Verbal Activities (Longer)

Taboo (cooperative edition)

Sample Taboo Cards

Prepare several cards with words related to a theme that you wish to explore. Volunteers go around and take turns as the “speaker,” who attempts to prompt everyone else (except the one person to their right) to guess the word on the top of the card they are holding. However, each card also has “taboo” (forbidden) words listed which may not be spoken. Should the speaker say one, the “censor” sitting to their right makes the sound of a buzzer and the card is passed to the person on the left to continue as speaker. The previous “buzzer” isn’t able to guess for this card as they’ve already seen it.

For example, the speaker might have to get others to deduce the word “Baseball” without offering the words Sport, Game, Batter, or Pitcher as clues. The speaker may not say a part of a “taboo” word; for example, using Base in Baseball is taboo. The speaker may only use verbal clues to prompt others; gestures, sounds, drawings, or rhyming words are not allowed.

Once the team correctly guesses the word exactly as written on the card, the next person to the left in the circle becomes the speaker. Keep going around the circle as many times as needed to get through all the cards.

When finished, have each volunteer pick one of the words from this game that stands out to them or relates to their experience this term. Go around and share:

  • How does this word relate to your volunteer experiences this term?
  • What insights did you gain about its meaning and how it applies to the service and community we have been engaged with?

Most Deprived Reflection on Income Inequality

by Maureen Elliott

Sample Economic Status Cards


  1. Create cards which list an economic status. For example: “1 person household, $55,000 yearly income” or “Family of 4, income less than $32,000/year (Below Poverty Line)”. Create as many cards as you have group members.
  2. Try to offer a wide range of economic statuses – making sure that the percentage that are below the poverty line is representative of the community in which you serve (for example, to represent Hamilton, 20% of the cards you create would be below the poverty line).
  3. Once all the cards are created, go back through and give each card a rating from 5-13. This rating will represent how many tokens or candies each group member will get to take at the start of the reflection – 5 is the lowest rating, it should go to all economic statuses below the poverty line; 13 is the highest rating, it should be given to the economic statuses that you rate as the highest/most well-off monetarily.

Group Reflection Activity:

  1. You will be reflecting using a game called “Most Deprived.” Have volunteers sit in a circle, preferably around a table. Turn all cards face down on the table and have each volunteer pick one card – they can share it or keep it to themselves, it is up to you.
  2. Based on the rating on the volunteer’s card, have them take that number of candies/tokens (note: it’s best to have a few extra candies/tokens because you also need to be the banker – this will be further explained later).
  3. Then explain that you will go around in a circle and each volunteer will say something they’ve never done, somewhere they’ve never lived, etc. (e.g., I am most deprived because I didn’t grow up in the city… or I don’t have any siblings… or I’ve never been bungee jumping, etc.). If any of the other volunteers around the table have done this (i.e., they did grow up in the city, have siblings, have been bungee jumping…) then they have to give that volunteer 1 candy/token. This continues around the circle, with everyone sharing one thing.
  4. However, because the number of candies that each person has is different, someone might run out of candies (this is supposed to symbolize the disparities and inequalities in our society). If someone runs out of candies but needs to give away more than what they have, they need to figure out how they are going to make up that “debt.” Will they borrow from the bank? Will they write an “IOU” to the person they owe (being able to pay them back once they have shared why they are ‘most deprived’)? Will they come up with another idea?
  5. After everyone has each shared why they are ‘most deprived’ (or you could do several rounds), go around the circle and have each person announce what their economic status was, how many candies they had to start with, and how many candies they now have. If anyone is without candies or if they had to borrow, ask them how they felt to run out, etc. If someone was ‘well off,’ ask them how that experience is for them.
  6. To connect this activity back to the local community, you can discuss statistics about local poverty (E.g., for Hamilton, use statistics from the Code Red series or the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction). Ask how this activity related to the conditions in our community, the area in which you are volunteering, etc.