This simple taboo talking game engages and quiets my groups of students every time! They listen intently, wanting to guess and earn a turn. Simply stated, kids love the simple challenge of describing a word without using a list of specific words.
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3 Ways to Play TABOO!
Here, I’m going to outline three ways to play the famous taboo talking game. In addition, I’m going to list guided writing lessons that go well with this game.
Getting the Cards
A few years ago, I found an original version of Taboo at a garage sale. There’s a new version called, Taboo Kids vs. Parents* on Amazon and an updated version for ages 13 and up*. Since I have the original version, that’s the game that I use and will refer to in this post.
Because the original taboo game that I have was an adult version, I went through the cards and tossed any of them that even slightly or remotely contained inappropriate words or verbiage. The rest of the cards were great! You can see some of them below.
Sort the Cards that you Keep
Secondly, after throwing out unnecessary cards, you will want to go through the cards again to sort them by topic. Each card has a pink or blue word at the top which doesn’t mean anything to my students and I. So, I sort the cards into 5 groups:
- Miscellaneous (optional)
I personally tossed any cards that didn’t fit into the first 5 groups. But, by all means, if you’d like to use them, do so! Finally, put a rubber band around each group of cards and set them aside until you’re ready to use them.
Now the 3 Taboo Talking Games!
The way Taboo* is typically played is a student has to describe the bold word at the top, without using any of the words listed below it. Now, let’s look at how you can use this game with a small or large group of students!
The Original Taboo Talking Game
Common Core State Standards
NOTE: This version of the game can address the following Common Core Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.4, SL.1.4, SL.2.4, SL.3.4, SL.4.4 and SL.5.4.
How to Play!
- First, a child goes to the front of the room.
- Second, that student has to describe the top word (pink or blue) without using any of the listed words below. This challenges the child to think outside his or her regular word choice.
- Third, he/she has to say at least 3 sentences before anyone can guess the word.
- Fourth, the child chooses a classmate that is seated, quiet and has his/her hand up to guess the word. If a classmate is loud, he/she can’t be called. This is a natural way to maintain a healthy class order so that the game can be fully enjoyed. I can’t recall any time that I’ve had trouble with kids cooperating to play this game. They simply like it EVERY TIME!
- Fifth, as soon as a classmate guesses the word correctly, he/she goes to the front to describe the next word.
- Last, the game continues until the time allotted runs out!
We’ve played this simple TABOO talking game after the following writing prompts:
Calendar Page-Descriptive Scene (PLACE cards)
Your Hero-Descriptive Person (PEOPLE cards)
The “Q-U” Queen-Fairy Tale (PEOPLE cards)
Valued Person-A to Z Poem (PEOPLE cards)
Reindeer Sandwich-Instructions (FOOD cards)
Persuade a Place: The 2nd Taboo Talking Game
For this version of Taboo, we use the place cards. Students have to persuade the group to go to the place listed on the card. They have to say at least 3 complete sentences before the group can begin guessing the place. Like the original version, they can’t use any of the black words listed on the cards.
Common Core State Standards
NOTE: This version of the game can address the following Common Core Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.4
We play Persuade a Place after the completing the following guided writing lesson:
Fairy Tale Taboo: The 3rd Taboo Talking Game
I created my own version of taboo for fairy tale characters. You’ll need to print and cut out these fairy tale taboo cards on cardstock. Or, you can print, cut and glue them to index cards to make them sturdier.
How to play!
1. First, a child stands at the front of the room.
2. Second, the child has to describe the top underlined word without using any of the listed words below. This challenges the child to think outside his/her regular word choice.
3. Third, the child has to say at least 3 sentences before anyone can guess the word.
4. Fourth, he/she child chooses a classmate that is seated, quiet and has his/her hand up.
5. Lastly, as soon as a classmate guesses the correct character, he/she goes to the front to describe the next character.
We played this game after writing the following fairytale writing prompts:
One Magic Seed-A Watermelon Writing Prompt
After playing these talking games, check out our fun writing games!
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