AGES: 14 and up

THE POCKET CALCULATOR

  • Aids in visual cognition
  • Refines logic skills
  • Helps enhance technical knowledge
  • “fact check” accuracy for mental validation

Pocket calculators are a great tool that assist children in school every day. Unlike cellphones or computer calculators, a pocket calculator will not distract children from school work. An advantage of the pocket calculator is the design simplicity – there are no additional applications on the device. A calculator is largely used with the intention to be a shortcut to mathematical procedures such as multiplication or division. However, children who are learning these concepts should do most of their work mentally or by paper, so they can properly learn and practice. In these instances, calculators should be used primarily only as an assurance that mental calculations are correct.

The calculator also serves as a helpful visual aid  when learning difficult equations. They can be used as tools to explain abstract concepts or long calculations. A child will have a better understanding of this information by physically punching in these calculations, rather than if he or she were to do it by hand. This hands-on style of learning is more effective than visual aids because it requires physical practice and engagement. While calculators do not replace knowing basic equations, they are great for teaching children how to learn and apply certain concepts that will arise in real-life situations, such as calculating percentages.

Studies have shown that when children use calculators, things like spatial visualization skills, critical thinking ability, and logic skills will all improve. A child that is proficient in basic math can then apply this knowledge to the calculator to help solve more complicated problems. In subjects such as Algebra and Calculus, children benefit from these types of calculators, as the focus in these subjects is on the formulas, rather than the number calculation. This simple device is a very valuable education tool that streamlines the process when learning to advance through more complicated math concepts.

APPLES TO APPLES CARD GAME

  • Improves logic skills
  • Increases memory cognition
  • Refine social skills in a group environment
  • Improves creativity

Card games are a great way to help us connect with family and friends and opens the door to countless hours of entertainment. Aside from being used as a fun way to socialize and pass the time, there are other benefits to playing cards worth keeping in mind. Games like Apples to Apples are an immersive way to help players improve cognition by practicing skills like logic and memory retention. They also offer a way for children to develop healthy social skills. Social interaction is a huge advantage that classic card games have over more technology-based activities that have recently become so popular.

When playing Apples to Apples, players are dealt seven red cards that each have a noun on it. Every round, a green card will be drawn that lists some sort of characteristic. Players will choose which card from their hand they think most closely relates to the green card. The chosen cards are given anonymously to the judge, who determines the round winner. Players rotate into the role of the judge with each round. Choosing which card to lay down each round is a practice in logic and critical-thinking. A unique aspect of the game is how winners are determined — since the role of the judge changes every round and he or she chooses a winner subjectively, knowing your audience is an important component. Players who use observation and memory skills to recognize patterns will have an advantage in predicting which card a judge might choose. This also encourages players to think outside the box and get creative when choosing cards.

Apples to Apples is great to play in just about any social setting. The nature of the game makes it an especially good breaker when making new friends or getting to know peers and classmates. Learning effective communication and building social bonds is essential for children in order to develop confidence and skills that can be applied in many aspects of life, from school to future employment and beyond.

THE BENEFITS OF PLAYING WITH MARBLE RUN

  • Promotes engineering and building
  • Enhances creativity
  • Engages problem solving
  • Develops cognitive abilities

As children grow, it is important to be able to teach life skills and encourage mental development in a fashion that is both effective, but also fun. If your child is not engaged in what they are doing, then their attention will roam, and they will miss out on the benefits you are trying to give them.

Games like Marble Run give children the ability to construct, create and play with countless tracks and pieces that stimulate their need for a creative outlet alongside the ability to problem solve.  The sky is the limit when it comes to possibilities with games like this. Being able to create new structures that will guide each marble on its path is both fun to do in the moment, as well as imparts a feeling of satisfaction in the physical building of something new.  Each piece placement is a new decision that gently challenges the child to follow a sequence of events, and it is up to the builder to decide what pieces work best together to create their vision and which ones get in the way. All these attributes create a great way to teach problem solving while having fun. When one-piece doesn’t match well with another, it puts the child into a situation where they must engage their cognitive abilities to formulate a solution to getting them to their goal.  The more something like Marble Run is played, the more it engages their memory about what worked last time, helping guide their decisions and creativity about how the sequence should go next. 

A great creative outlet, building piece by piece a structure that guides a parade of marbles is also a magnificent way to introduce your child into various motor skills that can teach basic engineering concepts and cognitive skills in a subtle but efficient way.  Anticipating how to use gravity      to your advantage, each marble slides down connecting paths that      eventually lead to success as the marble makes its way to the finish line.  Since each pathway the child adds to the structure follows the laws of gravity, it allows children to begin to instinctively anticipate situations where they have to adapt to avoid the marbles getting stuck in one sole place before reaching the goal.  Helping children organically build mental and physical skills is obviously a goal of all parents.  Being able to do it while providing countless hours of fun is a great way to keep toddlers mentally active while having fun.

