Fishbowl: An Insanely Fun Game that Gets Families Laughing Togther
Fishbowl game

Fishbowl: An Insanely Fun Family Game

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Looking for something fun to do? The Fishbowl Game is an easy DIY game that merges Taboo, Charades, and Password. Suitable for both kids and adults, so it is perfect for family get-togethers. We’ll show you how to play this crowd-pleaser. Click through to get the rules, ideas, and tips for playing.

Family laughing as they play the Fishbowl Game

Can I be totally honest with you? I’m not a huge fan of board games. I never have been. Still there are some kinds of games that I do enjoy playing. The fishbowl game (also known as the Salad Bowl game) is one of those games. It is a funny game that proceeds quickly and leaves players in fits of giggles. And the best part? You don’t have to buy anything to play it.

How to Play the Fishbowl Game

The object of the game is to guess a hidden word using 1 of 3 methods.

  • Giving a description
  • Acting it out
  • Giving one descriptive word like a clue.

The words are written onto slips of paper and placed in a fish or salad bowl- hence the name of the game. It is really easy to learn, so it is  great game for adults and kids to play together.

So, let’s dive in.

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

You need enough people to form two teams. You could probably play it with as few as 4-6 people, but it is a lot more fun to have teams of 5-10. The game asks players to guess a word and it is a lot more entertaining with larger numbers. This is the perfect game for a family gathering or re-union. It is also a great game for a group of kids and would work well at a party or gathering.

Getting Ready to Play

Setting Up the Fishbowl Game
setting up is really easy

You will need

  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • A bowl of some kind
  • A timer  (a smart phone timer works well or use Alexa).

Cut the paper into slips that are large enough to hold a word or short phrase. Each player will need 3 slips.

If you are using the word prompts (see below), you will need to print them and cut them out.

Child giggling

How to Play the Fishbowl Game- rules and tips

First off, each player takes three strips of paper and writes three words- one on each slip.  Players will have to guess the words as the game progresses, so choose wisely.  Remember you may end up with your own words.

Players fold their slips of paper and place them in the fishbowl. After all the slips are in the bowl, shake or mix them up.

Game Tip: If you want to make the word slips ahead of time, use the words from games you have on hand like Taboo, Pictionary, or Charades

Divide the players into two teams. Ideally, the teams would have the same number of players and be a mix of adults and kids.

Now it is time to play. Each team will play 3 rounds. Each team has 1 minute to identify as many words as they can. Play passes back and forth between both teams until all the words have been guessed. The words go back to the bowl at the end of each round. It is fast, furious, and a lot of fun.

To keep things fair, team

  • 1 plays first in round 1
  • Team 2 plays first in in round 2.
  • The team with the lowest score plays first in round 3.

Teams are awarded one point for every word that is guessed correctly.

Each round has  a specific set of instructions which must be followed, or teams will lose their turn. I would suggest going over the rules before each round starts.

Now you’re ready to play the first round.

Family playing the Fishbowl Game

1. The Taboo Round

In this first round, players can give verbal clues about the word they have drawn. However, they must do this WITHOUT saying the word. They cannot use hand gestures, nor can they say, “sounds like,” or rhymes with.

To give an example, if the word is “Butterfly” a player might say

A caterpillar changes into this.

  • Team 1 begins and chooses a player to draw the words. The timer is set and starts as soon as the first word is drawn from the bowl. Now the fun begins. Teams must try and guess as many words s they can before the timer rings. They keep all the words they guess correctly.
  • After one minute, the player returns the word they are holding to the fishbowl. Now the other team gets a turn. They also get 1- minute to try and identify as many words as possible.
  •  When the timer goes, the other team takes a second turn and so on.
  • Teams take turns playing one-minute rounds until the bowl is empty. A new player is chosen for each turn. When the fishbowl is empty, the timer is stopped. Each team counts the words they identified and tallies up the score. All the words go back into the fishbowl for the next round.

2.  The Password Round

Family gathering
Great for all ages

This round is played in the same way, with each team having 1-minute to identify as many words or as possible.  This time team 2 goes first.

In this round, players can only use one word to provide clues. Obviously, this word cannot be the one on the slip of paper.

So, if the word is “Butterfly” a player may say “Chrysalis.”

The big advantage of this second round is that teams will be able to recall the words from the previous round and use the password as a hint.

Once again, play passes back and forth between the two teams, with both teams getting one minute to guess as many words as they can. . When the fishbowl is empty, the timer is stopped, and teams tally up their score. All the words go back into the fishbowl for the next round.

3.  The Charades Round

Playing the Charade round

Play continues in the same fashion with each team taking their one-minute turn. The team with the lowest score starts this round.

This time players must use gestures and movements to give clues and cannot speak at all.

When all the words have been guessed, the scores are tallied up for the last time.  The team with the highest score is proclaimed the winner!

The Fishbowl Game Rules

If the player finds the word too hard, they can “pass” and return the paper back into the fishbowl.  However, players can only take one pass in each round.

Any player that doesn’t follow the guidelines for the round loses their turn and play passes over to the other team.

Teams win any word that is correctly identified during their turn, even if a member of the opposing team blurts out the word by mistake.

Need some more family games? Try Would You Rather and Never Have I Ever

Ideas For Fishbowl Bonus Rounds

If you want to continue the fun, play a few bonus rounds. Here’s a few ideas

Drawing Round: Provide paper and pens for players to draw the word. No words or hand gestures allowed!

Spooky Round: Drape a bedsheet over each player in turn. Their team must guess the word as the player makes gestures under the sheet. This one is very funny and get the giggles flowing.

What ideas do you have?

Prefer to See A Demonstration?

Here is the Fishbowl Game described in a video for those of you that learn better that way

A Few Last Words About The Fishbowl Game

Let’s recap. This is one of those games that is easy to set up and can be played with a wide range of ages. The more players the better, so it is perfect for large family gatherings. It also

  • Encourages teamwork
  • Involves critical thinking and is a great way to improve vocabulary skills
  • Is a great ice breaker

I like the versatility. It can be played indoors and out. All ages can join in the fun.  Players can come up with all kinds of bonus rounds to extend the game and have even more fun. So why not give it a go? Leave a comment below and let me know how it goes.

Family laughing
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