12 Fun Improv Games for Kids (With Tips)

Improvisational games are a great way to encourage kids to express themselves and engage in active, imaginative play in ways that also help to reinforce topics that are begin covered in class.

The activities listed here are all easy to replicate in a preschool classroom, most without any supplies or with materials that teachers are likely to already have.

The games can be altered as needed to fit with activities being done in class or to match the skills and strength of each classroom.

Improv Games for Kids

12 Fun Improv Games for Kids

Here are the 12 improv games for kids that we will discuss in this article. These games fun, easy, and will help inspire creative / independent thinking.

  1. Become an Animal
  2. Mirrors
  3. Musical Freeze
  4. Puppet Storytelling
  5. Character Play
  6. Sending Sounds
  7. Keeper of the Keys
  8. Greetings
  9. The Monster Dance
  10. Word by Word Storytelling
  11. Helping to Sing the Song
  12. Rainfall

1. Become an Animal

Define a specific part of the classroom as a forest. You can do this by using masking tape, chalk, or string. You can use also include props in the space, such as blue paper for water, pictures of trees, green paper for grass, etc. Talk to students about how different animals live in the forest and that each animal behaves in different ways, eats different types of food, and lives in a different spot in the forest.

How to Play

Each student or group of students will be assigned to a different animal. This can be done by handing out pictures to each student. Students will then enter the area that has been defined as the ‘forest’ and begin playing out the animal that they have been assigned. Encourage students to act out the animal behaviors, interact correctly with the other ‘animals,’ and live their lives in the forest.

Tips for Playing

If playing this game with a large class, it might be best done outside where they will have plenty of space to spread out and play. A playground can even be used, the play equipment repurposed as items in a forest. This is a great game to play if students have been learning about different animals. They will get to use their new knowledge to act out their animal character, use their imagination, and learn through active play.

Considerations

The game can be changed to feature any other habitat that animals live in. Depending on the students, various parameters might need to be set regarding how to interact with other students (such as predator and prey animals). The game can also be repeated using the same habitat but assigning students different animals. As students learn more about animals and habitats additional animals and props can be added into the game.


2. Mirrors

This game does not require any supplies, but students do need to have a basic understanding of how mirrors work and that any movement that you make you can also see in your reflection. If possible, it may be helpful for students to spend some time using a mirror and watching how their reflection moves with them.

How to Play

Divide students into pairs and have them stand facing each other. Assign one student to be the mirror. The other student should perform basic movements, such as touching their nose, pulling on their ear, or making a silly face. The student acting as the mirror should copy these movements to the best of their ability. This game can go on for a few minutes before having the partners switch so that the other student plays the part of the mirror.

Tips for Playing

If there are an odd number of students in the class, a classroom aide can stand in for the odd number. The game can be repeated by switching partners and can also be changed by adding props, such as dress up clothes, for the students to use.

Considerations

Students should be instructed to stay in place during the activity, it will not be possible to successfully pretend to be a mirror while also moving around the classroom.


3. Musical Freeze

There are no special supplies that are needed for this game, just some fun music that will get students excited and moving.

How to Play

Clear out a space in the classroom (or outside) so that students will have plenty of space to move around. Place music that students can easily dance to and instruct them to dance and move. As soon as the music is turned off students must freeze in place. Anyone who doesn’t freeze is out of the game. The game continues until the final student is left.

Tips for Playing

You can play different types of music to encourage students to move in different ways. Fast music can encourage speedy movement and slow, quiet music can allow students to slow down and relax. Playing different types of music also keeps students on their toes as to when the music will be turned off and they have to freeze.

Considerations

It can be helpful to set a perimeter for the dance floor and instruct students not to move outside of the dance floor. The game might be easiest to play outside, where it won’t be necessary to move anything out of the way.


4. Puppet Storytelling

This activity will require at least two hand puppets and some sort of stage or performance area. Students will be gathered on the carpet in front of the stage area.

