In advance, prepare a long list of names representing the topics of fast foods, electric appliances and comic book heroes/heroines.
Form teams of approx 4 to 8 people.
Locate each team well apart from one another.
Invite one person from each team to approach you.
Leaning in close to these volunteers, whisper the name of the first topic on your list.
Instruct these volunteers to return to their group and use a series of non-verbal gestures to communicate this topic to their team as quickly and effectively as possible.
As soon as the topic is identified correctly, a new person from the team returns to you to check their answer.
If the answer is correct, you whisper the next topic on your list.
This person returns to their group to continue the ‘charade & guessing’ process.
Game continues for up to 15 minutes or until the energy starts to wane.
How To Play Narrative
This activity takes the general concept of charades and narrows its focus to just three topics – fast food, electrical appliances and comic book heroes/heroines. This is where it gets its name – FF-EA-CH – in case you’re wondering.
Before you start, you are well-advised to write a long list of names representing fast food, electrical appliances and comic book heroes/heroines. If you’re stuck for ideas or short of time, download our cheat sheet from the Resources tab to get you started.
With this list held secretly in your hand, divide your large group into a bunch of smaller teams of approx 4 to 8 people and distribute them well apart from each other – for reasons that will soon become obvious.
Standing somewhere equidistant to all of the teams, invite one person from each team to volunteer and approach you. Ask these folks to lean close to you as you whisper the first name at the top of your list of FFEACH topics, eg Superman.
These excitable volunteers immediately race back to stand in front of their teams to gesticulate as best as they can to communicate this topic to their team, but – importantly – without using any verbal forms of communication, ie in true charades style.
There will be an explosion of guesses but finally, someone will utter the correct name which will trigger a new person to depart the group and run to you.
At this point, you have to be quite organised. Referring to your list, begin by asking this new volunteer to tell you (whisper) what was the topic that was just identified by their team, ie Superman.
If you hear the correct answer (that is, it’s on your list), then whisper the next topic on your list.
If the answer is not correct, simply ask them to return to their team until they can give you the correct answer. This way, groups can progress at their own pace depending on how good they are at the highly refined skill of charades.
Note, FFEACH starts with one person from each team standing with you at the same time, but after this point, people will simply stream back and forth when they are ready.
In any case, the new volunteer will eventually race back to their team and repeat the ‘charade & guess’ process over and over again.
Continue playing until you have exhausted your list of topics or your group, or try something new from the Variations tab.
Practical Leadership Tips
Supportive sounds can be made along with non-verbal gesticulations, but beware, this can be a slippery slope. What starts off as a bark, for example, soon turns into mimed words and garbled utterances.
If you know the formal rules of charades you will be aware of many useful gestures that easily communicate certain common attributes such as the number of words, syllables, etc. Feel free to allow these, or not – it’s up to you.
Encourage each person in a team to try their hand at charades. There are always some people who are better at charades than others, but enlisting them to do all the work is not the point of the game.
In the ultra-competitive world, you may like to suggest to your group that keeping their voices down will prevent them from ‘giving the answer away’ to other teams, ie everyone is working off the same list.
If you have more than four teams, it’s a good idea to involve extra list-holders to make the process more efficient. That is, ask one or more other leaders to hold an identical list (to yours) and stand elsewhere in the playing space so that they, too, maybe approached by the next volunteer.
Ensure that your list represents topics that are culturally and generationally relevant. For example, a group of young people may never have seen nor used an overhead projector.
Enjoy the anticipation etched on the faces of the steady stream of volunteers – there are few games that I know where I observe such animated intensity as much I do in FFEACH.
You could integrate FFEACH as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and, not to mention, enjoy an outrageously fun time.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of enjoying a good laugh and working as part of a small team.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully play this fun charade-style game may speak to the benefits of being mindful insofar as being present in the moment may assist some people to more quickly identify the topic.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which FFEACH could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Time Trial: Challenge each group to successfully identify as many of the topics on your list as they can in a limited timeframe, eg 12 minutes.
MOOCH: Develop a list of topics that represent MOvies, OCcupations and Hums. The first two are pretty obvious, but the third invites the volunteer to hum instead of charade their topic. For example, they will be asked to hum the tune to a famous song or anthem.
Sky’s The Limit: Adapt the typical broad-ranging charades game where any object, person or thing can appear on the list. Consider including famous quotes, book titles, advertising slogans and proverbs.
Do It Yourself: Ask the members of opposing teams to write the name of a fast food, electrical appliance or comic book hero/heroine onto a slip of paper, and then toss it into a receptacle. Challenge each small team to randomly pull a slip of paper from such receptacles as the source of their charades. This format is typically better suited for the purposes of fun, rather than competition because it is very difficult to monitor the level of difficulty embedded in each suggestion/receptacle.
Take a look at Pictionary to enjoy a more tangibly artistic version of this fun charades game.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
If you are meeting with a small group, appoint one volunteer to deliver the series of charades. Share the topic with a private message to this volunteer via the chatroom. Ask all others to pin this person to their screen (to make them the focus of the broadcast) and invite your group to enter their guesses into the chatroom. The first person to identify the correct answer is either invited to go next, or you ask a new person to volunteer.
If you are hosting a very large group, form smaller teams of 4 to 8 people and allocate them to a unique breakout room. Appoint one person to issue all charades. Be sure to share your list of topics (via share file) with these volunteers before you send people to their breakout rooms.
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Useful Framing Ideas
We are told that a large proportion of our everyday communication is represented by many forms of non-verbal communication such as pointing, nodding, gesticulating, etc. If you feel that you do this a lot, then you may be at an advantage in our next activity…
One of the keys to a successful team is effective communication. This exercise is all about communicating effectively, but… there’ll be no talking. The only way you’ll be able to communicate is through a series of gesticulations, or as it’s better known, charades.. And notice that I said ‘effective.” You do NOT need to be an expert mime artist to communicate effectively via charades. You simply need to capture the key elements of the topic or message you are trying to convey…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this fun large group game:
What did you think when you first learned that you had to rely on your charade skills to communicate a message?
What were the most effective strategies for communicating each topic?
Did you surprise yourself, or others, in any way?
Describe an experience that was totally misunderstood.
Did your non-verbal / charading communication skills get better with time?
Did your group develop strategies that helped you become more successful?
The inspiration for FFEACH, and many more outrageously fun group games, was sourced from the following publication: