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When I taught English in another country, I worked hard to connect with my students and expand their vocabulary. When I got tired of chalkboard hangman, I would use charades. It was always a crowd pleaser that all students participated in. It was an easy way to test vocabulary.
Playing charades has several benefits. It's a great way to increase the quality of your relationships and overall happiness. It can also be done almost anywhere using words in a hat. Even play with other people online via Zoom or Google Meet.
Game night is another fun habit that you should consider starting if you don't already. Charades can be played at almost any gathering. Plus, it's easy to set up and doesn't take much prep work. It is also good fun for all age levels.
If all these benefits sound interesting, then here are 215 fun charades ideas that can liven up a game night with the kids or with other adults.
But first, let’s answer a simple question.
What is Charades?
The rules of the game are simple. One person picks a word from a hat. This person acts out the word as best as they can while the other players try to guess what it is. If a team guesses, they get a point. You play until you win!
It's great for passing time since it doesn't take much to set up and needs no equipment. All you need is people, paper and pens. I utilized my classroom whiteboard in different countries.
The first player to earn 5 points wins the game. In addition to being fun, playing charades has several benefits, including increasing your overall happiness and quality of relationships.
Why are Charades Game Nights Great?
Game night is a great way to bond with your family and friends. It's also inexpensive, since most games are quite affordable or free to play.
As an added bonus, it can help you learn new things about people who you may not know as well as others. It's a great way to have fun inside during the cold winter months.
It's not only entertaining but educational as well. For example, you can try playing charades with your friends or children to practice French words or animals of the jungle.
It can increase your overall happiness and helps you spend quality time with your loved ones. If you are on a budget or strapped for time, charades is a great option since it doesn't take much to set up.
Charades can be played almost anywhere, including a campfire, inside or outdoors. If you're hosting a party with friends, this is a great activity to add to your list. Pass the time with a travel buddy during a long airport layover.
It's especially good for children. You can even play it online if you have a smart speaker or use Google Meet or Zoom. Kids will love the interaction and adaptive learning aspects of this fun game. As I previously mentioned, this was a great ESL game in the classroom.
Now let’s dive into the specific charades ideas…
Charade Ideas for Kids
When you first begin playing this game with children, make sure they understand the idea of using pantomime. You can include words or phrases they are familiar with to make the game more enjoyable.
Below are some ideas for charade games to play with kids. Just pick any word from a hat and have fun!
Try to focus on animals the kids are familiar with. You want to make it easy for them to act out.
Best Animals for Charades and Gesture Tips
- Chicken – the child can pretend to lay an egg or walk like a rooster.
- Dinosaur – the child can pretend to roar or move like they are running. If you want, you can take it one step further and ask them to act out an extinct beast/species that used to roam this earth. This is sure to elicit lots of fun, giggles and many guesses! 🙂
- Elephant – act out trunks by pretending you are twirling them around.
- Mouse – the child can pretend to move quickly and/or hide under things.
- Tiger – act like your mama's pussycat or stretch your arms up high, open wide and meow loudly!
- Cat – the child make the motion that suggests whiskers.
- Dog – have them pant or get on all fours.
- Horse – have them gallop or neigh.
- Bear – act out it walking on all fours or standing up.
- Snake – use arm motion to slither.
- Fish – pretend to swim in the water.
- Rabbit – hop like a bunny or use your arm as if you are carrying carrots.
- Turtle – walk slowly like a turtle.
- Donkey – pretend to bray or carry a big load on your back.
- Bird – use your arms as if they are wings.
- Cow – pretend you are milking it.
- Pig- use finger to press nose like pig nose.
- Monkey – use your hands while climbing.
- Frog – pretend to jump like a frog.
- Kangaroo – hop around or carry your child like a boomerang.
- T-Rex – pretend to roar with your hands by your mouth.
Comics are a great way to get kids involved in charades since they can recreate the action seen in the funny papers without speaking. This is good for younger children who may not be ready to act out their words just yet. Ideal comic characters they may know include Archie, Batman, Superman and other popular characters.
- Batman – act like you are flying or doing karate.
- Iron Man – make flying motion with your arms.
- Superman – pretend to fly, use X-Ray vision, super breathe, or do his iconic pose.
- Spiderman – pretend to shoot your web out.
- Wolverine – claw with your hand or do his iconic pose.
- Monopoly – act out playing the game by passing “Go” or throwing dice.
- Clue – act out solving a murder mystery by pretending to examine rooms, find clues or talk to other players.