LEGOS

  • Creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork

It is safe to say that Legos have become a cherished part of most people’s childhoods. Beyond being fun to play with, there is a reason behind finding Legos at day-care centers and schools everywhere. It is widely agreed that having visual and tactile aids helps children have a better understanding and learning curve in general. For teachers and parents, Legos and other types of building blocks are very flexible in that they can be used to teach children both inside the classroom as well as playing at home. They have been at the forefront for developmental education for many years. Legos and other types of building blocks ignite the imagination of children to find the solutions through creating structures and new fun worlds.

Legos play can be applied to a wide variety of different subjects such as math, science, grammar, and history. The toy benefits every subject, bringing the lessons from the textbook to the real world. Educators recommend using this type of toys in STEM programs. In math, the Legos can be a fun way to teach adding and subtracting, fractions, geometry, etc. In science, Legos can be used as models for engineering and experiments. In grammar, the different color of the blocks can be useful for children to identify the structure of a sentence’s subject, verb, and predicate. In history lessons, the Legos can be used to reenact important scenes, helping children visualize and engage their imagination on the subject which helps in memory retention. The important thing is to keep your child engaged in the subject with hand-on teaching methods.

Legos are great for team building exercises for kids at an early level. With guided supervision, children can work on a project together. They develop communication skills as they talk amongst each other to come up with ideas to create the final product. Legos reinforce the skills of sharing and communicating with other children or adults, which will help the child when they go to school and start doing group projects and engaging more socially. It further develops their communication and social skills.

Children’s imagination can flourish playing with Legos, or other quality building blocks. The mental skills used to first create the ideas in the mind, deciding where to place the blocks to make their vision real, and how to solve any challenge they encounter while doing it, are some of the skills a child develops while playing with Legos. It stimulates their senses and motor skills as they are envisioning their goal and manipulating the blocks in the real-world building process. This kind of activity is extremely beneficial for children’s learning potential as it’s been proven many times that working with your hands helps acquire and cement cognitive knowledge in an actively learning environment.

LEARNING MATH WITH YAHTZEE

  • Helps improve memory
  • Improves cognitive skills
  • Accessible math for young kids
  • Helps refine logic and strategy

Yahtzee is a game beloved by many, and has shown itself in many different cultures and regions, although sometimes under  different names and rule variations.

The objective of the game is simple on the surface – to score points by rolling five dice to make certain combinations. The dice can be rolled up to three times in a turn to try to make various scoring combinations, and dice must remain in the box. A game consists of thirteen rounds back and forth rolling the dice with the winner being the player that scores the most points. After each round the player chooses which scoring category is to be used for that round. Once a category has been used in the game, it cannot be used again. The scoring categories have varying point values, some of which are fixed values and others for which the score depends on the value of the dice. A Yahtzee is five-of-a-kind and scores 50 points, the highest of any category. 

When young players first start playing, they may need to count the numbers on the dice to note which number they have rolled. However, as they get more used to seeing those dots on the dice, they will be able to easily recognize the patterns of each number, so that they can see at a glance which number they have rolled. Both excellent developmental skills.

Since the game uses five dice at a time. This allows one to start working with larger numbers and adding up multiple groups. Until the player gets comfortable with the addition, they can count the dots in order to tally their scores for several of the categories on the scorecard which require adding up the numbers on some or all dice.

The player can be encouraged to use different strategies when adding up, as their abilities grow.. For example, using their friends of ten, known doubles, etc. The game also provides the player an introduction to multiplication without them even knowing it. When scoring for fives, all answers are multiple of fives. When they learn how to skip count, it helps them add even quicker. For example, if they roll five 5s, they can count it up by going “five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five”, instead of counting all the dots on the dice one by one. This is an excellent way to teach math in a real world situation.

With all of the complex probabilities at play throughout the game, much can be learned by rote and can also be discussed and helped along in the process.

THE WORD GAME SCRABBLE

  • Teaches vocabulary
  • Improves memory retention
  • Teaches creative problem solving
  • Helps improve concentration

The board game Scrabble is designed to challenge your mind to come up with different words, using only certain letters provided to you. This classic game combines the mechanics of a word puzzle and a board game, resulting in a challenging and entertaining activity that people of all ages can enjoy. Playing Scrabble creates a healthy competitive environment that will require players to use problem solving, memory retention skills and concentration. 

Players are provided with a number of letters and are tasked with creating words on the board using only the letters they are given and what is already up on the board. The game emphasizes vocabulary and will challenge players to use memory and think creatively in order to come up with words that will fit on the board with their letters. The competitive nature of the game will encourage players to use problem solving and logic in order to navigate the board and come up with words in order to win the game.

 Scrabble will lead to increased concentration while players are focused at achieving the task at hand. Players will use strategic thinking throughout the game to come up with best possible moves, as their letter options evolve and the board starts to fill up. This game will build confidence in using these skills for tasks other than just game play as well. Board games have been found to be excellent tools for healthy socialization, and Scrabble is no exception, which make it an excellent choice for a game that is both entertaining and beneficial in many ways.

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