Cards Against Humanity is irreverent, fowl, absurdist, and generally raucous. So why would you want to use it in the classroom? You wouldn’t! But the formula that the game follows is a brilliant mixture of both structure and player agency, a formula that works well in the classroom. Many successful veteran teachers create spaces in which students are free to work with materials, ideas, and learning processes towards a common learning goal. Learning centers at the elementary level, project groups throughout K-12, and problem or challenge-based learning allows for students to tackle common learning tasks through a variety of methods.
Much the same can be said for Cards Against Humanity, or the more education-friendly Apples to Apples. In both games, there’s a shared goal by all players to complete a phrase by matching the dealer’s card to a card in their hand. Everyone has a unique set of cards in their hand, and thus the phrases can vary wildly from humorous to grotesque, depending on the preference of the player. That sort of “controlled chaos” is appealing to learners, and teachers, that appreciate the journey as much as the destination. We all value getting to the same place (winning the game, achieving the learning target), but there are many paths to take in getting there. That’s why I was excited to find the Cards Against Humanity Custom Card Generator.
You can create your own phrase matching game based on just about anything! Have your students practice creating goofy gerund phrases (Mad Libs style), or attempt to draw connections between the modern world and antiquity by answering questions about famous events in history with modern day happenings that arose under similar circumstances (parallels between the Great Depression and the Great Recession). The sky’s the limit when it comes to what sort of fun you can have, especially if you turn the card creation over to your students, and let them invent their own learning games based on the popular “phrase completion” formula.
Oh, and for those that are curious, I decided to create my own version called “Keynotes for Humanity“. It’s a funny, slightly silly and irreverent (completely safe for school) version that lets teachers make light of overly complicated conference session titles and keynote talks that are more bluster than substance. I created the questions using the Education Jargon Generator, and then modifying the card templates produced by the Cards Against Humanity Custom Card Generator with Preview on my Mac, I was able to produce and print out my own cards. The Cards Against Humanity folks are nice enough to publish blank answer cards, and have offered their entire game under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License (that means you can repurpose and remix the game to create your own as long as you aren’t selling it!).
If you don’t want to use the Teachers Pay Teachers link above to download the entire game, you can download it directly below as a PDF. I highly recommend printing it at a Fedex Office store on 80 lbs. card stock. You can print the questions and 20 copies of blank answer cards for less than $5.00.
Once you create a phrase match it becomes easy and very exciting. I’ve played Cards Against Humanity more than 400 times now so that makes me an addict I guess. I just adore it in every way and coming from a country that has a lot of rain all year round, this has been a real life saver.
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