Two truths and a lie

What it is: A talking group game, perfect as a get-to-know-you game with people you don’t know well yet (or want to get to know better).

Best for: A group of about 6 to 12 people.

What you need: Nothing!

How to play: The basic game play consists of players telling three facts about themselves. Two of the facts must be true, but the third one should be a lie. Then the other players have to guess which one is the lie.

So here’s how you could set up the game. Have all of your players sit in a circle and choose someone to start, say Mark. Mark would then think of two true facts about himself and one lie, then say them aloud in any order, trying to conceal the lie as a truth. For example, Mark might say, “I can finish a whole large pizza in one sitting…

“…I’ve had my picture in the newspaper…”

“…and I’ve been skydiving.”

Then the rest of the players would be able to think, consult, and decide together which fact about Mark is false. If you want an easy, no-score game, just have the players discuss and guess, and then have Mark reveal the lie. If you really want to keep score, you could let all of the players guess individually. Whoever is right gets a point; whoever is wrong doesn’t. You could also give Mark a point for every person he fooled. Whether you’re keeping score or not, after Mark reveals the lie, then the next player in the circle takes a turn.

Strategies: When you’re giving your three facts, since you’re trying to fool the other players, it’s good to disguise the lie as a truth; that is, something that people would believe you’ve done. Alternatively, you could try to disguise your truths as lies (so say things you’ve done that are kind of unbelievable, kind of like Mark did). Also, I’ve seen people play where they name very common things as their truths and lie, making it pretty difficult to guess. But either way, you’re trying to say things about yourself that others don’t know, making this a good get-to-know-you game.

Variations: If you wanted, instead of having players reveal their lie right away, you could have everyone in the circle say their truths and lie, and then go back around the circle a second time and let people reveal what was true and false.


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. You can try telephone charades, celebrities, in the manner of the adverb, and even Star Wars pictionades (a game of my own invention).

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


What it is: I know there are a lot of games called chicken, but this one is the one we always played in the pool growing up. It’s a fun and rough (and therefore slightly dangerous) pool game.

Best for: 4 to about 8 players.

What you need: Just a pool and some people to play. It’s best if you have people of varying sizes/ages.

How to play: The game is played in the shallow end of the pool with at least four players (but up to, oh, like eight or ten, if you wanted). Players form pairs and try to eliminate the other pairs from the game.

In this game, let’s say there are four players: Jim and his younger sister Susie and their cousins Leo and Travis. Jim and Susie are one pair. To get ready to play, one of them (probably Susie, assuming she’s smaller) will sit on the other’s shoulders. Jim would stay standing in the shallow end. Leo (say he’s smaller) would also get on Travis’s shoulders, like this:

Then someone yells “go!” and the game begins. The point is for each pair to knock the top player off of the other pair. This is done primarily by Susie and Leo grabbing, pushing, shoving, and pulling each other (but no hitting, kicking, or biting). Travis and Jim also play strategic roles in maneuvering around each other and could even try to trip each other if they were really aggressive.

As you can imagine, it’s a pretty rough game. (We played with my cousins a lot, and I don’t think our parents ever liked it, but we played anyway.) It’s kind of one of those anything-goes games. And I guess not much of a game for strategy…the biggest or toughest players usually win. But it’s fun because different combinations of pairs can lead to different outcomes (for example, say Travis is really strong, but Leo’s kind of a wuss, or the other way around.)

The game is over when one of the top players falls off their partner’s shoulders and into the water. (It’s debatable whether a team getting dunked, even if the top player stays on top of the bottom player’s shoulders, counts as losing or not.) We also had some pretty fun ongoing games with lots of pairs (where anyone could attack anyone else), and then if you fell down you got right back up again and jumped back into the fray.

Disclaimer: Though I’ve never personally known anyone to become injured in a game of chicken, please be careful when you play. Letting especially big or aggressive kids play with smaller kids might be dangerous…so make sure everyone is safe, aware, and kind.


What it is: Basically the same game as watermelon, just with different equipment. A rough-and-tumble, physically active game played in the pool with big groups. Best for teens and older.

Best for: About 10 players to however many you can comfortably fit in a pool.

What you need: First, a swimming pool. Second, a clear plastic 2-liter soda bottle. Finally, at least, oh, I’d say ten people to play.

How to play: First, get your equipment ready. Make sure your 2-liter soda bottle is actually clear (not tinted green) and empty. It’s also best if it has a white cap. Rinse out the bottle and remove the label as completely as you can. Finally, fill it to the top with clear water.

Optional: Find two pool floaties (the small, simple ring kinds).

There, now you’ve got your equipment. Out by the pool when you’re ready to play, divide your players into two even teams and your pool into two equal sides. Each team gets a side. If you have pool floaties, put them right outside the pool at each team’s end. (The floaties will make the goals.) All of the players get into the pool and hold onto the edge of their side of the pool, with their backs facing the middle.

