The traditional way to play charades is to have slips of paper with all of the words or items that need to be acted out written down. But to make things easier for the kids and have them use their imaginations more have them decide what they are going to act out without telling anyone. This is a great game for outside or indoors on a rainy day. If some of the children are having a hard time thinking up ideas be prepared with a few back-up ones to whisper in their ear.
If you have enough people to play, charades can be played in teams, but it also works with single players. One person stands up and has to act out a word, object or saying. Depending on the ages of the children, objects are usually the easiest things for them to act out. There is absolutely no talking done by the person who is doing the acting (also called pantomiming).
As the child is trying to get the other kids to guess what they are acting out the kids yell out their guesses. It is okay for the actor to give an indication if they are right, wrong, or on the right track by hand and head gestures. If playing as individuals instead of teams, the first person who correctly guesses the object gets to be the next person to pantomime an object.
Some easy objects for kids to start with are helicopters, airplanes, rowboats, cars. Emotions or actions can be fun too such as laughing, being silly, scared, or crying. For older children they can act out a movie title. When a string of words is involved, it is easiest to tackle one word at a time. This is a classic game that is still around because it is so much fun.