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Improv Fun & Games: Speed Props

“Speed Props” is a fast-paced, competitive version of the traditional Props game. This is a great game for students who like a challenge and want to practice their improvisation skills.

Materials Needed:
  • Stopwatch or kitchen timer
  • Bell or noisemaker
  • Paper & pen
  • Selection of props
  • Someone to be the Judge (either the teacher or a student volunteer)


1. Divide students into a minimum of two groups.

2. Have a selection of props available for groups to choose from. Anything goes: blankets, chairs, mops, mugs, backpacks, sports equipment, stuffed animals… whatever you have handy in your classroom or props cupboard.

3. Determine which team gets to select their prop first (choose a name out of hat, play rock-paper-scissors, answer a trivia question, etc.). The advantage of going first is that the group gets a wider choice of props. The advantage of going last is that their group can use other groups' ideas to spark their scenario ideas, but they have fewer props to choose from.

4. Each team has one minute to improvise as many simple scenarios with their prop as possible. Team members can go up solo, in pairs, as a full group, or whatever they want within the time limit.

5. The Judge starts the timer and watches closely. When the Judge thinks the scenario is clear, they ring the bell or sound the noisemaker and the group can move on to the next scenario. The Judge keeps a tally on the paper of how many scenarios the group completes in one minute, excluding duplicate scenarios. Once the final timer goes off, the group must stop.

6. Talking is allowed to assist with the scene, but students cannot identify the object specifically. For example, they can hold up a broom handle in front of them and pretend to play it as a clarinet and make squeak and toot noises, but they can’t just hold the item and say “This is a clarinet.” Students can use the items any way they wish, as long as they don’t drop or break the prop and the scenario is classroom friendly.

7. Remember that the keyword here is simple! Groups don’t need to come up with long, elaborate scenarios. The goal is quantity, while ensuring the scenarios are clear and understandable. A student might use a prop plate as a steering wheel, but they don’t need to mime getting into a car and starting the engine. Just sit or squat and make a steering motion with the plate, then move on once the Judge sounds the approval bell. Time is of the essence!

8. Continue playing rounds until you wish to stop or you run out of class time. Add up the total scores. The team with the most scenarios wins.

Gameplay Adaptations
  • For less experienced students, you may wish to allow 1.5–2 minutes per group.
  • Play as many rounds as there are teams. In the first round, the first group chooses a prop that every group must use. In the second round, the second group chooses a prop for every group to use, and so on. No repeated scenarios are allowed per prop.
  • When deciding which team gets to go first, the winning team can either go first or assign a prop to another group and make them go first.
  • Silent Speed Props: only miming, no speaking or sounds allowed.
  • If the Judge sees a group copying another group’s scenario, the offending group must give a point to the team they copied.
  • If a group is blatantly copying another group’s scenarios, the Judge may determine a penalty (losing points or disqualification).

Click here for a free participation rubric.
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