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What it is: A classic big group game, easily suited for lots of different occasions and age levels. Players act out clues for their teammates to guess.

Best for: A group of about 8 to 10 people (though you can play with many more).

What you need: Words to act out (check out my word generator for an electronic list, or the end of this post for word lists you can print out). Optional: A timer or stopwatch and paper to keep score on.

How to play: The object of the game is simple: players take turns acting out words, with no talking or sound effects. Other players try to guess the word, and the team or player who guesses the most wins.

For example, if you’re playing with a big group of people, you could have two teams. Team 1 sends up their first player, Tucker, to act out a word. Say Tucker draws a slip of paper with the word astronaut written on it.

Tucker would then have to act out the word as fast as possible in a way that his teammates could guess. He might take slow, exaggerated steps, as if he were walking on the moon, then pretend to put up a flag and salute to it. Anything to get his teammates to shout out the word astronaut. As Tucker is acting, his teammates start shouting out guesses. Tucker can modify his actions based on the feedback of his team, but the one thing he can’t do is talk or make any noise.

(Another possible rule: It’s debatable whether Tucker can point to things, like the framed picture of Neil Armstrong his uncle has on the wall. This was often against the rules when we played, but you can decide what’s best for your game.)

After Tucker finishes acting out his word, he sits down and a player from Team 2 gets a turn.

That’s how the game play works, but you can set up the actual game however you want. You could have two teams or more, or no teams at all. You could keep score or just play for fun. You can have a timer and set a time limit on each player’s turn; as many words as they can act out and get their team to guess, they get points for, but once the timer runs out, their turn is over.

You can also easily make this a themed game. Just use words related to Halloween for your classroom Halloween party, or summer words for your end-of-the-year summer bash, or a list of your niece’s favorite things for her seven-year-old birthday party.

Variations: There are lots of other variations on this simple acting and guessing game; watch for posts on them soon!

Printables: Need a printable charades word list ready to go? Here you go! Click the links below to open the word lists, then just print them and cut along the lines for paper strips of words ready for acting. Have fun!

Printable-markerCharades Word List – Easy Words

Printable-markerCharades Word List – Medium Words

Printable-markerCharades Word List – Hard Words

Printable-markerCharades Word List – Really Hard Words

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  1. Vivian replied:

    I love playing games but the price of buying a boxed game is going up & up. Nothing is better to me than spending fun time with family & friends.

    Thank you for this really wonderful website….I will pass it on!
    Happy Holidays & a very Happy, Healthy New Year!

    December 30th, 2011 at 4:11 pm. Permalink.

  2. Kim replied:

    Fun Game! Thank you for the lists. We had our Bear den put a game kit together to take home with rules and the list of words you provided. The boys could play it for hours. That evening when I came home from a meeting my teenagers were playing it and I joined in. They asked me to get the “Hard” and “Really Hard” lists to play again tonight!

    February 9th, 2012 at 1:44 pm. Permalink.

  3. jennifer replied:

    this shows me how to play with my family and have a good time with them.I hope this will be fun!!!!!!!!!

    May 11th, 2012 at 11:24 am. Permalink.

  4. Linda replied:

    Thanks for this site. I am going camping with my nieces and nephews this summer and these are the games I played as a child. It will be a new experience for them without the techno craziness of today.

    July 7th, 2012 at 8:03 am. Permalink.

  5. The Game Gal replied:

    All, thanks so much for the comments! And Linda, I’m so happy to hear that! Those are just the types of memories I cherish so much from my childhood, and memories that I think everyone should have, even if our world is techno crazy. :)

    July 7th, 2012 at 1:07 pm. Permalink.

  6. Kathy replied:

    Charades is a new family and friend favorite. This has become the first choice of family fun in the last few weeks. It has topped any electronic choices and that is FANTASTIC. Thanks for the great ideas. I know we will come back to your lists as the weeks go on. Some of the ideas I never would have come up with. :-)

    October 25th, 2012 at 7:37 am. Permalink.

  7. The Game Gal replied:

    Kathy, thanks for the nice comment! Glad to help with some family fun. :)

    October 26th, 2012 at 4:22 pm. Permalink.

  8. Agatha L Bungar replied:

    Thanks so much for the Charades Word List!

    December 9th, 2012 at 9:36 pm. Permalink.

  9. Speech Buddies Parents' Corner - 10 Best Family Games - Blog - Activities for Kids of All Ages replied:

    […] If you’re not feeling creative for developing a list for charades, try these free, printable options from the Game Gal that are organized by difficulty level. If you have pre-readers, forms teams where at least one […]

    October 8th, 2013 at 8:48 am. Permalink.

  10. Karishma replied:

    Really love the website. I teach Grade 6 and use a lot of interactive activities to make learning fun. has made learning as well as teaching so much easier and more enjoyable! Thank you :)

    February 4th, 2014 at 8:59 pm. Permalink.

  11. The Game Gal replied:

    Karishma, thank you for the kind words! I’m so happy to help.

    February 8th, 2014 at 9:55 am. Permalink.

  12. Cherie replied:

    Your ideas are great and the categories of words are extremely helpful. Thank you so much for sharing!

    February 20th, 2014 at 7:57 am. Permalink.

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