Best of Teacher HELPLINE: Best Brain Games for the Classroom

Flex those thinking muscles!

Best Brain Games for the Classroom

Teachers know it’s always a great idea to keep some brain games on hand. They’re a fun way to review for tests, fill in a little time at the end of a lesson, and build community. We asked the members of the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE to share their favorite brain games for the classroom. Here are their choices. 

Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!

Snake Oil

Brain Games Snake Oil

“My seventh and eighth grade students love Snake Oil—I use it to hone persuasive techniques!” —Christine B.  

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Apples to Apples

Brain Games Apples to Apples

This is a favorite of many teachers. Wendy F. says, “I think [it] exposes them to more vocabulary words.” Adrian G. notes, “I have the Big Picture cards, and even my newly arrived English learners can win a round.”

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Scattergories

Brain Games Scattergories

Another perennial favorite, Scattergories works for any age level. You can play a quick round to fill up time at the end of a lesson, working in teams or even together as a class.

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UNO

Brain Games UNO

This might seem like a surprising choice, but several teachers say this is one of their favorite brain games for the classroom. “For young students or mid-age special education students, [it teaches] numbers and quick thinking,” says Becca N.

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Dixit

Brain Games Dixit

Jessica B. loves this storytelling game. “It can help with learning more about inferences and narratives,” she explains.

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Boggle

Brain Games Boggle

Soma K. uses Boggle for warm-ups, especially on Mondays. “Put the board under the document camera, and the competition is fierce!”

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SMATH

Brain Games SMATH

“SMATH is a fun game for upper grades. It’s like Scrabble for math!” —Erika D.

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Equate

 Brain Games Equate

Equate is similar to SMATH, and Jessica L. says, “My students LOVE it and beg me to play it.”

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Bananagrams

Brain Games Bananagrams

“A teacher friend gave me Bananagrams for my 7th grade classroom, and the kids love it!” —Shelly L.

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Kanoodle

Brain Games Kanoodle

Beka V. likes puzzle brain games like Kanoodle. “It helps with problem solving, spatial reasoning, and following detailed directions.” She also recommends IQ Fit.

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Clumsy Thief

Brain Games Clumsy Thief

Cathy S. recommends this game for elementary kids. It’s a fun way to hone addition and money skills.

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Cat Crimes

Brain Games Cat Crimes

Jennifer R. teaches a multi-age K–6 classroom and says her kids play lots of brain games like this logic-problem-solver. “For my class, it encourages a lot of multi-age play—but also allows opportunities for them to learn!”

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Heads Up

Brain Games Heads Up

More than one teacher said they take games like Heads Up and customize them with vocab words or other items for review.

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Pictionary

Brain Games Pictionary

This is another game teachers love to customize with their own vocab. It’s an easy one to play with whiteboards and markers you already have on hand.

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Upwords

Brain Games Upwords

Merchelle K. plays lots of games in the classroom, including this old classic, which puts a unique twist on Scrabble.

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Playing cards

Brain Games Cards

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Use a plain old deck of cards and play Math War. “Each player draws two cards, adds the numbers, and the [person with the] bigger sum gets to keep the cards. You can can also subtract or multiply,” says Beth P. You can also play this with dice.

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Free Rice

Brain Games Free Rice

Wendy F. mentioned that her kids enjoy this online game. The concept is simple: Answer a multiple-choice question. If you get it right, you get a harder question. For each question you get right, Free Rice donates rice to the World Food Programme to help fight hunger.

Kahoot!

Brain Games Kahoot

With online devices prevalent in most of today’s classrooms, teachers are loving Kahoot! Play an existing quiz or create one of your own. 

What are your favorite brain games for the classroom? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. 

Plus, the best board games for preschoolers.

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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