Let’s make something clear: in improv games, there are no mistakes. Only opportunities. As long as you play with people who’ve got your back and everyone’s in for some fun, you’re good to go! Check out our bombastic list of improv games for kids, teens & grown-ups!
P.S. You should know that the only answer we accept is ‘Yes’!
What Are Improv Games?
Improv games have their origins in acting and comedy schools, and they’re frequently used to warm-up actors and develop collaborative skills.
Basically, improv games are activities in which participants act out or role-play a scene without using a script. Giving players prompts or rules for acting out a scene or interacting with one another is a common improv exercise, as it encourages everyone to think on their feet and adapt.
Improv Games For Kids
That kids are balls of fire – we already know. The challenge we face as adults is to find the right activities for them; the ones that spark their interest, keep them entertained, and also cultivate and develop valuable skills, such as communication, leadership, collaboration, spontaneity, and sharpness.
Knife and Fork
The first improv game for kids we’ll discuss is a non-verbal one. Start by dividing your players into teams of 2 and assign them different pairs – ‘knife and fork’, ‘lock and key’ etc. Ask the players to use nothing but their bodies to represent the pair. This is a great improv game for youth since they don’t need to think of complicated or funny dialogue. Use it if you’re looking for a fun indoor team building activity for kids.
Cross the Circle
Everyone is assigned a number; 1, 2, 3, and so on and so forth, depending on how many players are involved in this group game. You should assign the same number to more than one player. Next, call out one of the numbers and link it to an action. For example, ‘2 stuck in the mud’. All players numbered 2 must then cross the circle while pretending to be stuck in the mud. You can also call out actions, dance moves, or animal behaviors. This resembles ‘Ships And Sailors’ and Noah’s Ark Games.
This will be quite a challenge for the kids since they are always smiling! ‘Hello, Kitty’ is a lovely game where the main objective is to make the other smile. Begin by dividing the group into puppies and kittens. Puppies must greet kittens in a way that makes them laugh or smile, while kittens must keep a straight face. Kids are free to improvise their lines in order to make their ‘opponents’ smile. The tricky part is that when a kitten smiles, it automatically turns into a puppy. The game ends when all the kittens are laughing and joining the puppy team.
This fun improv game will definitely get kids laughing. Begin by instructing your players to form a circle and prepare to catch a ball… an imaginary ball. Kids must make a specific sound in order to throw and catch the ball. You can make things more enticing by involving more balls, hence more sounds. This is a great activity to test kids’ attention and quick reaction. It’s great for recess or as an icebreaker for youth, to get things going when energy’s low.
Come up with a scenario in which the world is in danger and needs help. Next, make up an unexpected superhero, such as ‘Monkey-Moo’ or ‘Donut-Man’. Have kids come on stage in an attempt to solve the problem. What they don’t know is that they will inevitably fail, but that is what gives the opportunity to the next player to try and save the world from damnation.
In this improv game for kids, you are the one who is unaware of what’s going on. You have no idea of the quirks assigned to each character. Your role is to throw a party and mingle with your ‘guests’, trying to figure out what each kid’s distinguishing feature is. The improv scene may seem chaotic, but it will force players to be creative in how they express their quirks.
The game starts by asking a player to act out a scene. When you say ‘Space jump’, he/she must freeze in place. Next, another player enters the game and begins their scene from the previous player’s frozen position. Try to quickly get into a tricky position to throw off the next player.
Improv Games For Teens
Act It Out
Just like ‘Knife and Fork’, this is one of the improv games for high schoolers that requires no talking. Start by coming up with a list of random words or phrases, then split your people into pairs. Next, ask your players to act the phrases out nonverbally. This sounds a lot like the Fishbowl, doesn’t it?
Encourage players to use their creativity and to pay close attention to their partners when trying to communicate their ideas. Teens may use gestures, overacting, props, and even inside jokes to convey that message! This is one of the improv games for small groups that work just as well for a large number of players. Just make sure you have a lot of words and phrases ready to be acted out.
This is a great improv game for high schoolers since they’re about to join the workforce. Preparing them for real life, hence for a job interview, is one of the benefits of improv games for teens. Here’s how it works: pick a player who will be the interviewee. He must leave the room, while the rest of the class decides on the job they will be interviewing for. (*Note: You can also come up with a list of professions beforehand). The player must return to the hot seat and answer a range of interview questions specific to the job, without knowing which job it is.
We know… it’s hard to get the right gift for a teen and it’s awful to survive the look on their face if you get it wrong. Teens are great at judging terrible presents and they have quite some history with them. That’s what makes this activity the perfect improv game for high schoolers! Split the players into pairs and ask them to come up with rubbish gift ideas. Next, they have to convince their partner to accept it. They can be as creative as they wish – they can even draw the present if that helps them sell the atrocious thing they have in mind. You will challenge their persuasive skills, while also having lots of fun.
Begin by having each player state a goal they hope to achieve in a year. The next player must say, ‘Unfortunately…’ and improvise an impediment to achieving that goal. The first player should then respond with ‘Yes, but…’ and improvise a solution to the obstacle. Keep going around the circle until the player has refuted and overcome all possible obstacles to their goal, no matter how wild or difficult. ‘Fortunate me’ cultivates positivity and challenges the high schoolers’ quick thinking when facing an obstacle. In this improv game for teens, you can see how badly they want things and how much they are willing to fight for them, while also revealing something about themselves. ‘Fortunate me’ is a great getting-to-know-each-other activity for high school students… and more.
