Get Brain Savvy at Home with Creative Board Game

Assistant Editor

SUPER SUBTRACTORS: Grimes Elementary Teacher Carol Dodge watches as one of her students moves her team’s brain on the Brain Savvy game board. On this day, students were practicing subtracting double-digit numbers. Brain Savvy is a ‘creative educational tool’ that can be used for any subject, at school or at home.

MIRANDA ENZOR for GTR Newspapers

Looking for a way to get kids excited about doing homework? Need a new game to play on family night? Want a fun way to design an allowance or rewards system? Parents don’t have to be a genius, just Brain Savvy.

“Brain Savvy” is a creative board game designed by two local educators, Kathy Goff and Jamie McCracken. How the game works is only limited by the user’s imagination. The 41-space game board is a magnet that can be stuck on any metal surface. Playing pieces include six colorful, magnetic brains; two dice, one color-coded and one numbered; colored and numbered poker chips to designate teams; and six colored dry-erase markers.

Originally intended for the classroom, pieces are designed to easily break students into groups by color; then, when the dice is rolled, the student with that color and number chip takes his or her turn. Questions are determined by the game moderator, in a classroom setting, the teacher, and can relate to any subject he or she wishes to review. Essentially, the game can be played to review math problems or spelling just as easily as it could be played with movie trivia.

Brain Savvy is perfect for the home setting as well, says McCracken. Parents can utilize the versatile game in a number of ways for students of any age, giving it a longer shelf life than most family board games. Using a student’s homework, whether they are in grade school or high school, parents can create questions to help review lessons on a daily basis or review for testing.

“You can play so you’re asking the kids questions on each one’s level,” says Carol Dodge, a second-grade teacher at Grimes Elementary and Brain Savvy fan. “It’s great for parents to review stuff with their children. There’s so much pencil and paper at school, that anything fun and engaging done at home is going to help them remember better.”

Based on experience in the classroom, Dodge says she also recommends using the game as a rewards system. For example, for every chore a child completes or each day of good behavior, he or she is rewarded by moving ten spaces. When the child reaches the end of the board, he or she could be paid their allowance or receive something he or she wants.

“I would recommend this highly to parents because it’s a way to interact with their children,” says Dodge. “It allows families to have time together where they’re not just sitting down and watching TV. It allows parents a tool to teach their kids, even if they’re not in the teaching field.”

Dodge was introduced to Brain Savvy through Goff. The two are coworkers at Grimes.

“When Brain Savvy came out last year, she was telling us about it,” Dodge says. “She was very excited and telling us how wonderful it was. I was a little skeptical.”

Her reaction once playing the game?

“The first time I played Brain Savvy, Dr. Goff asked us to give her feedback. After my kids went to lunch, I e-mailed her saying ‘YIPPIE!’ It was a wow factor.

“It’s not just another game. It’s so deceptively simple and builds up brain power. It should be a staple for every educator.”

On average, Dodge uses the game once a week in her classroom. Her students review everything from math problems to social studies. She says it is perfect for unexpected gaps of time as well as giving students a fun way to learn.

“I keep the game up front behind the chair I sit in and as soon as they see me reach for it, they all gasp ‘We’re gonna do Brain Savvy!’ and they get quiet. The thing I love about this game is you can take it out and play it anytime.”

As a teacher of over a dozen seven-year-old boys, playing Brain Savvy is also one of the few times she knows she is holding everyone’s attention for an extended period of time.

“I have one autistic student and several ADD/ADHD students. They are very hard to keep focused, but when we get the game out, they can stay focused on it and excited about what we’re doing for up to 30 minutes. Any other time, it’s five minutes that I can hold their attention, 10 if I’m lucky. When we get Brain Savvy out, we go over the same stuff I’d be teaching anyway.”

Dodge says the game also allows for character development in her students.

“I have one student who has a learning disability in reading, but when he listens and hears stuff, he can remember it. What I’ve seen is him coming to the forefront with this game because if he’s heard it, he’s got it. [Brain Savvy] allows him to bring out leadership qualities and build on them.

“It’s fantastic and I would recommend it to anybody.”

For more information on Brain Savvy or to order the game for home-use, visit

Updated 10-24-2007

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