Family game night. These three words incite excitement or fear in the eyes of our children. Some kids love to have a game night with their families. Others would do anything in their power to avoid the embarrassment that is playing a game with their parents.
Parents are, in case you didn’t know it already, the most embarrassing, worst, most uncool people on the planet – and our kids will one day be just as uncool and amazing as we are now. They do not know this yet. Do not tell them. It’s more fun when they realize it on their own. Revenge is best served cold, and all.
Charades is probably the most fun family game night to play since everyone in the family can play together. It doesn’t matter if your kids are 3 and 17, everyone can play a game of charades. It’s a simple game, but it’s also a fun and competitive game. We’ve made it easy for you to figure out what to get your teammates to act out based on their ages – you’re welcome for doing all the hard work.
How Do You Play Charades?
Charades is an easy game, and the instructions are just as simple as you expect. Divide your family up into two teams (you can do more than two teams as long as there are equal numbers of people on each team).
Write down different ideas for the game on pieces of paper, and put the papers (folded) into a bowl. Each team will draw a paper from the bowl when it is their turn, and the actor from each team will work to act out the charade on the paper.
Each team’s actor then acts out the idea on the paper without using words. However, they can – at the beginning – use their fingers to indicate how many words they want their team to guess. For example, if the actor is acting out a scene from the movie “Mean Girls,” they’d hold up two fingers, and they can use their hands to gesture that they want their team to guess movie titles.
As the actor (every person the team gets to have a turn being the actor in the game) acts out the charade, their team has to guess what they are doing. You’ll need a timer to set a pre-determined amount of time. Once the time is up, the team cannot guess any longer. They either guessed the charade and earned the point, or they did not – no point earned.
This goes on and on until the game is over. If a team guesses their actor’s game, they get a point.
A Quick Tip
If you are playing with kids of different ages, it might be wise to use a few bowls for ideas. For example, your 5-year-old is not going to act out Mean Girls for their team. But acting out a snake is going to be entirely too easy for mom. So, separate the ideas into age-appropriate bowls so everyone has a fair chance to do successfully act out their charade.
Charades Ideas for Little Kids
- Cats: Even the smallest kids can act out a cat walking around meowing or grooming itself.
- Dogs: Dogs are easy for kids because they’re familiar with them, and they do so many activities a child can mimic in this game.
- Chickens: Chickens are the hottest new family ‘pet’ these days thanks to the ever-rising cost of eggs, and your little ones will make this adorable.
- Snakes: Slithering, sticking out their tongues…there are plenty of options for your child with this one.
Each of these is simple and easy, and all little kids have a chance to act each out successfully. You are not required to use these animals, of course. You can choose your own animals, but these tend to be the easiest charades for small kids since they are easy to act out. A small child is not, for example, going to find a lot of success in acting out a movie, even if it’s a movie they love. Keep it simple for the little kids.
Charades Ideas for Elementary Kids
1. A Pencil Writing: It’s more complex that an animal, but not so difficult that the kids can’t handle it at this age.
2. A Camera Taking A Photo: This one might work for smaller kids, too. They can mimic a real camera or a cell phone camera, and it will be easy for other young teammates to guess.
3. A Toothbrush: They can do this easily, so you might add a bit more complexity to it. Perhaps someone brushing their teeth and flossing for good oral health is a little bit more involved.
4. A Brush in the Hair: Depending on your kids, you might change this one up a bit to a fork being used in someone’s hair like Ariel uses in The Little Mermaid. It’s cute.
Kids in upper elementary school grades are going to be a little better with this. They can act out simple things like a toothbrush brushing their teeth or a pencil writing. They have a little more knowledge in terms of what they are doing and how to do it successfully, so this won’t be difficult. Of course, you know your kids. Choose ideas that they can act out without issues, but also choose ideas that are within their range of knowledge.
Charades Ideas for Tweens
- Volleyball: It’s a sport everyone recognizes, so try to make it a little more complex by adding to it. Olympic volleyball tournament, or sand volleyball tournament is a little more involved for guessers.
