Charades Ideas for Kids

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Charades is a no-cost game that kids of any age can play, no matter where they are.

As parents, we’re often on the lookout for kids’ activities that don’t require a lot of equipment or preparation. It’s a bonus if a game can be played repeatedly and be different each time. When it comes to easy, fun, low-cost activities that are suitable for all age groups, charades ideas for kids ranks on the top of the list.

The only requirement for charades is a pencil and paper, and you can adjust it to be suitable for any age.


What Are Charades?

Charades is a simple game where one person acts out a word or phrase for the other people to guess. With a larger group, you can have teams playing against each other. With a smaller group, or even just two people, you can have one person act and the other(s) guess.

The only preparation needed is for you to write some words or phrases, with one on each piece of paper. Fold up the pieces individually, and drop them into a container. The actor then picks a random word out of the container, reads it silently, and performs clues for the others to guess.

Charades is such a flexible and universally suitable game, it is used as part of a support and social program for kids with chronic illnesses, supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (1).

How to Play Charades With Kids

One of the fabulous things about charades for kids is that it is highly adjustable. You can tailor the game to better suit the group that’s playing it.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your charade-playing experience.

Adjust the Words to be Acted Out

You can give younger children simple one-syllable words to perform. As kids get older, we can give them harder words and simple phrases. Finally, you can move on to longer phrases and tough words for the oldest children.

Consider Reading Ability

If you have kids who can’t read yet or have limited reading abilities, you can either read the card to them, whispering in their ear, or draw pictures on the cards. If the word is tree, you can write the word out and draw a picture of a tree.

Adjust for Experiences

Once your kids get older and you begin using more complex words and phrases, consider whether the children playing will know what is being acted out. If you are using book titles or movies, think about how popular those titles are and whether the guessers will be likely to have heard of them.

Make Sure Everyone Understands the Rules

The biggest rule of charades is that actors can’t speak or make noises.

Provide Gestures

There are several basic, universal gestures in charades. These gestures give small clues to the guessers.

You need not use them for a game with younger children, but older kids will enjoy the game more if these gestures are introduced.

  • A book: Put your hands together and then open them like a book.
  • A movie: Pretend you are using an old-style movie camera.
  • How many words: Hold up the same number of fingers as you have words.
  • Which word: Hold up the number of fingers to show which word in the phrase you are gesturing.
  • Small word: Hold your forefinger and thumb close together.
  • Sounds like: Tug your ear.

Set a Time Limit

To prevent things from going on too long, you can set a time limit for each actor. You can say that once they begin, the actor has one minute. If the others have not guessed by that time, the actor has to reveal the word.

Keep Score, or Not

One of the fun things about charades for kids is you can play it as a collaborative game where the only goal is for everyone to guess the word. Or, you can give points to the person or team who guesses correctly before the time is up. Then, whoever gets the most points is the winner.

You Can Cheat

We’re not advocating letting the kids cheat. Instead, you can purchase a charades game that you can take anywhere and is suitable for most age groups. You won’t have to do any of the work coming up with charades ideas because the game will do it for you.

Activity Charades Ideas for Kids

Activity words or phrases work especially well for preschool children. Kids of this age can be literal and may struggle with the thought process required to act out an object or a place. However, they can act out an activity with which they are familiar.

If given the activity “brushing your teeth,” a preschooler can act this out from experience. However, given the word toothbrush, a preschooler might lie on the ground and try to act like a toothbrush. An older child will think to act out the process of brushing their teeth and when the guessers get that piece of the act, point to the toothbrush.

  1. Swimming
  2. Reading
  3. Having a shower
  4. Washing your hair
  5. Brushing your teeth
  6. Shaving
  7. Whisking eggs
  8. Eating
  9. Making the bed
  10. Smelling a flower
  11. Driving a car
  12. Blowing out birthday candles
  13. Skateboarding
  14. Vacuuming
  15. Chopping wood
  16. Playing the violin
  17. Painting a picture
  18. Ballet dancing
  19. Tap dancing
  20. Flipping pancakes
  21. Typing
  22. Digging a hole
  23. Climbing a tree
  24. Sunbathing
  25. Sleeping

Object Charades Ideas for Kids

As your children get older, you can move onto simple objects. Stick to familiar objects that a young child will be able to perform without you having to explain what they are.

