I’ve written before about my plans to play Taboo as a warm-up with my students on Tuesdays. We’ve had two Tuesdays so far, and it’s gone really well. I wouldn’t say it’s my students’ favorite day of the week. That’s probably Witzzle or the Train Game. But, I like that it gets them thinking about how they use their words.
It’s also a really good way to sneak some math vocab into what they think of as just a cool beginning of class activity.
Here’s the way I’ve been doing it:
Taboo is actually a board game, but you don’t actually need a copy to use this as an activity in class.
I do keep a copy of the board game in my room for kids to play on those days where 80% of the class is gone for some sort of activity.
On Tuesdays, I display Taboo on the board and ask for volunteers.
Each class plays through 4 taboo cards. 2 cards are random words from the English language. The other 2 cards are math vocabulary words. I mix the order up, so I ask students to volunteer BEFORE they know if it’s going to be a math word or a random word.
At some point, I may go to randomly selecting students. I haven’t decided. It seems like the same few kids want to volunteer each time. It’s still early in the year, and I know a lot of my freshman students might still feel uncomfortable playing a game like this in front of their peers. I don’t want to push a student to participate who doesn’t want to. But, I also want to give the kinda shy kid a chance who is too scared to volunteer but still wants to play. Maybe I should choose randomly but allow students to pass if they wish???
I have the first volunteer turn around to face away from the SMART Board while I project the first card. The rest of the class gives clues while trying to avoid the words written at the bottom of the card. This Tuesday’s first card was DRAGONFLY. I downloaded a PDF file with a bunch of free taboo style cards here. They were created for ELL students, but I’ve found they work perfectly for my purposes. I’ve just been using the snipping tool to cut out the cards I want to use each day.
Now that we’ve played twice, my students are getting better at not yelling out clues that contain the words at the bottom. The first time we played it was rough. Part of the problem is that they way I’ve structured our Taboo opener is that there isn’t really a punishment for saying the word at the bottom.
The main point of this post is sharing some resources I’ve found for math taboo cards with you all. I’m trying not to recreate the wheel this year in ALL aspects of my teaching (only some).
Math Taboo Card Resources
James Cleveland offers a set of 163 pre-made math taboo cards ready to print as a PDF! I’ve been using this set to pull out cards for my classes.
Tina Cardone has posted some geometry taboo cards!
Paul Collins offers a set of 50 taboo cards.
This set is from a UK website, so some of the vocab words may look unfamiliar to US readers. Before I started dating an Australian maths teacher, I had no idea just how many math terms differed based on country.
Of course, Fawn steps this up a notch and has her kids create their own taboo cards to use.
More Games and Activities
- Game of Sim
- Number Contests for the First Day of School
- Circle Tic Tac Toe
- Martinetti Dice Game
- Divisibility Rules Dice Game
- Pi Day Dice Challenge
- Proof! Math Game Review
- Tic-Tac-Toe Squared
- Teaching Students to Play the Train Game
- TIGO Puzzles
- Absolute Zero Card Game Review
- Make a Million Place Value Game
- Traffic Lights Game
- The Game of SET
- Tenzi vs Splitzi Measures of Central Tendency Activity
- Manifest Game by Frank Tapson
- Shape Logic by ThinkFun Game Review
- Brick Logic Game by ThinkFun Review
- Witzzle Bulletin Board
- Count to Ten
- Thirteen Game
- 5 x 5 Game by Sara Van Der Werf
- Game of Greed Statistics Foldable
- Prime Climb Game and an Interesting Problem
- Math Taboo
- Playing Spot It! In The Classroom
- The Game of 24
- Witzzle Pro Math Game
- Greedy Pig Dice Game for Practicing Probability