Board games to use for in-class activities

I love board games. Recently I was helping another prof develop some in-class activities and recommended activities based on three board games that I incorporate into class.

  • Scattergories: For the most part, it is the alphabet-sided die that comes in useful. For a brainstorming session in looking for topic ideas, I have put students in groups and challenged them to come up with as many ideas as they can within a set time that start with the letter randomly rolled on the die. This can be repeated with 2-3 letters, and the topics can be narrowed if you like (“Things about this campus starting with letter W — go!”). After generating a list — and according to the rules of brainstorming there is no questioning or evaluating list items as the list is created — the students are then asked to choose 1-2 items that can be stretched or expanded into interesting speech topics for class. If you have more time to spend on topic selection, a version more faithful to the rules of the game might be helpful as well.
  • Mindtrap: Not all speech textbooks have a reasoning section, but I always dedicate one or two days to covering the basics of reasoning and fallacies as part of the persuasive unit. Mindtrap comes with dozens of cards with logic puzzles and word games of varying difficulty. Not all are straight reasoning, so I have selected out cards that best illustrate the point for class. Students get into groups and are given copies of the cards (because the original cards have answers on the back) and work them together. If they get an answer quickly or need a hint, they can let me know. When they solve it, I will give them another card while the other groups work. One group member is a recorder who is called on during the debriefing to describe the logical process the group took to find the answer, which I can then relate to the types of logic as I discuss them later.

    The other prof was doing exercises that focused on creativity and was able to find examples of lateral thinking in the game deck and use the same steps of the exercise.

  • The Whole Brain Game: This is a game consisting of two decks — one a list of words associated with various colors (nouns are listed as Green words, for example) and the other deck are questions. The question deck calls on you to use specific random words from the first deck. The questions ask you to look for connections between two random words, or to treat the words as a superpower, or to make the word a human and speak in its voice, among other things. You are given a brief period of time to answer each question and scored by the quantity of acceptable answers you give.

    The decks have been great to incorporate into class activities, challenging students to create fresh metaphors, be creative with transitions, and see topics in a new way.

I’ve been able to incorporate these games into activities in public speaking and my colleague had success using them for activities in an advertising class as well.

Are there any board games you have found useful for class activities? I’d love to add them to the list.



About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

2 responses to “Board games to use for in-class activities”

  1. Tom says :

    I’ve found a few new board games that have worked well for me in class. One of them is called 5 Second Rule. In the game, there are categories on the cards such as name “Name 3 Car Manufacturers” and they have to name 3 car manufacturers in 5 seconds. I use this to teach impromptu speaking as well as using it to think on their feet and not worry about stage fright. I split the room in half and one person from each side comes up to the front. The student from side A reads the card to the student from side B. Once student A has finished reading the timer starts and student B has 5 seconds to answer. If they get all 3 correct in 5 seconds their side gets a point. The actions are repeated with student B reading the card and student A answering. The students find it fun and there are usually some good laughs to be had.

  2. Arnebya says :

    As much as I adore Scattergories, I hadn’t considered its usefulness regarding thinking on one’s feet. Tonight’s class is going to be interesting (and fun, hopefully).

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