Mary Briseno

THE GAME OF CHARADES

  • Helps increase creativity
  • Improve memory retention
  • Exercises both sides of the brain
  • Team building exercise

Charades is a classic staple for any family game night. This hilarious game is a favorite that has stood the test of time. Charades is both fun and relaxing; players who aren’t afraid to unwind and let loose a bit will find themselves at an advantage with this game. The nature of the game encourages different kinds of creative expression and will help more reserved players learn how to push past their comfort zone a bit in a way that’s not overwhelming. This type of play can be especially beneficial to children who may need to improve communication skills. Participating in teams forces players to learn how to work together using creative problem solving and logic in order to win.

A fun and silly game like Charades might make it hard to believe that it can actually also be a great brain exercise that uses both sides of the brain at once. Players will need to memorize a list of words, think logically, and create gestures in order to act out words or phrases. The players trying to guess the answer use logic and deductive reasoning in order to do so. Both the actors and viewers are exercising their brains while taking turns during the game. The game of Charades is also an exercise in memory retention. Recalling a list to act out later is a great way to improve the memory. Strong memory skills have been shown to correlate to improved study habits and test scores in school.

The importance of teamwork is a recurring theme in games like Charades. Players must trust one another and learn how to work together quickly and efficiently in order to win. This can be a great opportunity for a child to observe and demonstrate these behaviors as well. Learning to be a team member is not only important in school, but essential in the workplace.

MAGIC: THE GATHERING

  • Improves creativity and imaginative thought
  • Helps improve logic skills
  • Improve memory retention
  • Teaches Creative Problem Solving

Magic: The Gathering teaches two very important skills for a child’s development:  Creative practice and critical thinking. Playing the game encourages outside-the-box thinking in order to uncover different methods and endless styles of play. This unrestricted style of game play gives players the freedom to set their own game pace and use any card deck of choice.

When playing Magic: The Gathering, players have the option to build and customize their own deck of cards according to personal taste and strategic preference. Adding cards to a deck requires a critical analysis of each card. Preferences, features, and intended function are all things that must be taken into consideration before the card is added. Players must create a strategic plan to play the game in order to win. Plans are created through trial and error, analyzing past experiences, and visualization. The nature of the game requires players to expect the unexpected and be able to prepare for any number of unforeseen challenges. Progressing through the game of Magic requires critical thinking skills, memorization, and creative problem-solving in order to win. Since each player’s deck is highly personalized, the game is heavily influenced by what each deck looks like and how players have chosen them to function. The unpredictability of so many factors that go into play creates unexpected obstacles that must be solved creatively.

Creating cards and building strategy will encourage players to stretch their imagination past the confines of the real world — this is what sets playing fantasy games like Magic:  The Gathering apart. Practicing critical thinking and creative problem-solving are especially beneficial for children, and developing these skills in play empowers them to use them in other ways that reach far beyond a game.

FEED THE WOOZLE COOPERATIVE GAME

  • Communication skills
  • Learning to share
  • Motor Skills
  • Counting

Board games, in the right context, can be excellent  educational materials disguised as entertainment. It is a great opportunity to pass time and build social skills with the entire family, with the added benefit of teaching children important life skills while having fun. Board games are designed to be played in groups of two or more, which allows people to comfortably sit down and create the space to talk and interact with each other. A fun game that brings everyone together and is worth considering, is Feed the Woozle. This game, and many others like it, help children develop their communication skills by the simple act of playing. Children get to follow the instructions and have to learn to work together to win the game. The goal for the players is to cooperate in order to be successful, teaching children the wonderful lesson of how to share while developing healthy social skills.    

Playing games such as Feed the Woozle Game aids toddlers develop their motor skills early on. The game fosters simple hand-eye coordination movements such as moving a spoon up and down and forward to feed the Woozle. Also, it is a good way to practice balance and moving their body through space, such as holding a spoon steady to keep the food in its place. Pretending to feed chocolate-covered flies and hairy pickles trains children to eat using utensils in a giggle inducing fashion. This type of play correlates with learning to eat by themselves in the real world and balance the spoon until it reaches their mouths, instead of the floor. Besides, who wouldn’t want to eat flies and hairy pickles?

