Student Work Example: Board Game


Group Members:

Jevan Banks-Cross, Jenn Hillier, Daniela Rajcevic, Brock University

Objective of the Game:

The objective of Cranium is to be the first team to move clockwise around the board and into the Cranium Central, where a team will attempt its final activity for the win.


Cranium is not suitable for children 15 and under and must be played with a minimum of 2 players on each team. The game is adapted to be suitable for individuals of all backgrounds, including persons of disabled and able bodies. The board game is specifically designed to be accessible and inclusive for the strengths of all individuals. In this way, the structure of the game promotes exploration and social interaction by cooperating various skill assets such as abstract thinking, creativity, and logical thinking.

Character Card Descriptions:

Cranium is played through the use of 4 character card boxes including: Creative Cat, Data Head, Star Performance, and Word Worm.

  • Creative Cat:
    • ○ These blue cards involve creative activities. Such creative activities may require a team member to draw on a piece of paper with eyes opened or closed) while the other team member(s) attempt to guess the word or phrase, similarly to Pictionary. Other options may require one team to utilize the play-dough for the other team(s) to guess the word or phrase being sculpted.
  • Data Head:
    • ○ These red cards involve knowledge of data and facts. Such activities may require a team to select the correct answer out of four multiple choice possibilities. Additionally, a team may be presented with a question in which a team must answer outright. Lastly, the third type of card may require a team’s team to evaluate a statement to determine whether it is true or false.
  • Star Performance:
    • ○ These green cards involve acting out clues through the utilization of a ‘hint’, similar to charades. This may require a team to act out a scenario or term. Additionally, a team may be asked to perform an identified physical activity in an allotted time frame, or they may go head to head against another team in a race to complete an activity.
  • Word Worm:
    • ○ These yellow cards involve a theme around words, spelling, and anagrams. Such activities may require a team to correctly identify the definition of a word out of four possibilities. Additionally, a team may be required to use a vague hint in order to solve a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ term with only some letters already filled in or alternatively they may also be required to use a vague hint to re-arrange letters in an anagram to form the correct word or phrase.

Detailed Game instructions

Game Set-up:

  1. Divide yourselves into teams of two or more.
  2. Each team will choose a game piece and place it on the purple Planet Cranium labelled ‘START.’
  3. Set out the four character card boxes labelled: Creative Cat, Word Worm, Star Performer, and Data Head
  4. Set out the die, timer, and tub of Cranium Clay,
  5. Provide each team a pad and pencil.
  6. Now you’re ready to play!

‘On Your Turn’:

  • A card is drawn from the character card box that matches the coloured space your team’s game piece is on.
    • – **On the first turn of every team and also every time a team is on a ‘Planet Cranium’ space, they will be given the opportunity to choose which box a card will be drawn from (eg. Creative Cat, Word Worm, etc).
  • Your team will complete the activity described on the card.
  • If the card activity is successful, the coloured die is rolled and the game piece is moved to the colour indicated on the die.
    • – ** Each team must stop on every ‘Planet Cranium’ space, even if the roll would otherwise take you past it. As a result, if a team rolls a purple, they can zoom ahead to the next ‘Planet Cranium,’ to which the turn is then over. Play then passes to the team to the left.
  • If the card activity is unsuccessful, the team must not roll the die or move a space. You must wait until your next turn and try again. Your turn is now over.

***REMEMBER: In Cranium a player must roll at the END of a turn, after they have successfully completed an activity.

‘Club Cranium’:

  • A Club Cranium card pauses the game for an outrageous all-play activity, in which all teams must compete to earn a ‘bonus roll’.
  • The first team to shout out the correct answer before the time runs out wins an immediate ‘bonus roll’.
  • After Club Cranium is played, the winner of the ‘Club Cranium’ card receives one bonus roll and moves forward. The team whose turn it was when the Club Cranium card was drawn, then proceeds to take their initial turn.
  • If a Club Cranium card is drawn while a team is on a ‘Planet Cranium’ space:
    • If a team wins the Club Cranium and it is their first activity while on a Planet Cranium, they must roll and move onto the ‘fast track’.
    • If your team doesn’t win the Club Cranium, and it was your first activity while on a ‘Planet Cranium’ space, don’t worry – a team can still try for the ‘fast track’ on their initial turn.

