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Take Make Believe And Make It Real With These Improv Games

Some stories can’t be found on any bookstore shelf.

Brian Sandstrom

From creating hilarious characters to telling a story that can’t be found on any bookstore shelf, playing make-believe is a family staple. These six improv games will get those creative juices flowing (and help you to keep up with your kids’ quick minds). Then, use the tips at the end to bring these games to life with creative projects.


How To Play: One person pretends to be  a guard, and the others all pretend they’re trapped. Those who are trapped come up with costumes, characters, and reasons to persuade the guard they should be let through. The guard asks questions while the escapees try to stay in character, or break out into fits of laughter. Is anyone’s story believable? If not, send them back! But if they manage to convince the guard of their worthiness, let them through! 

Level Up: Come up with a silly scene beforehand to explain where everyone is and what’s being guarded.

Three-Headed Story

How To Play: Imagine that everyone playing is a talking head, and you all share the same body. Take turns creating a story together, but each person can only say one word at a time. For younger kids, try switching off after each sentence instead.

Level Up: Have a parent write the story down as you go to keep the story forever. Can you try acting it out?

Magical Bag of Opposites

 ktaylorg / Getty Images

ktaylorg / Getty Images

How To Play: Each player grabs a bag and runs around the house filling it with five silly objects. After all the objects are collected, trade bags! Everyone then takes turns pulling a random object from their new bag, and must come up with a completely new way to use or play with it! Is it a banana? Pretend it is a Cyclops eye laser visor. A baseball hat? Imagine it’s an overflowing bowl of cereal. 

Level Up: Take a picture of the new ways you can play with these ordinary objects!

Snapshot Picture Book

How To Play: Decide on a story (make sure it is one that everyone knows!). As a group, come up with the most important moments in the story. Then pose yourselves as animals, objects, or even trees to recreate each scene. Take pictures of each pose, and put them together to create your own Snapshot Picture Book. How many pictures did it take you to tell the story?

Level Up: Show your pictures to someone else and have them try to guess the story!

Character Party

How To Play: One person acts as the party host, then everyone else must secretly come up with a famous character. One at a time, each player enters the party in character, doing their best to act just like them. Can the party host guess who everyone is pretending to be?

Level Up: Spice up family dinner by having everyone come as a character! Can your family keep it up the whole time?

Questions, Questions, Questions!

How To Play: Two players take turns asking one another yes-or-no questions, but the trick is… each player has to answer yes!

Person 1: “Want to go to the moon?” Person 2: “Yes! Do you have your pet space snake with you?” Person 1: “Yes…  he isn’t feeling that well though. Do you have any rats?”

Level Up: Can you play the game with three people at the same time? Maybe more?

MoMo Productions / Getty Images

MoMo Productions / Getty Images

Inspired by the scenes you created as a family? Write a picture book together of one of your favorite scenes! Keep a list of the lines that made you crack up. Get into costumes and film one of your most memorable moments on your phone. Anyone can take these imaginative improv games and make them into something real you can keep with you forever.