Brain Builders, Part Deux

This weekend I posted about my Brain Builder's Club and I got so many great emails that I thought I'd take time to give everyone some more details. It was the first post that generated so much individual interest about working with gifted and higher ability students, especially those in a heterogeneous class setting. I am beyond excited that my little project may benefit you all. It's working so well in my room and I hope after this post, you'll be ready to try it as well with the same success!

Let's do a little Q&A. I always like that.

Q: What are the task cards? Where do they come from? Can I buy the program from you? (all kinda related right?)
A: The task cards are a set of cards on one topic with a question on the front and the answer handwritten on the back.  Here are some examples of different cards:
Links to these are at the end of the post.
I have been collecting task cards for years from various sites that I'm a part of including Second Grade Club and ProTeacher. Of course, I've made many of my own as well. I don't have a whole Brain Builders program for sale in my TpT store. I'm not even sure how I would go about that. I do however, have some task cards for sale there that would be perfect for your own Brain Builders board. I'll list them at the end of this post if you're interested. You can get started with this FREE set on compound words that I made just for you! I'm cool like that ;)

Click on the link above to get these free!

Q: When do they practice with the cards?
A: In my room, students can go to the board and choose a set of cards to study whenever they have time to do so. If they finish an assignment or center activity early, for example. I've also had kids ask if they can do  Brain Builders during indoor recess and Fun Friday! Uh, yupper! Sure can! This might be different for you depending on the needs of your kids. I've also used it for a center once or twice.

Q: How do they study?
A: To study, they simply take the set of cards off the hook, find a comfy place and use them the same way you would use any flash cards. In my room, the studying is an independent activity. You may allow them to study together.

Q: What exactly is the test?
A: This one is easy. The test IS the set of cards. After they have studied the cards for a while and think they are ready for the test, they get a blank test form that looks like this. Click on it to download a copy.

Then a friend watches them read the card, answer on the paper, then flip to the next card. After all 30 questions are answered, the partner checks it. In order for them to get a "brain bead" they need to pass the test with 100% accuracy. Again, you can modify this for your class, but since they have multiple opportunities to study and they only take the test when they feel they're ready, I'm comfortable with the 100% goal.

Q: What if they fail the test?
A: They can keep studying that set until they're ready to take the test again.

Q: How do you keep up with adding the beads?
A: I found the best way is to have the kids bring me their test and their keychain when they've passed. Then they get to pick out their bead, I attach it right there and they go hang it back up. It only takes a second and it's working pretty well so far.

Q: How do you choose which topics to put on the board?
A: I put a variety of topics across all subject areas. This is a great way to introduce students to concepts or skills that you may not even cover in your curriculum. I'm careful to put a wide variety up, so we have a mix of essential skills and some enrichment as well. Some were developed for my kids when I saw a real need, like the Much or Many cards. Today I asked my two top girls who already have six beads each what kinds of things they'd like to learn about. I'm going to work on some cards for them on the subjects they chose (animals and geography).

Q: Do you sell them on TpT?
A: I do have a few sets that I sell. I have made others that aren't up to snuff to sell because I like to sell them in complete sets with answer keys, recording sheets, etc, for those who aren't necessarily using them for Brain Builders. Below are a few that I have currently listed. I'm going to try to list a few more geared toward Brain Builders w/ just the 30 cards and perhaps in sets of five for a discounted price. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, leave me a comment and I'll work on it.

Here are some current sets. Just click on the link to see them - you can download a free preview too!

I hope that helps! Be sure to download that compound freebie and the test sheet. If I left out anything, just feel free to ask!



  1. I would LOVE to buy a set of your cards!!! I love your blog.


  2. I would also be interested in these cards! :)

  3. I would totally buy a multi-topic set of cards! Love your blog and your ideas! :)

  4. I wonder how I could adapt this fab idea to the Kindergarten level. :)

  5. I can't wait to work this into my 5th grade classroom. I have an idea for literacy task cards... your "Much or Many" cards reminded me of this.. how about a "I or me" task cards? Things like "What if you and _____ go to the store?"
    Thank you for this spark of greatness! I am off to purchase a few of your cards off of TPT to get me started!!

  6. My brain is reeling now.... How about Fact/Opinion cards? :)

  7. Hi Mrs. Warcup!
    Fact/Opinion and I/Me are great ideas! They're both on my to-do list :)

  8. LOVE this idea! Where did you buy the ball chains??


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