Charades Race for Review and Formative Assessment

Excerpt from the Inspired Educator Blog Archives:

Back in 2011 I shared this activity here as a favorite strategy for harnessing the power of play to teach, review, and reinforce academic or training content. It has continued to be a favorite active review and even reflection activity. This updated descriptor is from the Inspired Educator Inspired Learner page 112-113.

Purpose/Focus: active engagement, playful learning, academic review, formative assessment, differentiation, movement, multiple pathways to learning, vocabulary, reflection, social-emotional learning, 21st century skills, communication, collaboration, community building, creative thinking,executive functions, turn taking, self-regulation, focus, fair play, energizer, innovation


Materials: Index cards or paper and pen for facilitator, a clipboard can be helpful. Space for teams to spread out around the room.

Facilitation Suggestions:• Put together a list of at least as many concepts or words as there are members on each team.
• Divide participants into groups of 5 or 6, using the Which One? activity on page 65.
• Some team members might have to act twice, and some might choose not to act and send another in their place (this built-in choice helps make the game work, though most people choose to act).
• Give groups time to strategize. For example, they can share charades signs for better communication.
• Have the first actors get their word from the facilitator. When teammates guess the first word, the next actor goes to get the next word.

• The first team to get through the list wins. In order to keep track of which word each team is currently trying to guess, make sure to have the new actors tell you the word their team guessed last.
• It can be fun to have teams show how they guessed/acted out some of the more difficult concepts. Most groups spontaneously start asking and sharing with the other teams about how they communicated more abstract ideas. This can lead to meaningful reflective discussions around the content, communication, and creativity.

Outcomes/Reflections:
Charades Race works well for exploring characters in a book, events, or theoretical concepts. Enhance learning and ownership by giving participants the opportunity to lead the game. Ask if there are participants in the group who feel like they have enough knowledge of the concepts to come up with a review list for the game. This works best played in a second round when they understand the game. Teachers are often surprised by who volunteers and find out through the game who has mastery of the content.

Resources/References: This activity was inspired by a charades relay game, FEACH, I learned from my colleague Karl Rohnke who credits his co-author of Quicksilver Steve Butler for inventing the “Fast Foods, Electrical Appliances, and Comic Book Heroes” pantomime game.





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