Another feature of Feed the Woozle Game that applies to many other similar board games is learning and counting numbers. A child practices how to count while feeding the Woozle some snacks. Depending on the number of the rolled dice, the player must put that number of flies and pickles on their spoons. Throughout the game the child is constantly counting the snacks and turns. The repetition of counting in each turn is a good way to establish a good foundation for basic math skills.  Additionally, the game has three levels of difficulty that can be played – once the child has mastered a level they can go up to the next. Making a game more challenging as skills increase is perfect for keeping engagement high, and your child will continue to play and enjoy themselves for years to come.

MONOPOLY THE BOARD GAME

  • Engages in memory adeptness
  • Teaches financial abilities
  • Enhances math skills
  • Practices problem solving and logic

Monopoly is a classic board game that has entertained groups of friends and families for years. Having been around for generations, it’s considered a piece of American history and is still wildly popular around the world. It’s no secret that game nights with friends and family are a great way to socialize and bond, but many games such as Monopoly are also great for teaching important life-skills. Monopoly gives children an introduction to real-life situations and will expose them to topics like economics, business, and taxes. Playing the game teaches math and negotiation skills, and is even a great introduction into how things like property ownership and taxes work. Children who play Monopoly will practice skills like math during the game and be able to take many of the valuable lessons learned from play with them for life.

The goal of Monopoly is to compete in overtaking a vast majority of property on the board. This encourages friendly competition between players and engages them to want to win. Players must navigate through the world of business and finance, as they analyze the pros and cons of property ownership on the board. Negotiation skills will be developed during play while players buy and sell their property strategically in order to get ahead. This is a great way to refine communication skills, as these are often tricky and delicate interactions.

Monopoly allows children to learn the fundamentals of business and finances to children in a casual and fun environment. Having a fundamental understanding at an early age of many of these important concepts will give children a distinct advantage for when they will have to navigate these in the future.

THE BENEFITS OF DOMINOES

  • Helps to develop critical thinking skills
  • Bond with families and social groups
  • Reduces stress
  • Improve memory retention

There are many classic board games that can be useful in classroom settings and have been proven to be effective, if unconventional, tools for learning. Games such as Dominoes are great for translating critical thinking and memory exercises into real world settings, with ramifications applied for the decisions made. Children benefit from games like this because they present them with challenges that require creativity and thinking outside the box. Dominoes is a game that requires a high level of strategy and planning in order to win. How the game works, a player analyzes the board to deduct what Domino tiles the other players have left, based on how they played each round. The game forces the player to be constantly guessing their opponents’ tiles and strategizing to block their moves in order to control the board and win the game. This type of skill can later be applied to lessons such as logical reasoning exercises as well as working through mathematical equations.       

In Dominoes, it is vital that the player stays sharp in order to win the game. The concentration and focus required to play well benefit children’s memory retention. Dominoes has twenty-eight tiles to use in different combinations; the player needs to memorize and understand the usefulness of the seven they have in their hand in order to effectively understand their opponents play options. So, when it’s the player’s turn, they have gathered the essential information to anticipate their opponents in order to make strategic moves to control the board, and ultimately win the game. There have been studies that have found that playing Dominoes helps children improve their visual abilities and even assists in the development of photographic memories. The way a child builds their ability to memorize the Dominoes tiles can later be applied to schoolwork for example in learning the periodic table, or in any one of the unlimited applications in the real world. 

Another wonderful benefit of Dominoes is that it can be played anywhere. Dominoes is a game that can be played in any social setting, whether it is a family gathering, or at a party with friends, and can even be used as a fun break between study sessions. You can play in teams of two or individually, which plays into variations of strategy. It is a great tool for children to bond with older family members since there is no age limit either direction for the game.

Dominoes is a great opportunity for a child’s social confidence and skills to blossom. Unlike some other board games, in Dominoes players are encouraged to have fun banter and conversations in between plays. Playing Dominoes creates an environment where players are encouraged to talk amongst each other. People of all ages benefit from this type of healthy competition. The game is a great way to boost endorphins and reduce any stresses of the day. Plus, it is an activity that can involve the entire family where everyone can unwind and just have fun together.

