aka Salad Bowl Game

The fishbowl game (or salad bowl game as it is also known) is a fun memory game played over 3 rounds that combines the games Charades, Taboo and Password. It is one of our favorite, easy indoor group games. Suitable for adults, teenagers and children thus making it the perfect game for a family reunion, youth group gathering, camp, classroom activity, office or team building day, in fact any occasion where a large group of 10-30 people are gathered. For extended fun, add the Bonus Rounds!



To play the fishbowl game you need a few everyday items:

•    5-6 pencils/pens
•    Strips of paper
•    A bowl to hold the pieces of paper (fishbowl or salad bowl)
•    A timer (your phone has one)

The strips of paper must be big enough to write a few words on and fold closed just once. You will need three strips of paper for each player for the basic game.


Divide the group into two equal teams. Each player will take three strips of paper and write one of the following categories on each piece: a celebrity, a place, a thing. Players must guess the words or phrases, so stick to those well known and not too difficult to keep it fun. 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 must mix them up in the bowl. You can choose other categories every time you play this game in future. When preparing the fishbowl use fun categories like: an animal, a movie, a song, a food etc.


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

  1. The team that starts the game selects their first player.
  2. The player takes a piece of paper from the fishbowl and the 1-minute timer will start as soon as they pick a piece of paper from the fishbowl.
  3. The player will then use words to describe the word or phrase that is on the paper to his team. They cannot use any other gestures — only words. They are not allowed to say any of the words written on the paper, those are the “taboo” words. For example, if the word is “Cheese” they can say “A mouse loves to eat this”. The team guess until they get the word correct and the player pick another paper from the bowl, this continues until the minute is up.
  4. 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.
  5. If the team successfully guesses the word, they get to keep the piece of paper.
  6. If the team hits the 1 minute mark and the word has not been guessed the paper goes back in the bowl.
  7. After 1 minute has elapsed, the other team gets a turn.  They also have 1-minute to guess as many words as possible.
  8. 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 adds 1 point to their score. After tallying both teams scores, place all the pieces of paper back into the fishbowl and move onto round 2.


The password round is played in a similar way, each team have 1-minute to guess as many words or phrases as possible. The team that went second last time will get to go first 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 “Cheese” this time they may use a single word like “Mouse” 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 a 1-minute round each until the bowl is empty, again the pieces of paper are tallied and placed back into the fishbowl.


The next rounds play continue in the same way, with each team taking their one minute turns and gathering as many correctly guessed pieces of paper.

The main difference here is that player with the paper cannot speak. They must use only physical gestures to communicate the word on the paper. For “Cheese” they might pretend to be holding and nibbling a piece of cheese like a mouse.

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 the winner.

For charades ideas and gestures visit our comprehensive Charades Pages.


Not ready to end the fun and games yet?  Then continue this super fun games challenge with the bonus rounds shared by readers.


Not ready to end the fun and games yet?  Then continue this super fun games challenge with the bonus rounds shared by readers.

Play the scary ghost version! All the papers back in the bowl. Play the charades version again but this time place a bed sheet over the player reading the pieces of paper.  The team will then have to guess the word while the player makes only movements beneath the sheet, no words.  It is very funny and super challenging at the same time.


No words, just strike ONE pose like a statue to convey your message on the paper. All the papers back in the bowl … ready to roll? This round is played by striking a pose, if the team gets it right the team keeps the paper and selects another piece of paper, not right then the paper goes back into the bowl after one minute. Continue this round giving each team their minute and tallying correct answers once all the papers are finished.


All the papers back in the fishbowl. Use only sound effects to get your team to guess the words – no words or actions allowed only sounds. You can also add the bed sheet again which makes it super fun because no actions can be seen and you can only hear the noises.
We hope you enjoyed reading How to play the Fishbowl Game.  For more fun games, subscribe to the website or follow us on social media!



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