By Matt Noyes.

This activity uses a simple game to help people learn and remember the basic terminology of Robert's Rules of Parliamentary procedure. (See links to Robert's Rules sites.)

Good for:
Making the jargon and basic procedures familiar, helping people see how to use the terminology to do what they want to do.

Set of cards with Robert's Rules terms and what they are used for. (Need one deck of 28 cards for every four people, eight people if they play in teams of two.) Copy of "Ten Points for Participating in Union Meetings". Copy of Robert's Rules (optional).

Number of People:
Four players per deck (eight if in teams of two), enough for a decent card game.

Set up:
Seated, as in a regular card game. You may want people to play in teams of two, or at most three.


  • Explain and motivate.
  • Shuffle and deal out all the cards to players (or teams). The players look at their cards (hiding them from others). Facilitator chooses one group to start. They play a card (either term or meaning), placing it in the center. The next group then has to either play a card that they think matches, or pass. This goes on until a player/team plays a card.
  • Other groups can challenge a card, if they think it does not match. If they are right, the group that played the card has to take all the cards in the center into their hand. If the challenge is wrong, the challengers have to pick up all the cards. The facilitator plays the role of judge (so you better know your jargon), and can refer people to "the Rules" if there is a dispute.
  • The goal is to be the first group to get rid of your cards.
  • Facilitator should make sure people repeat the language as much as possible: have people say what's on the card out loud when they play it, and explain the match when they have one. Maybe have everyone practice the terms.
  • The game does not end until all the cards have been matched. At that point, have people take turns stating the terms and the meanings. You can also give people a quick quiz: "you want to end the meeting, what do you say?"

Watch for:
Screw ups. Your cards have to be correct or you will sow confusion. Double check if you are not confident in your knowledge of Robert's Rules.

Motivate this clearly: you are not trying to give an authoritative introduction to Robert's Rules, just trying to familiarize people with basic rules of order and the terminology they will have to be able to use if they want to be effective in union meetings.

Keep the tempo up so that the game does not drag out.

You can use "Gin" rules, or adapt other card games.

Attached below is a simple table of Robert's Rules terms and what they are used for. To use these for the card game, write each term, and each definition, on a separate card. There are 14 terms so you should end up with 28 cards.