How to Play the Fishbowl Game + Fun Word Ideas & Rules (2024)

The Fishbowl Game combines the classic games of Taboo, Charades, and Password into one fun experience. It is a lively, team-based word-guessing game that involves creativity and quick thinking.

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Who can play? All ages! It’s perfect for your next family night or holiday gathering!

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Fishbowl Game Overview

Objective of the Fishbowl Game (Or Salad Bowl Game)

Players draw words or phrases from a bowl and then team members guess in three distinctive rounds (within a set time).

The way you give hints changes for each round. A typical Fishbowl game usually has three rounds: 1) Taboo, 2) Charades, and 3) Password. The team with the most points after the final round wins!

Supplies Needed

  • A fishbowl or similar container
  • Strips of paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • A timer that makes a sound
  • Scorecard

Pro Tip: Play this game in a space with room for the two teams to gather around the fishbowl easily. If you have an odd number of players, have someone be the scorekeeper and sub after a round of play.

Fishbowl Game Rules: How To Play

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1. Distribute 3-5 paper strips to each player.

2. On each strip, players write down a word or phrase (person, place, thing, or feeling).

3. Fold up the paper strips and place them in the fishbowl.

4. Set a one-minute timer. Each word or phrase guessed correctly within the time earns one point for the team. There are 3 rounds of play described below.

5. To start Round 1, a player from Team A draws a paper and gives clues to their team. Their team will try to guess as many words drawn as possible before the time runs out. Team B then takes their turn. Continue alternating between teams until all words are guessed and the fishbowl is empty.

6. Return the cards to the fishbowl for reuse, and Round 2 begins.

7. Play continues following the rules for Round 2 and Round 3.

After all three rounds are completed, tally up the scores and declare a winning team.

Round 1: Taboo

Players can use any words except the ones written on the paper slips to describe the prompt to their teammates. Motions, pointing, or gestures are not allowed.

Round 2: Charades

Players must act out the words on the paper slip chosen without speaking or using any verbal cues.

Round 3: Password

Players can say only one word to hint at the words on their paper slip. Teammates must rely on their memory from previous rounds and make connections with minimal information.

If a player violates the current round’s rule, the turn automatically switches to the opposing team.

*Allow players to pass once per round if their team cannot guess correctly. Put that strip of paper back into the bowl. If a duplicate word is found in the bowl, remove it and continue to play.

Fishbowl Game Word Ideas for All Ages

Use these word and phrase ideas to customize your Fishbowl Game to fit your audience.

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Word and Phrases for Kids

Things you do at home

SleepingDrinkingEating
ReadingMaking a bedWashing Dishes
Walking the dogGetting dressedCooking
Watering flowersBrushing teethSetting the table
Taking a showerDriving a carPicking up the house

Food

PizzaPancakePopcorn
AppleDonutBirthday cake
LollipopSpaghettiHot dog
Chips and salsaBananaPeeling an orange
EggsMaking a sandwichIce Cream Sundae

Animals

DogCatFish
PenguinChickenKangaroo
PigElephantCrocodile
SnakeLobsterLion
GiraffeCowHorse

Related: Funny Animal Riddles

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Funny Ideas

Doing The WormJuggling with fireSlipping on a banana peel
ZombieRiding a unicyclePutting on sunscreen
Getting stuck in a spiderwebBlowing up a balloonRunning away from a bee
Giving a kissBlowing your noseSneaking a snack
Falling asleep at schoolWalking on a tightropeEating something sour
Having a water balloon fightChopping an onionSmelling a fart

Places

PlaygroundZooPark
MuseumMovie TheaterArcade
Amusement ParkAquariumFarm
Toy StoreTreehouseIce Cream Shop
SchoolLibraryGym

Sports and Activities

SoccerBasketballJump rope
SkateboardingSurfingBallet
Riding a bikeVolleyballTennis
GymnasticsHopscotchIce Skating
Hula HoopYogaFrisbee
SkiingBaseballFootball

