New Year Activities for Families: "Party Quirks" Is a Fun & Playful Improv Game for Kids by Jocelyn Greene
Here’s a game to add some revelry to the last days of of the year. “Party Quirks” is a classic improv game with a theatrical structure that can boost endorphins, creativity and self-directed play. It is a great imagination workout and super adaptable to whatever age crew you’ll be celebrating with into the new year. Here’s the deal:
- Pretend there's a party. Select who will be the host and all of the guests pull a "quirk" from a hat. Quirks could be things like: “You think you are Spider-Man.” “Every time someone smiles, you jump up and down.” “You can’t stop dancing.” (I have more suggestions here.) With kids in the pre-K through first grade set, it is fun to use animals and emotions.
- The host makes the guests feel welcome in improvisational party-like behavior and then tries to guess their quirk.
- Once all the quirks are guessed, play again with a new host or hosts.
And with kids who aren’t reading, it’s just as easy to have the trait whispered into their ear, no problem.
Setting the Scene
To help the “given circumstances,” there can be party hats, punch bowls and nibbles to nosh – real or (my preference!) imaginary. Establish the entrance to the party (ding dong!) and where the food and drinks are to keep the improv specific and grounded. I recommend playing actual music for that party vibe!
Motivation, Competence, Self-direction, All the Good Stuff
Kids get the hang of this game quickly and can get into that excellent autonomous zone. They can come up with:
- The type of party (birthday, New Year's Eve, graduation, etc., keep changing it up!).
- The music at the party.
- The quirks (they can write on note cards, which is super for imagination and penmanship – a win-win). Or have a designated “quirk-er” whisper it in the ear of the guests right before they enter.
Best of all, they can host the party themselves. Hosting is an awesome opportunity to practice kindness and inclusivity. As Host, you have to welcome your guests, ensure they have food, and drink and are comfortable (even if their quirk is that they can’t quench their thirst!).
It is an improv delight, and when kids ultimately take this over, they use play to reinforce empathy and active listening. From an acting perspective, hosts are also driving the scene, asking questions of their guests to discover their traits and then keeping the scene flowing. Once the host guesses, the “party” can last as long as you like.
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