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Quick and Easy ELA Game: Balderdash

June 15, 2017 3 min read

Quick and Easy ELA Game: Balderdash

June 15, 2017 3 min read

We all have those days when an assembly ends earlier than expected and we have twenty minutes to kill before lunch, or the copier breaks down for the hundredth time. Or today’s lesson has to be postponed, or it’s the last week of school and students are getting a bit restless. While D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) is always a wonderful option to fill the time, sometimes it’s nice to switch it up. Enter Balderdash – a quick and easy ELA game.

I’d almost forgotten about this game until I stumbled across the original board game version in my garage last weekend. I brought it into school yesterday and ended up using it in third, fourth, and fifth grades as a fun activity in between the talent show and lunch. While I wouldn’t go younger than third, any other grade is great for playing. In fact, the older, the better, since it’s technically a game for adults.

Don’t own the game or want to buy it? Here’s how to play with some scraps of paper, pencils, and access to Google.

Balderdash is a great classroom filler to keep students thinking and engaged when you have a few random minutes! Use this with your middle school, high school, or even upper elementary students!
Prior to playing:
  • Choose several random words from the dictionary that students would NOT be familiar with. Write out the correct definition for your answer key.
  • Visit this website http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history, and using the calendar option, write down a few dates and a brief description of the notable event that occurred. Add these to your answer key.
  • Google “one hundred people doing extraordinary things” and choose a few interesting people…write down the name and a brief description of their accomplishment. Here’s an example: Frank Epperson (invented the frozen popsicle). Again, add to your answer key.
Day of the Game: 
  • Divide your students into small groups (no more than 5 students per group) and pass out a bunch of blank papers (index cards work great!), and a pencil.
  • Read aloud your first word, date, or interesting person, and have each group write down their made up, but believable answers/definitions for these words, and hand them to you. Make sure you also write down the real answer.
  • Mix up the papers and read them aloud. Each group guesses what they think is the right answer. One point is awarded if they guess correctly. Additional points are awarded for each time they fool another group with their made up definition.
Balderdash is a great classroom filler to keep students thinking and engaged when you have a few random minutes! Use this with your middle school, high school, or even upper elementary students!


Note: Play as many rounds as you have time for. Each round, let a different group guess first, as sometimes a strategy might be to guess your own made up definition and see if other groups follow suit.

No time to prep for the game? We’ve got you covered. Here’s ten rounds ready to be played immediately!
  1. Ombrosalgia: aches and pains when it rains
  2. Woopknacker: an aggressive, loud-mouthed person
  3. Bandonion: a type of accordian popular in South America
  4. June 4, 1937: The first wheeled shopping cart was introduced at a grocery store in Oklahoma City
  5. November 12, 1969: A total eclipse of the sun happened
  6. October 21, 1980: The Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Series.
  7. Sharon Adams: the first woman to sail across the Pacific Ocean alone
  8. John Kunst: first man to walk around the world alone (He used a boat to go across water!)
  9. Elmer Water: designed a knife and fork that had mirrors so people could check their teeth for bits of leftover food
  10. Sara Hale: wrote the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

We hope you have fun playing this game with your students! Need another time filler (but educational activity?) Check out our blog post on idiom artwork by clicking here.

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Balderdash is a great classroom filler to keep students thinking and engaged when you have a few random minutes! Use this with your middle school, high school, or even upper elementary students!
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  • Sharon Fabian June 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Looks like a fun game, and the sources for finding game topics will definitely be helpful!

    • EB Academic Camps June 16, 2017 at 4:30 am

      The kids definitely enjoy it! Hopefully you'll find it to be a good classroom filler when you need it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
      – Caitlin & Jessica

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