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Smart Mom’s Toy Box: 12 Brainy Games of Christmas

smart mom's toy box logoIt’s nearly Christmas and it’s unbelievable how fast time flies. Your kids are in the middle of the school year, enjoying a well-deserved break. Maybe you’re wondering what games and toys would be great for individuals and families to be entertained while hanging out by a cozy fire. Here are the 12 Brainy Games of Christmas!

Nationally renowned brain training experts Ken Gibson and Tanya Mitchell have created a free list to help parents shop for toys, games, and brain activities that will help improve their children’s learning skills.“Our hope is that parents will shop wisely for toys this year, purchasing toys that can help develop the cognitive skills that make learning possible—like auditory & visual processing, memory, logic & reasoning, processing speed, and attention,” says Gibson. “Research now shows that learning skills can be taught—and therefore improved. Brain skills training does for the mind what physical exercise does for the body.”

“A parent whose child has Attention Deficit Disorder, for example, would want to shop for toys that improve attention,” explains Mitchell. “Likewise, a child who struggles with reading would benefit from games that practice sound blending and segmenting.”

Gibson is the founder of national brain training franchise LearningRx, and the co-author of “Unlock the Einstein Inside: Applying New Brain Science to Wake Up the Smart in Your Child” with Mitchell.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • A smart toy box will focus on all major learning/cognitive skills.
  • Parents can help their kids get smarter at any age.
  • Brain research shows that the brain continues to grow throughout life.
  • Parents should help prepare a good learner for school by developing learning skills.
  • Parents should take 30 minutes three times per week to work on developing these skills.
  • The best way to strengthen learning skills is to use fun, game-like activities.
  • Studies show that reading problems can be prevented.

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1. Anti-Virus Logic GameAnti-Virus Game

$19.99 from Smart Kid Toys

This is one virus you’ll want to catch! The Anti-Virus Logic Game is a strategic slide puzzle with pieces that can only be moved diagonally and in groups to eliminate the red virus. Put your body and mind to work and get rid of the red virus. Can you get rid of it before it can multiply itself? No one is immune to the infectious fun this sliding puzzle game brings. As you’d imagine, there is not a lot of room in a cell, so the virus and all different shaped molecules are constantly blocking pathways. What’s more, everything moves in a special way. There are 60 challenges with five different levels from Starter to Wizard. Anti-Virus is for one player ages seven years old to adult.

2. Big Boggle GameBig Boggle Gaming Set

$15.24 from Amazon

Big Boggle means more cubes, longer words, and higher scores! This is the world-famous three-minute word game! Big Boggle has been a family favorite for over 30 years. Shake up the 25 letter cubes and try to spot as many words as you can. Race against the three-minute timer as you follow adjoining letters, searching for words that you hope your opponents won’t find. When time runs out, players compare their lists and score for each unique word they’ve found. The player with the highest score wins! The new “Double Letter” cube makes it easier to form longer words. Big Boggle is for ages eight years old through adult.

3. Brain String AdvancedBoard Game: Brain String

$16.95 from Amazon

Move the colored buttons from hole-to-hole and from surface-to-surface to position. There should be three of the same color on each surface but to finish, you should have no entangled elastic strings. Any two of the same color on each surface but finish with no entangled elastic strings. While moving the buttons from one surface to another, the strings get entangled creating a knot inside. To finish, you must untangle the knot so all elastic strings go straight through the middle of Brain String Advanced and they do NOT touch each other.

4. City Square OffSquare Off Game Set

$16.99 from Amazon

Go head-to-head against your opponent in this tactical game of city planning. Draw a shape card and then simultaneously try to fit the matching tile into your city grids. Plot wisely; you must always have space to play your next piece. Build your city without going over the limits and consider yourself the master planner. And plan to win! This is for two players or teams and takes approximately 15 minutes. It is for ages eight years old through adult.

