Charades is a popular game played by children and grown-ups.  In fact, it’s a great game to play with mixed ages!  It’s active, fun, and allows for a bit of silliness from everyone playing.  You can even choose themes for it that might fit with what you’re doing as a family.  For example, if you are having dinner and a movie maybe you want to play a couple of rounds of Charades in the middle of the movie, as an intermission activity, and have the theme be movies.

Or you could choose famous players from your childrens’ favorite sports.  Or activities.  Anything like that will make it way more fun for kids to play, and will give you a chance to connect with them on their level.

Even though many people have played Charades, you may not have ever seen the directions written out.  Here are the directions, and at the end there’s even a little bit of history about the game, so you can even teach your kids about what they’re playing!  J


Before the game, each team will write out the words on the card for the other team to act out. (The harder to guess the words are, the better.) They give these cards to the referee for safekeeping.

Sometimes, themes are written on the card which can be announced by the referee. So that children will have an easier time acting them out, only one word is used for guessing. Sometimes, the topics are limited to a few groups like animals, places, or famous celebrities. An indoor kid’s game should not be hard.

Some props

There are some things needed for the game: a stop watch (one with a visible minute hand), a pen and some paper, index cards to write words, sentences, phrases, names, and a referee to keep time and the score.

Game mechanics

The object of the game is for a team’s member-player to act out a word, an idea, a person’s name, boom, movie, etc. his team mates will then have to guess the answer in the shortest possible time. The “hidden” word or idea is given by the opposing team.

The team members pepper and shout out what they think is the word or sentence is. The actor nods or shakes his head, and repeats and repeats his actions.

He can change it any which way, all in the hope of making his teammates understand it. They can begin by asking if it is an object, a person, a place, etc.

This makes for a somewhat easier guessing. When a team member finally gets the word correctly, he points at him/her and present the index card the actual word.

The referee takes note of the time. He can also be the arbiter in cases of disputes. Scoring is to be agreed by the two teams, and whoever has the highest correct guesses wins.

Dos and don’ts

The opposing team is not allowed to do anything to derail the other team who is doing the guessing. The member who guesses the right word gets to do the next acting of the word.

The team who gets it within the time limit wins the point for that round. Win or lose, the other team will do the next round of acting and guessing. The scores will be tallied after the designated number of games.

History of Charades

The game of Charade is thought to have been invented in France, but more as a game of riddles. The clues are given in sentences instead of the modern “acting out” of the hidden word or object.

The acted charades later became popular in England. In the novel Vanity Fair, William Thackeray made mention of the game.

It was very popular in the 30s till World War II. There were a few TV shows in the 60s based on the game’s mechanics, and today it is still a classic party game.

Charades is often played as an after-dinner game by adults. But with a bit of coaching, kids are certainly good, if not better than adults, especially when it evolved into an action-oriented game.


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