Catchphrase is pretty much the greatest game ever. If Hot Potato and Taboo had a baby it would be Catchphrase. I already loved playing this back home, even when I wasn't trying to
So how do you play? Well, first the group needs to divide into two teams, then they sit in a circle with teams sitting every other person (ABABABAB etc.). Then you hit the start button on the fun little handheld device and it gives you a word you must make your team guess and pass on to the next person to make their team guess a new word and so on. All the while there is a really annoying little beeping sound - much like a bomb ticker counting down and getting faster and faster (remind me to take the batteries out of this before I get on the plane home...). Eventually a buzzer goes off and the round ends. Whichever team is caught with game in their hands loses the round and the opposing team gets a point.
Things that make this game super awesome: the fact that it's a little electronic device. I mean really, if you show up to class with some slips of papers with words on them or a little round electronic game that makes noises and has buttons, they're gonna go for the noises and buttons. It's a great way to review old vocabulary and practice explaining things. And the annoying beeping/countdown force you to think and form thoughts/sentences quickly. Did I mention it's also fun - which is a great decoy for tricking students into learning things!
Things to look out for: it has a lot of cultural references, idioms, and phrases that students might never have learned, so it's important to encourage them to be creative about getting their team to guess the word. Instead of just going for the definition they can break it down into single words or do opposites, rhymes with, etc. Also, this is most definitely a game that can only be played with older students. I play it mostly with my 12th graders (and once with my 10th graders). I don't think I would play it with any group younger than 10th grade.
Every class I've played this with absolutely loves it - so that's a big win for Catchphrase!