Improv games have an essential role in team building and getting one's creative juices flowing but classic ice-breaker-style games like "two truths and a lie" are tedious and dull. Improv games also help participants develop their listening skills and gain spatial awareness all while having tons of fun. Have a look at these innovative improv games to spice up any lesson and get children and adults alike thinking out-of-the-box.
1. Character Bus
This fun improv exercise is bound to get loud as each character has to be larger than life. Passengers get onto the "bus" with one bus, each overexaggerating a character quirk. The bus driver has to become that character each time a new passenger hops on board.
Learn more: Drama Menu
2. Count Your Words
The concept of improv forces you to think on your feet, but this game makes it a little more difficult as you are limited in the number of words you are allowed to use. Each participant is given a number between 1 and 10 and can only utter that number of words. Count your words and make your words count!
Learn more: Tim Grable
3. Sit, Stand, Lie Down
This is a classic improv game where 3 players work together to each complete a physical action. One must always be standing, one must always be sitting, and the last person must always be laying down. The trick is to change position frequently and keep everyone on their feet, or off them!
Learn more: JJay 1524
4. Explain Your Tattoo
This game will test your confidence and quick-thinking skills. Gather a few pictures of bad tattoos and assign them to players. Once the player sits in front of the class, they can see their tattoo for the first time and must answer questions about it from the audience. Why DID you get a picture of a whale on your face? Defend your choices!
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
5. Sound Effects
This game is sure to provide lots of laughs and is perfect for 2-4 players. Some players are tasked with coming up with dialogue and doing actions while others must provide sound effects to the virtual setting. This is an excellent collaborative improv activity as everyone must be aware of each other to tell a coherent story.
Learn more: Improv FTW
6. Lines from a Hat
Some fun improv games take a little prep work but the reward is highly entertaining. For this one, audience members or participants have to write down random phrases and toss them in a hat. Players must start their scene and sporadically pull the phrases from the hat and incorporate them into the scene.
Learn more: Cornerstone SF
7. Last Letter, First Letter
The possibilities of improv seem confined to physical presence, but this fun game is perfect to use for people who are videoconferencing remotely. It focuses on listening skills as each person can only start their reply using the last letter the previous person used.
Learn more: Expert Village Leaf Group
8. One Word at a Time
This is another perfect game for all ages and can be used in a circle with improv participants or during an online session. It tests collaboration skills as each student must say one word and together it must form a coherent story.
Learn more: Drama Source
9. Questions Only
Conversational improv games are difficult to keep on track if you are limited in what you can say. In this game, each person can only use interrogative questions to drive the conversation forward. You will need to think carefully, especially about your tone.
Learn more: YouTube
10. Knife and Fork
This non-verbal improv game is great for young and old. The teacher calls out pairs of items like a "knife and fork" or "lock and key" and 2 players must use only their bodies to demonstrate the pair. This is a great game for kids as they don't have to think of complicated or funny dialogue.
Learn more: Improv Games
11. Party Quirks
In party quirks, the host is unaware of the quirks each character has been given. He or she hosts a party and mingles with his guests, trying to figure out what each person's unique characteristic is. The improv scene might seem chaotic but it will challenge players to get creative in the ways they express their quirks.
12. Prop Bag
When it comes to creative improv games, few can hold a candle to "Prop Bag". Fill a bag with random items which players will then draw from one by one. They must present the prop to the class in an infomercial style, explaining its use. The trick is, you can not use the prop for its intended purpose.
Learn more: Camp Rainbow
13. Cross the Circle
All players are given a number, either 1, 2, or 3. The leader calls out one of the numbers as well as an action, for example, "1 stuck in quicksand". All the players numbered 1 must then cross the circle to the other side while pretending to be stuck in quicksand. They can also call out actions, dance moves, animal behaviors, etc.
Learn more: Child Fun
14. The Mirror Game
This two-player reaction game pairs players in a game of emotions. The first player must start a conversation, expressing emotions like sadness or anger, clearly. The second player must aim to mimic that emotion as if they were looking in a mirror.
Learn more: Film Courage
15. People Pictures
Hand out pictures of people to the participants, taking great care not to reveal them to each other. You have 3 minutes to determine the personality of the person and get into character. Players then go about mingling while staying in character. The aim of the game is to guess which picture belongs to which person.
Learn more: Creative Drama
This game works best in groups of three and is perfect for beginner improv courses. Call out an animal and let the team get into a formation that represents the animal. You can also switch it up by letting them decide the animal and letting the audience guess which animal they are.
Learn more: BBC Press
17. Fortunately, Unfortunately
This classic story game lets players take turns to complete a story by highlighting one fortunate and one unfortunate event at a time. Players' listening skills are put to the test as they must follow up on what the previous person said to create a compelling story.
Learn more: Very Well Family
18. Space Jump
A player acts out a scene and when the words "Space Jump" are called out they must freeze in place. The next player enters the scene and must start their scene from the frozen position of the previous player. Try and get into a tricky position quickly to throw off the next player!
Learn more: CNU Improv
This game relies on some audience participation as they get to make up a silly predicament that the world is in and then make up an unlikely superhero-like "Tree Man". The superhero must come on stage and try to solve the problem but will inevitably fail. That player must then call upon the next unlikely hero to come and save the day.
Learn more: Hoopla!
20. Job Interview
The interviewee leaves the room while the rest of the group decides on the job they will be interviewing for. The player may return to the hot seat and must answer a range of interview questions specific to the job, without knowing which job it is.
Learn more: Child Drama
21. Expert Double Figures
This fun improv exercise for 4 players is guaranteed to deliver tons of laughs. Two players will pretend to be doing a talk show interview while two others kneel behind them, wrapping their arms around each other. The players in the back will be pretending to be the arms while the talk show guests can't use their arms. Be ready for some awkward moments!
Learn more: Toffeesme
22. Clay Sculptures
The sculptor molds his clay (another player) into a specific pose from which the scene must then start. A group of sculptors can also work together to each create a sculpture that must form a cohesive story once they come alive.
Learn more: Child's Play in Action
This non-verbal game will let players each act out a creative setting. They must act how they would in a mall, at school, or at a theme park. All players on stage have a different setting in mind and the audience must guess where that is.
Learn more: On Site
24. World's Worst
The audience calls out a profession and players take turns to think of lines that the "world's worst" would say. How about, "the world's worst bartender". Something like "how do you make ice?" comes to mind. This game is fast-paced and can serve up tons of creative ideas.
Learn more: Improv Games
25. Many-Headed Expert
This game will join a few players together in a collaborative process as they will act together as one expert. They are faced with a question seeking advice for example "how do I lose weight", and must work together to give advice by saying one word each.
Learn more: Wellcome Collection