How to Win:

  • When a team enters the Cranium Circle on a roll at the end of a turn, they must move to the name of the character card box that matches the colour on the die.
    • If purple is rolled, the team can choose their starting point on the circle. Now wait your turn.
  • Each time a team successfully completes an activity in the Cranium Circle, they must keep the card, move clockwise to the next character name, and wait until their next turn to do any activity from that box.
    • It is important to note that Club Cranium cards count, too. If a team wins a Club Cranium card while in the Cranium Circle, they must keep the card if it’s the one needed. Then, if the card won matches the character you are on, the team must move clockwise to the next character name.
      • If a team is unsuccessful, they must stay put and try again on the next turn.
  • Once a team successfully holds one card from each character card box, they can move into Cranium Central.
    • On the following turn, the additional teams can collectively choose the character card box for the final activity.
    • If the respective team is successful, they must try again on the next turn.
    • If the respective team is the first to successfully complete an activity in Cranium Central (Club Cranium cards count, too), congratulations, you’ve won Cranium!


  • Each team must select a time frame that they believe they will be able to complete the task in (ex. 45 secs)
    • If the prospective team is able to successfully complete the task in the time established prior to the task, they can continue to roll the die and move the game piece accordingly.
    • If the prospective team is unsuccessful in completing the task in the time established prior to the task, they are unable to roll and move.


What part of the game was maintained?

The well-rounded categories of the game cards were maintained in the redesign of Cranium. The concept of having a diverse range of categories provides individuals the opportunity to excel at their own strengths, whether that be through hands-on activities or mind-like puzzles. The categorical cards within the game board develop an inclusive environment, which is an important principle not only for the game, but for disability awareness as a whole. Often, board games limit or exclude individuals who may experience delayed cognitive processing or inhibited motor movement, thus perpetuating ableism. The tasks included within each card however, attempt to break this cycle by tapping into and celebrating individual strengths, giving every player the chance to succeed no matter their story.

The rule that the game must be played in teams was also maintained in our design of Cranium. Playing with a minimum of 2 players per team allows each player to ‘pass’ or ‘accept’ a task, depending on their own comfortability or confidence completing the requirements. This again provides every player the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths, as it also caters to the needs of individuals with disabilities. For example, if a player does not feel inclined to participate in a task, they have the ability to request their alternative partner to step up without penalization. Many game boards fail to include individuals with disabilities and thus do not participate or are forced to face vast barriers of participation within the game. As a result, it is common for board games to only pertain to able-bodied individuals – even if not necessarily done intentionally. Therefore, our group believes that by maintaining a team-based board game it may limit the exclusion of people with disabilities due to the adaptive nature of the game.

What part of the games were altered?

The first component our group decided to alter was the theme of playing cards. The need for ongoing education can be achieved by increasing awareness, such as board games like Cranium. We decided to alter the tasks of each card category in order to advocate awareness and knowledge of disability in social, historical, and theoretical contexts. In this way, our group’s version of Cranium constitutes meaningful participation by generating opportunities to transfer learning into everyday experiences. Raising awareness has a crucial role to play in overcoming negative, ill-informed attitudes which may often lead to discrimination and prejudice towards people of disabilties if ignored. Therefore, each task is designed precisely with the motive to encourage players to reflect and test their personal understanding of disability. In order to diminish prevailing stigmas, our redesigned version of Cranium embeds a disability-focused curriculum, so that it is still a competitive and light-hearted game that can be used as an intentional educational tool for ages 15 and up.

The second component our group decided to remove from the original game of Cranium was the allocated 60 second timer. The pre-established time a task must be completed by each team is a discourse of ableism as it creates an unfair disadvantage for individuals who possibly have cognitive or physical impairments. For example, individuals with learning disabilities or neurological disorders such as ASD may require greater time to process or plan a motor skill, and thus additional time would be a necessity to compensate for an individual’s specific needs. For this reason, as a group we decided to readjust the time constraint so that instead each team is given the opportunity to determine how much time they believe it might take for them to successfully complete each task at hand. Doing so would limit any individual from being placed at an automatic disadvantage solely due to time constraint and would establish equity for all.

The third component our group decided to remove from Cranium is the ‘Fast Track’ element of the game board. After analysis, our group was able to conclude that the ‘Fast Track’ instills ableist discourses due to the fact that it may significantly benefit individuals who do not experience intellectual delay-cognitive functioning, developmental delay, or a learning disability. The removal of a ‘Fast Track’ allows each player and team to start at an equal playing field throughout the entirety of the game. Doing so also adapts the initial instructions to be more concise and consistent. Structure and simplicity can greatly aid individuals with learning, processing, and communication challenges, thus we believed it was important to enhance Cranium by removing this barrier of participation.


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