It is also an excellent idea to choose objects that form part of an easy-to-act activity.

  1. Book
  2. Phone
  3. Clock
  4. Cup
  5. Knife
  6. Bed
  7. Candle
  8. Table
  9. Laptop
  10. Ball
  11. Stairs
  12. Guitar
  13. Fire
  14. Drums
  15. Saxophone
  16. Toothbrush
  17. Pen
  18. Backpack
  19. Car
  20. Pinata
  21. Remote
  22. Scissors
  23. Shoelace
  24. Camera
  25. Slide
  26. Swing
  27. Lawnmower

Places Charades Ideas for Kids

Places can be tricky. If you are playing charades with kids you know well, it’s not too difficult to choose places they will be familiar with. However, if you’re not sure of a child’s life experiences, stick to simple places like home and school.

Once your children are older, you can consider using countries, cities, landmarks, and other more sophisticated places.

  1. Home
  2. School
  3. Park
  4. Swimming pool
  5. Beach
  6. Mall
  7. Church/temple/mosque
  8. Campsite
  9. Farm
  10. Zoo
  11. Doctor’s office
  12. Dentist
  13. Hospital
  14. Library
  15. Movie theater
  16. Ice rink
  17. Sports field
  18. Airport
  19. Train station
  20. Restaurant
  21. Aquarium
  22. Veterinarian’s office
  23. Skate park
  24. Water park
  25. Garden

Animal Charades Ideas for Kids

This is another great category for the youngest children.

Animals, especially those with a distinct physical feature, are recognized by most kids.

  1. Elephant
  2. Cat
  3. Crocodile
  4. Kangaroo
  5. Fish
  6. Shark
  7. Bear
  8. Bird
  9. Pig
  10. Chicken
  11. Peacock
  12. Snake
  13. T-rex
  14. Spider
  15. Gorilla
  16. Rabbit
  17. Penguin
  18. Lion
  19. Giraffe
  20. Goat
  21. Llama
  22. Horse
  23. Frog
  24. Sloth
  25. Ant
  26. Horse

Book Charades Ideas for Kids

Books can be best suited for older children. They usually have multiple words in the title and it’s hard to be sure if the children have heard of or read a particular book. While having read a certain book isn’t necessary to guess it, being able to associate certain words is helpful.

Let’s take the book, “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus.” If you are unfamiliar with the book, you would need to see every word acted out before you could guess it correctly. However, if you do know the book, the actor can perform “Don’t” and “Drive,” and the others may guess.

  1. Harry Potter
  2. Lord of the Rings
  3. Charlotte’s Web
  4. The Cat In The Hat
  5. Captain Underpants
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  7. The Princess Diaries
  8. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
  9. The Snowy Day
  10. Goodnight Moon
  11. Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type
  12. Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus
  13. Green Eggs And Ham
  14. The Little Engine That Could
  15. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  16. The Witches
  17. The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Stupid Fairy Tales
  18. We’re Going On A Bear Hunt
  19. Pete The Cat – Rocking In My School Shoes
  20. Holes
  21. A Wrinkle In Time
  22. Love You Forever
  23. The Little Prince
  24. A Monster Calls
  25. Harold And The Purple Crayon
  26. The Phantom Tollbooth
  27. The Book Thief
  28. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Disney Charades Ideas for Kids

Most kids over the age of 4 will be able to act out and recognize Disney movies and characters.

Again, adjust your choices to suit the kids playing.

  1. Dumbo
  2. Beauty and the Beast
  3. Cinderella
  4. Rapunzel
  5. The Princess and the Frog
  6. Wall-E
  7. Moana
  8. Finding Nemo
  9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  10. Mulan
  11. Lilo and Stitch
  12. Mickey Mouse
  13. Donald Duck
  14. Goofy
  15. The Little Mermaid
  16. The Lion King
  17. The Jungle Book
  18. 101 Dalmatians
  19. Mary Poppins
  20. Pinocchio
  21. Lady and the Tramp
  22. Peter Pan
  23. Aladdin
  24. Hercules
  25. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Food Charades Ideas for Kids

Food ideas can be a blast at a birthday party or other event.

