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A game of charades for kids: fun and easy way to learn English

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A game of charades is certainly a lot of fun, but if you can combine it with learning English it’s even better. How to do that? Well, a little preparation is everything you need. The first thing is to make sure your students choose the words or phrases they need to learn. From there on, it’s as easy as a pie.

How to play charades

We all know the concept and the rules, don’t we? 

  • A charade is a game for at least two teams. The teams take turns to pick one of their members to stand up and act out a word or a phrase which is provided by the opposing team. Otherwise, it is taken from a previously prepared card that may be drawn or picked from a stack of cards. 
  • The word or the phrase has to be acted out or pantomimed, but it may also be drawn on a board in one of the variants. Either way, the actor cannot speak to his team as they are supposed to guess the word just by watching them act out. 
  • Obviously, the actor is not supposed to do anything else than acting that may allow their team to guess the word. Pointing to any object in the room or close by is forbidden. They also cannot move their lips to suggest anything. The only thing that is allowed is acting (or drawing).
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Player limitations

With two (or more) teams participating, each of them picks a player for the round. Each player is dealt a card or provided a word, and also gets a time limit. 2 to 3 minutes should be enough, however, the players may agree on another period of time. Each player from each team should be picked to act before the first one repeats the act. Another thing that may be agreed are standard gestures to indicate what type of the word is to be guessed. 

For example, to indicate a book, press hands together in front of you and then open them as if opening a book. 

For movies, hold your left hand up to your eye as if looking through a spyglass and with your right hand; make motions as if you are cranking an old film crank wheel. 

For songs, you may sing to an imaginary microphone.

Charades ideas

If you want the kids to play the way they will learn English, you must make sure they are given some good examples. Obvious choices would be any books, songs or movies you know the children are fond of. However, the original names of characters or places are not the best choices as they would be often hard to act out, and they won’t do much for the kids enhancing their vocabulary. You might want to pick such phrases that will make a good lesson for the students. 

For a good example of a movie title, “Finding Nemo” is not the best option, but “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” might be good. The other examples include “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Iron Giant’, “How to Train Your Dragon”, “Home Alone”, “The Princess and the Frog” or “Inside Out”. 

There are also plenty of English idioms, which are very useful and may be guessed in a game of charades. For this, you might want to choose something like “to spill the beans”, “to pull someone’s leg”, “to sit on the fence”, “come rain or shine”, “to miss the boat”, “to ring a bell”, “to blow off steam”, “to cut to the chase”, “to make ends meet” or “to hold one’s chin up”. 

You can intervene at the right moment to explain the meaning to any younger kids who are not yet familiar with such phrases.

Getting the best out of it

Picking the right ideas might help the kids to get their lesson, however, be wary not to be involved that much so it spoils the fun. Be discreet and only give a talk if something is hard to understand or the students find it impossible to get the meaning of the word or the phrase. Help them by explaining anything they need, but let them explore different ideas and options even if they sometimes wish to bend or break the rules. If they keep to English and look for something new they may learn, things are going great. Otherwise, have your say and remind them to keep to the game or join them for a moment to help get through some harder moments. If you let them play their way, they will be more keen on playing a charade next time you propose it. 

Listen to them and try to give a nudge in the right direction without imposing yourself too much.

Let us know your favorite game to learn English in the comment below!

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