Cranium in the classroom

– Get your students in a spin

I picked up this strategy at a recent course where we were told about the ‘personal capabilities’ being promoted in primary schools. Each ‘personal capability’ is a particular skill, and this activity is aimed at improving communication skills.

The activity is very simple to set up and fun. Firstly choose about 20 key words relevant to the topic being taught or revised. Then give a 5 section spinner to each group which has a different method of communication on each section.

In turns, a student picks up one of the words so that no-one else in the group can see. They then use the spinner to choose a communication method, and have 1 minute to successfully get the others in the group to guess the word using that particular method.

This is just like the board game Cranium, but can obviously used in lots of different subjects and in different ways.

The 5 sections are ‘miming’, ‘drawing without speaking’, ‘free choice’, ‘describing without saying the word’, and ‘modelling with plasticine’. The spinner is just a divided pentagon that can then have a pencil put through it.

I used this activity with a top year 10 set to help them revise a topic, but extended it afterwards by asking each student to choose 5 words and write definitions, using the textbooks for help.

The students found this a valuable learning activity and enjoyed it too. I also found that the activity promoted the review of further relevant concepts within the topic as the students had to make links to describe the words.

Poppy Saltonstall


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