How to Play

The puppets will be operated by teachers, aides, or parents. The puppets will be introduced to the students and the students will be given a short backstory about the puppets, such as their names and what they like to do. For instance, “This is Harry the hippo and Emile the elephant. They are friends that like to go on adventures with each other. They need help deciding what they should do today.” Students should give suggestions about what the puppets should do together, and the adults will carry out the suggestions. Each suggestion will be brief and should add on to the other ideas, so that the puppets tell a story that all the students have contributed to.

Tips for Playing

Students should raise their hands to suggest ideas and the story should continue until each student has been able to provide a suggestion. Some students might need help keeping their suggestions brief, while others may need a little prodding to come up with an idea.

Considerations

The storyline provided for the puppets could focus on other topics that the students are working on in class. Such as, “Harry and Emilie want to practice naming other animals.” Or “Harry and Emilie know it is important to help each other.” This will allow students to have a role in creating a story that also helps to reinforce important preschooler age activities.


5. Character Play

This activity will require a range of dress up clothes such as animal costumes, costumes related to specific careers, etc. These clothes can be easy to get from donations and used clothing stores. Classrooms are likely to already have clothes like this for other aspects of preschool age play.

How to Play

Give students time to decide what kind of clothing they are going to use to dress up. The children should be encouraged to come up with a character to go alongside what they choose to wear, for instance a name or certain behaviors. A girl that puts on a firefighter costume could keep an eye out for a fire, a boy that dress up as a dog could bark and walk around on all fours. Once students have chosen their costumes and characters they should move around in the costumes and interact with one another. Perhaps a firefighter and police officer must help someone, or a dog and a cat make friends with each other. Students should be encouraged to find ways to work together in character.

Tips for Playing

Some students may argue over favorite costumes. A teacher might need to intervene and make sure that all students are able to choose something that they are happy with. Some students might also need help getting into costumes or coming up with an idea. Imaginative play should be encouraged.

Considerations

This can be played indoors or outdoors. Given that it will take students time to pick out outfits and choose characters, a significant amount of time should be allocated for this activity. While the activity can be done without any underlying story, the character play can also focus on topics that are being focused on in the classroom.


6. Sending Sounds

This activity does not require any supplies or equipment. Students simply need to be gathered in a circle. The activity can be played indoors but is also a great outdoor activity where students can be loud and busy.

How to Play

After gathering students in a circle, explain how the game works. One person will start by saying a ‘word’ like ‘whoosh’ and then throw their hands into the air towards the student standing next to them. The next student will then mimic the sound and movement until it has gone through the entire circle. The game can be repeated using different sounds and different actions to propel the movement around the circle.

Tips for Playing

As the game is repeated, different students should be given the chance to start the movements. If students are having trouble coming up with ideas, teachers can help get the movements started. The game can also become more complex, with students sending the movement to people across the circle from them instead of the person next to them in the circle.

Considerations

Students should be reminded not to perform actions that are to intense or difficult for other students to replicate.


7. Keeper of the Keys

The game requires a set of keys, or some other item of value to the classroom, such as the class mascot.

How to Play

The teacher stands at one end of the room, with the keys on the floor in front of them. The students gather against the wall on the opposite end of the room. The teacher turns around, back to the students, and says ‘Go!” The students can begin moving across the room, trying to reach the keys. However, if the teacher turns around, the students must freeze. Any student that doesn’t freeze is out of the game. The game continues until one of the students is able to grab the keys or all the students are out because they forgot to freeze.

Tips for Playing

The game can be altered so that students have to move in different ways. For instance, students might have to hop, skip, move like a dog, etc. in order to reach the set of keys. A student can also stand in for the teacher.

Considerations

This game can be played in the classroom, but it also works well played outside or a school auditorium or other large space. Some students might have to be reminded to play safely and be kind to other students, such as not pushing anyone else out of the way to reach the keys.


8. Greetings

This activity does not require any special supplies; it is simply a way to change up the regular dynamics of a classroom. The activity should take place at the beginning of the school day.

How to Play

When students arrive at school every morning, they normally greet each other. However, as the school year continues these greetings might become very generic and some students might ignore others or only greet their friends, not interacting with the other students in the class. This game is a way to change up these stale dynamics. Students will have to greet each other, but in a different way. For instance, children must greet each other as animals, have to do a special handshake, or share one interesting fact about themselves.