Then someone who’s not playing (or one player who volunteers to sit out at first in order to start the game) stands outside the pool and tosses the 2-liter bottle into the middle of the pool. As soon as everyone hears it splash, the game begins.

The object of the game for each team is to get the bottle into the opposing team’s goal (which is the floaty, if you’re using floaties, or just the outside edge of the pool, if you’re not). To do this, players simply find, grab, and swim with the bottle. Which isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, because for the defense, almost anything goes—
except no biting, kicking, scratching, drowning, otherwise hurting, or getting out of the pool. Other than those things, players are pretty much free to do what they can to score, or to keep the other team from scoring.

The twist in this game is that a clear 2-liter soda bottle filled with water is halfway buoyant and very hard to see under water, so finding it becomes as much of a challenge as maneuvering it. Multiple times within a game, the bottle might become lost, and everyone will focus on finding the bottle. (When you do find it at that point, try to refrain from shouting “I found it!,” which will only get you tackled, and instead see if you can quietly sneak it into the other team’s goal to score.) Teams are free to set up their own strategies as they see fit, if they want a strategy at all. You might pick at least one designated goalie. (But the goalies can’t park it too close to the goal and refuse to move all game long.)

Once a team scores, switch sides and start again. Play for a designated amount of time or to a certain score. Caution, though: this game can get exhausting, especially if you’re a go-getter about it.

Variations: Of course, watermelon is a fun, somewhat sillier variation. But I have great memories of playing bottle with my hardcore friends in high school in my family’s pool during summer nights. Ah, memories.

Flour bomb capture the flag

What it is: A way fun variation of capture the flag. (So if you don’t know how to play capture the flag, it’d be a good idea to head on over to that post and read through it first.)

Best for: Big group of at least 10 players.

What you need: You’ll need two flags. And you’ll need somewhere to play. While a forested area or park is often fun for regular capture the flag, flour bomb capture the flag works best in a flat, open area, like a big parking lot or a field or yard. Oh, and it’s also best when played during the daylight.

Then you need people to play, preferably all wearing dark-colored clothing. You could have one team in black shirts and one team in navy blue shirts, for instance. But the different colored t-shirts aren’t necessary. White t-shirts, however, make this game not nearly as fun.

Finally, you’ll need flour bombs. You’re going to want at least as many flour bombs as you have players, but it would be better to have double that, maybe more.

So, what’s a flour bomb? It’s just a handful of flour packed inside a tied-off portion of panty hose.


When you throw the flour bomb at someone, it leaves a white mark on their shirt. Think of it as a painless, easy, kid-friendly version of paintballs.

To make your flour bombs, gather up as many old pairs of panty hose as you can find, or purchase some cheap ones. Cut each leg into, oh, three or four pieces. Then make sure that each piece is closed at one end (the toe pieces will already be like this; for the middle pieces of the leg, just tie a knot in one end). Then carefully put about a cup of flour into each portion of panty hose and tie off the other end. Try to make your bombs as packed as possible, not too floppy. And voila! You have flour bombs. They’re pretty messy to assemble and store, so don’t try to make them in your living room. And it’s nice to store them in a big bucket.

How to play: Game play is the same as regular capture the flag, with one difference: instead of tagging other players, you peg them with flour bombs. To start, at the beginning of the game, put all of the flour bombs on the dividing line between the two teams. Have players line up on their side equal distances from the dividing line. When someone yells “go,” all players can make a run for the flour bombs and grab as many as they can. Then hang onto your flour bombs until you want to use them to peg someone. When you’re out of flour bombs, pick up more from the ground.

You can’t peg members from the opposing team while they’re on their side, of course. And you can’t be pegged while you’re on your side. The white marks left by the flour bombs will help settle disputes as to whether someone was pegged or not (which is why white t-shirts are just no fun). Also, if you’re wearing dark shirts, you can all line up at the end of the game and see who got pegged the worst.

You might want to outlaw gathering and hoarding flour bombs, too (or maybe that’s fair game in your game; you decide). And one important rule: No pegging players’ faces or heads. Though when we played, the end of the game often turned into simply a free-for-all peg-each-other-with-flour-bombs activity, which inevitably turned into a free-for-all open-the-flour-bombs-and-dump-them-in-each-other’s-hair flour fight. Ah, good times. This was an annual tradition for my youth group at church. Lots of fun.

Variations: Ooh, I’ve never played this way and I’m not quite sure how it would work, but wouldn’t it be kind of fun to somehow add colored chalk to your flour so each team could have their own colored bombs? That way might even be fun with more than two teams (and definitely white t-shirts). There are also other variations of regular capture the flag, like playing at night with glow sticks.