Taboo, Novice Mid, ASL 101, Lab 13

Please Note: Many of the activities on the Pathways Project OER Repository were created by upper-division students at Boise State University and serve as a foundation that our community of practice can build upon and refine. While they are polished, we welcome and encourage collaboration from language instructors to help modify grammar, syntax, and content where needed. Kindly contact with any suggestions and we will update the content in a timely manner.  — The Pathways Project

About the Boise State World Languages Resource Center (WLRC) Language Activity Repository

The activities provided by the Boise State World Languages Resource Center (WLRC) serve as foundational activities which can be adapted by any language and scaled up or down on the proficiency scale. Many of these activities offer an English Version that is “language-agnostic” to provide language instructors from around the country a platform to remix these instructional materials, infusing them with their target language and culture! The activities within the Pathways Project OER Repository seek to help students solidify their interpersonal speaking and interpretive skills through task-based situations or communicative activities. These activities should be facilitated in the target language for approximately 90% (or more), per the recommendation of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

How to use the WLRC Repository’s Activities:

1. Use the Activity as is:

Before you begin:

  • Most activities are 30 minutes in duration, unless otherwise specified.
  • Be sure to read through the activity description, and review the list of required materials. You will notice that the activity materials are also highlighted in yellow throughout the activity instructions.

If you have any suggestions about grammar, syntax, and content, please kindly contact

2. Remix for Your Language Classroom:

When you are ready to begin remixing the activity, in order to adapt it for the needs of your language classroom, simply click the blue “Remix This Resource” button at the top of your screen. This will then take you to a screen with a NEW, editable version of this activity. The text provided in purple is a suggestion of what you might say to your students in the target language, and may be altered for different levels and age groups. All activities have “NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do” statements, a warm-up, a main activity, and a wrap-up.

Many of the activities include printable cards and other instructional materials such as Google Slideshows. If you would like to make changes to these materials for your classroom, follow the instructions below:

  • Google Slideshows:
    • To begin, go to File -> Copy to create an editable version of the slideshow.
    • Once finished with your changes, please complete the following steps to share:
    • Click on Share
    • Who Has Access
    • Ensure link sharing is on and allow external access.
  • Materials Saved as PDF: Please email and we will provide you with an editable copy. Please allow up to two business days for a response. For YouTube videos and other websites, hyperlinks are provided. 

3. Adapt for Another Language:

  • See the linked English Version at the top of the activity (English Version may not be available for all activities)

Taboo, Novice Mid


This game helps students use descriptions to describe a word. Students will learn how to use other vocabulary words to have their peers guess a particular word. Students will also get to play Hangman to help with their fingerspelling skills.

Proficiency Level:

Novice Advanced


Taboo, Game, Fingerspelling, Hangman

NCSSFL-ACTFL World-Readiness Standards

Standard 1.1: Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions.

Standard 1.2: Students comprehend and interpret live and recorded American Sign Language on a variety of topics.”

Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of American Deaf culture

Standard 3.2: Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through American Sign Language and Deaf culture.

Idaho Content Standards for World Languages:

COMM 1.1 - Interact and negotiate meaning (spoken, signed, written conversation) to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions. 

COMM 2.1 - Understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics. 

CLTR 1.1 - Analyze the cultural practices/patterns of behavior accepted as the societal norm in the target culture.

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements:

  • I can recognize various vocabulary signs for everyday objects. 
  • I can utilize other vocabulary words to describe an everyday object. 
  • I can interpret clues from a classmate to correctly guess a word.

Materials Needed:


1. Begin by introducing the Can-Dos for today’s activity and drawing Hangman on the board. The phrase you'll be using is, "I love American Sign Language". Have students take turns guessing letters until the lab group either wins or loses.

"Today, we're going to play Hangman. I'll come up with a word and you'll each take turns signing a letter, trying to guess the word. We'll play until you win or lose." 

Main Activity

1. Place the Taboo cards in the center of the lab group. One student will start by drawing a card. That student will need to sign different vocabulary words than what are listed on the card, in order to get their lab group to guess the word on the top of their card. 

"Now, we're going to play Taboo. One student will start by drawing a card. They'll need to use different vocabulary words to get the lab group to guess the word they have at the top of the card. You can't sign the words that are listed on the card."

2. The lab group can ask the student yes/no questions about their card. Remind students to now just point at the object if it's in the room. After the group has guessed the word, the next person draws a card.

"The lab group can ask the student yes/no questions about the card. If you have an object and it's in the room, you can't just point to it. After the lab group has guessed the word, the next person will draw a card."


Ask the following questions to finish the lab: 

1. "How did the activity help you learn?"

2. "Did you enjoy the activity?"

3. "Did you think Taboo was easy or hard?"

End of Lab:

• Read Can-Do statements once more and have students evaluate their confidence. 
(Use thumbs up/thumbs down or download our student cards.) 
• Encourage students to be honest in their self-evaluation.
• Pay attention, and try to use feedback for future labs!

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements:

  • I can recognize various vocabulary signs for everyday objects. 
  • I can utilize other vocabulary words to describe an everyday object. 
  • I can interpret clues from a classmate to correctly guess a word.

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