What's the Proverb?



Skills Practised

Recognition and explanation of proverbs.



About this game

In this game a player tries to elicit a proverb by miming the key words. The player begins by indicating with fingers the number of words in the proverb. Then he or she indicates the position of the first word he or she wishes to elicit by raising one or more fingers and then acts in such a way as to suggest this word. Players from either team call out words until someone calls out the correct word. For example, if it is the proverb 'Birds of a feather flock together', the player first indicates the proverb has six words and then begins by miming 'birds' after raising one finger to indicate that this is the first word. After one of those watching has correctly guessed this word, the player nods and then elicits another word in the same way, continuing until someone recognizes the complete proverb and states it.


1. Print out the set of cards here or make your own set of cards (see Variations below).

2. Draw a scoring table on the board, like this:
        Team A                Team B        

How it Works

1. After explaining the game and modelling the actor's role if necessary, divide the class into two teams. Then place the cards face down in a pile at the front of the classroom.

2. Ask for any member of the first team to come forward. This player then takes the top card and tries to elicit the proverb as explained above.

3. If any member of either team thinks he or she knows the proverb, he or she raises a hand. If correct, his or her team wins a point. To earn a bonus point for his or her team, the player correctly stating the proverb can then try to explain its meaning. If the player cannot do this, ask for any other player to explain it. If correct, this player earns a point for his or her team. If no-one can explain it, do so yourself before continuing the game.

4. The game continues with a player from the second team coming forward to elicit the proverb written on the next card, and so on. Play continues until all the cards have been used, with the team earning the most points winning.

- If no-one has guessed the proverb within a reasonable length of time, ask for the player to state it and then ask if anyone can guess the meaning. If no-one can, explain it yourself before asking for another player to come forward to continue as usual.
- To play a shorter game, either set a time limit for the game as a whole or use just a few of the cards.

Variations: If you like, make a set of cards with each having the title of a recent movie or a set with the titles of popular songs (or any other suitable set you can think of).

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