Family Fun Days are a useful way of involving the whole family. While the activities are mainly aimed at 4–11 years there is scope for having activities for pre-school children as well. These events are often an easy thing to bring people to, whether from the school gate, from toddler groups or from the local neighbourhood.
For the purpose of this short article I have based many of the details around a ‘Jungle Fun Day’ that we ran. It can, of course, be adapted for other themes.
Fun Days could run for a whole day but we have found that 2 hours is an ideal length – it’s a manageable amount of time in which the excitement level can be kept high.
We have a large variety of themed games (e.g. guess the name of the monkey, a treasure map of a jungle island, skittles using pictures of jungle animals to knock over). We also have a number of crafts aimed at children of different ages. Many craft ideas can be found on the internet (e.g. pom pom jungle animals, animal masks made out of funky foam, balloon modelling animals). All of the equipment needed can be bought from party or craft sites on the Internet (I use Baker Ross a lot) but it can also be made from scratch. We hire one or more bouncy castles. All of these activities run throughout the 2 hours.
We offer prizes for the games, as well as for the person who comes in the best fancy dress linked with the theme (Baker Ross or Ebay are useful Internet sites for finding inventive and affordable prizes).
We decorate the rooms as boldly as we can. For the Jungle Fun Day we borrowed (or bought from charity shops) a few large soft jungle animals. We got lots of green balloons and suspended them from the ceiling on huge plastic dust sheets from a DIY store. We made big cardboard palm trees with green paper leaves and balloon bananas. We made massive giraffes, zebras and crocodiles from the inside of carpet tubes, held together with cardboard, Duck tape and cable ties and then painted. You can really let your imagination run wild and it can all be done very cheaply.
The gospel content
We encourage the children at church to bring friends and our prayer is that the day might provide an opportunity for gospel conversations between families.
We also have a short gospel talk. This is normally in the middle of the fun day. We stop all of the other events and get all of the children and parents together. Someone then gives a talk, trying to link it to the theme. For the jungle themed fun day I gave a talk entitled, ‘Who’s the King of the Jungle?’ This is aimed at the children but with little comments or applications to the parents to encourage them to listen too. At the end of the talk we suggest that parents join us for a future event, take a gospel with them, or ask questions of their Christian friends. We then have a refreshment break to give people the opportunity for conversations before all the mayhem of the activities starts again.
The event requires quite a large team of helpers – we have people running each of the games, doing the crafts, manning the bouncy castles, doing refreshments and welcoming people. A big team is a great help in making sure that people are welcomed well and that things run smoothly so that people can have a safe and a happy time.