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It’s time for your students to get fueled up for the new school year.
Here’s a fun game that features an eating contest and a physical fitness competition… all in one!
Use this preteen game, followed by a quick lesson on Daniel 1:3-17, to encourage students to stay strong in their faith.
- Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry


Written by Stef Litzler
Bible: Daniel 1:3-17
Bottom Line: Stay strong in your faith.

  • 2 Jump ropes
  • 2 Hula hoops
  • 2 Sets of weights
  • For the following items, you will need one per student:
    • Mini cans of soda
    • Mini bottles of water
    • Mini bottles of Gatorade
    • Juice boxes
    • Candy
    • Clementines(or tangerines)
    • Oreos
    • Small granola bars
    • Powdered donuts
    • Carrots

Choose four physical activities for your students to complete.
Here are some suggestions:
Jump rope (50 times)
Hula hoop (50 times)
Squat presses (50 times)
Line jumps (50 times)
Burpees (50 times)
Jumping jacks (50 times)
Set up an obstacle course with “fuel options” at each station.
Feel free to use the options provided orany general healthy snack to compete with a junk food snack.
Depending on the number of fuel options you have, you may have students complete more or fewer challenges.
Divide students into two teams of equal size.
Say: Today,we are going to playa game called “Fuel for School.”
Some of you may have spent a lot of time on the couch this summer.
But we are going to get you back into training for the new school year!
Consider this game an extra-curricular P.E. class!
The first team to have every student complete the challenges wins the game.
One of the requirements of each station is that you FUEL UP before completing the challenge.
Choose your fuel wisely, but the choice is yours.
When your entire team has fueled up at each station and accomplished each physical activity, gather your team in a circle and huddle up and shout “Fueled for School!"
Say: That game really helped us think about the best fuel options for the things we need to accomplish.
As you head back to school and return to your daily routine, there are things you need to do to be successful.
You need an appropriate amount of sleep.
You need meals that help provide energy for the day.
You need certain tools and supplies to help you finish assignments.
You need to practice the instruments you are learning if you want to improve.
So, let’s take a few minutes to talk about your greatest fuel for the school year so you can be successful in all you do.
Read Daniel1:3-17.
The king gave Ashpenaz an order.
Ashpenaz was the chief of Nebuchadnezzar's court officials.
The king told him to bring in some of the Israelites.
He wanted nobles and men from the royal family. 
He was looking for young men who were healthy and handsome.
They had to be able to learn anything.
They had to be well educated.

They had to have the ability to understand new things quickly and easily.
The king wanted men who could serve in his palace.
Ashpenaz was supposed to teach them the Babylonian language and writings.
The king had his servants give them food and wine from his own table.
They received a certain amount every day.
The young men had to be trained for three years.
After that, they could begin to serve the king.
Some of the men chosen were from Judah.
Their names were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 
The chief official gave them new names.
He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar.
He gave Hananiah the name Shadrach. He gave Mishael the name Meshach.
And he gave Azariah the name Abednego.
Daniel decided not to make himself "unclean" by eating the king's food and drinking his wine.
So he asked the chief official for a favor.
He wanted permission not to make himself "unclean" with the king's food and wine.
God had caused the official to be kind and friendly to Daniel. 
But the official refused to do what Daniel asked for. He said, "I'm afraid of the king.
He is my master. He has decided what you and your three friends must eat and drink.
Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men who are the same age you are?
When he sees how you look, he might kill me.” So Daniel spoke to one of the guards.
The chief official had appointed him over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Daniel said to him, "Please test us for ten days. Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and give us only water to drink. 

Then compare us with the young men who eat the king's food. See how we look.
After that, do what you want to.”
So the guard agreed. He tested them for ten days.
After the ten days they looked healthy and well fed.
In fact, they looked better than any of the young men who ate the king's food. 
So the guard didn't require Daniel and his friends to eat the special food or drink the wine.

He gave them vegetables instead.
God gave knowledge and understanding to those four young men.
So they understood all kinds of writings and subjects.

And Daniel could understand all kinds of visions and dreams.
Say: In this scripture passage,Daniel and his friends began their own kind of school year.
The king desired that these young boys learn Babylonian traditionthrough language and writings.
These young boys were much like you.
They were smart and eager.
They were quick learners.
And… they were handsome!
The goal was for them to train hard for three years and then serve inthe king’s court.
You go to school every day for many reasons.
You are working hard towarda goal.
You have to spenda certain amount of training, learning, and growing before you leave home and go to college or get a job.
You have friends who are working alongside you.
You have teachers who are guiding and instructing you in new facts, ideas, and concepts.
There will be days that you might be asked to do something other than what you know God desires for you to do– it happened to Daniel and his friends,
For Daniel, it was a law regarding food and what was appropriate to eat as God’s people.
Daniel knew that eating unclean food would not be an act of obedience toGod.
Daniel and his friends were under the authority of the king, the chief official, and the guards.
As you can tell from the verses we read, it was difficult for Daniel to convince someone that he and his friends would remain strong with a diet of vegetables.
Daniel told the chief official to give him and his friends a physical fitness test in ten days and see how strong they were.
Daniel had faith.
And Daniel would have been tempted to eat the king’s fancy foods.
Many of the young men, including Daniel, were probably poorand they were definitely not royalty.
There may have been some foods that were available to them for the first time!
Imagine that you’ve never had pancakes and bacon before.
All you’ve had to eat for breakfast your entire life is cereal.
Now,you’re in a big palace with all the free pancakes and bacon you can eat.
You tell your friends that you’re going to keep eating the cereal, but for 10 whole days all you hear them talking about is how delicious the pancakes and bacon are, and how you just have to try them.
Wouldn’t it be hard not to try some?
Daniel did not to cheat on his diet so he could pass his strength test at the end of 10 days.
The Bible tells us that God rewarded Daniel for his faithfulness in two ways.
First, God helped Daniel and his friends to be healthier and stronger than all the other students who ate the king’s food.
Traditional wisdom at that time said that the king’s food would make the students bigger and stronger.
But God blessed Daniel and his friends physically so they were in better shape than everyone else.
Second, God helped Daniel and his friends learn more than everyone else too.
The Bible says that Daniel and his friends gained great wisdom and understanding.
Daniel, in particular, could understand visions and dreams!
The meaning of dreams are really mysterious to people even today.
But with God’s help… Daniel understood them.
Because Daniel and his friends showed faith,God helped them be successful in everything they did.
Both physically and mentally.
And that’s the greatest fuel for you as you start a new school year. Faith!
Eating healthy food and getting enough sleep are important too.
But nothing will make you more successful this year than having faith in God.
If you are looking for something to read in your Bible as you go back to school, consider continuing to read the Book of Daniel!
Close in prayer.

  1. What do you still need to do to prepare for this school year?
  1. Is there anything you are nervous about for the new school year?
  1. Do you “fuel up” differently during the school year compared to the summer?  Different sleep hours?  Different eating habits? 
  1. Have you known anyone in your life that is like Daniel and his friends?Willing to go against the crowd or do the unexpected to follow God? 
  1. How do you think God could help you physically this year at school?
  1. How do you think God could help you mentally at school this year?
  1. If you were in Daniel’s position, what would be the most tempting food for you to have to say “no” to?
  1. What do you think the guard, the chief official, and the king thought about the success of Daniel and his friends in their diet? 
  1. How can you be sure to fuel up with faith in God this year?
  1. Are there any temptations at school that could cause you to struggle to trust God?

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