Tips for Playing

The game can be altered to focus on greetings that correspond to subjects that are being covered in class. For instance, if the class is learning about animals, greeting each other as an animal or greeting other students by sharing their favorite animal helps to reinforce these subjects.

Considerations

Shy students might need some encouragement to engage with everyone. It will also be important to make sure students are greeting others that they might normally not greet and are not simply repeating the activity among their close circle of friends.


9. The Monster Dance

This activity does not require any supplies or special equipment, just some fun music that will encourage kids to get moving.

How to Play

Gather students in a group and have them divide into pairs. Each pair will stand with their backs to each other and link elbows. The teacher will then turn on the music and the students will dance while keeping their arms linked together.

Tips for Playing

If there is an odd number of students in the class, three students can pair up together and link arms. The music can be changed to alter the movements, such as switching between fast music and slow music. You can also provide instructions on how students can move. Can they walk side to side? Can they squat down and then stand back up again while still keeping their arms linked together?

Considerations

The coordination of students will depend on their age and their gross motor skills. Some new preschoolers are likely to struggle with this dance, while five years old students will be able to perform it with ease. This means that the dance can become more complicated as students get older. Because the activity requires close contact with other students it is also important to consider that students are well matched. Students that are considerably different in height might struggle together and students should partner with others that they feel comfortable with.


10. Word by Word Storytime

This activity does not require any supplies or special equipment, just good imaginations.

How to Play

The students should be gathered together in a circle on the carpet. The entire group will participate in telling a single story. The teacher will begin by saying a single word. Then the student sitting next to the teacher will say another word to add to the story. The students will go around the circle, each contributing one word on the story until the story has come to a logical conclusion.

Tips for Playing

The game can be altered so that instead of going one by one around the circle, it jumps around the circle, as long as each student gets an equal chance to participate. It might be difficult to keep track of the actual story, especially if there are interruptions from students. In order to keep the story straight a teacher or aide can write the story down on a chalk board or white board as the story progresses.

Considerations

Some students might struggle with the idea of only contributing one word at a time to the story or become frustrated if another student takes the story in a direction that they might not like. These students will have to be reminded to take turns and share ideas. Teachers should encourage students to embrace the silliness of the story.


11. Helping to Sing the Song

This activity does not require any supplies or special equipment, just some enthusiastic singers and a group that enjoys learning songs.

How to Play

Songs are a popular and easy way for preschoolers to learn. They can easily memorize songs and teachers can use this interest to teach new information and/or reinforce behaviors. This game is a great way to use the songs that students have already memorized, repeat the importance of the messages in the songs, and have them engage in fun, imaginative play. Have students gather around in a circle and choose one student to stand in the middle of the circle. This student will choose a song to start singing and will sing the first few lines. Then the student should switch places with another student, who continues the song. The game continues until the song has finished. However, another song can start if the activity needs to go on for longer.

Tips for Playing

If the teacher wants to focus on specific songs, they can give examples of which ones should be sung. Some students might be more willing to sing than others.

Considerations

If some students are shy about singing, you can alter the activity so that more than one student goes to the center of the circle to sign. Then no one student will be forced to be the center of attention.


12. Rainfall

This activity does not require any supplies or special equipment, just a space for students to spread out and wind down after a busy and active day.

How to Play

The teacher should gather students together and have them form a line or a circle. Without talking or making any sound, students should simulate rainfall. This can be done in several ways, such as throwing hands up to make a wave or using fingers to mimic rainfall. As the students work to mimic rain, teachers should also participate in the activity, encouraging students to do the activity without speaking and to slowly quiet down. The teachers can slowly sit down on the ground and down slow their own ‘rainfall,’ encouraging students to do the same. The activity can continue until the students have quieted down and are sitting or laying on the carpet.

Tips for Playing

This is a great activity to do at the end of the day or when students need to calm down after an especially busy activity. Rain and water can be naturally calming, and teachers can even play the sound of rainfall as students engage in the activity.

Considerations

Some students may need a reminder to not talk or to quiet their bodies. As teachers move through the group, they can quietly correct this behavior. After students have calmed at the end of the activity, it is a great time to do end of the day announcements and sharing.

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