Acting out food items can be difficult, and you’ll probably get a good laugh from watching your child try to figure out how to do it.

  1. Banana
  2. Bubblegum
  3. Ice cream cone
  4. Pizza
  5. Sandwich
  6. Hotdog
  7. Apple
  8. Watermelon
  9. Popcorn
  10. Grapes
  11. Corn on the cob
  12. Cupcake
  13. Juice box
  14. Drumstick
  15. Coconut
  16. Chips
  17. Fries
  18. Yogurt
  19. Cheese
  20. Cheerios
  21. Baked potato
  22. Jelly beans
  23. Jello
  24. Spaghetti
  25. Chocolate bar

Sports Charades Ideas for Kids

When your kids are older, you can throw in some sports.

They often seem easy when you read them, but they can be more challenging to act or guess than you imagine.

  1. Golf
  2. Soccer
  3. Ice hockey
  4. Football
  5. Baseball
  6. Volleyball
  7. Basketball
  8. Archery
  9. Skiing
  10. Tennis
  11. Diving
  12. Table tennis
  13. Softball
  14. Hurdles
  15. Shot put
  16. Frisbee
  17. Cycling
  18. Surfing
  19. Water skiing
  20. Bowling
  21. Fishing
  22. Sumo wrestling
  23. Swimming
  24. Rowing
  25. Boxing

Christmas Charades Ideas for Kids

Great for a seasonal party, Christmas charades can be based on the type of Christmas you celebrate. So, if your family focus on the religious meaning of the holiday, you can stick with the religious imagery. If you are more of a Santa family, you can focus on the modern aspects of the celebration.

  1. Manger
  2. Angel
  3. Baby Jesus
  4. Shepards
  5. 3 Wise Men
  6. Stable
  7. Star
  8. Winter
  9. Jingle bells
  10. Wreath
  11. Gift
  12. Santa
  13. Stocking
  14. Candy cane
  15. Mistletoe
  16. Christmas tree
  17. Tree lights
  18. Naughty list
  19. Nice list
  20. North Pole
  21. Gingerbread house
  22. Reindeer
  23. Elf on the Shelf
  24. Sleigh
  25. Snow
  26. Cookies

Halloween Charades Ideas for Kids

Halloween charades are great for any time of the year. But if the kids are dressed up in their costumes because you’re doing this game in October, drop any words the costumes will make too easy. So, if you have a little black cat at your party, exclude “black cat” from your word list.

  1. Trick or treat
  2. Costume
  3. Zombie
  4. Witch
  5. Monster
  6. Ghost
  7. Vampire
  8. Mummy
  9. Candy
  10. Pumpkin
  11. Jack-o-lantern
  12. Spider
  13. Spiderweb
  14. Haunted house
  15. Candy corn
  16. Bobbing for apples
  17. Skeleton
  18. Scared
  19. Scream
  20. Bat
  21. Black cat
  22. Mask
  23. Decoration
  24. Gravestone
  25. Scarecrow

Encourage Your Kids to Act Up

Charades is a fun family game and an excellent way to promote creative thinking and develop non-verbal communication skills. Adults and kids can enjoy charades together, and play can benefit adults, too.

Playing games can reduce stress, boost your mood, and make you feel more connected to others (2).

Keep this list of ideas handy, so you’re covered whenever your children decide they’re going to play charades or if you need a rainy-day activity to keep your youngsters entertained.

So, what are you waiting for?

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About the Author

Patricia Barnes

Patricia Barnes is a homeschooling mom of 5 who has been featured on Global TV, quoted in Parents magazine, and writes for a variety of websites and publications. Doing her best to keep it together in a life of constant chaos, Patti would describe herself as an eclectic mess maker, lousy crafter, book lover, autism mom, and insomniac.
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