Carol Dweck's research on mindsets has revolutionized the education field. Jo Boaler has followed this with her contributions on how mindsets in the field of mathematics impact student's growth. This is a Mindset Inventory for use at the beginning
I use this game to start students brainstorming about what the terms perimeter, area, and volume mean. Often they are asked to infer what is being asked for in a word problem; this is a good starting point for that discussion.