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Smart Mom’s Toy Box: January 2015

Brain training experts Ken Gibson and Tanya Mitchell have created a list of toys, games, and activities that support healthy cognitive development. “We want to give parents practical tips they can use to make savvy buying decisions,” Gibson explains. “Science continues to provide insights into how plastic our brains really are, and there’s absolutely no reason not to use that characteristic to help our kids experience more success in school and in life.”

“A parent whose child has Attention Deficit Disorder, for example, can purchase toys that improve attention,” explains Mitchell. “Likewise, a child who struggles with reading can benefit from games that practice sound-blending and segmenting.” Gibson is the founder of national brain training franchise LearningRx, and the coauthor 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 stimulate the brain in ways that support core cognitive skills.
  • Parents can help their kids get smarter at any age.
  • Brain research shows that the brain continues to grow throughout life.
  • Children who are already good learners will do even better in school with stronger cognitive skills.
  • Parents should take 30 minutes three times per week to focus on developing strong cognitive skills in their children.
  • One way to strengthen cognitive skills is to use fun, game-like activities.
  • How important are strong cognitive skills? Research shows that 88% of all reading struggles are the result of a single weak cognitive skill.

Games for Creativity

We’ve got 5 brand-spanking-new games designed to help build fine motor and visual processing skills, as well as to boost creativity!

Squigz1. Squigz

Named “Best in Play” by Parenting Magazine, these fun, flexible little suckers come in eight different shapes and stick to each other and any flat, non-porous surface without leaving a mark. Just break out your creativity and fine motor skills to make anything your pliable little mind can dream up. Build a tree, a rocket ship, an octopus. Or, create an enchanted forest where aliens and octopi live peacefully together in suction cup bliss in an abandoned rocket ship. Because in the land of Squigz, anything is possible as long as you can dream it”…even land-bound octopi and earth-dwelling aliens. Exercise parts of your brain important in fine motor coordination as you manipulate the pieces to create different shapes.

2. Geobrix Geobrix

We love a good mental challenge with tetromino pieces. The brainy fun is endless as you attempt to make them into a two dimensional puzzle or build a 3D structure. With this 20 piece set, the Geobrix set is no exception. With interesting shapes to make you really scratch your head, Geobrix offers no better way to work on your critical thinking and spatial reasoning skills. Engage spatial processing and visual centers when you build multi dimensional structures in Geobrix.

Plexi3. Plexi

A tetromino-style with some serious curves? That’s right! This bodacious puzzle will get ya right where it hurts; your frontal cortex. Try to fit all the pieces together just right, or create your own unique designs. There are countless solutions which makes Plexi endlessly re-playable! Boost spatial reasoning and critical thinking with Plexi.

4. Flexi Cube FlexiCube

For you beginners just getting your feet wet with brain teasing puzzles, the Flexi Cube is for you. As a matter of fact, it’s more of a creative fidget toy than an uber difficult puzzle. Try to assemble the unique and intricately designed pieces into a cube. The, use the challenge guide to let the brainy difficulties begin. The more you twist, stretch, bend, and fold, the more you’ll realize you can’t put it down! And there’s good news for your brain, too – Flexi Cube will improve your logic and reasoning and fine motor skills.

Joinks5. Joinks

Joinks is an ingenious way to get tykes as young as one year old building whatever their creative heart desires. While other building sets can be a little too demanding on little hands, Joinks gets kids building fine motor skills at an incredibly young age. Little ones can create structures that bounce and wiggle with the highly flexible joint pieces and sturdy wooden dowels that connect together. The fun and educational value are endless. Players not only work on visual perception and coordination skills, architects of all ages also gain the added benefit of seeing whatever design their brain can imagine into a sturdy and ever-so playable, flexible structure. Engineers big and small will be surprised by all the things they can do with Joinks! We know we are!