You’re Bluffing!

December 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm 1 comment

This is a study game that some of my fellow reading teachers taught me at LMS last year. I used it to good effect with my sophomores this year, and thought I’d share it. It’s good for any subject, as far as reviewing facts goes, and I think you could easily adapt it for math problems as well. It’s also a fun “rainy day” activity if you make a list of fun/silly trivia questions.

Bluff takes a few minutes to teach to your kids, and seems to work better if you do a practice round before you start. It often requires a fair amount of guidance from you at first to make sure everyone understands how it works. But once your students know how to play, it’s terrific!


PREPARATION: Come up with a numbered list of questions that you want to review. The number of questions should be a square or the product of two near numbers (for example, 36 questions, or 48 questions) because they’ll be associated with a grid. Draw a grid on the board (or make a PowerPoint or transparency) with the same number of spaces as you have questions, and number them.

Three poker chips or other tokens for each student.
Egg timer.


  1. Once the question is asked, players have 5 seconds to decide whether or not to stand.
  2. Once the question is asked, no one can speak except for the people who are selected to answer. Talking causes cheating and can result in the forfeit of points or turns.
  3. Once your bottom leaves the chair, you’re standing and can’t sit back down.
  4. Optional rule: Once someone is selected to answer a question, they have ___ seconds to answer.


1. Divide the students evenly into two teams. Arrange their seats so that they are in symmetrical blocks or lines (so that you can tell which student is next).

2. The first student on Team A chooses a number off the grid. Erase that number. That number corresponds to a question on your list.

3. Ask that question to Team B and begin the 5-second countdown (using fingers).  

  • Students on Team B should stand up if they know the answer.
  • The number of students who stand up is the number of points that the question is worth. If ten people stand, the question is worth ten points. If only one person stands, the question is worth only one point.
  • Because of this, it is often in your team’s interest for you to stand up even if you don’t know the answer.

4. The student from Team A who selected the question now gets to pick one of the standing students to answer the question. S/he is trying to pick the person who is least likely to get the question correct.

  • If the chosen answerer gets the question right, the team wins the number of points equal to the number of students who stood up – SKIP TO STEP #6
  • If the answerer gets the question wrong, the team wins nothing – GO TO STEP #5

5. If Team B gets the question wrong, the person from Team A who picked the question and the answerer has the opportunity to answer the question correctly. If s/he can do so, the points that would have gone to Team B go to Team A instead.

6. Repeat steps 2-4, with the teams switching roles.

7. Keep going, moving down the line so that each student has a turn to pick the question and the answerer.

The game is over when you are out of questions or when you are out of time.

VARIATION #1: A wrong answer results in a loss of points equal to the grid number of the question asked. This creates a higher-drama, wildly-vacillating game.

VARIATION #2: To keep weaker students from being harassed, or stronger students from being ignored, give each student 3 poker chips which must be clearly displayed on their desk. Each time they are chosen to answer a question, they turn in a poker chip. This ensures that each student is called on only three times.


Entry filed under: FUN STUFF, IDEAS AND TOOLS.

Holiday Shopping Guide: Teachers What’s Next?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. OKP  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    OK. That is cool. Thanks for the present…I’m unwrapping this one for Othello!


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