Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Forbidden Phrases

Laura Halstied, Keiana Cross | Published: November 16th, 2023 by K20 Center


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Forbidden Phrases

In this collaborative strategy, students use their prior knowledge to review vocabulary terms, people, events, places, and more.

Forbidden Phrases


Working in pairs, one student prompts another to recall a specific term, but the student cannot use the four “forbidden” words when describing the term.


  1. Create a table in a digital document with a cell for each word students should review.

  2. In each cell, add the word students will review plus four “forbidden” words that cannot be said when describing the term.

  3. For example, if the term is “prohibition,” the “forbidden” words could be alcohol, amendment, drinking, and liquor.

  4. Print and cut the cards so that there are enough sets for each pair of students.

  5. Place students into pairs and provide them with a set of cards.

  6. Provide time for students to take turns prompting one another to figure out the forbidden terms.

Versluys, J. (2023, September 27). Teaching with taboo: The best way to review vocabulary. Science For Everyone.