Reading Reverse Charades (or Pictionary)

Reverse Charades is a fabulous game! I learned about it from La Maestra Loca and she has a great post about it here . It’s a game we’ve played and loved…and last week it occurred to me to take the game a step further so that everyone is reading! And it’s a perfect socially distanced game if you’re teaching face to face these days! (and I think it would even work if you’re teaching in person AND online at the same time, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t be certain! But if you are and you try it and it does, let me know!)

The Original:

In the original game, you divide the class up into teams, and one person from each team comes to the front of the room, and faces their team. They are the Guessers and they can only look at their team, NOT the screen, which is behind them. The rest of the students read a statement that’s projected on the screen and act it out, while the Guessers guess the statement using their teammates’ charades to guide them. It’s fun because you have 28 kids silently acting and 3 students watching them and trying to guess it. Silent pandemonium, it’s a good time.

The Adaptation:

Since at it’s heart, this is really a reading game, why not have the Guessers read too?! Here’s how my adaptation works:

Prep before class:

Create a slideshow with a bunch of statements that your students will understand and can act out, with a new statement on each slide. Target your vocabulary. Be silly. Be serious. You do you. It will look like this:

Then compile all the statements onto the final slide. You’ll print out 2 copies of this final slide. It looks like this:

To play:

Divide your class into 2 groups. If you’re reading this and there’s still a pandemic going on, of course your Little Darlings will be safely distanced. Then ask for a volunteer to be the “Guesser” for each team. Both Guessers will come to the front and face their teams (from a safe distance, ¡claro!) with their backs to the screen. Everyone else can see the screen, just not the Guessers. Hand both guessers the final slide that you printed out. The Guessers have all the answers in their hands before the game even begins.

Project the first statement…all the students (minus your two Guessers) read it silently and act it out. (No sounds!) Then your first Guesser (from one team, it doesn’t matter who, just pick one! Let’s call this one Guesser A) observes their team’s actions then peruses the list of possible answers and guesses one statement from their list. If it is correct, that teams earns a point. If the guess is incorrect, the Guesser B gets to guess another statement from the list. If Guesser B is correct, their team steals the point from Team A. If both Guesser A and Guesser B guessed incorrectly, it goes back to Guesser A to guess another option from the list. All the while, both teams are acting their little hearts out. After the correct phase IS guessed, a new phrase is projected and now the other team gets to guess first.

We played this for Mexican Independence Day, it was pretty ridiculous to watch my Spanish 1 Little Darlings acting out A los mexicanos no les gustaba el control de España. / Padre Hidalgo tenía mucha influencia y quería independencia. / Padre Hidalgo gritó -¡Viva independencia!- y los mexicanos respondieron -¡Viva!- There’s no way my Spanish 1 Guessers could produce that language…but they absolutely could read it from the list!

Variety is the Spice of Life

  • For the next phrase, you can keep the same guesser, or the guesser can pass along their paper to another member of their team, who will come up front, with their back to the screen for round two. Sometimes we play it with one guesser all game, sometimes it’s fun to switch the guessers. Follow your heart.
  • This game works equally as well (and even better with a shy class who doesn’t pour their heart and soul into their acting) as Pictionary. Rather than acting out, the whole class illustrates the phrase on mini whiteboards and then shows their pictures to the Guessers. Sometimes we play that students can either draw or act out! That counts as differentiation, right?!?
  • Another option, if you are reading a class novel and want to review key parts of the action…Select a single page of your novel, and tell your Guessers that all the answers will come from Page 17. Instead of giving them a sheet of papers with all the phrases on it, hand them a book! Pick phrases that have lots of action in them to project for the class to act out or draw.

Hope you’re hanging in there, my dear friends! Allergy season is in full swing around here and there is nothing nastier than a running nose and a face mask. I’m ready for some cooler temps to kill the dang Rabbit Brush!

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  1. I LOVE this game and I LOVE your posts! Thank you for the years of great ideas! I’m totally virtual and wondering if anyone has found a way to do this virtually.


    • Just tried it virtually today with my German class on Google Meet. I posted the slide with the sentences in Google Classroom so everybody could open them in another tab and i wouldn’t have to present. that way everybody could see each other instead of half the screen being taken up by the very annoying “You are presenting” square. Then I sent the two guessers to a breakout room while we decided which sentence to do. I closed the rooms and they acted and guessed. I called on the first guesser to raise his/her hand. Worked pretty well! Thanks for the good idea!


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