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Smart Mom’s Toy Box: June 2011

Slammin’ Summer Games For the Car, the Plane, or the Picnic Table

Nationally renowned brain training experts Dr. Ken Gibson and Tanya Mitchell have created a free list to help parents shop for toys, games, and brain activities that will help improve learning skills in their home. (See the bottom of the page for a list of cognitive skills and their descriptions.) “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 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 practice sound blending and segmenting.”

Dr. Gibson is founder of the national brain training franchise LearningRx, and 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 skills.
  • Parents can help their kids and teens (and adults) 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, 3 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.

1. BePuzzled HanayamaCast Metal Brainteaser Puzzles  Hanayama

Cast Metal Brainteaser Puzzles
Hanayama Vortex Puzzle (Level 5)
$10.85 from Amazon

Product Description
The three pieces of this challenging cast metal brainteaser puzzle each have a spiral body. When assembled, the pieces form a unified flat object. In order to undo this complex entanglement, it will be necessary to unbind them three-dimensionally. Here’s a small hint for Akio Yamamoto’s Vortex: think “crest.”

2. BrainBoxUS presidents

U.S. Presidents =
$10.01 from Amazon
All Around the USA =
$12.27 from Amazon
All Around the World =
$12.07 from Amazon
Nature =
$11.86 from Amazon
Animals =
$15.08 from Amazon

From the Manufacturer
This clever new memory recall game challenges players to memorize as many details as they can in just ten short seconds. Turn the timer over, concentrate on the card and try to memorize as many details of the picture as you can. Players then roll the dice to determine which question will be asked and quiz each other on what they remember. Questions can be asked like: How many stripes are on the skirt? What’s the capital city? Find the name of the famous person shown.

Product Description
This fast-paced game keeps students on their toes as they strive to memorize as many facts as possible in only ten seconds. Great way to get students excited about history! One or more players, grades 3 and up.

3. Brain QuestBrain Quest Cards (For the Car)

For the Car = $14.90 from Amazon

Grade 7 = $14.90 from Amazon

Pocket Game = $4.95 from Amazon

There are a number of options for Brain Quest cards: Ages 2-3, Kindergarten, 1st through 7, Brain Quest Math and Reading, etc.

For the car version: Trivia for the family on culture, customs and the O.K Corral. Natural wonders and notable Americans, Benjamin Franklin to Susan B. Anthony to Dr. Seuss. Plus state capitals, historical milestones, geographical oddities, mythic figures. It’s the American-ness of America, from Johnny Appleseed to the Motown sound. And it makes every trip a learning adventure.

Which has the most gravity: a supernova, a white dwarf, or a black hole? What prefix turns the word “town” into a word meaning “center of town”? If grapes cost $1.70 a pound, what will one and a half pounds of grapes cost? Plus onomatopoeia, fusion, equations, the planets, Roman numerals, abstract nouns, capital cities, the periodic table, Grab Bag, and: Which U.S. state is a group of islands?

Brain Quest Grade 7 quizzes kids on the stuff they need to know when they need to know it, with 1,500 curriculum-based questions and answers reflecting the latest school standards. Vetted by a panel of America’s highest award-winning teachers, and embraced by kids and parents because it flat-out works, Brain Quest opens a world of information and education with its fast-paced question-and-answer format, bright full-color illustrations, and lively attitude.

4. Connect Fourtoot and otto board game

Fun on the Run Game
$8.03 from Amazon

ThinkFun Toot & Otto
$9.57 from Amazon

This compact vertical checkers game is sized just right for fun on the run! Drop your checkers into the grid and build a row of four checkers in any direction while blocking your opponent. Perfect for travel or anytime on-the-go fun! For 2 players. Ages 7 and up.

