Charades is a word game played without speaking; only hand gestures and movements are allowed. The game can be played anywhere, with kids of any age, and without a great deal of preparation. Players can work alone or in teams; the team that guesses the quickest wins the round.
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In this article, we explore charades ideas for kids, provide some directions and tips for playing, talk about the benefits of playing charades, and give you lists and topics to make your play not only fun but interesting and easy.
Charades Ideas for Kids
Charades takes very little preparation. The easiest way to get ready for the game is to write words or phrases on slips of paper, place them in a basket, hat, or other container, and have each kid draw a slip of paper when it is their turn. If you are playing charades as teams, you can have each team write up cards for the other team to act out. We have lists and categories in this article for you or the players to use if desired.
Charades for Very Young Kids
For very young children, let the children write down ideas for each of your categories. Doing so gets them excited about playing the game and makes the game a bit easier as they will be familiar with some of the words and phrases.
Very young children who cannot read yet may need to have flash cards. You can make them yourself or purchase them on-line.
If you will be using some of the ideas and categories frequently, you may wish to write each phrase or word on a notecard.
Tips for Playing Charades with Very Young Kids
- Use picture flashcards for young who are not yet able to read.
- Have each player announce what the category is (i.e. emotion, animal, food, etc.).
- Assign a color instead of a number if you are playing team charades with very young kids.
- Make sure the children know they are not to talk, but only use hand gestures.
- Demonstrate a few words so the children can see how the game is played.
Charades for Older Kids
In order for older kids to enjoy the game, make sure you explain how to use some simple hand movements to give clues about the word or phrase the player is acting out.
- Number of words or syllables: hold up fingers.
- Plural words: link little fingers together.
- Length of word: use finger and thumb close together for small word, farther apart for larger word, arms spread for a very long word or phrase.
- Sounds like: touch the ear or tug on it.
- Correct guess: point to the person making the guess.
Charades for a Mixed-Age Group
Playing on teams for charades is an excellent idea for a mixed age group. The youngest person on each team goes first. Make sure you have an even number of charade choices for each team. There are several ways to play team charades:
- Determine how long the game will last before you begin. The team with the most points at the end of the set time wins the game.
- If a team guesses incorrectly, the play passes to the next team. Play continues until all team members have a turn and the team with the most points wins the game.
Charades in the Classroom
- Improving verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
- Building listening skills
- Strengthening social skills through collaboration and teamwork
- Boosting confidence
- Improving problem solving ability
- Increasing patience by taking turns
Charades at a Party
Every party benefits from some fun games and one of the easiest is charades for kids. Charades work well both inside and out, rain or shine, and with any age and every size group of kids. Try charades at birthday parties and holiday get-togethers. You can even make lists of categories, words, and phrases that are holiday specific, i.e. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc. For added fun, use colored construction paper and markers to create your acting-out choices.
Charades for Family Game Night
Charades make great fun at a family gathering or on a family game night. Begin by naming an adult family member to act as leader and keep score. Consider team play, mixing ages of family members so that each team is even in number and ability. It helps to have a stopwatch or timer to time each charade, and paper and pencil to keep score. You are sure to create some lasting memories.
Suggestion: When playing charades, take pictures of the most hilarious moments.
Our charades ideas for kids have you ready to play; all you need now are categories, topics, words, and phrases. Read on to find everything you need for hours of fun.
Make sure your charade topics are age appropriate. You will want simple one or two word topics for very young children. Additionally, choose topics familiar to the group. Teens may enjoy acting out the latest hit music and artists, whereas very young children would do better with nursery rhymes.
Animal and Insect Charades
We identify many animals by the noises they make. Having to use silent gestures for animal and insect charade choices can be challenging. It is also great fun to watch the contortions as players crawl around attempting to mimic their chosen charade animal. Try one of the following:
Object ideas for charades can be as simple as pantomiming sitting on a chair or flying like an airplane to more difficult charades such as attempting to get other players to guess “fire truck” silently. Try one of the following or make up your own by simply looking around you.
