Learning Aids

NUMBERED PLAYING CARD GAMES

  • Improves math and computation skills
  • Improves visual cognition
  • Better memory retention
  • Refine logic and strategy

It’s not uncommon to have a deck or two of cards stored away in the house, waiting for a situation to arise to be used. Cards have been a fixture in family game nights, parties, and boring Sunday afternoons for many years, and with good reason. They are an inexpensive and simple source of entertainment that doesn’t require anything else to enjoy. There are literally hundreds of different games that can be played on one deck of cards and they can be enjoyed solo or with friends. Today where most of our entertainment revolves around staring at a screen, many people are choosing to come back to card games as an alternative to this. Classic games like cards help us disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other, which is becoming harder to find in a world that has been oversaturated with TV, social media, and video games.

It’s easy to see how cards are arguably the most versatile source of entertainment on earth, but they even have more to offer than that. By nature, every card game out there requires some level of thinking. By engaging in this type of active entertainment, our brains are also benefitting in a number of ways. Many number card games are already known to be effective educational tools. Playing these games forces us to use and practice a number of cognitive skills and can be used to help learn new ones. Depending on the cards and game, skills such as math, memory, logic, strategy, and critical-thinking are likely to be used – some of these all at once!

Playing card games together can be a great way for parents to bond with children while helping them develop valuable skills at the same time. Games such as Crazy Eight are great for building hand-eye coordination because this fast-paced game requires players to move as fast as their eyes can see the deck. It will also help improve cognitive ability and quick-thinking, as moves are made just as fast as a player can move his or her hands. Many card games are especially beneficial for memory skills. Concentration is a classic memory game that can be played with a standard deck and is simple enough for young children to play but can also be modified as the skill level goes up. Other games such as Solitary and Go Fish involve using logic and deductive reasoning. Players will learn how to think more strategically and use observation and analysis while playing games like these.

THE BENEFITS OF THE LEARN-TO-PLAY PIANO

  • Engaging in memorization
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Improves social skills

Engaging a child with a musical instrument is one of the most efficient ways to develop and enhance their motor and cognitive skills.  The piano, requiring time, practice, and dedication, creates an environment of creativity, memorization and confidence for people of all ages and all around the world. 

Picking up an instrument at a young age benefits a child further down the line in educational and social ways.  Learning how to play the piano challenges the individual in a healthy way to memorize, interpret and produce music – all with immediate feedback through the tunes they play.  Each key and melody connect to a pattern that ultimately creates a song. These key aspects are ones that can be directly applied to retaining information and processing healthy study habits as an ongoing foundation for their education. Alongside these educational benefits, are the improvement of social skills throughout the years.  It is widely understood that learning how to play an instrument can build confidence that can spill over into social gatherings, meetings, and in education in all forms. Presenting information or giving a presentation for a class or event suddenly become less stressful, and even enjoyable experiences. The piano assists in the development of these cognitive skills at a high level to lead children to feeling comfortable in tense and eventful situations. 

Other than arrangements that can be learned, children can be led down a creative path and begin to make their own musical arrangements. Although at first what is produced are basic rhythm patterns, this is the starting point to their creative side continuing to develop. Activities that encourage both critical and creative thinking open many doors to building success for the future.  Lastly, by the pure mechanics of practicing the piano and other instruments, the improvement of motor skills advances quickly.  The process of focusing and pressing each piano key precisely and in order becomes easier and easier as the skills develop.  The range of sound surging from each keynote can drive children to match sound with touch, and the more subtle aspects of the pressure needed to create the tone and effect they are looking for.  Presenting children with an instrument gives them the opportunity to find interest and hobbies at a young age that can push them into further academic pursuits and chances to develop their careers later in life with their own original thoughts and ideas.

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.

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.

PAPER TELEPHONE, THE GAME

  • Refine Hand-eye coordination
  • Teaches Creative Problem Solving
  • Improve memory retention
  • Increases logic skills

If asked, most adults could probably recall at least one childhood memory involving the telephone game. Even if not, it’s often portrayed in movies and pop culture as a universal symbol of childhood. Paper Telephone is a fun variation of this classic game that can be also used as an team building exercise or in helping peers get to know one another. The entertainment factor is pretty obvious, but there are some surprising benefits to these games that people don’t always consider. Players must use communication skills and creativity, while practicing problem-solving and logic. Although it’s just a game, it requires children to focus on improving these skills in order to get better at the game.

