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The Top 10 Circle Theatre Games for Kids: A Whirlwind of Fun!

If you've ever witnessed a group of kids playing in a circle, you know there’s a certain magic that happens—laughter fills the air, shyness evaporates, and creativity blooms. Today, we’re diving into the wonderful world of circle theatre games, which not only spark joy and camaraderie among kids but also foster creativity, listening skills, and confidence. Let's spin into the top 10 circle theatre games that are perfect for any group of young aspiring actors or just for fun!

1. Zip Zap Zop

This classic game is a fantastic ice breaker and energy booster. Players stand in a circle, and the game starts with someone pointing to another and saying "Zip!" That person then points to another saying "Zap!" and the to someone else "Zop". It starts over and it continues. The pace increases, and laughter ensues with inevitable mix-ups and speedy reactions. I ask performers to make eye contact, give good strong energy and use a big voice. To make it harder I will sometimes add a second line of energy which makes this even crazier.

2. Pass the Clap

A rhythm game where players send a clap around the circle with eye contact. The goal is to pass the clap as smoothly as possible, without breaking the rhythm. This game sharpens focus and helps kids tune into non-verbal signals. This is a great focus exercise. Start the rhythm slow and go from there. I suggest that performers try to keep a beat together. Once again eye contact is key in this. To make it harder performers can double clap and make the direction of the clap change.

3. Magic Ball

In this imaginative game, a player mimes holding a ball and describes its properties (e.g., "This is a bouncy ball"). They then 'throw' the imaginary ball to another player who must act accordingly. It’s a great exercise for creativity and physical expression. The ball changes each time and performers need to act how they would lift and throw the ball as well as how they would receive it. Play with weight, size and speed.

4. The Name Game

Great for the start of a session, each person says their name along with a favorite hobby or an adjective that starts with the same letter as their name. For example, "Jumping Jack" or "Drawing Danielle." It’s a memorable way to learn names and something personal about each other. If I want the whole group to get comfortable I will have everyone repeat the name and action. This builds a sense of fun and shows that everyone can participate. It also allows performers to join without really being put on the spot (yet).

5. Kitty Wants a Corner

One performer is in the middle and needs to up to someone in the circle and say "Kitty wants a corner?" that performer standing in the circle needs to respond with "Sorry Kitty go ask my neighbour". While this is going on all of the other performers are looking at each other to switch spaces. They do this by making eye contact and agreeing on switching then running to trade spots. The kitty while asking for a corner is always keeping their eye open and is trying to steal someone's spot while they are trading. This a great exercise for performers to be aware of their surroundings and work together. I emphasize that for performers to trade spots they both need to communicate and agree. It can not be one sided.

6. Fruit Salad

A great game to get everyone to learn about each other while having fun. Everyone starts standing in the circle. One person in the middle and is trying to get a spot. I usually start as the caller so I can learn more about everyone, but the person in the middle could also be the caller. The caller will say something like "Anyone who.... has a sibling", then all of the performers who have a sibling must leave their spot and find a new one. Performers may not go back to their own spot. The person is the middle is always trying to steal a spot and they do not need to fit the criteria for any thing that is called. Once in a while the caller will say FRUIT SALAD and everyone needs to find a new spot.

7. Murder Wink

Players can sit down in the circle. You have one person leave the room and they will be the detective. Once the detective is out of the room I have everyone close their eyes and I tap one person on the shoulder who will be the murderer. Eyes open and the detective comes back in. They can go right in the middle of the circle and they will have 3 guesses to guess who is the murdered. Everyone else is looking around the circle and maintaining eye contact. The murdered is going to wink at someone (or stick out their tongue if winking doesn't work) the performer who is winked it must die a very DRAMATIC death. This is where the acting and fun comes in. It is great exercise for focus and having fun with acting the dramatic deaths out.

8. Story Circle

One player starts a story with a single sentence, and then the next adds another, and so on. This game is a fantastic way for kids to practice narrative development and listening skills. You can make it harder by only letting performers say one word at a time. I usually try to remind performers to keep the story positive and build it. For example if someone says once upon a time there was a dog and he got hit by a car then they story will be over. You want to encourage to together and make the best story they can. It is a great exercise for everyone to listen as well.

9. Whoosh

A great warm-up game and can be used with performers of all ages. Standing in a circle one performing starts sending energy to the right of them by going WHOOSH like a wave. Performers must give good energy while sending the whoosh. Once it has gone around the circle once performers have the option of continuing the whoosh or saying Woah with both hands up like stop. If they say woah the performing giving the whoosh may turn and give it in the opposite direction. Once in a while a performer will get stuck with people are either side saying woah they are allow to send the whoosh to anyone in the circle by getting eye contact and making a funny noise (ours usually sounds like a call from Zena) that person receives it and sends the whoosh to their right.

10. What Are You Doing?

In this game, one player mimes an action, and the next asks, "What are you doing?" The first player must come up with something completely unrelated to their action (e.g., if they’re jumping, they might say "I’m baking a cake"). The questioner then starts miming the new action. This is a great exercise in quick thinking and spontaneity.

Circle theatre games are not just fun; they are a playground for the imagination and social skills. They teach kids how to be part of a group, listen carefully, and think on their feet—all while having a ball! So next time you have a group of energetic youngsters, circle up and let the games begin!

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