- Fire Truck
- Hula Hoop
Children of all ages enjoy acting out their favorite food. Not only can you pantomime the foods, but also how one eats them. Some ideas of foods to include for your charades players are:
- Ice Cream Cone
- French fries
Younger kids find it fun and easy to act out things they do on a daily basis. The following comprehensive list of activities works very well for younger kids, or to introduce any group to the game of charades.
- Building a sandcastle
- Brushing teeth
- Reading a book
- Playing basketball
- Washing hair
- Playing baseball
- Opening a gift
- Washing dishes
- Making a bed
- Watering flowers
- Tying a shoe
- Driving a car
- Jumping rope
- Bouncing a ball
- Walking a dog
- Getting dressed
- Blowing a kiss
- Eating breakfast
- Running up a hill
Acting out place names proves challenging, so this list is best used for older kids or experienced players. You might also wish to challenge your players to come up with some place names of their own.
- Amusement park
- McDonald’s or other fast food restaurant
- Specific countries, i.e. England or France
Another fun and relatively easy charade topic, use this list for younger players or mixed groups. Body motion helps players act out people charades.
Another challenging topic; when kids act out emotion charades, things usually get crazy. An adult or group leader might want to demonstrate how to act out one of the following to help the kids get started.
Toys and Games Charades
Your group of kids can probably add to the following list of toys and games charade ideas. Each generation has its favorites and your kid players probably know all their latest favorite toys and games.
- Baby doll
- Trucks and cars
- Video game
- Board game
Charades is a fun game kids of all ages enjoy. However, coming with charade ideas and lists of words and phrases quickly and easily can be a challenge.
There are some definite advantages to having pre-prepared lists of words and phrases:
- It reduces the time it takes to prepare for play when you have your kid players think of their own words and phrases.
- You can make sure (in advance) that your word and phrase choices are suitable for the age and maturity level of our kid players.
- You can avoid the frustration of not being adequately prepared for your game of charades.
Remember, kids of all ages can enjoy a fun game of charades, however younger children might get frustrated if the words are too hard. We have listed words and phrases in several categories to get you started and made some suggestions on how to use each charades list.
Cartoon and TV Show Charades List
One of the best way to involve younger kids in charades let them list and act out their favorite cartoons and cartoon characters. Our list includes timeless favorites most of the older kids will know.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants
- Paw Patrol
- Angry Birds
- Dora the Explorer
- Bob the Builder
- The Adventures of Puss in Boots
- The Mr. Peabody and Sherman
- The Muppet Show
- Hannah Montana
- Sesame Street
- Mickey Mouse
- Hello Kitty
Movie Charades List
Your kid players will most certainly excel at acting out this list of favorite movies. They probably have some of their own to add to the following list:
- Harry Potter
- Finding Nemo
- Toy Story
- The Incredibles
- The Princess and the Frog
- The Muppet Movie
- The Lion King
- The Cat in the Hat
- Monsters, Inc.
- Wreck-It Ralph
- Big Hero 6
- How to Train Your Dragon
- A Bug’s Life
- Inside Out
- Peter Pan
- Lady and the Tramp
- The Jungle Book
- 101 Dalmatians
- Robin Hood
- Kung Fu Panda
- Puss in Boots
- Sleeping Beauty
- Alice in Wonderland
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Little Mermaid
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Winnie the Pooh
- The Tigger Movie
- The Fox and the Hound
Kids’ Book Titles Charades List
Use this list only when you are sure you have a group of kids who read. Some of the titles are familiar because they have videos or games associated with them. However, many kids do not read often and this category may prove too challenging.
- Charlotte’s Web
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- The Secret Garden
- Pippi Longstocking
- Lord of the Rings
- Where the Wild Things Are
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- The Princess Diaries
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- A Bear Called Paddington
- The BFG
- The Cat in the Hat
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- James and the Giant Peach
- The Lorax
- A Series of Unfortunate Events
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit
- Winnie the Pooh
Fairy Tales Charades List
Younger kids playing charades will enjoy acting out their favorite fairy tales. It takes some clever thinking for some of the longer titles – perfect for older kids.
