AGES: 5 and up

THE GAME OF CHECKERS

  • Improve logic skills
  • Teaches Creative Problem Solving
  • Helps improve concentration
  • It exercises both sides of the brain

Checkers is a classic board game that never goes out of style. The rules are easy to follow and it’s a great activity for passing time. Aside from being simple to learn and fun to play, Checkers and other similar board games can help children learn valuable skills, like task-specific focus, problem-solving, and logic. Introducing Checkers to a child from a young age improves concentration and these benefits will carry over onto many different aspects of life, from school and beyond. Players must use strategy to execute moves while also paying attention to their opponent. Winning the game requires logic and concentration in order to analyze the board and predict possible outcomes.

Strategy games like Checkers are an exercise for the brain – in fact, it requires players to use both sides of their brain at once. While one side of the brain is working to visualize the board and possible moves, the other carries out strategy and calculates how the opponent will move. Checkers and other similar board games have been proven to help develop young minds and sharpen old ones. Players must process information quickly then make choices using reason and creativity. In the same way that physical training promotes strength and wellness, working out both side of the brain contributes to an active and healthy mind.

Helping children learn effective problem-solving is most impactful with real life experiences. The ability to teach through play is what makes Checkers and other strategy games a valuable teaching tool. Overcoming the challenges on the board will encourage confidence in using the skills it takes to play, making it easier to apply this knowledge in situations well beyond game play.

THE ART OF ORIGAMI

  • Improves fine motor skills and brain development
  • Helps improve problem solving and logic
  • Exercises both sides of the brain
  • Improves concentration and spatial awareness

Origami from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper” (kami changes to gami due to rendaku) is the intricate art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. In modern usage, the word “origami” has expanded to be an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin. The goal is to transform a flat square sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, like the famous paper crane.

Modern origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or markings on the paper as it is considered against the art and skill traditionally developed. Origami folders often use the Japanese word kirigami to refer to designs which use cuts, differentiating it from the more classical approach.

Origami has been shown to improve spatial visualization skills by using hands-on learning. Such skills allow people to comprehend, characterize, and construct their own vernacular for the world they see around them. You can find origami or geometric shapes everywhere in nature, then being described in geometric terms. Researchers have found that students who use origami perform better in math and logical disciplines. It is potentially an untapped resource for supplementing math instruction, and can be used for geometric construction, determining geometric and algebraic formulas, all while increasing manual dexterity along the way. In addition to strictly mathematical applications, origami is a great way to merge science, technology, engineering, art, and math all in one. You can use origami to determine the area by applying a formula to a real-world situation. It has been found to strengthen an understanding of geometric concepts, formulas, and labels. People love origami, even if they don’t think of it in formal terms, as shown by how we are enamored with first seeing a paper airplane, paper hat, or paper boat. And while we might not always think about it this way, origami surrounds us — from envelopes, paper fans, and shirt folds to brochures and fancy towels. It is all around us.

THE CENTURIES OLD GAME OF MAJONG

  • Aids in visual cognition
  • Improve memory retention
  • Improves social skills
  • Helps improve logic skills

With so many new education tools out there today, options can feel overwhelming when looking for ways to help children learn essential life-skills. Technology has opened up a huge market for electronic devices designed specifically for teaching basic cognitive and motor skills. While tech certainly has its place in education, it’s worth remembering some of the alternatives that have already stood the ultimate test of time. Over the years, many classic puzzles and games have earned their credibility through longevity, proving that newer doesn’t always mean better. Games such as Mahjong are a great example of this – a simple and timeless game that is still wildly popular today, and with good reason. Playing Majong has been proven to help improve memory retention and logic skills.

People of all ages will benefit from games such as Mahjong, as playing these games improves memory retention, cognition, and decision-making using logic. In the game, each player is given fourteen tiles with different symbols that they must memorize. In order to win, strategic decision-making is essential. Players must also analyze their opponents throughout the game in order to anticipate upcoming moves. The objective is to have four of three identical tiles, or three suited ones and one pair. In playing the game, children are exposed to all of these valuable skills, which will be practiced and developed over time and continued play. Majong in particular can also help with hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, providing visual stimulation without the need of any electronic device.

Allowing children to develop these skills first-hand through activities like games and puzzles has certain advantages – for instance, it’s easier to develop a skill we’ve already experienced than something that we’ve only read about or watched on a screen. Learning through exposure and play makes it easier to build connections and creatively apply knowledge across many aspects of life. The strategy, memorization, and critical thinking required for Majong will enable both children and adults to exercise these skills in a fun and exciting way.

LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM MINECRAFT

  • Increased Creativity
  • Improve teamwork
  • It teaches resource management
  • Helps improve problem Solving and logic

If you aren’t familiar with the computer game Minecraft,it would be understandably easy to pass it off as a simple building blocks game at first glance. Once you take a deeper look, however, you will likely be pleasantly surprised to find that it offers many more educational benefits than what you might have initially anticipated. Minecraft requires the use of important skill sets such as teamwork, competence in resource management, and problem solving through logic. Players are encouraged to use creativity in a gaming environment where imagination can be expressed in endless ways. Minecraft is an exciting game to play, but it’s also an exercise in many important life-long skills, which is a win for both parents and children alike.

With an internet connection, the game can be played with different friends all over the world. Gathering materials, blocks, and items builds teamwork and communication skills. For example, building structures in the game requires planning, commitment, and resources that must be acquired for specific items. While progressing through the game, players will start to realize these tasks become easier and more thorough when played with a friend to share and discuss ideas with. The Minecraft world is a blank canvas; it can be created in an endless number of ways and flourishes with imagination. Using creativity and problem solving in play improves cognition and critical thinking that also translates to life outside the game. Active players will start to notice an improvement in writing and presentation skills as well.

Obstacles inevitably arise in the game, such as building in a tricky spot or battling an enemy. Players are often challenged to find solutions in unconventional ways, using only what they have at their disposal. With endless options comes endless opportunities to brainstorm and find creative ways to problem solve. Another unique benefit to playing Minecraft is the exposure to STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education. The game incorporates some basic properties of coding, in a feature called ‘command block’. This feature allows players to create their own set of commands, which will activate or trigger events, according to what he or she wants to accomplish. Each command follows a pattern and this result directly affects gameplay. In short, Minecraft is a game that has much more to offer than what initially meets the eye.  It is an exciting, challenging introduction into block-based gaming that also incorporates many essential educational components, proving that learning truly can be fun.

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