Nine-Square Mind-Reading Trick

Simple trick to use while demonstrating grammar/vocab.
Target levelJHS
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The questions/grammar used in this can be anything. It does not provide a lot of opportunity for language use but it does not take much time either. It is an immense source of interest and good will.

We suggest you only do this game a few times and that you and your assistant keep the secret for months.


Teach an assistant the trick beforehand.


  • Draw a 3x3 grid on the board with stick figures doing something (reading, running, swimming, sleeping, kicking, sitting, walking, jumping, diving).
  • Ask the class who believes in telepathy. Discuss it in Japanese. Raise the fun and involvement in the idea through encouraging disagreement.
  • Ask your assistant to go out of the room.
  • Ask the class to choose one of the rectangles, for example, swimming.
  • Ask your assistant to come into the room.
  • Say that everyone is thinking of what the stickman is doing. Then, pointing to the pictures, ask your assistant:
    • Teacher: Is he running?
    • Student: No.
    • Teacher: Is he reading?
    • Student: No.
    • Teacher: Is he swimming?
    • Student: Yes.
  • Your assistant will know which it is by the way you point.

The trick

The class have chosen the top right-hand corner of the big rectangle (3x3 grid). So you point to the top right-hand corner of the first picture you ask a question about. With your first pointing, your assistant knows which picture has been chosen. It does not matter which picture you point to first.

See also