Many students enjoy mental play as much as physical play. Mental games benefit kids, helping them to hone their analytic skills and creativity, and to learn to think “outside the box.” The games in this section can be used in a variety of ways. Some teachers have a brainteaser of the day. Others use them as a transition activity between two subjects or activities. Still others use mental games as an integral part of a learning unit – engaging students in a new unit or extending their knowledge and skills later on.
Create sequences that have a logical pattern that is not immediately obvious, and have students explain the sequence or predict the next item. Ex: 8 5 4 9 1 7 6 3 2 0 (Answer – the numbers are in alphabetical order.)
2. Dictionary Game
For this verbally creative game, you need only a dictionary, paper, pens, and a chalkboard.
*On slips of paper, have students write invented definitions for words chose by the teacher. (The teacher checks to see if anyone knows the correct definition.)
*The teacher collects the slips of paper, adding the correct definition, and shuffles them.
*In pairs or small groups, have the students choose the definition they think is the correct one.
*Teams get points for choosing correct definitions. Individual students get points for fooling others into choosing their definitions.
3. Restructuring Words
This verbal challenge can also be used to teach cooperative groups how to work effectively together.
*Present students in cooperative groups with a fairly long multisyllabic word.
*Challenge the groups to find as many small words as they can within the larger word.
*Letters may be rearranged.
*Announce the time limit.
*Post the total number of words the class came up with. Try to beat the number the next time.
4. Math Mind Games
Present a math puzzler at the beginning of class to get the students engaged while you prepare to teach. Let students work independently or with a partner.
5. What Was That You Said?
This is a great game to boost your students’ vocabulary. Present students with complicated phrases and ask them to use a dictionary to translate them into well-know sayings or phrases.
Ex: Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minikin. (Twinkle, twinkle, little star.)
Ex: A plethora of individuals with expertise in culinary techniques vitiates the potable concoction produced by steeping certain comestibles. (Too many cooks spoil the broth.)
6. Lateral Thinking Puzzles
These puzzles are designed to get students to think “outside the box,” to be logical and imaginative at the same time. They can be done independently, but work best in cooperative groups.
Ex: A Fishy Tale – An old woman had a pet goldfish that she loved dearly. One day she noticed that is was swimming feebly and looked unwell. She rushed it to the vet and he told her to come back in the hour. When she returned, she found the goldfish swimming strongly and looking healthy. What happened? (The vet could see that the goldfish was dying of old age, so to spare the old lady’s feelings, he dashed out and bought a young but identical fish, and disposed of the old one.)
These are quite a few books that have lateral puzzles in a variety of subjects.
7. WALLY Test Questions
The World Association for Laughing, Learning, and Youth (WALLY) designed questions to trick and frustrate you, but also to make you laugh. They are to be answered quickly, so tell your students they have no more than 10 seconds to write their responses.
Ex: What is twice the half of 1 1/4?
Answer: 1 1/4
Ex: If two peacocks lay two eggs in two days, how many eggs can one peacock lay in four days?
Answer: None, peacocks don’t lay eggs; peahens do.