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!