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Cranium for JHS

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years ago

Cranium for JHS


Kevin Davies


SKILLS: Listening, speaking, reading, critical thinking
TIME: Twenty minutes and up (as long as you want)
MATERIALS: Chalk and your sheet of questions
OBJECTIVES: To review vocabulary, have fun, get the students active
To get them thinking in English and thinking quickly




1. First, you will need to prepare a list of questions split into four categories: Charades, Pictionary, Trivia and Word Puzzles. Other than Trivia, these questions will all be vocabulary words that you wish to review, although I like to throw in some easy ones as well. For Trivia, it’s up to you. I used a combination of actual questions about celebrities and fictional characters (including those from the textbook) as well as T/F statements about things like their school life. For Word Puzzles I had both Hangman style puzzles as well as word scrambles (I highly recommend writing out the word scrambles ahead of time so you don’t get confused during the game). Usually 10 to 15 questions per category is fine, but it never hurts to be over-prepared.


2. Split the students into teams of about 5. Lunch groups or rows work fine.


3. Choose a team to go first by whatever method you prefer. I have a big pair of dice I use for this. That team then has to choose the category. I don’t like to let them actually choose so again, I make them roll the dice (of course, there are only four categories so 1 and 2 on the die lets them choose whatever they want. This is mercifully rare).


4. Now, one student from each team stands up and the first one to know the answer to the question raises their hand.


5. For Trivia and Word Puzzles you ask the question or write the word puzzle on the board. For the Hangman style game, just slowly fill in letters at random until someone gets it.


6. For Charades and Pictionary (which is like charades but you draw without speaking) the student who chose that category has to come up and either perform the gestures or draw the picture. This is, quite often, hilarious. Best part of the game. Be sure to include a few animals here. Sports are also good, but quite easy. I find “tree” to be a good one as well.


7. Whichever student gets the question correct receives a point for their team and has to choose the next category. All students sit down and the NEXT student in rotation stands up for the next question. This gives everyone multiple chances to play since they start over every five questions.


8. Play until you want to stop and tally up the points.




I played this game with every class and every grade at my junior high and it went over extremely well every time. Some kids aren’t too keen on doing the charades and I thought one girl was going to cry when she had to draw something, but just keep telling them to “ganbatte” and eventually they’ll get the information across. When someone guesses it they’ll feel a lot better about themselves, sort of shocked that they actually pulled it off.


For the most part, this was a school term-ending game for me. I didn’t use it so much for actual vocabulary from the book since doing “nuclear waste” in charades seems very difficult. Of course, you can work those words into the Word Puzzle section pretty well. And in Trivia you can get all of the grammar points you’d like in there.

The whole idea behind the actual Cranium board game (that I ripped off for this) is that different people are good at different things and most games alienate at least a portion of the players (in our case, the class). This combines listening, reading, speaking, drawing, acting and puzzle solving all in one game so everyone has something to do. You will be amazed at what some of your quieter students will come out with.

Also, I highly recommend using Godzilla as one of the words in Charades. Hilarious.

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