- Surprise Party: Tweens can be the guests or the person being surprised. It’ll be funny.
- Chopping a Tree: Not just any tree. A Christmas tree. A perfect, beautiful Christmas tree.
- Building a Sandcastle: Everyone loves a beach day and a sandcastle day, so let’s get on this one.
Tweens are easy because they are finally old enough to figure out what to do in most cases, but they are perhaps a little young to have watched certain movies or know about certain things. This is where the game becomes a little bit more fun in that you get to choose things for them to do that are a little more mature. Sports are typically easy for this age group. So are different activities like acting surprised at a party, etc. Again, you know your tween, so you know what they might be capable of acting out.
Charades Ideas for Middle School Teens
1. The Hunger Games: There are many scenes from this the kids can act out, so you make it as detailed as you want.
2. Twilight: Again, this is a movie in which kids can choose the most detailed scenes.
3. Harry Potter: When making your cards for the game, perhaps you add something like Harry Potter living under the staircase or Harry levitating Dudley or something.
4. The Avengers: Another huge hit with a lot of items you can choose from.
Middle school teens are not the same as high school teens. Trust me on this one. They are older than your smaller kids, but they still don’t quite understand all the adult things your high school teen might understand. For that reason alone, we love the idea of incorporating things from the smaller ages into this group, but we really love movies. Kids this age love to watch television, and they know what to do when they see a television movie name on their charades card.
This is also the age when we suggest adding a bit more to the title. For example, don’t just leave the title of a movie on the card, make it a more specific definition. For example, instead of just writing Harry Potter on the card, write “Harry Potter using his Patronus Charm to get rid of a dementor. It’s a lot more detailed, so that makes it more difficult for kids in this age range. It’s also a lot more fun than just picking a scene to act out.
Charades Ideas for High School Teens
1. Driving a Car: But make it difficult. Driving a car with kids crying in the backseat. Driving a car in a traffic jam.
2. Will Smith: No matter what you do, the kids are going to want to make this one the moment that Will Smith smacks Chris Rock at the Oscars, so try to pick something else before they get a handle on this one.
3. Adam Sandler: Of all the Adam Sandler movies in the world, he’s always the same. But you can make it funny like “Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore,” or “Adam Sandler in Water Boy,” and it will surely have everyone laughing hysterically.
4. Mean Girls: There are so many scenes to choose from in this one, so why not choose one that speaks to you?
These kids are old enough to know a lot more about pop culture, life, and everything in between, so you can have a little more fun with this one. You can have them act out someone asking someone else to marry them, or the woman being asked to marry a man. It can be so much fun to play with older teens, but we do suggest that you add a bit of detail to each charade to make it even more difficult. For example, instead of just acting out Will Smith, make them act out Will Smith in Fresh Prince or when he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars. Or how about when he kicked the alien in Independence Day? Those are all good ideas, and teens can do that.
Tips for Playing Games With Kids
There are many things to consider pertaining playing games with kids – of all ages. One thing that stands out is the way we play. It’s important to explain the rules from the start, but also to set standards for play time. Kids should know immediately that poor sportsmanship is not tolerated. It helps them learn a healthy sense of both winning and losing. Since failure is a common practice in life – and the best way to learn how to succeed – it’s important kids learn early how they can play well, lose well, and win with class.
Another great tip for playing with small kids is to cheat. You can do it. They’ll never know. Let them play to their strengths. Cheat to make things easier for them when it’s their turn to guess. Don’t throw out answers even when you know them so that other kids have a chance to participate. The ages of the kids playing really determines this one, but cheating so that little kids get to have fun playing a game with the family is not a big deal.
Remember Reading Ability
Another great tip for playing games like charades with young children is reading ability. Some smaller kids might not be able to read, and that will play into the fact that this game might be more difficult for them. Of course, there are ways around this. You can use pictures instead of words for the kids and their cards. You can also have someone from the other team help your little ones read the cards so they have a fair shot. Or you can designate someone to be the reader of the cards for the kids. There are so many things you can do that will work for you and your situation, but do remember to keep in mind what the kids can do when you begin playing.