5. Dizios GameDizios Game Box

$13.32 from Amazon

Dizios is the bright, bold, and brain-bending domino game with a dizzying, mind-spinning twist! Match colors instead of dots. But, the swirling tiles aren’t the only things to make you dizzy. Another twist? Earn points for the tiles you play next to, not for the tile you play. The more high-point tiles you can match in a single turn, the more you score. Dizios is easy to learn, but you’ll soon discover that a well-planned strategy wins the game. There is no reading required and you can play the game in about 15 minutes. Dizios is for two or more players six years old through adult.

6. KanoodleBoard Game: Kanoodle

$8.86 from Amazon

Can you Kanoodle? Use your noodle to solve building puzzles and challenge spatial reasoning skills. Using combinations of colored connected beads, complete colorful puzzles in two unique formats: tricky 2D puzzles and twisted 3D pyramids. To start, pick a design from the puzzle book, place some of the puzzle pieces into position as shown, and then fill the empty spaces with the remaining pieces. Sounds simple? Sometimes it is, but it can also be quite a challenge depending of the level of play. There are hundreds of possible combinations, but only one solution. Puzzle pieces fit inside the handy pocket-sized case with built-in game boards, so you can Kanoodle anywhere. Kanoodle is for one player ages seven to adult.

7. Math Gear BooksBoard Game: Math Gear

$7.99 from Amazon (addition)

The Math Gear books come in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division! It’s much more fun than flash cards. This may be the only cool, compact tool kids need to learn basic math facts.

8. Math SlamBoard Game: Math Slam

$26.29 from Amazon

Read the question, scan the possible answers, and slam the one that’s correct! Better move quickly though, each game of 10 questions is timed. The faster you get through the questions, the better your score! Incorrect responses are recycled until they are correctly answered, ensuring comprehensive comprehension and mastery. Three levels, flashing lights, and fun sound effects keep players slammin’ for more. It’s the most slammin’ way to practice addition and subtraction.

9. Sesquipedalian Word GameBoard Game: Sesquipedalian

$19.99 from Discovery Corner Toy & Book Store

Act it! Draw It! Ad-Lib It! Guess It! By playing this game, kids will learn a plethora (a lot) of words to make them sound sagacious or wise. Each player will become a sesquipedalian—one who uses long words—and enjoy some tomfoolery—playful behavior—in the process. Agelasts—those who never laugh—and abderians—those tending to laugh foolishly or constantly—alike will roar with pleasure and roll around with delight in the game for age 12 and up. It contains everything you need to play a hilarious game and learn fantastically flummoxing words at the same time! And for the older kids? It includes SAT prep words as well.

10. SumokuBoard Game: Sumoku

$10.88 from Amazon

Sumoku! Here is the newest game from Blue Orange, and it is pure adding FUN! In our Sumoku game, tiles must be arranged in a crossword-style pattern so that each row and column adds up to a multiple of a key number of either three, four, or five. A variety of skills are needed and the game is challenging for all. Five different games are outlined. This is a good game for playing with various ages—including adults—and is easy to take along on your travels. The possibilities are endless. This game is for one to eight players, ages nine to adult.

11. Zillio Mini-MountainBoard Game: Zillio Mini-Mountain

$69.95 from Zillio Products

This Mountain measures 18 inches in diameter, eight inches tall, and is easily portable. The maximum height reached (peak elevation) is 36 inches. It is excellent for introducing and exploring even the most advanced concepts but it is more limited in developing fluency. The number of players varies by activity, from one to four. Hands-on activities and length of play are suited to beginning levels and skills as well as more advanced ones. Zillio’s Mini-Mountain is for ages four to 94. It also comes in a Mega Mountain, a 2D Playground, and 2D Worksheets.

12. Zingo! 1-2-3Zingo! Number Bingo 1-2-3

$12.22 from Amazon

Build your child’s reading and counting skills with Zingo! 1-2-3. Match numbered tiles to fill your challenge card. The first player with a full card wins the game by yelling “Zingo!” Two levels of play focus on counting and addition. Zingo! 1-2-3 builds early number sense skills in young players as they associate digits with images and text, and supports early math learning through counting and pattern recognition. This fast-paced game will have the whole family yelling “1-2-3 PLAY!”