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How to Play Fishbowl Game: Rules, Regulations, and Tips

The Fishbowl Game is a fun-filled memory game that combines Charades, Password, and Taboo.  It is also an easy game to learn, which means children and adults can play it together. Today, we will learn how to play the Fishbowl Game, focusing on its rules, regulations, and instructions. We will also insert some tips throughout this guideline.

The Fishbowl Game can be played with large groups, which makes it perfect for family get-togethers.  It also works well as a school classroom activity or a team-building exercise.

The first thing to learn regarding how to play the Fishbowl Game is its core component: competition. The teams race against each other to offer correct answers and score as many points as possible. It is an amazing game to play indoors with the kids during the lockdown and one of the funniest challenges to organize with your teens and their friends during a summer day in the backyard.

How Many People do You Need to Play the Fishbowl Game?

The Fishbowl Game is a party game for large groups. It works well for a wide bunch of friends spending an afternoon together, as a newlywed after-party game with a host of guests, a bridal shower game for large groups, or a crowd game for kids and teens on camp, and so on.

In other words, you can play the game in six or eight people, but it is best to think about it in terms of ten to twenty participants. It keeps things more interesting and more entertaining. Since the main purpose of the game is people giving their best shot at describing things, playing out a word, or engage in other spectacular manners of conveying a meaning, the more the merrier.

How to Play the Fishbowl Game: Rules and Regulations

You will need a few objects to play The Fishbowl Game, so start by gathering them in one place.

Gather the following materials:

  • 3-4 Pens
  • Paper
  • Scissors

  •   A container to hold the paper (a fishbowl is ideal!)
  •   A timer

Cut the paper into small strips that are big enough for players to write a couple of words on.  Each player will require three strips of paper.

How to Play the Fishbowl Game

Step 1: Populate the fishbowl

Start by separating everyone into two equal teams. Now that you have Team A and Team B, each player in each team will then take three strips of paper and write a word or familiar phrase on each piece.  Players will have to guess the words or phrases later on, so they shouldn’t be too obscure.  Each player then folds their pieces of paper in half and places them into the fishbowl.  After all of the pieces of paper are in the fishbowl, someone has to shake the bowl to mix them up. For this reason, you might find the game also called “Salad Bowl.”

Choosing the words may be a little challenging – don’t forget you will have to say everything about those objects/concepts but their name. Also, at some point during the Fishbowl Game, you might end up acting upon them, play mime with them. So go beyond the animal charades you play with the kids and give your friends (or yourself) a good run for their money. In between words like a dictator, propeller, psychedelic, or tourniquet, you can throw in some nicer, easier words, like: giggle, fishbowl, or spoon.

Step 2: Play the “Taboo” round

The taboo round is first up.  The goal of this round is to guess as many words or phrases as possible within 1 minute.

The round progresses like this:
  •   The starting team selects a player to go first.
  •   That player will grab a piece of paper from the fishbowl and reads it.  The 1-minute timer will start as soon as they pick a piece of paper from the fishbowl.
  •   The player will then use words to get their teammates to guess the word or phrase that is on the paper.  They cannot use any hand gestures — only words.  They can’t say any of the words that are on the paper, as they are the “taboo” words.  For example, if the word is “Cheeseburger” they might say “You eat this at McDonald’s”
  •   If the player thinks the word or phrase is too hard, they can “pass” and put the paper back into the fishbowl.  However, players can only do this once per round.
  •   If the team successfully guesses the word, they get to keep the piece of paper.
  •   After 1 minute has elapsed, the other team gets their turn.  They also have 1-minute to guess as many words as possible.

Each team continues to take 1-minute turns until all of the pieces of paper have been removed from the fishbowl.  When the fishbowl is empty, each team counts the pieces of paper they have gathered.  Each piece contributes 1 point to their score.  After tallying each team’s score, fill the fishbowl with the pieces of paper and move onto the next round!

Step 3: Play the “password” round

The next round in the Fishbowl Game is played in a similar fashion, with each team having 1-minute to guess as many words or phrases as possible.  The team that went second last time will get to go first for this round.

The main difference is that the player reading the paper can only use one word to describe the word or phrase.  So, if the word is “Cheeseburger” this time they may use a single word like “McDonalds” to describe it.  The team needs to remember the words that were mentioned in the first round and use the “password” as a hint.  The teams continue to alternate with 1-minute rounds each, then the pieces of paper are tallied and placed back into the fishbowl. The game of Taboo is easy and it makes an excellent indoor party game for kids and adults alike. While you need to keep it PG 12 for the children, if you play with your group of friends, you can take things up a notch just for the fun of it.

Step 4: Play the “Charades” round

The next round plays out in the same way, with each team taking their one-minute turns.  The main difference here is that player with the paper cannot speak.  They must use physical gestures to communicate the word on the paper.  For “Cheeseburger” they might pretend to be holding and eating a cheeseburger.  Have some fun with words describing fewer objects and more concepts, states, traits, and so on. Playing mime for the word psychedelic can take even a half an hour if the “mime” doesn’t convey the message as he/she should and the crowd has no idea of what the word or the gesturing mean. True story.

At the end of the round, the scores are tallied up once more.  The team that has the most points from all three rounds is declared the winner!

Step 5: Bonus round

Why let the fun end there?  If you want to take The Fishbowl Game to the next level, play the spooky version!  Get a bedsheet from the cupboard and drape it over the player who is reading the pieces of paper.  The team will then have to guess the word while the player makes movements beneath the sheet!  It is very challenging and a ton of fun. Adding a bit of horror genre vibe to a party game makes the Fishbowl Game one of the best choices you have when you want to organize some campfire games for adults. When it comes to kids, keeping things as less scary as possible may be the best idea.

Play the Fishbowl Game: Bottom Line

The Fishbowl game is easy to set up and enjoy with a large number of people. The more participants you have, the more and better the words will be. This game taps into peoples’ imagination (and vocabulary), leading to some hilarious moments. The fact that this game mixes two of the best and most popular party games of all times – Taboo and Charades – means that you can come up with plenty of Fishbowl Game Ideas of your own. Play as many bonus rounds you can concoct, keep the score, invent new challenges, and have tons of fun.

You don’t have to wait for a rainy day to play this game inside the house, either. If you have a backyard, the world is your oyster! Or fishbowl!

We hope you enjoyed reading this guide on How to Play the Fishbowl Game.  For more fun games, subscribe to the blog or follow us on social media!

Featured Image via Flickr