Fishbowl Game

Do your students sit and stare at you? Is getting them to talk a challenge–especially at the start of a new semester or unit?  One way to combat that and include some friendly competition is to incorporate the Fishbowl Game!  This game has become one of my favorite activities to engage students and get them to relax and open up. This minimal prep game can be used to introduce new content, vocabulary words, holiday fun and more.  It’s a great team building exercise that can also be used with adults if you have to share teaching ideas among your faculty!


  • iPad or Laptop (to type up terms)
  • Projector or Screen (online timer)
  • White Boards & Markers (optional)
  • Cup, Bowl or Basket for Paper Slips

Game Set-Up

  • I’ve included a variety of ready to use fishbowl games below, in the attachments.  However if you want to create a new one, keep reading.
  • Teacher writes a person, place or thing on each small piece of paper associated with your topic. These should be common to most everyone.
  • Fold each piece of paper and place in the “fishbowl” (coffee cup, bowl, basket, etc.)
  • Count your students off by 2’s to create teams and select your first participant.

Game Directions

  • Round 1: Set timer for 30 seconds (place all slips in cup, bowl or basket)
  • Pull a slip of paper and use as many words–clues as needed to have your team guess what it is. If guessed correctly and time remains, the person keeps pulling until time is up. As a leader you may choose to skip “one” word per round.
  • Keep track of successful guesses and give a point for each.
  • Next, move to Team 2 and repeat.
  • Continue the back and forth with bowl/words until all papers have been used.
  • Round 2: (put all slips back in again)
  • Choose an option: Exactly the same except, instead of words to describe what’s on the paper, you have to “act out” what’s on the paper or play “Pictionary” with a white board and marker. You may only draw pictures and symbols. No words or letters. If you do the “Pictionary” version, change the timer to 45 seconds.
  • Round 3: (put all slips back in again)
  • Exactly the same except, you get “one word” to describe what’s on the paper so make it a good one. (By the time you get to this round, students will have worked with or heard the terms via the other team several times so they should definitely be more familiar with them.)
  • After the third round is complete, tally the scores to determine the team winners.  Prizes are optional, but can include small prizes, bonus points or XP points if your classes are gamified!


Similar Fishbowl Activity

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