Speaking Games: Think Positive

The creative life is simple: get up, get dressed, get on with it.

Chuck Sandy.

Creativity is the new Holy Grail of today’s life. The quest for creativity seems to have reached the proportion of global mass hysteria: schools are blamed for “killing it” and called for “teaching it as a matter of urgency” (Do it now, do it fast); CEOs have set it as a number one priority for their employees; academia, educators, psychology gurus (and just random people who “are creative and they know it”) are offering “new and creative” ways to “awaken”, “unleash,” “unblock”, “unlock” or “set it free” at home, at school, or at work to secure global peace and happiness (and return on investment).

Can we really teach creativity?

10 posters, 6 presentations, 3 videos and 5 poems – this makes a great yearly creative output, no? We need to measure creativity somehow, so we measure it by the stuff made or ideas produced. (Their quality is again measured according to public opinion. Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from his job because the editor thought Walt “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”?)

Creativity is a way of life. If you’re really creative and imaginative, you don’t have to make things. You just have to live, observe, think and feel. We cannot teach it, but we can encourage individuality by focusing on abilities essential for living a creative life. Resilience or the ability to bounce back after encountering problems or adverse situations while looking on the bright side of life is one of them.

Lead-in. Show this video to your students. Pause the video (0:51) and have students guess what the grandpa said. Get them to think what he meant by the “beautiful glass”.

They say Thomas Edison made about 10,000 attempts at creating his first lightbulb.

At what point would you stop trying? At what point would the society label you as “uncreative”, and would it make you stop trying?

Did he feel frustrated? I bet that happened many times, but he would keep trying because it was never a failure but 10,000 ways how not to make a lightbulb.

Think positive

I’ve made this Think Positive Game to cultivate an optimistic outlook, develop a habit of positive self-talk and learn phrases to encourage someone to put more effort or to not stop trying to do something.

The game has two versions:


Just print out the cards and cut them out before the class (click the cards to download them). One set is for a group of 3-4 students.

Think Positive Game Cards

How to Play

The aim of the game is to score maximum points as a team. Challenge them to score more than 30 points. Students simply go around in a circle drawing one card on their turn. Depending on the card they pull, they perform the task given and score a point for the team. Each card represents a different task.

Phrase cards1 point – if they pick a phrase card, and there’s no matching card, they put it next to the pile. Once they see  a matching pair, they put them together and score a point.

Smiley card1 point per word – if they pick a smiley card, they must give a one-word compliment (each player). The same word cannot be repeated twice.

Negative self-talk card1 point – if they pick a negative self-talk card, they need to change it into a positive statement. They get 1 point per idea.

When they earn points, they mark them down on their point card.

* * *

DIY or have them do it 

Try to engage your students in the game preparation (and make it more learning rich). You’ll need minimum resources to make it – 2 or 3 sheets of A4 paper (fold them in half 4 times to get 16 squares) and a pair of scissors to cut them out.



  1. Give it | a try
  2. Go | for it
  3. It’s worth | a shot
  4. Keep up | the good work
  5. Keep it | up
  6. Follow | your dreams
  7. Reach | for the stars
  8. The sky is | the limit
  9. I have | faith in you
  10. You make | a difference
  11. That’s coming | along nicely
  12. Look how far | you’ve come
  13. Way | to go!
  14. Good | for you!
  15. Good | thinking
  16. I’m so | proud of you

Smiley cards (4-6 cards)

Negative self-talk cards (10-12 cards):

What we say to ourselves determines our feelings, behaviour and future life. Have students look through some examples of negative self-talk. Ask them to provide any other examples. Have students change these negative statements into constructive thoughts. Pair them up and get them to compare their ideas.

I made a mistake

I can’t do it, it’s too much for me

I am not good enough





I made a mistake This is an opportunity for me to learn

FYI: read about the strategies to tackle negative self-talk here and here.

Negative self-talk cards:

  • I made a mistake
  • I’ve never done it before
  • I am a failure
  • I can’t do it, it’s too much for me
  • I am not good enough
  • No one bothers to talk to me
  • I am stupid
  • There’s no way it’ll work
  • I hate it
  • It’s too complicated
  • This is too hard
  • I’m not going to get any better at this
  • I don’t have the resources
  • I’m too lazy to get this done
  • I’ve messed up the exam, I’m a loser
  • I’m not good at speaking

Have them cut out and shuffle the cards.

Ready to play?

(Image: wewiorka_wagner,, Creative Commons)


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