Whether its second-graders or tweens, a lock-in is an exciting way to get kids together for a specific purpose or just for fun. Lock-ins are overnight events for kids and teens that typically take place at a school or recreation center. Many church and youth groups have lock-ins to bring groups together for social bonding in a safe and friendly environment. Choose lock-in activities that will get the kids socializing with each other, discussing relevant topics and most of all, having a blast.
Start the night out with icebreakers to get the kids interacting with each other and feeling comfortable. For one icebreaker, have the kids silently put themselves in a certain order such as by height, by birthday or by first name. Another idea is to give half the kids an index card with a word on it and the other half an index car with a matching word. Choose paired words from one theme. For example, for a food-related theme, one child might have the word "ketchup" and the match would be "mustard," or "salt" and "pepper." The kids must figure out who their pair is and then interview each other to learn each other's full name, where their partner was born and an interesting fact. When the group gets back together, the kids will then introduce their partner.
Play friendly, competitive team games that get everyone into a team spirit. Relays are excellent for lock-ins in a big space such as a gym. Divide the kids into equal teams and have them do a variety of relays, such as a regular foot race, crab walk races and scooter races. For another game, have the teams put themselves into a human knot by putting the group in a circle and having each person reach across and grab someone else's hand. Each person should be holding the hand of two people. The team that figures out how to untangle themselves without letting go of each others' hands first, wins.
Small Group Discussions
Small group activities are ideal to discuss topics, especially if the lock-in has a specific purpose. For example, if it is a church group lock-in, you can put the kids into small groups for a kid-friendly Bible study. If it is a leadership lock-in, you could have the kids brainstorm what it means to be a leader in school. If the lock-in is about school issues such as bullying, encourage the kids to talk about their personal experiences and come up with a list of ways to combat bullying and what to look out for in bullying behavior.
Watch a Movie
A movie is a fantastic way to wind down the evening for bedtime. Choose age-appropriate, noncontroversial films. It might be a good idea to run a list of movies by the parents of the kids before the lock-in to be on the safe side. Choose G-rated movies for children in elementary school and PG for older kids. Consider movies that are related to your lock-in theme. If it is a church group lock-in, you might choose to play a movie with a religious theme, such as "The Prince of Egypt."
Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.