Improv games are a great way to get students comfortable speaking in public. They also make great ice breakers for teenage parties. It’s amazing how a few simply structured games can be so funny, but kids love them. I used some of these games in my Challenge I class, and their performances in all of their presentations improved.
1. Character Bus
Warning – this one can get noisy! The idea here is that one person is a driver of a bus. As each of the other people playing enter the bus, they are a larger than life character, and everyone including the bus driver become that character. The play continues until everyone is on the bus. This is an excellent game for including everyone in a short improv exercise.
2. Lines From a Hat
Lines From A Hat starts with the audience writing down random sentences on scrap pieces of paper and putting them into a hat. The actors in the scene (2 or 3 players) draw a couple of pieces of paper from the hat and work to randomly incorporate the phrases into the scene.
3. Numbers Game
Also known as the Counting Game, this quirky improv game requires that each player use only a certain number of words in their contributions to the scene. Each player gets assigned a number between one and ten, and then they have to play out the scene with sentences with only that number of words.
4. Sound Effects
In this game, two players are acting out the scene, but two additional players are providing the sound effects. This is great for communication and creativity! It’s also a great way to include your shy participants as making sounds isn’t as intimidating as coming up with dialogue.
5. Stand, Sit, Kneel
Stand, Sit, Kneel can also be known as Sit, Stand, Lie keeps players on their toes as during the scene, one must always be sitting, one standing, and one kneeling/bending over/lying down. It adds a unique dimension to the scene and requires players to really work together and communicate well to be successful.
6. Yes, And…
Yes, And is a great game to show students how to creatively discuss rather than cut off communication with constant disagreement. You could always try the opposite first – “No, actually”.
7. Last Letter, First Letter
Last Letter, First Letter sharpens listening skills as each player must start their line with a word that begins with the last letter of the word that the previous speaker ended with. The example below uses a one word warm-up. This really makes players focus on listening entirely before formulating their response.
8. Questions Only
In Questions Only the play is pretty simple, but very challenging. Players must carry on a normal conversation by speaking with only interrogative sentences.
Try some of these improv games with the teens in your life and enjoy not only the laughs, but also the confidence that comes from practicing speaking spontaneously!
CAUTION: Not all improv groups are clean. Be careful in surfing through YouTube. These can go bad really quickly if you’re not careful!