MadLibs Social Skills

Several years ago, I conducted an adjustment and social skills group for transition-aged students with vision impairments. Part of the group each week was spent doing a game or other activity that engaged all members of the group. Although we did a number of fun activities, the biggest hit of all among the group was the game of MadLibs. This game encouraged students to speak up, to be patient with one another, and to share in mutual laughter over jokes they had created together.

MadLibs is a word game where one person prompts other players to fill blanks in a story before reading the story aloud. The group is prompted to come up with words to fit into that story based on the parts of speech (i.e. if the word is an adjective, the group can say anything from beautiful to shriveled to cantankerous as long as it counts as an adjective. Since the players fill in the blanks without knowing the story around it, the filled-in blanks often lead to a comical and nonsensical story. MadLibs is a fun game for children and adults alike. It requires an understanding of basic parts of speech (verb, adjective, etc.)). MadLibs is a game that works well for people with vision impairments because it is typically done orally. It is also a fantastic tool for building important social skills.

  • Several MadLibs stories
    • There are many books of MadLibs, or they can be easily found and played online, such as the ones found here.
  • Or through smartphone apps such as this one.
  1. Form a group of students. MadLibs can be played in a group of any size, but are usually best in a group of 4-10.
  2. Decide how the MadLibs will be read and recorded. In one scenario, the instructor or group leader reads and records while the students play. In groups where some of the students have strong Braille or assistive technology skills, this can be a role that one of the students takes on.
  3. There are very few rules to MadLibs, except to follow the parts of speech outlined in each blank. Only one word can go in each blank.
  4. A group game of MadLibs can help students to practice a number of skills. For example:
  • Problem solving: How do we decide what word to put in the blank? Should it be a group consensus? Should we vote on the best/funniest answer? Should we go in a circle so everyone gets a turn choosing a word one at a time?
  • Group participation: How can group members help one another? How can the group ensure that everyone gets to participate? Some group members may be at different developmental or cognitive levels from others. If one student is unable to understand the various parts of speech, how can she still participate? (Note: MadLibs often have blanks where player can enter the name of a number or a color. These choices may be easier for students in the group who have more cognitive challenges).
  • Turn taking
  • Group decision making
  • Patience
  • Humor
  • Teamwork—What kinds of stories can we make when we all work together?

Students working on assistive technology skills can practice using the Internet to play this game with a group or can practice working with the iPhone voiceover feature by downloading a game app to use during this activity.


Collage of MadLibs social skills