Student Voice Brainteaser Activities

SoundOut students brainstorming their definitions of student voice.
SoundOut students in Seattle brainstorming their definitions of student voice.


Keep the pace of lessons up-beat and energetic with these challenging mind games! All of these activities are fun, although they can be a bit frustrating at times for participants. More importantly, they can serve as great metaphors during lessons to keep participants thinking. They can be fillers before you start, during break times, or after you end. There’s only one rule – you can’t tell the answers. Remember the adage, “Knowledge is earned – not given.” Try to memorize your favorite mind twist, and go without these notes. Good luck!



1. Activities Going Camping – Start by saying, “We’re going camping this weekend! The thing is though that we can only bring along particular items. It’s kind of a crazy camping trip!” Then, say one thing at a time, letting people think about each one. “We can bring a dog, but not its dog food… an elephant, but not a canary… an end table, not a lamp. . .” you add more.

Answer: Things with four legs can go camping; anything else can’t.

2. Silly Sally – Begin with, “I’ve got this crazy friend named Silly Sally. You see, she only likes certain things, very particular things. Let me tell you about her.” Then slowly start listing off what Silly Sally likes… “She likes apples, but not bananas… spaghetti, but not the sauce… Seattle, not Olympia… troops, not packs… Jeeps, not Fords… Bill, not Tom… the roof, but not the ceiling… the floor, but not the carpet…”

Answer: Silly Sally likes things with double letters!

3. Crossed or Uncrossed – Holding up two sticks, announce that you want the group to guess “Are these crossed or uncrossed?” As they guess you confirm or deny that they are crossed or uncrossed. You pass the sticks to the next guy, and he asks “Crossed, or uncrossed?” Go around the entire circle until everyone says “Oh, yeah, now I get it!” I like to say, “Remember, the answer isn’t always in the most obvious solution.”

Answer: The answer isn’t in the sticks, but the legs of the person asking “Crossed, or uncrossed?” Are they sitting with their legs crossed or uncrossed?

4. Ancient Counting Sticks – Hold up three sticks in the air, and announce that they are the ancient counting sticks of Zoogoobawgooland. “These three sticks will be conformed in such a way that will represent a number.” Then lay the three sticks on the ground in a unique way.

Answer: Show the number you wish to represent with your fingers. Put your hand someplace not too obvious… Keep having the participants guess, and keep changing the number and stick layout. Use both hands, making numbers up to 10. As you progress, keep making gestures more obvious as you go along.


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