As the weather warms up, I remember the summers I spent at Camp Whispering Oaks, a Girl Scout resident camp in Southern California. Now that I am a teacher and a mom, I know that I can’t go back, but I can bring camp into my classroom. The improv game Questions Only is one of the games that my students enjoy.
As a little background, at Camp Whispering Oaks, the entire camp attends a large opening campfire on the second night of each session to welcome the girls. These are upbeat evenings filled with singing, staff introductions, and skits performed by counselors. In order to avoid the need to prep the skits in advance and to add a bit of novel entertainment to the weekly routine, a program director (the person who leads the campfires) began integrating improv skits into the program. Questions Only quickly became one of the campers’ favorite skits. Fifteen years later, I now play this game with my students.
As previously mentioned in my post I am a Tree , I primarily use improvisation games in my classroom to develop empathy and creativity. I have also found that some, like Questions Only, are useful tools to develop language skills. Since Questions Only forces speakers to act out a scene using only questions, it challenges the speakers and entertains the audience as the speakers try to remember to speak without using statements or exclamations. In my middle school ELD class, I have found the game to be useful when reviewing sentence types.
If you play Questions Only, please share on social media and use the hashtag #tvszed tag @npriester so I can share it with others. I also have a Facebook group at bit.ly/tvszFB for Teachers vs Zombies. Feel free to leave questions or suggestions below. Have fun!
- Students will perform brief skits
- Two students act out a scene by only speaking in questions
- Avoid replying to the other actor with a statement or exclamation
- A space for two people to perform and space for the audience to sit (most classroom layouts work just fine)
- 8-10 minutes (Remember, “Stop while they’re having fun!”)
- Two students are chosen as the first actors. They stand in the front of the room.
- The teacher asks audience members to suggest all or part of an exposition:
- Teacher announces exposition and says, “Action!”
- Actors perform the scene by taking turns speaking using only one-sentence questions. One word answers and simply repeating a line are not allowed.
- When an actor says a sentence that is not a question, the teacher or the audience can yell “Cut!” or make a buzzer sound.
- The actors (or just the actor who made the mistake) take a seat and the game repeats with a new exposition selected by the audience.