Playing Paper Telephone offers the opportunity for players to practice effective communication, analysis, and interpretation while also encouraging creativity. As a bonus, the only materials that are required to play are paper and something to write with, so it can be played just about anywhere. Each player is given a piece of paper and a pencil and asked to write out a sentence at the top of the page. This can be anything the player chooses – or if the game is being used to teach a specific subject, it can be customized to fit that theme. Players will then pass their paper over to the player on the right. Then players must illustrate whatever the sentence says. Once everyone is finished drawing, the paper gets folded so the original sentence is hidden and only the drawing is visible, and then passed to the right again. Players must then analyze the drawing on the paper and write their best interpretation of the picture out into a sentence. These steps get repeated, alternating between writing and drawing, until the paper is filled.

Paper telephone is a bit different from other games in that there is no winner declared at the end. Once the sheets of paper are filled, they are returned to the player who wrote the original sentence at the top. It’s often pretty hilarious to see how the sentence evolves from word to picture; this is usually the most entertaining part of the game and part of what makes it such a great team-building exercise. It’s an excellent activity to consider when bringing groups together by allowing them to interact and laugh together in a relaxed and casual environment

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.

SEE AND SPELL LEARNING TOYS

2 YEARS

  • Improves vocabulary skills
  • Enhances phonetic capabilities
  • Critical thinking
  • Develops cognitive abilities

Introducing children into the world of spelling and grammar may seem difficult and overwhelming, but when paired with a toy that can provide these skills in an entertaining way, learning becomes smooth and natural. Being able to introduce these topics at an early age can create a healthy educational environment for your toddler that will benefit them their entire lives.

See and spell learning toys create a visual and linguistic environment that can lead children to understand the alphabet more efficiently. Toys such as these give examples of animals, objects and common words that children at a young age can identify in a fun way; this helps lead to an improvement in vocabulary and their motor identification skills along with it. Each exercise or word becomes an opportunity to think critically and make decisions based on improving memory recall and developing skills. Hands on toys such as these open doors to reading at a young age and encourages children to constantly identify patterns outside of playtime. Identifying the alphabet is everywhere, car rides and weekend getaways can become learning experiences when viewing signs and pictures daily. See and Spell toys can be the start to better and better language skills in a fun and educational way.

There are several toys that can help growing children focus on both the written and phonetic aspects of vocabulary. Teaching the child to identify and choose each letter as they move into the spelling of actual words, and pronouncing them accurately, helps improve confidence and a sense of accomplishment. Being introduced to basic phonology at this age can improve speaking skills and help avoid lisps, stutters or other speech impediments. This directly links into the cognitive abilities that can be enhanced through this method of learning. Getting a head start to what will be further introduced in school will benefit both the child and the parent throughout their childhood. Reading skills and linguistic capabilities are the cornerstone upon which an excellent educational foundation is built, and efforts at an early age will benefit a child’s entire life.

MR. PENCIL ABC BAG PACK

  • Learn the alphabet
  • Develops language
  • Creativity
  • writing

How to teach your kids their ABC’s before they start school? There are many educational toys that teach the alphabet, but the Mr. Pencil’s ABC Backpack has the National Parenting Product Award for its ingenuity. Mr. Pencil’s ABC Backpack is designed to teach children the alphabet in a fun way through different activities. From basic recognition of the shape of the letters to how to spell words, the Mr. Pencil’s ABC Backpack is a great tool for aiding in learning how to read and write. Focusing on different activities such as sounding out the letters and how to accurately write the letters, children can get a head start in school.

Benefits of having a Mr. Pencil’s ABC Backpack are numerous and immediate. It prepares your kids for schoolwork and it stimulates learning from an early age. The toy’s colors, sounds, and music keep children entertained and engaged in the activity. The advantages of this toy, and others like it, are that it uses different learning techniques to reinforce the letters recognition. Mr. Pencil’s ABC Backpack has an activity that involves animals with each letter of the alphabet that helps associate the letters with words, aiding in memory as well as general recognition. The alphabet is carved in one side of the backpack to help your kid trace both uppercase and lowercase letters. The letters are modeled in blocks and in buttons which help children interact with the letters using all their senses. The seven activity modes in Mr. Pencil’s ABC Backpack are great guidelines on how to tackle writing and reading practice in a loosely structured, though effective way.

The backpack is light which means children can carry it like older kids do when they go to school. Mr. Pencil’s ABC Backpack features a board where your kid can draw, helping encourage their creativity in other ways. The drawing board is great for encouraging your kid to learn words and further develop motor skills through images they made themselves. Helping encourage children’s imagination as they draw and write is a great way to have fun while continuously advancing their abilities.

There are great opportunities to utilize this type of toy in other ways such as to come up with fun bedtime stories incorporating your child’s drawings, limited only by your own imagination guided by theirs. Additionally, the music featured in the game can help children with the sounding of the letters and you can make songs to sing along with your kids. Your kids will never get bored.

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