"Snake Oil" Product Design


This unplugged activity is designed for use with either the card game “Snake Oil” by Gamewright or your own set of random words.

I originally designed it as an activity to teach brainstorming and collaboration skills, introduce roles, and encourage creative thinking. It’s also a great game to keep on hand for kids (and adults) to play.

Note: While this is a kid’s game, I recommend previewing the words and characters and removing any cards that you think may inspire inappropriate ideas. I teach high schoolers so I had to remove some.

I introduce it by showing five random cards on the projector along with the “customer,” which could be a teacher or student. I then invite the students to choose two words and come up with a Snake Oil product to pitch to me. It results in a fun group discussion and the students start to notice that they interpret the word combinations differently or elaborate on another student’s idea.

Then I group everyone, have them decide on roles (listed in the assignment) and give one sheet per group. I also provide a chart on the assignment to help them brainstorm by looking at different variations of words. The only rule is that the word cannot repeat, but I let them use more than two. They can also come up with a company name, product name, and take it as far as they want.

This assignment could also be incorporated into a larger assignment (i.e., website, app, game, commercial, etc.).

Feel free to modify!
Snake Oil Activity PDF
Snake Oil Activity Google Doc


This is wonderful, thanks for sharing! I also found a list of words from the Snake Oil game for those who want to get a sense of the content or don’t have the budget to purchase the card set.


Oops! I opened it up so you shouldn’t have to request permission now. Also, if you use it, I’d be interested to know what you did. :slight_smile:

And if you see errors, please let me know. I put it together fairly quickly to use for a short day at school and didn’t take time to revise it.


Thank you for sharing this game. I just ordered it and I am excited to do this activity in my classes. Please keep sharing… :grinning:


Thanks, this looks good. I am hoping to try it this year.