Taboo for Vocab

I loooooooove taboo. It’s a great game that works well with all levels. This is actually the first one I created about 2 years ago and I still use it today.


What you need:

  1. cardboard/paper (once again I like colours…to make it pretty!)
  2. 2 good pens/markers
  3. Optional-pictures of what you want your students to guess.

How to make it:

Cut your pictures individually. Then take your cardboard and cut it slightly bigger than each picture. It needs to be about 3 centimeters longer though (that’s where the writing goes).

Glue (or staple…way quicker actually) your picture on the cardboard but make sure the longer side sticks out at the bottom.

In big, write the word that the picture represents (ex: cat, dog, house…). Under that word write (in  different colour) 3 to 6 words (the more words you write the more advanced your activity will be) that come to mind when thinking of that first one. I like to call them the forbidden words.

That’s it. The game is ready.


How to play:

If you fold the bottom part of each card and hide the forbidden words, you can actually use those cards to teach your students those words.

If they already know the words and you just want to reinforce what you taught here is what you do.

Separate your students in pairs or groups of 3. Give a taboo card to one of the students. This person has to describe the main word without using any of the forbidden words. Whoever guesses what it is gets a point. If the student describing is struggling too much, allow him/her to use one of the forbidden words, then 2, 3…depending on how difficult it is for them. And then another student describes a new card.

More advanced version:

I probably wouldn’t put pictures for my more advanced students as I would choose vocabulary that is more difficult to represent such as preposition, conjunctions or abstract ideas.

You can also create a little detachable paper for each card with more and more difficult forbidden words. That way you can use the same set of taboo cards all the time. What’s nice about creating the detachable words, is that you could teach your students about more advanced vocabulary on easy topics. For example, one of my taboo cards represents a dog. Well on my detachable forbidden words, I have written words such as claws, fur, snout, paws… Then I told my students to actually match those papers to the appropriate taboo card and then we go over the vocabulary together.

Another way of making a basic set of cards more advanced would be to have your students guess ALL the words on the cards. That can be quite challenging actually but it really gets your students thinking.

Hope you enjoy it…and your students too!



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