Kids on Stage is a non-competitive charades game designed for children, in which all of the players reach the finish before the game has ended.
Components: The game box includes a large, brightly-colored and sturdy game board with a spinner, 6 player pieces, and 20 red cards depicting actions, 20 green cards depicting objects, and 20 blue cards depicting animals.
Setup: To prepare for the game, players sort all the cards by color and place them in face-down piles near the similarly-colored item on the board (a blue frog in the top left corner, a green airplane in the top right corner, and a red girl reading at bottom right). Each player then chooses a playing piece and places it at the Start space along the path, which is composed of green, blue, and red circles.
Gameplay: The oldest player spins the spinner (numbered 1-8) and moves the appropriate number of spaces on the path, landing on a green, blue, or red space. They then pick up a card the same color and act out the action, object, or animal shown on the card, without speaking. (Note that each card shows both a picture and text, so that players do not need to be able to read to play.) After another player guesses what is on the card, the next player spins the spinner, picks up an appropriately colored card, acts it out, and so on. The game ends when all players have moved along the path from the Start space to the Finish space.
Our experience: A staff member at our FLGS recommended Kids on Stage when I told her that I was looking for a game for a very active child turning three. When she showed me the box, I realized that I had seen my older daughter (then five) playing the game at her after-school program, and I liked the idea of a game that the two of them could play together.
I am happy to say that this has worked out as planned. This is my younger daughter's most-requested game. And while my older daughter does get sick of it, she's definitely willing to play (which is not the case with some other games targeted for younger kids).
It is very helpful to have both the pictures and the text on the cards, so that my younger daughter does not have to ask for any help before beginning to act out her card. I also am very thankful that the cards are categorized by color, because that first hint is enormously helpful.
There are times that this game lasts a little longer than I'd like. A path of 51 can seem endless when one or two people are spinning 8's, then waiting for someone who has been spinning 1's the entire game. Nevertheless, this is a game that we all really enjoy, and it has become my "go to" gift for four-year-old birthday parties.