5. Guess Who?Guess Who board game

Travel Version
$9.09 from Amazon

The classic guessing game comes in a compact size for plenty of fun on the run! Quick set-up and a self-contained storage tray make it a great game to play anytime, anywhere! Which face has your opponent picked? Someone with brown hair? Someone wearing a hat? Someone with both? Just one good question could eliminate several faces at once-be the first to figure out your opponent’s mystery face and you win the round. Win three rounds, and win the game! Includes two game units, forty face cards, one deck of mystery cards, and instructions. For 2 players ages 6 and up.

6. HangmanHangman board game

by Melissa & Doug
$11.99 from Amazon

From the Manufacturer
These fabulous, travel-style games bring new fun and convenience to old family favorites with innovative flipping pieces that won’t get lost! Includes one game board with erasable whiteboard, self-storing marker, and eraser. Ages 6+

Product Description
It’s the classic word game with a twist! Think of a word and try to stump your opponent. Great for travel with no loose pieces. Includes one game board with erasable whiteboard, self-storing dry-erase marker and eraser.

7. Memory (Travel Version)Memory game cards

by Melissa & Doug
$10.62 from Amazon

From the Manufacturer
These fabulous, travel-style games bring new fun and convenience to old family favorites with innovative flipping pieces that won’t get lost! This game includes one game board, seven double-sided game cards, and a two-player scoreboard. Ages 5+

Product Description
Choose from among fourteen fun themes, slide a card into the game board, and start looking for matches. This handy memory game includes one game board, seven double-sided game cards and a two-player scoreboard. There are no loose pieces and everything conveniently stores in the board. Great for travel! Measures 11.7″ x 8.7″ x 1.2″.

8. Tangoes (People) Tangramstravel tangoes puzzle game

People Version =
$9.56 from Amazon
Animals Version =
$10.99 from Amazon
Objects Version =
$9.56 from Amazon

From the Manufacturer
Magnetic Travel Tangoes delivers all the fun of traditional Tangrams in a compact form. It includes seven foam-covered magnets, an integrated play surface, and 24 puzzles and solutions. If you get stumped, just flip the page to see the solution.

People themed puzzles. Based on the ancient Chinese Tangram puzzle, Tangoes products are a learning tool that combines artistic and mathematical elements to enhance visual perception ability, develop problem solving skills, creative thinking capacity and teamwork. The classic tangram forms a square. These 7 pieces can also form an infinite number of abstract designs, human figures, animals, and everyday objects. The object of Tangoes products are to form the image on the card using all seven puzzle pieces. From ages 5 to 105, all ages are delighted by the challenge of forming the puzzle presented with seven dynamic pieces.

9. Trunki License Plate GameUSA License Plate Game

by Melissa & Doug
$15.95 from Amazon

From the Manufacturer
Road trip. Add excitement to travel with this sturdy, reusable classic travel game. Learn the name and location of all fifty states, identify states by their license plate design or simply plot your trip by flipping the states along your route.

Product Description
Road trip! Travel in excitement with this sturdy, reusable classic game. Learn to name and locate all fifty states with their license plate design or simply plot your trip by flipping the states along your route. This is absolutely fun on the go! No loose pieces to leave a trail!

10. Zingo! from ThinkFunzingo board game

$15.61 from Amazon

From the Manufacturer
In this fast-paced, energetic variant of Bingo, kids get a kick out of pulling the Zinger forward to reveal two mystery tiles, and then try to be the first to call out the tiles that match the images on their cards. The first player to fill his or her card wins by yelling “Zingo.” Two levels of play add zing to the competition.

Product Description
The Zingo! Bingo with a Zing by ThinkFun makes learning fun! Looking for the perfect game for the next family night? Look no further than Zingo! Playing Zingo! will help building learning and social skills, such as image/word recognition, image/word matching, spelling, vocabulary, concentration and memory, verbalization, winning and losing and, most importantly, having fun! No game brings parents and children together like Zingo! Ages 4-8 for 2 – 8 players.

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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 the LearningRx Home Page. Prices may vary from day to day on Amazon, Target, Walmart, or other websites.

Cognitive Skills: What Are They and Why Do We Need Them?

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.