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penguin with sticky note on forehead with question mark
No. of Players: 3+
Type of Game: written and spoken
What you need: pen and sticky notes


To guess the mystery word stuck to one's forehead.

How to play

Players sit in a circle and write a four-letter word on a sticky note. They then stick this note on the forehead of the player to their right, making sure that player cannot see what is written. Each player can now see the words on the other players' foreheads, but cannot see the word on his own forehead. Taking turns, players then say a four-letter word made up of letters from the words they see written on the other players' foreheads. By noting which letters are used in the words that other players say that are not included in the written words, players eventually learn what letters are in the mystery word on their own foreheads. Once they feel confident enough, they can hazard a guess at their own word instead of saying a word for the other players. A successful guess makes that player the winner. But if incorrect, that player is no longer permitted to guess. However, he still stays in the game to continue saying words for the other players until one of them wins. In some versions, players are permitted to alternately guess at their own word for one turn, and say a word for the others in the next turn.


Brian writes the word lazy on a sticky note and sticks this on Abigail's forehead; Carol sticks barn to Brian's forehead; Derek sticks desk to Carol's forehead; and Abigail sticks rock to Derek's forehead:

4 named smiley faces with words written on their foreheads

Abigail: Back.

This word does not help Carol at all because she sees all four of these letters on the other players' foreheads. But Brian now knows his word has a B because none of the other words do. In the same way, Derek knows his word has a C.

Brian: Zero.

Abigail now knows her word has a Z; Carol now knows her word has an E; and Derek now knows his word has an O. But Derek also knows his word has an R even though he sees it on Brian's forehead. (Remember: Brian cannot see his own word, so he must have seen that letter on Derek's forehead in order to make the word zero.) Derek now knows his word has the letters C, O, and R and contemplates making a guess on his opening turn. But he is still unsure what his word is.

Carol: Yolk.

This word does not help Brian, but Abigail now knows her word has a Y and an L. She thinks about making a guess on her next turn, but she will not get the chance. Because Derek now learns he has a K in his word, which means his word is either cork or rock. With a 50-50 chance at being right, he makes his guess.

Derek: Rock.

Derek wins the game.

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