The game of charades is one of the classics of parties, celebrations, and even education.
But the standard rules are just a starting point. With a few twists, this game can be changed into so many different versions. There are versions for all age groups, from 3 to 103. Also, there are versions for all sorts of different occasions.
Mixing up the rules keeps this game exciting and fresh.
In this article, I’m going to describe 9 fantastic versions of charades for children, and then 9 for older children upwards (and adults).
So 18 Games Like Charades in total!
The games I’ll show you are these:
- Animal Charades
- Guess The Emotion
- Guess The Character
- Charades Pairs
- Physical Charades
- Theme Charades
- Team Charades
- Copy Cats
- Do As I Say, Not What I Do
- Charades (Classic)
- Speed Charades
- Everyone Does A Silent Guess
- Charades In A Line
- Small Group
- Pictionary Speed
- Sticky Note Guess
- Head Bands
There is something for everyone, and this is a lifetime’s supply of fun and exciting games for all occasions.
Let’s dive in…
Kids Versions Of Charades
The classic game of charades is a bit too tricky for young children. Probably up to at least the age of 10, it is pretty essential to simplify the rules, so that all children can have fun and access the game.
Research shows that there are lots of benefits that children experience socially and mentally in playing games like charades. (Source)
The following children’s games like charades are all much easier, and some are accessible even for children from about 3 upwards.
1. Animal Charades
This is a great introduction to charades, and probably the absolute easiest on this list.
Basically a group of children will be sitting down, and one child will be at the front.
The child at the front is going to do an impression of an animal. You could do the silent version (which is quite a bit trickier), but I always let them make noises as well.
So, for example, a child might go ‘cluck, cluck, cluck’ and flap their wings! The other children have to guess that they are being a chicken.
Good simple animals include some of these:
- An elephant (with a trunk and big ears etc)
- A lion
- A monkey
- A snake
Of course, they can come up with whatever they think – and let them be creative.
If they get really good at this game, you can always transition over into the harder silent version.
2. Guess The Emotion
This is another super easy version of charades for introducing children to the game.
The child at the front this time is going to basically act out an emotion. The classic emotions to pick from include:
So, if they are going for angry, they might scowl, hunch their shoulders, stamp about, and generally look a bit angry.
The other children try to say what emotion they are acting.
This game has multiple benefits, including:
- Children start to see emotions in others
- They give labels to emotions
- They learn about facial expressions
- They learn about body language
You can find out a whole host of other exciting emotion games for young children here.
3. Guess The Character
This is another great game for children aged 3 upwards.
The simplest version is to pick one book or a film that all the children know really well.
The child that is ‘on’ this time is going to pick a character out of the book or film, and pretend to be that character. The others guess who they are.
So, as an example, you might choose the book ‘The Three Little Pigs.’
One child chooses to be the Big Bad Wolf. They stamp around, growl, and maybe pretend to blow the pigs house down.
This introduces the concept of miming physical actions, which will be useful later if the children ever have a go of ‘real’ charades.
4. Charades – Physical Activities
This is another good and simple charades game, that can be done by children probably from about the age of four upwards.
Quite simply, all you do in this one is that one child is at the front, and they mime some kind of physical activity. The other children try to guess what they’re doing.
Some good examples might be:
- Brushing their teeth
- Eating something
- Throwing a ball
- Kicking a ball
It’s as simple as that.
5. Charades Pairs
This is particularly good for larger groups of children.
Split the children into pairs. In their pairs they play one of the simple charades games that I have already described.
So, if they were going to play the animal charades game in pairs, then one does the mime while the other guesses. Have a go and then swap places.
This is one of the ultimate 16 partners games for children that you can find here.
6. Charades – Pick A Theme
This is another quite simple version of charades.
You pick a theme in this, and the person who is ‘it’ is going to pretend to be something from the theme.
For example, the theme might be vehicles, and the person who is ‘it’ could maybe pretend to be riding a bike, or a scooter, or a plane, or driving a car.
Some great topics to choose from include some of these:
7. Team Charades
This is introducing another element of the classic rules of charades into a simple game.
Split however many children you have into two teams.
Then pick one of the simple versions of charades to play – animals, physical, characters, or whichever else you prefer.
One team goes first, and the other team watches (but tries to stay silent). The staying silent part is the tricky bit for many of them.
One child in the team that goes first is ‘it’, and they do a charade for the others to try and guess. If they guess it right they win one point.
Then the other team goes.
Agree the rules in such a way so that everyone that is playing is able to be ‘it’. So if you have six players per team, then play six rounds of the game.
8. Copy Cats
This is more of an active game, that uses many of the same mime skills as charades, whilst being a bit different from it.
In ‘Copy Cats’, one child is ‘it’ and the other children are going to copy them.
This is an active game, so best done in a space where children can safely move around.
Pick a theme, such as animals or vehicles (these are two very simple ones to start with).
If we imagine that the theme is animals, the child that is ‘it’ is going to pick an animal in their head, and start to move about the space like that animal. The other children are going to try to copy.
So, if the animal was an elephant, the child might have an arm as a long trunk, and pretend big ears, and be stamping round the room. The others follow.
After about a minute, the child can change into a different animal, and the other copy.
Do a couple of animals, then another child gets to be ‘it’.
This game is one of my favorite 17 follow the leader games.
9. Do As I Say, Not What I Do
This is another fun game that develops mime skills. It is also great for listening.
