Ever played Taboo? I read many years ago that the game was originally developed as a Biology review game and it’s been a staple in my science classes ever since!
It’s SUCH a fun and effective review option!
I do this review in two parts:
1) Students create the game cards; then
2) We have a class round robin tournament!
Part 1: Card Creation
Each student is given several cards. They can use their notes to find 5 words that will be the ”taboo” words that cannot be used to describe the term on the card. Be sure to explain to kids that if they can explain a vocabulary term without using the most obvious words, you really understand it!
I use this simple example:
Part 2: Round Robin Tournament
- Pair up students as you see fit (I generally let them pick partners). Groups of three can also work but pairs are ideal.
- Find a tournament setup that matches the number of teams in your class. You can Google brackets for different numbers of teams, or they’re included in my Taboo games. My slide showing a 13-team tournament is shown here:
- Project the bracket so teams can see who they are supposed to be battling each round.
- Note: Each station should have a buzzer or bell and a timer (I allow a student to use their phone).
- Once at their game station, each student sits next to someone from the opposite team. I typically have each round last ~10 minutes depending on how much time we have.
• Let the game begin! If Team 1 is going first, a member from Team 2 starts the station’s timer for 30 seconds. Team 1 picks up a card and tries to get their partner to guess the vocabulary word at the top without using and of the “taboo” words. Once their partner guesses correctly, they keep the card and pick up another. They keep track of how many cards they get within 30 seconds.
• While one member of Team 1 is describing the vocabulary terms, the member from Team 2 sitting next to them, ready to buzz the buzzer if a taboo word is used. If that happens, their turn is over! Once a turn is over, the roles switch and Team 2 has a chance to score points.
• Once the timer at the front of the room goes off to alert the class that the round is over, teams must count up their points.
• Then, before anyone moves, the teacher keeps track of the winning team from each station (see diagram above). A win is 2 points, a tie is 1 point, and a loss is 0 points.
• Students replace the piles of cards at their station and move to their next round’s station. *These transitions are key to a smooth tournament, so be sure to model expectations clearly after the first round.
• Play continues until you finish all rounds or run out of time!
Taboo is ALWAYS a class favourite, and students quickly figure out what they need to study going forward.
It’s easy to make, but if you want to check out my available sets of Taboo cards you can check them out here. My games also contain station labels, brackets/tournament setups for 6 to 15 teams, slides that can be projected to explain the game to students, and a detailed explanation of how to run the tournament.
If you’re interested in other ways to work review into your classes, grab this freebie that outlines 21 Ways to Make Content Stick!
Psst…are you a NEW-ish TEACHER interested in some classroom management tips to ensure you’ll have a stress-free classroom next year? Click here!
Have you used Taboo in your class? If not, give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Interested in a deep dive into more of my favourite review ideas? Check out:
Exams are coming…start your class review with THIS!
3 super easy ways ways for kids to practice retrieval in science
How to guarantee that your students will remember what they learn
Student-directed learning and high engagement? Yes, please!
A simple routine to promote reflection and positive relationships
My favourite way to review vocabulary in high school science