Music

GuitarDrumPiano
SingingTrumpetViolin
TambourineFluteTrombone
ConductorMicrophoneSaxophone
ClarinetXylophoneBass drum

School

BackpackHomeworkLibrary
PencilLunchboxMath
GlobeNotebookDesk
BusComputerP.E.
WhiteboardTeacherStudent

Seasonal Words and Phrases

Snowball fightJumping in puddlesWindy day
Planting a gardenSwimmingJumping off the diving board
Going on vacationEating an ice cream coneWatching fireworks
RaindropPicnicDrinking hot cocoa
MittensGoing sleddingCarving a pumpkin
Decorating the Christmas treeOpening presentsEaster egg hunt
Carving the TurkeyTrick or TreatingHappy New Year!

Related:

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Movies

The Lion KingToy StoryCinderella
Sleeping BeautyPinocchioWall-E
TangledFrozenMary Poppins
The Wizard of OzSpy KidsHarry Potter
Jurassic ParkCarsStar Wars
The Little MermaidKung Fu PandaHercules

Play Kids Movie Trivia too!

People

DentistDoctorPirate
TeacherBabyKing
ClownChefScientist
ArtistPilotDetective
FirefighterPlumberDancer

Feelings

HappySadExcited
SurprisedScaredAngry
NervousSillyBored
ConfusedDisgustedGrumpy
EmbarrassedSleepyBrave

Related:

Fishbowl Game-Themed Ideas for Teens & Adults

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  • Movie/Television: Words related to popular movies, series, or actors.
  • Decades: 70s, 80s, 90s, or 2000s-themed words and phrases
  • World Traveler: Phrases about countries, landmarks, or travel experiences
  • Pop Culture: Phrases and words about celebrities and entertainment
  • Song Titles: Song titles and artists
  • Language Learning: Vocabulary from a target language. For example, Spanish food items.
  • History Buff: Key historical events or figures.
  • Holiday Cheer: Terms that resonate with holidays. (Great for holiday family gatherings or classroom parties.)
  • Specific Interest: Pick a theme that your specific group is interested in.

Related:

Fishbowl Game Variations

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Adjust for Group Size

For large groups, this game works well played in two teams as described. For a smaller group, take turns playing each round and working together without teams.

Playing With Young Kids

Make the game easier by using only one word on each paper slip. Stick with common themes like animals, foods, and kid-friendly places.

A sound-only round where players can make only noises to describe the prompt is especially fun for small children.

Example: If the paper slip says cow, they can only moo. If the paper slip says train, they can only make train noises.

Alternative Rules

The traditional Fishbowl Game format can be changed to add complexity or simplicity. Rules can cater to the preferences of the group playing.

  • The “Taboo” round can be modified to limit the number of words used when giving clues.
  • Themed rounds based on the group’s interests can be included.
  • Time limits can be shortened.
  • More or less passes per round can be given.
  • Rule breaking: Unique penalties can be added for breaking the rules. (Example: Do a pushup every time you talk during charades or say the word on the paper during taboo.) Or if a player breaks a rule of a round, the opposing team can gain a point.

Bonus Rounds

Continue the fun with one of these bonus round ideas or create your own!

group playing the game
  • Pictionary Round: Players draw a picture to represent their word.
  • Sound Effects Round: Players only use sound effects- no speaking or acting.
  • Speed Round: Set a much shorter time limit making the round faster-paced and challenging.
  • Bedsheet Round: The play must act out a word under a light blanket or bedsheet. No talking allowed!
  • Heads Up Round: The player who draws the paper holds it up to their forehead without looking at it. The other players give clues based on the round they are playing. The player holding the card tries to guess the word or phrase.

Related:

What’s Next?

If you enjoyed the Fishbowl Game, play this Fun Family Feud Game next! It’s a great idea for family night!

More Game Night posts you’ll love…

Fishbowl (aka Salad Bowl) Game Rules, Words, Ideas

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