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Smart Mom’s Toy Box: July 2011

11 Summer-Perfect, Family-Friendly, Brain-Boosting Games

Family of four sitting in trunk of a car

Our sweetest memories of summertime often include weekends at the lake, camping in the wilderness, or relaxing on the back porch. Bring your family together this summer with games! Want to keep your kids’ attention skills high or improve them over the summer? Are you planning a long road trip and need something to keep them occupied while helping their brains grow stronger in the process? Try these games and book series to keep your sanity at home, around the pool, next to the campfire, and on the road. Your kids will be glad you did!

Nationally renowned brain training experts Ken Gibson and Tanya Mitchell have created a free list to help parents shop for toys to help improve their children’s learning skills. “Our hope is that parents will shop wisely for toys this year, purchasing toys, games, and books that can help develop the cognitive skills that make learning possible—like auditory and visual processing, memory, logic and 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 improve verbal processing; 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 focus on all major learning skills
  • Parents can help their kids get smarter at any age
  • Brain research shows 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, 3 times a 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.

1. Apples to ApplesApples to Apples  board game

Apples to Apples Party Box for $20.33 new (or $14.95 used)

Apples to Apples Party Box Expansion Cards for $13.96 You know, for those of you who have played so often, you’ve run out of new cards!

Apples to Apples Party Box Expansion Cards TWO from $17.99 And this is for those whose favorite pastime is Apples to Apples!

Crate Edition for $43.11

Skills developed by this game:

Executive Processing (see below for complete list of cognitive skills and their definitions)
Inductive Reasoning
Logic and Reasoning
Planning
Problem Solving

2. Brain Age (Nintendo)Nintendo DS Brain Age game

$33.49 new (or some used from $1.00) for Brain Age I

$19.99 new (or $2.81) for Brain Age II

Skills developed by this game:

Auditory Processing
Divided Attention
Math Computations
Processing Speed
Selective Attention
Sensory Motor Integration
Visual Processing
Word Attack
Working Memory

3. Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) andWii Dance Dance Revolution Game
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme (DRE)

Dance Dance Revolution Bundle for Nintendo Wii for $39.99 (or used from $33.96)

Dance Dance Revolution Bundle for Playstation for $40.00 (or used from $21.99)

Skills developed by this game:

Auditory Processing
Inductive Reasoning
Logic and Reasoning
Numerical Concept
Planning
Processing Speed
Selective Attention
Sequential Processing
Visual Processing

4. Memory MatchI never forget a face board game

Original Hasbro Version for $6.61 (or used from $3.00)

Eeboo: Life on Earth for $14.99

Eeboo: I Never Forget a Face for $15.00

Skills developed by this game:

Long-Term Memory
Short-Term Memory
Sustained Attention
Visual Processing
Working Memory

5. PerfectionPerfection board game

Perfection for $24.94 (or used from $9.69)

Perfection: Fun on the Run Edition for $7.35 (or used from $4.59)

Skills developed by this game:

Long-Term Memory
Numerical Concept
Numerical Fluency
Planning
Selective Attention
Sequential Processing
Short-Term Memory
Simultaneous Processing
Visual Processing

6. RookRook Card game

Rook card game for $3.99

Skills developed by this game:

Divided Attention
Logic and Reasoning
Planning
Problem Solving
Sequential Processing
Simultaneous Processing
Visual Processing
Working Memory

7. Simon TricksterSimon Trickster boardgame

Simon Trickster handheld version for $25.94 (or used from $5.65)

Skills developed by this game:

Executive Processing
Inductive Reasoning
Math Computations
Numerical Concept
Numerical Fluency
Planning
Processing Speed
Selective Attention
Sequential Processing
Short-Term Memory
Sustained Attention
Visual Processing

8. SETSet board game

SET Game for $9.42

SET Cubed for $16.46 (or used from $7.49

Skills developed by this game:

Logic and Reasoning
Numerical Concept
Planning
Problem Solving
Visual Processing
Working Memory

9. StareStare board game!

Junior Stare! Game for $21.99 (or used from $9.70)

Stare! Second Edition for $29.99 (or used from $13.48)

Skills developed by this game:

Long-Term Memory
Short-Term Memory
Visual Processing
Working Memory

10. UNOuno cards

Uno Attack Game for $18.18 (or used from $9.80)

Uno Card Game by Mattel for $5.72 (or used from $1.50)

Skills developed by this game:

Logic and Reasoning
Numerical Concept
Numerical Fluency
Short-Term Memory
Sustained Attention
Visual Processing
Working Memory

11. Where’s Waldo?Where's Waldo? The Complete Collection, Martin Handford

Where’s Waldo: The Complete Collection for $29.70 (or used from $25.98)

Where’s Waldo 1000-piece puzzle for $10.25

Skills developed by this game:

Divided Attention
Selective Attention
Visual Processing

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Definitions of Cognitive Skills

Auditory Processing: to process sounds. Helps one hear the difference, order, and number of sounds in words faster; basic skill needed to learn to read and spell; helps with speech defects.

Auditory Discrimination: to hear differences in sounds such as loudness, pitch, duration, and phoneme.

Auditory Segmenting: to break apart a word into its separate sounds.

Auditory Blending: to blend individual sounds to form words.

Auditory Analysis: to determine the number, sequence, and which sounds are within a word.

Deductive Reasoning: inference in which the conclusion about particulars follows necessarily from general or universal premises; the ability to deduce.

Divided Attention: to attend to and handle two or more tasks at one time such as taking notes while listening and carrying totals while adding the next column without making errors. Required for handling tasks quickly or complete tasks with complexity.

Executive Processing: a constellation of several complex, inter-related mental operations or constructs including the allocation of attentional resources, working memory, planning, problem solving, response inhibition, self-monitoring and regulation, and the maintenance of mental sets.

Inductive Reasoning: to make generalized conclusions from particular instances.

Logic & Reasoning: to reason, plan, and think.

Long-term Memory: to store information and fluently retrieve it later in the process of thinking.

Math Computations: to do math calculations such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.

Numerical Concept: to understand the meaning of numbers and their relationship with other numbers and quantities.

Numerical Fluency: to quickly, efficiently, and accurately apply relationships between number concepts.

Planning: to prioritize information and organize processes into a logical, sequential order.

Problem Solving: to organize information, define the goal of inquiry, plan a series of sequential steps, and apply the steps accurately to satisfy the goal of inquiry.

Processing Speed: the speed at which the brain processes information. Makes reading faster and less tiring; makes one more aware of his or her surrounding environment; helps with sports such as basketball, football, and soccer and activities such as driving.

Selective Attention: to stay on task even when distraction is present.

Sensory Motor Integration: to have sensory skills work well with motor skills—i.e. eye-hand coordination.

Sequential Processing: to process chunks of information received one after another.

Short-Term Memory: ability to apprehend and hold information in immediate awareness and use it within a few seconds.

Sustained Attention: to be able to stay on task.

Visual Processing: the ability to accurately create, maintain, and analyze a visual representation or picture mentally. Helps one understand and “see” math word problems and read maps; improves the ability to accurately perform mental math and computations; improves reading and comprehension skills.

Working Memory: to retain information while processing or using it.

The websites and analyses are provided by LearningRx.

The Smart Mom’s Toy Box…

Building your child’s brain skills without breaking your budget. To find out more about LearningRx’s programs for preschoolers, elementary students, middle and high school kids, college students, and adults, go to www.learningrx.com.