One child is ‘it’, and stands at the front. The others are on their feet, and this is an active game where they will move around.
The person at the front will say how the children should move, but they will do a different action, trying to ‘trick’ the others.
So, for example, they might say ‘pat your head’, but pat their own knees.
The children will all try to pat their heads (not their knees).
Keep going like this, with the child that is ‘it’ trying to trick the others.
For Older Children Or Adults
These games are probably all doable by children from about ten upwards, and all perfect for adults to play.
Mixtures of children and adults could have a go of all of them too.
10. Charades Classic
Just so you definitely know, here is the classic version of charades explained simply.
Have two teams, one of which will go first. One person will be ‘it’.
Some kind of cards are usually used in this game that suggest well-known films, TV shows, books or plays.
If you don’t have any cards, the opposing teams can write each other a set of cards before you start with some ideas for books, films etc.
One team goes first.
The person that is ‘it’ selects a card out of basket (or similar) where they are all face down. They try to mime that idea so their team can guess. Some classic mimes include:
- First, letting their team know the category of the title – e.g. book, film etc
- Mime how many words are in the title
- Let them know which word you are miming, and how many syllables are in that word
- Use imaginative mimes to help them work out the words!
It is normally done on a points systems. Get it right and you win a point – then the other team goes.
The following games are all variations or games a bit like this classic charades game.
11. Speed Charades
Have some kind of egg timer, or electronic timer for this version of the game.
One person is ‘it’, and their team is going to have 2 minutes (or another agreed time) to answer as many charades as they can in that timeframe.
Count up how many they get right, and it’s one point for every correct answer.
Then the other team has a go.
Play until everyone has had a go of being ‘it’, and then the team that has the highest number of points are the winners.
12. Everyone Does A Silent Guess
This is a version of charades without any teams in it. Everyone is against everyone else individually.
Everyone needs some kind of notepad, or sticky notes and a pen or pencil.
Basically, one person is it, and they take a card out of the basket.
They mime what the idea is. The others do not guess out loud. Whenever the mime is finished, they simply write their idea on their notebook or sticky note.
Then the big reveal! Pens down, and the person that is ‘it’ says what the title was. If you were right you win one point, which is tallied up in some kind of way.
Then someone else has a go at being ‘it’.
At the end of the game, the person with the most points is the champion.
13. Charades In A Line
This is a really fun party game.
You will need some quite simple titles of films, books or TV shows for this game. Nothing too complex! Ideally they will be titles of one word.
Split everyone up into teams of about 5 people. Those five people stand in a line facing one direction. The person at the back picks one card out of the bag or basket.
They tap the person in front of them on the shoulder, and that person turns around.
The person at the back mimes what the title is to the other person.
Then that person turns round, taps the person in front of them on the shoulder, and they turn round. The person that has just received the mime then mimes it to the new person.
In this way the mime is passed all the way down the line to the final person.
The person at the end of the line has to guess what the title is.
Get it right and win a point, or no points for incorrect. Then all move down one in the line.
This could be done as a game of speed with two teams against each other.
Or you could all play in one long line. There will be lots of laughter!
14. Small Group
This is a version of charades where there are no teams. It is more of a fun free-style version of the game, that is similar to the games you play with children.
One person is ‘it’ and does a mime. Whoever correctly guesses what their idea is then becomes ‘it’ for the next go.
Keep going like this, alternating between whoever gets it right.
Take mercy on anyone that never gets any right! Try to give them a go when everyone else has had a go of being ‘it’.
Pictionary is a well-known visual version of charades.
You need some kind of cards, either from an official game, or some you make yourselves, with the same kinds of ideas on – books, films, TV shows etc.
Split into teams, and one person is ‘it’. It’s good if you have some kind of large drawing pad, or a big whiteboard to draw on.
The person who is ‘it’ is going to try to draw clues for what the title is. No writing is allowed!
The teams take turns, in much the same way as you do in charades.
16. Pictionary Speed
This is the same as Charades Speed, only that you draw the ideas instead of miming them.
Use either an egg timer or an electric stop-watch, and have an agreed time limit, for example, two minutes.
One team goes first, and tries to guess as many titles as they can in the time limit, all drawn by the person who is ‘it’.
Then the other team has a go.
17. Sticky Note Guess
This is another game that has many of the features of charades, whilst being a completely different game.
Probably about six people is the maximum for this game, and you can play with three as a minimum.
Sit in a circle, and everyone has one sticky note.
You are going to write on the note the name of something. It could be:
- Famous people
- An animal, food, or object
- Or some other agreed theme
Try to give everyone a fighting chance, and only select people or things that everyone will probably have heard of.
Without seeing what everyone else has written, everyone takes one sticky note that has been written by someone else and sticks it on their forehead. Everyone can see who or what they are, apart from the person wearing the note.
Then, one at a time, go around the circle asking questions, trying to find out what person or object you are.
The winner is the first person to work out their identity.
18. Sticky Note Speed Challenge
In this just one person puts a sticky note on their head.
Have some kind of egg timer or electric stopwatch.
They have an agreed time limit, for example two minutes, to find out their identity, by asking whatever questions they can think of
Good luck if you try out any of these charades games!
Charades is wonderful concept that can be adapted so simply for both young and old. If you’ve found this article useful, then why not take a look at 15 Hide And Seek Variations – Twists On The Classic Game.