Toys and Games

YETI SPAGHETTI

  • Promotes patience and turn taking,
  • problem solving
  • Counting

A good way to teach children about patience and the social grace of taking turns is through playing board games. Using board games, like a game of Yeti Spaghetti, in teaching has been proven to be a great tool for children because they are actively learning in a fun engaging manner. This silly game is a fun way to test and teach the players patience skills as they wait for someone to make the wrong move and let the Yeti fall. Since Yeti Spaghetti is designed to be played in a group environment, your child would be interacting with, as well as, copying the behavior of the other players as they wait for their turn and anticipate taking a spaghetti out of the bowl. Parents can take this opportunity to teach how to gracefully act when one wins, or possibly more important, when they lose. Finding opportunities where children will have fun and the adults can be assured everyone will be entertained for hours can be a godsend when stuck at home.

The premise of the game is easy to understand, and it has the added benefit of making      kids laugh while they are learning. It is a good tool for teaching children without the pressures and stress of following a teaching plan. Children benefit from board games by focusing on solving the problems and anticipating next moves, such as  picking the right spaghetti straw to grab and using their cognitive skills to decide what is the best strategy to win. Even better, your kids will be spending less time using their tablets and computers alone by themselves and sitting down and playing together as a family.

But above and beyond being a simple game, board games like Yeti Spaghetti can be useful for schoolwork with a tiny bit of ingenuity. Children can learn how to count out loud using the spaghetti straws, helping master speech and early math. Also, for subjects in science, it is a great tool for helping explain advanced concepts such as gravity and others. Once enough spaghetti straws are removed from the bowl, your child will experience what happens when the Yeti does not have a solid ground – a very direct example of gravity in motion! Furthermore, this can lead to experiments, as children can come up with different structures and strategies to keep the Yeti from falling. It is a great way to introduce them to engineering skills and the ability to anticipate the results of their actions at an early age.

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 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.

CAN YOU SOLVE A RUBIX CUBE?

  • Improves logic skills
  • Refine hand-eye coordination
  • Improves memory retention
  • Teaches problem solving

The Rubik’s Cube is a well-known puzzle game that also somehow morphed into a piece of American pop culture. Love it or hate it, the Rubik’s Cube has been around for decades and is here to stay. When this toy was first created, it was marketed as the ‘impossible puzzle’ but is now being used as a tool by educators to teach math and logic stills.

The Rubik’s Cube, like many other puzzles, stimulates a person’s mind. Puzzles require concentration, logical reasoning, and critical-thinking. Regardless of the size of the Rubik’s Cube, the key to solving the puzzle is always the ability to understand the formula. Once that basic formula is mastered, players can start to use a little creativity to come up with other challenging variations of “solving” the puzzle. For instance, an alternative version could include having only the middle square of every side be a different color.

It takes a great deal of concentration, persistence, and patience when solving a Rubik’s Cube. By focusing on finding the pattern in the Rubik’s Cube, players will use this to problem solve and progress through the puzzle. Children will especially benefit from exercising these skills, as they directly translate to more success in school and study.

Another benefit of the Rubik’s Cube is memory retention – solving a Rubik’s Cube successfully involves many, many steps. It’s important to learn and eventually memorize these steps, so that if a mistake is made it will be possible to go back and correct. Since solving a Rubik’s Cube can be so involved, the ability to solve it can actually be a fun party trick as well. Impressing your friends aside, this classic puzzle remains popular because it is an entertaining way to pass the time and improve some important cognitive skills as well.

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

PRETEND AND PLAY CASH REGISTER

  • Number recognition.
  • Fine motor skills.
  • Trading and sharing.
  • Color recognition.
  • Problem solving

Do you remember how hard math was growing up? How can a person buy seven apples but only need three? For children who are starting to learn about the subject, getting a grasp on numbers and math can be intimidating. A good way to get your children on a good path to learning their numbers and starting to solve math problems is to turn it into a game. A great technique to get them to learn in a fun way is to use toys like pretend cash registers. You can start slowly and easily learning the numbers first, and then graduate to doing basic math with simple adding and subtracting and build from there. This greatly benefits the potential for learning because this takes abstract concepts and applies them to actual objects in a non-threatening way to help them better understand numbers and how to use them.

A toy cash register not only introduces children to basic math problems, but also familiarize them with the concept and importance of money, two very important skills they will need in life. Cash register toys are designed to mimic the real thing which can help the children to jump start their imagination. Plus, it is a great opportunity and super fun to pretend to be a customer while your child gets to pretend to be the adult. You can easily create different scenarios where the cash register would be handy such as a grocery store using items in the kitchen or a clothing boutique with items from your closet. Children learn through these scenarios the concepts of trading goods in exchange of cash, as well as how to be polite and thankful of other people. Definitely a great tool to teach concepts of sharing and how to get along with others from the earliest of ages.

Recognizing the numbers on the cash register buttons is a great for intellectual development, and it benefits the child’s motors skills as they push the buttons to record the purchase. Developing hand-eye coordination with the action of grabbing the money from inside the register and pushing the buttons is easy and fun. The colors on the toy money also help differentiate different types of paper money and coins, as well as makes it easier for them learn their colors. Associating a number with a different color benefits them to understand the different values of money, but more importantly, it helps develop advanced cognitive skills that help further math and other skills at a young age.

remember that you are speaking to a parent who has concerns for their children in specific. They have taken the time to seek out options to help their kids be both entertained as well as learn important concepts in a tangential, no pressure, fun 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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