Game 3: Reverse Taboo

Using taboo cards from the actual game like the one pictured here, I divide my class into three teams and have them group together. Once in the groups I begin the game, but not by using the actual game rules.

I read the first word on the card, which in the normal game is a word that cannot be said when trying to get a player to guess the pink word, and I give the team about 10 seconds to guess the pink word. For example, with the card here I would say, “pouch,” and the students quickly confer and give me a guess. The first word I hear is the guess.

If the team gets it right, I award them five points. If they answer incorrectly, I read the second word (in this case it’s “hop”) to the next group. If the second group answers correctly, the team gets four points. If wrong, the third team gets a guess with the third word (in this case it’s “animal”) for three points. The points decrease with each additional clue from 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1. I continue through the five words until a team gets the word correct or no one answers correctly.

Once that card is used I put it away and allow the next team to start, and I repeat the process. It’s a blast and really gets the kids thinking and connecting information.

I have created my own cards using literature too. However, this sometimes requires a few extra word clues. I either play the game like I did above, or I (more likely) have the students play among themselves in groups using the traditional Taboo rules where the students cannot say the words below the pink word.

For The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (what the students need to guess), I put the words Huck, Tom, Jim, Mississippi River, Pap, Miss Watson, Widow Douglas, King, Duke, and Mark Twain. The students then have to get their teammates to guess the novel title using other words and phrases. It takes a while to make the cards, but it’s fun. I’ve also had students create their own and used them with the other classes.

Obviously, this game can be adapted in a number of ways which is part of its appeal. I use it every year, and every years my students enjoy it.

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