- Scrabble – if they know how to play this game, have them act out words they can make with the tiles. If not, they can fake like they're trying to spell something and wait for clues from teammates.
- Life – have them act out different stages in life, such as going to school, working, having a family and retiring.
- Candy Land – use a piece of candy to and pretend you are moving it around on a board.
- Chutes and Ladders – have them act out climbing up a ladder or sliding down
- Sorry! – have them act out the different pieces in the board game, such as a man apologizing or moving around.
- Risk – move pieces around on a board or act out attacking others.
- Jenga – have them pretend to move the pieces around while keeping the tower balanced.
- Operation – act out different body parts and medical conditions (ie., by pressing your nose and saying, “Ahhhhh”)
- Connect 4 – have them pretend to move all four checkers into the columns.
- Battleship – use a marker to “sink” the other team's ships.
- Poker – have a bunch of cards in your hand and move them around while acting out different scenarios.
- Operation Junior – have them act out medical procedures using the tweezers to remove plastic pieces.
Famous Video Games
- PacMan – pretend to eat things.
- Angry Birds – act out how they launch the birds to destroy structures.
- Super Mario – pretend to jump on turtles, swim or fly.
- Zelda – pretend to use the sword or make different sounds.
- Halo – act out using a sword.
- Minecraft – act out different scenarios in the game.
- Sonic The Hedgehog – pretend to run really fast or use the spin attack.
- Pokemon – have them pretend to battle with Pokemon.
- Legos – act like they are creating something with Legos.
- Minecraft – act out they are building something using blocks.
- Wii Sports – act out different sports like tennis or bowling.
- Wii Fit – pretend you are doing yoga, pushups and other things on Wii Fit.
As you know, kids can show a range of emotions in a short amount of time. Why not use it for charades?
- Yawn – sleepy
- Scream ( silently)
- Stamp your feet – annoyance
- Stretch/flex your muscles
- Hi Five
- Eyebrow raised with open mouth – shock
Morning routine actions
- Washing face – motion like you're washing your face with soap
- Brushing teeth
- Brushing hair
- Waking up- yawn and stretch or motion like you're stretching and getting out of bed.
- Dressing – act like you are putting on different items of clothing, such as shoes or hats.
- Breakfast routine – act out eating breakfast and using different appliances such as a toaster, coffee maker or microwave.
- Making the bed
- Taking a shower
- Cough – silently making a cough motion while holding fist near mouth
- Fever- put hand near forehead, act hot, lie down on floor,etc
- Stomachache – make a fist and put hand near your stomach.
- Soar throat- pretend to swallow and then “hock” a loogie.
- Headache – make a fist and rub between eyebrows while wincing.
- Cough – silent make cough motion while holding fist near mouth
- Nauseous- pretend to look green and lie down.
- Vomit – act like you are vomiting, stick finger down throat and put hand near mouth.
- Nose bleed – put your pointer finger under your nose and tilt head back.
- Broken leg – pretend to crutch around on one foot.
- Hot – put your hands near your face and act like you are fanning yourself off
- Common food items will be familiar to most children, so this shouldn't be too difficult.
- Milk shake- pretend to drink a milkshake with straw
- Cookie- act like you are taking bites out of it.
- Apple- pretend to pick and take a bite out of it
- Hamburger- pretend you are holding a burger and bite.
- Hotdog- pretend to be holding a hotdog and bite into it
- Watermelon slice- pretend you holding a big slice and spitting out seeds.
- Pizza- pretend you are cutting a whole pizza and grab a slice
- Ice cream cone – hold up a cone and pretend you are licking it.
- Cake- pretend to cut a slice of cake and eat it
- Lollipop- pretend to lick and suck on lollipop
- Soup – pretend to hold a bowl and slurp from a spoon
- French fries – pretend you are grabbing some french fries from container
Kids should be familiar with simple instruments such as:
- Drums – use hands as if playing drums
- Piano- pretend to play a little bit of a song on it
- Guitar- pretend you are strumming it like a real guitar
- Violin- pretend to bow the violin
Charade Ideas for Adults
Now that we are dealing with charades for adults, we can get into more complex topics and ideas.
- Accountant- act like you are doing addition or subtraction
- Astronaut- act like you are literally launching into space or pretending to pilot a spaceship.
- Actor – act like you are acting out scenes from TV show or movie.
- Air traffic controller – hold your hands in front of you as if gesturing to land a plane.
- Doctor- act like you are giving a diagnosis.
- Lawyer- pantomime like you are arguing a case
- Nurse- act like you are giving shots to imaginary patients, or taking their pulse.
