America's Best Singer

Our version of American Idol
Supplies
Music - radio, iPod, karaoke machine
Microphone (either real or pretend)
Table and three chairs for the judges
Paper and pens for note taking and audience votes
Index card sized paper, safety pin, and performer number for each participant
3 sets of numbers, 1-10, for the judges
Setup

1. Compile a list of songs that you have available for participants to sing. (Please note that you do not have to have a karaoke machine to make this fun, folks have just as much fun singing along with the artist - in fact for many, that makes it easier. Some may even just want to lip sync.)
2. Have participants sign up. Some participants might feel best singing in a group. That's fine, just assign them all the same number in step 4.
3. Create an "order" for the singing (if participants choose the same song, make sure to put a few other performers between them).
4. Write the order numbers on index cards and pin to the appropriate participant(s).
5. Those choosing not to sing are the audience. Each audience member is given a pen and paper to "call in" who they would like to win at the end of the performances.
6. Select three people to be the judges.
7. Set up a viewing area with a table and three chairs and seat the judges. They can make up new "judge" names if they want.
8. Make score cards for the judges: index cards with the values 1 - 10 for each judge. If you like you can get fancy and tape the cards to popsicle sticks. Give each judge their own set.
9. Choose someone to be the emcee - they will announce who is up, and in what order.
10. Choose someone to run the sound equipment. They will need the list of the performance numbers in order so they can prepare for each participant.

How to Play

1. The emcee announces when the show begins and introduces each of the three judges. The emcee then invites the first performer up, hands them the microphone, and cues the music to start.
2. The first performer sings, while the audience and the judges listen.
3. When their song is complete, each of the judges is given the opportunity to express their feelings about the performance. (Remind judges to be funny rather than hurtful.) After the verbal exchange the performer(s) are given a number by each judge. The scores are tallied and recorded.
4. The next performer sings and again the judges provide feedback.
5. This repeats until all the performances have finished.
6. At this point, the emcee reintroduces each performer by their number, and the audience "calls in their votes" by writing the number of the performer(s) they believe should win on their slip of paper.
7. The slips of paper are passed in, tallied, and the emcee announces the winner.
8. You can award a silly little prize (like a microphone or a mini trophy) - just make sure you have a little something for everyone who participated so there are no hard feelings.

Variations

1. This game can be played with group bands instead of individual singers.
2. You can also have a simple round of traditional karaoke where everyone can sing without being judged.
3. If you have a large number of children that want to sing in the competition, have two rounds of "America's Best Singer." Let the winners of each round compete against each other in the "finals"!

Tips

1. Remember, be kind in your judging, and as funny as you can be. It's fun to have 3 opposing judges: one who is sweet and flowery, one who is sort of mean (but in a funny way), and one who is sort of hip and says silly things that mean absolutely nothing.
2. Remind the performers that presentation is a big part of the performance - dance, act out the song, use your hands and face to emote... this is really about hamming it up more than performing a beautiful vocal song.
3. If you have a large number of participants, shorten the song.

Stats
Activity Length
30 - 60 minutes
Age
School-age
Tween
Teen
Competitiveness
Either/or (can be played either way)
Difficulty
Easy peasy (fun and simple)
Indoor/Outdoor
Either
Mess Factor
Clean and tidy
Noise Level
Semi-rambunctious
Number of Players
5 to 10
10 to 20
20+
Prep Time
10 - 20 minutes
Space Needed
Medium (a clearable open space the size of a 2-car garage)
Team Division
Every man for himself (individual players)
All together now! (everyone works together)