Being a meeting or conference planner, you understand the importance of identifying the target audience for your event. However, events that welcome an age range of attendees have unique challenges.
It's one thing to plan a conference for adults, but quite another to plan one for children. So, what do you do when both adults and children are at the same event? While you can plan family-based activities, it's also nice to have kid-specific activities.
For the children who are at your event, here are five things you can do to keep them interested and engaged.
1. Make an Activity Book
If you know children will be sitting with their parents during a session when a speaker is presenting, consider making an activity book to help children stay quietly engaged. Having activity books with simple instructions and in theme with your conference may also help children learn right along with the adults.
For instance, if the theme of your conference is A Light In the World, brainstorm ideas around this subject. Here are a few page suggestions.
- Coloring page: Create a picture collage of different types of lights (flashlight, headlamp, candle, street light, etc.).
- Drawing challenge: Reserve a page for children to draw a picture of themselves being a light to another person. You may need to list out a few tangible examples to help them understand.
- Fill-in-the-blank: Make fill-in-the-blanks for Bible verses that contain the word light (Matthew 5:1, John 8:12, Psalm 119:105, etc.).
Or the speaker may be talking about a particular Bible character; let's say for this example it's Moses.
- Maze: Include a maze that helps Moses and the Israelites get through the Red Sea.
- Connect the dots: Find or make a connect the dots picture of the burning bush.
- Word find puzzle: Choose a list of words associated with Moses (e.g. burning bush, ten commandments, Red Sea, Israelites, Nile River, etc.) and build out a word find. Here's a free online puzzle creation tool.
If you choose to customize your own activity book, you could include coloring pages, characters and props to punch out, connect the dots, word find puzzles, simple crossword puzzles, hidden pictures, find the difference, and mazes to name a few.
If you prefer, you can download a book already made—like this free printable Christian activity book.
Tip: Having a booklet for young children that can't read and another for elementary school aged children is ideal.
2. Listening buckets
This idea is best for smaller groups. That being the case, it may or may not be practical for your particular event, but it's a fun idea that could be adapted to fit many situations. We'll break it down into steps for easy understanding.
- Buy 5-8 small or medium sized buckets.
- Choose 5-8 different words that you want the children to be listening for as the presenter speaks (e.g. Moses, Bible, verse, Jesus, disciples, etc.).
- Each bucket should be labeled with one of the words you chose. You can write on the bucket directly, or create a table tent to place in front of the bucket. To engage visual memory and to provide a way for non-reader to participate, use a picture in addition to text on your bucket labels.
- Fill each bucket with a different candy—preferable small, individually wrapped candies like Hershey Kisses. You could even use novelty trinkets or stickers in place of candy.
- Give each child a small bag.
- Challenge the kids to listen carefully. Inform the children that every time they hear one of the key words, they can pick a candy from the appropriate bucket and put it in their collection bag.
3. Design your own t-shirtKids love crafts; they especially love wearing and showing off t-shirts that they made on their own. Here are several ways to do this.
- Find a few iron-on or heat-applied graphics that are within your conference theme. Children can pick out which graphic they want and adult helpers can apply it to the t-shirt.
- Let the children make their own design; supply cloth markers, fabric paint, and stencils and let them go to town.
- Tie-dye! With help, kids can tie up a t-shirt with rubber bands and dip away into their favorite colors. The finished product will be a fun, brightly colored shirt with unique patterns.
If parents are informed of this activity beforehand, they can be encouraged to bring one plain t-shirt for each of their children. Or, if your budget allows, buy children and youth-sized t-shirts in bulk.
4. Treasure hunt or scavenger hunt
Both of these are great options that kids always enjoy. If you're unsure of the difference, here's a quick breakdown of each.
- For a treasure hunt, kids follow a series of clues—often posed as riddles—along a predetermined path that leads to treasure. The group who follows all of the clues and finds the treasure first wins. Learn more about treasure hunts in the Ultimate Treasure Hunt Guide by Lisa Mason.
- Scavenger hunts start with a list of things to find and a time limit. There is no set path for groups as they scavenge around in search for the items on their list. The group who finds everything on the list first or finds the most items before the time is up wins. A simple Google search will give you a ton of scavenger hunt lists you can use.
Tip: Divide the children up into small groups (ideally 3-5), keeping ages relatively close together. Simplify the hunt for younger children.
5. Plan a kids performance
People love seeing kids up on stage—whether or not they have kids of their own performing. While the conference, no doubt, is not in the business of showcasing the talent of children, it can be refreshing entertainment.
This short list of ideas should help get your creative juices flowing.
- Sing a song with motions. Lord, I Lift Your Name On High is a worship song with great motions; ask any youth group leader!
- Do simple yet funny skits. Many don’t require special equipment or extravagant props.
- Recite passages of Scripture or several Bible verses. Hearing children share from memory the Lord's Prayer is always meaningful.
- Act out a Bible story. Who doesn't love seeing kiddos perform? Better yet, adults acting out the story as kids tell it!
Tip: Schedule practice times and inform parents about them. While impromptu performances can be entertaining, having time to practice will make everything go more smoothly and help the children feel more comfortable.
We understand that it's not always possible or within the mission of an event to offer age-appropriate breakouts for kids during adult meetings. However, if you could use the space, considering hosting your event at Sandy Cove. We have plenty of meeting space—for adults and children! We have spacious rooms, an indoor activities center, and tons of outdoor fun including a playground, mini golf course, and plenty of courts and fields.
- 6 Ways to Engage Children At Meetings And Conferences
- 6 Ways To Engage Senior Citizens At Your Next Generational Event
- 5 Measurable Ways To Gauge The Success Of Your Event
- 6 Simple Perks That Event Attendees Will Love