- The Emperor’s New Clothes
- Beauty and the Beast
- Chicken Little
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
- Sleeping Beauty
- The Boy Who Cried Wolf
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Little Red Riding Hood
Famous People Charades List
For older children our list of famous people can make charades a bit more interesting and challenging. We are sure you can think of others your kids will know and be able to act out. They will enjoy adding their favorite famous sports stars, as well.
- Abraham Lincoln
- Barack Obama
- George Washington
- Albert Einstein
- Amelia Earhart
- Isaac Newton
- Neil Armstrong
- Vincent van Gogh
- Christopher Columbus
There are other fun categories for charades not listed here which you can use and make up list for yourself. For example, different ages and groups of kids like different songs and singers. You can create a list of those familiar to the specific group playing charades.
Act Out Games
Children love to use their imagination and act out various situations and ideas. Make sure you give clear instructions. We have indicated the best age for the players of each act out game, but this can vary given the maturity and intelligence of the players involved.
Strike a Pose
A fun and surprising act out game, each person chooses one other person secretly to watch. Have all the kids close their eyes and strike a pose. When you yell, “Go!” everyone opens their eyes and copies the person they chose to watch. The surprise comes when everyone ends up striking the same pose!
A fun and easy act out game, freeze works for any age and provides a good introduction before trying some more difficult act out games.
Pair up your group, numbering each pair one and two. Player one creates a pose and then player two creates a pose that matches or compliments player one’s pose. For example, player one may pose as if hitting a ball with a bat and player two poses as the pitcher throwing the ball. You may need to suggest some poses to get the kids started.
Pick and Play
If you will be playing Pick and Play frequently, set up the game to be used repeatedly. You will need index cards, colored markers, a large poster board, and something to throw (a bean bag or small soft object).
Use a different color for each of your acting out categories. Write out the acting out instruction on one side of the cards. You can have the players decorate the other side of the cards if you wish.
On the large poster board, draw blocks or a bull’s eye with each space the color of your differing categories. The players toss the bean bag or another small, soft object, and pick a card.
For some of the categories below, we have provided a hint on how they might be acted out. You might wish to demonstrate one of each category for younger children to show how the game is played. You can, or course, make up your own categories.
Elephant – Swing your “trunk” (arms in front of face)
Giraffe – Eat leaves from the top of a tree
Horse – Prance
Dog – Sit and beg
Cat – Lap milk from a saucer and rub against something or someone
Making a bed
Throwing a ball
Choose a leader or have an adult call out characters for the kids to act out or move like. For example, if you call out dog, kids might get on their hands and knees and pant. You can also call out names of people, such as policeman, king, queen, teacher, lion tamer, or clown. Another way to play Change Characters is to pick a theme, such as “Sport,” or “Circus,” or a place, such as a restaurant or zoo. The kids might enjoy calling out characters as well.
A game for all ages that works well with a large group, Opposite Game provides long-term, acting out fun. To begin, have the kids walk around and when you call out a command, the kids are to do the opposite. For example, if you say go, they must stop. I you say run, they must walk. For more difficult opposites, explain what they are to do. You should have between six and ten commands. Some will be more challenging, such as jump with foot stomping. The goal is to catch kids responding incorrectly. If you wish, you can eliminate those who mess up. Opposite Game also works well as a team exercise.
Indoors or outdoors, at a party, sleepover, or at school, charades are fun to play with friends and family. In short, this simple game requiring little preparation and no special equipment can provide hours of fun for players of any age. Kids especially love charades and acting out games. When choosing words or phrases for your game of charades, ensure that every person will be able to guess it by choosing words and phrases from this article your players are familiar with. Also, make sure your players have room to move around. Have fun and remember to take videos of some of your best charade moments.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.