Because teens are amazing at doing that! This improv game for high schoolers encourages players to make up ridiculous stories. The game begins with a simple accusation, such as ‘why haven’t you been answering my calls?’ or ‘why didn’t you go to the grocery store?’ The first player invents an excuse on the fly. Other players can confirm and embellish the story, for example, by saying, ‘I was there, and I promise it’s true’. Make clear that players should come up with fun and plausible excuses.
Explain Your Tattoo
This is one of the most popular improv games among teens because their will for affirmation is so strong during those years so you couldn’t connect a tattoo better than with… a high schooler. Gather a few pictures of bad tattoos and spread them in the classroom. Ask players to sit in front of the others and look at their tattoo for the first time. Next, they must take questions from the audience: ‘Why did you get a pair of dice on your neck?’, ‘What is the symbol of an astronaut on your back?’. It will be interesting to test their confidence and quick-thinking skills while defending their choices.
Count Your Words
This will be a bit tough for the talkative ones. Assign each teen a number between 1 and 10. That’s how many words they are allowed to say in this fun improv game. Check out their ability to share their thoughts using a limited number of words. They’d better make each and every one of them count!
Improv Games For Adults
Expert Double Figures
You’ll need 4 people for this fun improv game for adults. 2 of them will act out a talk show, while the other 2 will kneel behind them, arms wrapped around each other. While the talk show guests are unable to use their arms, the players in the back will act as them. This will definitely deliver tons of laughs!
Remember That Team Building…
This improv game for adults is all about ‘remembering’ a fictional event they all attended. We thought of making it more fun by recalling something from a previous team building. ‘Remember that team building when Josh lost a tooth?’. Go around the group and ask each player to add nuance to the memory, to create a story about what you all did together. Invite everyone to add fun details and take unexpected turns, because that’s what a good team building story is all about.
Come up with a list of professions and ask the adults involved in the improv game to think of lines that the ‘world’s worst’ would say. If you’re close to your players, make sure to include the ones they are performing. For example, for ‘the world’s worst teacher’, one of the lines could be ‘how do I spell philharmonic?’. This is a fast-paced improv game for adults so you can also think of it as a 5-minute activity before a big meeting.
Conversational games are great when introducing beginners to the concept of improv. They work perfectly both online and offline because they don’t require a special setting or materials. The objective is to have a conversation based on questions. For example, one player starts by asking ‘What did you have for breakfast today?’. The next could say ‘Why are you asking me that?’, and so on and so forth. If players hesitate or answer with something other than a question, they’re out. Check out our lists of +200 Team Building questions, and the best ‘getting to know each other’ questions to get some inspiration!
Improv Games for Small Groups
Scenes From a Chat
This is one of the improv games for small groups that can be played both in-person and online. Players are free to make scene suggestions – live or in the chat box – and a moderator should randomly choose the most amusing scenario. Next, players have five minutes to act out the scene. Move on to another group that has to choose a prompt from the previous proposals. You can at any time ask the audience for new suggestions.
Sit, Stand, Lie Down
This one’s a classic fun improv game that works best for small groups of people. There are 3 players who need to collaborate to complete a physical action. One must always be standing, one must always be sitting, and one must always be laying down. The key is to switch positions frequently to keep everyone on their feet… or off them.
Two Truths and A Lie
It’s one of the most famous team building games out there and it works just as fine as an improv game for small groups or large ones. Players take turns in sharing 2 truths and 1 lie about themselves. The audience must decide which statements are real, and which are inventions. It will be interesting to see how good players are at coming up with fictional stuff about themselves, and it will be a good way for people to get to know each other better.
‘Alphabets’ requires that each consecutive line spoken should begin with the next letter of the alphabet. First, suggest a scene and assign a participant order. You can also let the game be a free-for-all, with the condition that each player only speaks once. Because there are 26 letters in the alphabet, every player in large groups will get a chance to speak. You can either end the game after everyone has spoken once, or when the alphabet is finished. Alternatively, you can speed up the game until someone makes a mistake.
It’s a great improv game for small groups since it requires 2 players having a dialogue, and 2 adding sound effects to the environment. Because everyone must be aware of each other, to create a coherent story, this is an excellent collaborative improv activity.
What Are the Benefits of Improv Games?
It’s not a secret that on eTeamBuilding we LOVE creativity, and improv games are a great way to cultivate that. Moreover, quick thinking, communication, and team spirit are other skills tackled by improv games.
Improv games are so popular because most of them don’t require special supplies, therefore they can be played almost everywhere. Are you looking for a fun icebreaker before a tough meeting? Are you interested in a new activity for your work coffee break? Are your students eager to play a different camping game? Or maybe the kids are restless during your backyard get-together? Improv games are easily adaptable, no matter the context or the age group. They’re a great choice if you’re looking for indoor games, outdoor team building activities, or virtual games (that, if you’re involved in a remote collaboration and you want to get to know your colleagues a bit more).
*Still, there is something to take into account. Improvisation and role play are not for everyone. It might be uncomfortable for some people, so it’s critical to strike a balance between having fun and creating a safe environment for your players. Consider the group you’re working with carefully, and perhaps think of starting things with a simple game that doesn’t ask them to step completely out of their comfort zone too soon. But in the list that we’ve given you, you have some examples that fit this category as well; so no worries. Good luck!