THE BENEFITS OF THE GRAVITY MAZE

  • Engages in problem solving
  • Develops motor skills
  • Promotes engineering, STEM, and building
  • Encourages creativity

When trying to get children to learn in a home setting, it is important to consider what will keep them both interested as well as stimulated in a good way.  Toys that promote key foundational skills that encourage mathematics, engineering, STEM goals, and creativity are important and all found in a part of a game like Gravity maze.  It helps create an educational environment invisibly, while remaining fun for hours at a time. 

Gravity Maze and others like it provide children the liberty to create, play and learn at their own pace with different types of challenges and courses that the toys provide. Each challenge can range from easy to hard, creating different advancing levels of learning throughout the gameplay.  The learning is accomplished in different areas and on many different levels, and can lead directly to the formation of STEM skills early in life. Gravity Maze is considered a STEM toy because of its problem solving mechanics, focus on perception, and how the game can immerse a child into a world of solving basic mechanical problems that have high level concepts underlying their existence. Trying to figure out how each challenge card is handled and solved in creative and stimulating ways bridges the gap between creativity and rational logic. Making a marble reach the bottom in one flow creates a well-defined but attainable goal that gently encourages the player to adapt to their current situation. The ability to solve the challenge with the given pieces for construction, within the confines of the grid shaped area, grows along with confidence and the more abstract mental skills that develop in the background.

All these details can help students enhance their studying habits and learning capabilities.  Focusing on a challenge or a single goal to its completion can help a child at school, when taking a quiz or a test, or through many of the issues life can present.  Being able to lean on those developing abilities can easily lead to a boost in confidence, giving children more ease when presenting a topic in class or when challenged anywhere.  The toy engages creativity and motor skills, helping develop both as the child continues to play and have fun with the Gravity Maze game.  Most importantly, it is an easy way to engage children into using their brain to solve fun and captivating puzzles, all the while providing the fun necessary to help keep them focused.

PLAY JENGA

  • Improve Hand-eye coordination
  • Increases logic skills
  • Teaches creative problem solving
  • Improves concentration

The game of Jenga is well known for its simplicity in design:  A tower of wooden bricks that must be removed one by one, until one of the players causes the tower to collapse. This popular game also offers some unexpected benefits that are worth noting. Playing Jenga improves fine motor skills, dexterity, concentration, and perception capabilities. Game play encourages children to have fun while practicing these key functions that will be beneficial when facing various obstacles that may arise later in life. 

Grabbing each wooden brick from the Jenga stack can be a real challenge, especially when there are a lot of bricks already out. The game is designed to become more challenging as it progresses. Players must demonstrate patience and dexterity because of how carefully each brick must be pulled out and replaced. This is where the use of fine motor skills comes into play. Jenga also requires the use of logic and creates opportunities for players to problem solve by perceiving which brick is likely to progress the game and which ones would be bound to make the tower fall. Practicing observation and using logic will help children learn to identify patterns and aid with many daily activities like studying, social interactions, and chores. Concentration is also encouraged during game play, making players focus on the task at hand to accomplish a goal. 

Jenga is commonly thought of as a party game because the rules are simple and it’s incredibly fun to play. While this is all true, it can also be used as a great education tool. In fact, it’s so easy to tailor Jenga for specific learning needs that it has become a very popular game for educators. It can be easily customized by writing a topic or question on each brick that must be answered with each turn – all the sudden it becomes a fun and effective study tool. With all of the benefits and entertainment that this game has to offer, it’s not hard to see why Jenga continues to be so popular with both adults and children. 

THE BENEFITS OF THE ABACUS

  • Engaging in memorization
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Problem solving
  • Helps improve perception

Math is one of the most challenging areas in education, and teaching it to children can be difficult at first. Using tools such as the Abacus helps create an easy environment to visually and tactilely understand and learn concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and even division.  These are the key elements that form the basis of higher mathematics, and making math more accessible and easier to comprehend at an early age yields obvious and very real benefits. 