- Dentist- act like you are drilling teeth
- Mechanic- pretend to tighten or loosen screws on an imaginary vehicle.
- Cook- chop with fingers as if using imaginary utensils.
- Cop- pretend to pull over a driver using your hands
- Chef- pretend to use a whisk as if cooking a meal with it, or make a chopping motion with your hands.
- Engineer- pretend to be fixing various things using pliers
- Hotel worker- act like you are turning a key into an imaginary door lock, or putting keys away.
- Farmer- pretend to milk a cow, or use a rake in the field
- Flight attendant- pretend to serve imaginary people drinks and snacks
- Lumberjack- pretend using an axe as if chopping firewood
- Mail carrier- get some envelopes/magazines in room and pretend to deliver them.
- Miner- pretend to dig in the ground with a pick axe
- Oil rig worker- act like you are drilling for oil
- Fireman- pretend to put out imaginary flames with a hose
- Teacher- act like you are writing things on the chalkboard or pretend to give a test.
- Comedy- act like you are making funny faces, or tickling someone.
- Crime – act like you are running and shooting
- Family- act like you are playing with kids, kissing spouse
- Horror- act like you are screaming and scared
- Western- act like you are riding a horse, or shooting with a pistol
- Sci-Fi- act like you are operating some kind of imaginary device.
- Romance- pretend to kiss someone romantically, or be in a relationship with someone.
General Entertainment topics
- Pick a TV show and act out the title
- Sports- act like you are playing the sport
- Movies- act out a popular/famous scene from a movie
- Broadway- tap a beat or make a musical note.
- Video Games- pretend to be using a controller for a popular video game
- Internet- act like you are typing on a keyboard or shaking your head yes or no.
Some famous books that are perfect for charades includes:
- Moby Dick
- Charlotte's Web
- Harry Potter series
- The Hobbit
- Because of Winn Dixie
- The Great Gatsby
- The Catcher in the Rye
- Of Mice and Men
- A Wrinkle in Time
- Where the Red Fern Grows
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- The Little Prince
- The Call of the Wild
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- A Christmas Carol
- Alice's Adventure in Wonderland
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Through the Looking Glass
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Flowers for Algernon
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
- Peter Pan
- Star Wars
- Ender's Game
- The Great Escape
- A Tale of Two Cities
- The Lord of the Rings
Pick a song and act out the title or a line. Try out these:
- “I will always love you” – point at yourself, make a heart sign, point a someone, etc.
- “Beat it” – find something and it it very hard.
- “Purple rain” – point at something purple, make rain gestures with fingers.
- “Say you, say me”
- “Push it”
- “Macarana” – try using the dance that goes with this song
- “Hound dog”
- “I want it that way”
- “What is love”
- “Bad Romance”
- “La La Land”
- “We are never ever getting back together”
- “Girls just want to have fun”
- “I'm 2 sexy”
- “Bad Boys”
Have Even More Fun Impersonating Musicians Using their Signature Moves
- MC Hammer's dance
- Micheal Jackson- the moonwalk
- Tina Turner's “Proud Mary” spin moves
- Chuck Berry's “duck walk”
- Shakira's hip shakers and arm movements
- Beyonce's dance popularized by her song “Single Ladies”
- Janet Jackson – rhythm nation video moves
- James Brown – try the foot work and splits if you can handle it
Things People Do on Vacation
- Going to the beach
- Going to a theme park – pretend you are on a rollercoaster
- Visiting a museum
- Going to a water park
- Learning how to ski
- Visiting a foreign country
- Visiting a zoo
- Going to the movies
Places To Visit
- Countries – think of something famous in the country and act it out
- Cities – think of some famous landmarks of a city.
- States – think of something from a state.
- The North Pole – act like you are cold, point up ( for north, etc.)
- The South Pole – act like you are cold, point down ( for south , etc.)
- The Moon – make a gesture as if you were landing on the moon
- Disneyland- pretend to go on a ride with your favorite character. Act like a mouse ( in reference to Mickey Mouse).
- Big Ben – show that something is big and make clock motion with hands or point at watch.
- The Statue of Liberty – hold an imaginary torch in her signature pose.
Of course, the ideas for charades are endless!
Final Thoughts on These Charades Ideas
Charades is a great activity for all ages. Try to make game night a regular event at least once a week – or more! I hope these charades ideas for kids & adults provide you with hours of endless enjoyment and entertainment.
Finally, if you are looking for more helpful group activities to help you connect with others, then check out 9 Mindfulness Group Activities for Adults.
Finally, if you want to increase your happiness and life satisfaction, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's important.