sandwich will be judged to see which will win a prize.  Provide baby wipes for the kids to wipe their feet off.

Snack (5 minutes):  While the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are being judged, serve each child a Dixie cup of grapes.  Award each sandwich a prize and announce those prizes after snack has been served.

PB&J Competition

Each sandwich was clearly deserving of a different prize 🙂  The yellow team won the “Most Bread” award for having more bread than peanut butter or jelly and the red team won for “Mushiest PB&J,” because, well, it was mushy.  The blue team won for “Neatest PB&J.”  For making it entirely with their feet, I thought they did pretty well!

Lesson & Songs (25 minutes):  We began by singing a few songs from our Sunday School curriculum (we use Group’s Living Inside Out).  The first two were just some of our favorites, but the third song was entitled “God Loved the World So Much,” which fit in well with the lesson that followed.

Explain that you will need everyone’s help to tell the story this evening.  I used this version from Children’s Ministry Magazine because it was so interactive and fun!  I altered the ending, though, to make a bit of a different point.  I read this article and learned that, in Jesus’ times, the poorest people and the slaves often had to go without shoes. Now that may sound like fun for a while — we all like to go barefoot sometimes. But it wasn’t fun when you had to work or walk a lot with no shoes. Pretty soon, your feet would be very sore.  When the father welcomed his son back, he wanted to throw a party for him, but before he even mentioned the party, the father asked for someone to put sandals on his feet.  Shoes represented his acceptance as a son. The father would not send him out to be a servant, but received him back into the family as a son. And sons get shoes.  We are like the son in this story and God is like the father.  We do bad things and run away from God, but, no matter what, God will always love us and accept us as part of His family.  Every time we ask for His forgiveness, He gives it to us freely.  He doesn’t make us work like a servant to earn His love back.  Instead, He gives us a pair of sandals and celebrates that we’ve returned to Him.  This conclusion gave new meaning to the story and makes a great connection to the foot-theme for the evening.

Play the game “Surrounded by Love” from The Humongous Book of Games for Children’s Ministry (published by Group).  Have the children stand in a circle, holding hands.  Loop a hula-hoop onto a child’s arm. Explain that the goal of the game is to work the hula-hoop around the circle without letting go of anyone’s hand.  The children will end up ducking and climbing through the hula-hoop in order to move it around the circle.  Once the hula-hoop has made its way around the entire group, talk about how, when someone would duck through the hula-hoop, that person was surrounded by the hula-hoop, just as we are surrounded by God’s love, no matter what.

In conclusion, we sang “God Loved the World So Much” again.

Shoe Mix-Up (10 minutes):  Dump everyone’s shoes into a pile in the middle of the room (This is why it’s important to have everyone’s shoes in one place!).  Have the children stand in a large circle around the pile.  Assign two teams to run into the center of the room, find their shoes, put them on, and return to their seats.  Once the first two teams have finished, have the last two teams do the same. Close by reminding the children about the sandals from the story and that God loves each of them and accepts them as His own.


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