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Guide to Playing Charades: Instructions, Gestures, and Fun for Children

“It’s a plane? Is it a bird? It’s Superman!” — If you are playing a game of charades, statements like this will often fly fast and thick around you. This popular party game has been around for ages, and if you are looking for a way to make an upcoming children’s gathering more fun and exciting or searching for a screen-free way to spend the holidays, it makes for an apt choice. To know what the charades game and how you can tweak it to make it fun for your children and their friends, continue reading below.

What is a Charades Game?

It is a delightful game that combines play acting with critical thinking skills of guessing and detecting, which is fun for all ages. Played in teams, in this game, a person enacts a prompt with gestures and pantomime and their teammates have to guess it within a given time limit.

Whether you are planning a sweet 16 birthday or a toddler celebration at the preschool, you can include the game of charades in your entertainment list and rest assured to have endless hours of fun. Part of it is because it combines elements such as creativity, playacting & imagination and also how it helps teams bond, making it easier for children to connect in groups.

Playing Charades: The Essentials

Starting with the basics. This game doesn’t require you to arrange a lot of materials beforehand. All you need is to ensure that you have these:

  • A few slips of paper
  • A pen or a marker
  • A bowl or a container
  • A coin

How to Play Charades: Understanding The Instructions

  1. Divide the group of children into two teams with even numbers of members. If it’s not possible, you can assign an extra team member to one team and compensate the other team by giving them 10 extra seconds for guessing.
  2. Have each of the members of the teams write a word or a phrase on the paper slips. Generally, the words or phrases should belong to any of the following categories:
    1. Book titles
    2. Movie titles
    3. Song titles
    4. TV shows
    5. Famous plays
    6. Famous phrases (short ones)

    You can tweak these categories to make them more fun and convenient for the children. In the case of younger children, you can add categories like animals, birds, and household objects. Depending on what is the general age group of the players, you can add or subtract categories as you see fit.

    1. Place all the slips in the container. If you don’t have a container, you can also use things like a cap, plastic bag or a tray.
    2. Shuffle them to ensure that all the paper slips look the same and can’t be identified by team members.
    3. Now, take a coin to do the coin toss. Ask teams to pick a side for the same. Whoever wins the toss, gets to act first.
    4. From the winning team, select or invite a member to take a slip out of the bowl/container and enact the phrase written on it for their teammates.
    5. Set a timer on your phone and let the team know they have one minute to act and guess. You can also play without setting time limits, especially if the children playing are younger. In this case, encourage the children to keep acting till their teammates can guess the prompt correctly.
    6. If the team can guess the prompt correctly within the time limit, they will be awarded a point. If not, a team member from the other team is invited to act it out for their teammates and if they guess it correctly they will be given one point.
    7. Both teams will keep taking turns till all the prompts have been acted out, ensuring that all team members have gotten a chance to act at least once. In the end, calculate the scores to declare a winner.

    To ensure that everyone understands the objective of the game and its instructions, you can begin the game by explaining how to play charades.

    What are the Rules of Charades?

    What is a game without some rules? Before beginning the game, share these guidelines with the participants to ensure that the game is a success with your young ones and a party favourite!

    • One of the foremost rules to make this game a success is no talking. Tell the children that they are not allowed to whisper or discuss their guesses with each other. Especially if it’s the other team’s turn to guess.
    • Also, let the player enacting the prompt know that they cannot make any sound. They are only allowed to mime the gestures.
    • If you are setting time limits, set penalties for going over it. Such as deducting half a point.
    • Encourage the children to use as many gestures as they can to get their point across. They may use different gestures to convey the point. E.g., if the prompt is “Umbrella” – they can hold their hands up to show cover or enact how to open an umbrella.
    • Guide them to use prompts creatively to help them guess faster. E.g. If the prompt is the title of a book, let them hold their hands to gesture at the book or reading before they begin gesturing the title. Or if it’s a phrase with two words, let them gesture with their fingers to communicate that.

    You can also write these rules on a placard with the title “What are the rules of charades” and display them in the area where the teams are sitting down to play.

    Common Gestures to Remember:

    Here are a few common gestures that you can teach the kids to get them started with the game.

    1. For categories:
      • Gesture books with joined open palms
      • For songs, one can pantomime singing
      • For movies, you can pantomime an old camera or hold your fingers creating a frame
    2. For the correct answer:
    3. If someone has gotten the answer, the teammate may touch their nose to signal that it’s correct. They can also use this gesture to let their teammates know that they are going in the right direction.

    4. For wrong answer:
    5. If the options that they are saying are wrong, hold your hands across each other to form a cross. They can also use this gesture to let their teammates know that they are going in the wrong direction.

    6. To show similar-sounding words:
    7. If the word you want the teammates to guess rhymes with the word you are pantomiming, you can cup your hands to your ears. For example, if the word is “hose”, cup your ears and then point to your nose.

    You can use the game of charades as an opportunity to connect with your children while also helping them develop their skills outside the walls of the traditional classroom. If you are wondering how to make charades more fun or how to play charades with a large group, you can try creating a theme for the game. For playing it in large groups, it’s better to create multiple small teams to ensure that everyone is connecting and working together in the group.

    From learning teamwork to expressing themselves creatively, the game of charades offers plenty of learning opportunities layered with fun. It is also a welcome break from the digital screens that seem to have captured the imagination of the children. To know more about using games for developing skills in children or discover new ways to engage children without using screens, visit the EuroKids blog.

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