The Abacus is easily one of the most utilized tools ever made throughout history.  Its existence dates back many centuries, and yet it continues to benefit the youth today as it did the population at large back then.  What makes it so unique is its simplicity of use coupled with its flexibility of application. You can take each bead from the abacus and use it to do basic math very quick and easy, while providing visual affirmation of the underlying concepts.  Though effectively early calculators used by everyone, today Abacus are generally made to appeal to a younger audience, with bright colors, different sizes, and sometimes even included math kits made of the blocks.  They help children grow their understanding in an environment where they can consider what surrounds them logically and numerically, and apply that knowledge into real world situations.  Utilizing several beads on each line of the Abacus helps the child visually keep track of these advanced concepts when sliding each one either left or right to count or calculate in real time. 

Use of tools such as an Abacus engages children in problem solving and memorization in an entertaining way. When they are presented with problems and situations that the device can be used to solve, it gives a sense of accomplishment along with the underlying confidence of learning.  This can be something simple, like dividing to share at school and home, or even the beginnings of  basic algebra.  It helps improve perception skills and eye-hand coordination by observing the manipulation of numerical patterns and ingrains the understanding of these processes.  The use of an Abacus can help bring these understandings from the immediate physical/visual stimulation during play, to evolving into a purely mental ability to use solving whatever exercise or challenge comes their way in life.

PLAYING THE PIANO

  • Increases your memory capacity
  • Exercises both sides of the brain
  • Enhances Split Concentration
  • Playing the piano teaches concentration and discipline

Playing the piano offers a plethora of health and mental benefits that will supplement every part of your life. And, that doesn’t even begin to expand on the deep network and historical tradition of the instrument and art. Even though you’re sitting down, playing the piano is somewhat of a mental and physical workout all its own. It offers different physical and physiological advantages to players of all ages. For instance, regular piano playing improves fine motor skills and betters hand-eye coordination in the young and developing. Research has also shown that piano lessons for adults have a significant impact on increased levels of Human Growth Hormone, which slows the adverse effects of the mind and body aging. Playing the piano is also proven to reduce anxiety, heart and respiratory rates, cardiac complications, and to lower blood pressure which in turn increases immune response.

Piano practice boosts cognitive and intellectual capabilities, which is to say, it makes you smarter and activates similar parts of the brain used in reasoning and math. Studying piano has also been shown to improve memory,  particularly verbal memory, and can build good habits like focus, perseverance, diligence and creativity. Children who have had a few years of piano study could remember 20% more vocabulary words than their peers. And childhood taught musicians are said to be better equipped later in life to retain information from presentations and lectures.

Playing piano has been shown to increase spatial temporal ability, which is heavily involved in math, science and engineering. Regular music practice at an early age can even make physical/structural changes to the brain that stay with you for the rest of your life, making your brain more efficient both while playing and in endeavors outside the musical realm. Playing piano has also been shown to be a great way to relieve stress, and provide opportunities to bolster self-esteem. It is also widely used as a form of therapy for Attention Deficit Disorder, helping individuals learn to focus in a structured way.

THE BENEFITS OF THE SORTING SURPRISE TURTLE

  • Learn shapes, colors, and numbers
  • Organization skills
  • Improves perception abilities

Shortly after birth, babies will begin to perceive and learn from their environment, absorbing and processing as much information as they can that will help them understand the world. As they continue to grow and build on this understanding, introducing activities that benefit development will enhance this process and give them an advantage in learning.

The Sorting Surprise turtle is an interactive toy that introduces multiple basic concepts that will help fast-track a baby’s cognitive development. Concepts such as shapes, colors, and numbers are all included in this toy, enabling babies to be exposed to these in an engaging way. Playing with this toy is also a way for babies to practice perception and refine motor skills when learning how to fit puzzle pieces of the toy into its corresponding slot.

Sorting Surprise Turtle is composed of many different pieces of all shapes and sizes and provides a good platform for a child to intuitively start to understand basic concepts of organization and spatial reasoning. This versatile toy provides many different opportunities to learn about different concepts through play in a way that will engage babies and keep them interested. With so many educational tools on the market today, toys like the Sorting Surprise Turtle that are multi-purpose are a great option because of their versatility.

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