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Smart Mom’s Toy Box: March 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.

Get Ready for Family Game Night!

There’s nothing like a little competition to really bring the family together, right? Check out these five amazing games to bring out the winners in your family. And boost everyone’s brain power while you’re at it!

Egghead Game1. Egghead

Naming cartoon characters, super powers and stuff you need to survive a zombie apocalypse sounds like a cinch. But there’s a catch: in Egghead, the roll of the die determines one of five ways to play. So you might have to recall things from the 80’s in alphabetical order or name stuff a pirate would say with your answer starting with the last letter of the previous player’s answer. If the egg timer goes off during your turn, one of your golden egg cards turns rotten. The last player with at least one golden egg card wins the game. Everyone else gets “egg-straordinary” memory and word skills as a parting gift. Egghead Builds short-term memory recall and strengthens listening and word recall.

2. TappleTapple Game

Tapple is an hilariously fun and insanely addicting alphabetic category game that will leave all players teetered and toppled over in suspense and side-splitting laughter. The group chooses a card with a category of various things to name, for example, “Things you would find in a circus.” Then, players take turns naming anything that could fit in the given category. The trick is, players must tap down the first letter of the example they shouted. Once a letter is tapped it cannot be used again. Players only have ten seconds on the timer to name an example and if the alarm goes off before a player can say something they’re out for the round. The last player standing wins the card! Tapple is a marvelous application of memory recall, word skills, and keeping cool under pressure. Tapple is a game that rewards quick recall of words and concepts; it will engage the linguistic regions of the brain, including the hippocampus and a language production region called Broca’s area.

OogaBooga Game3. Ooga Booga

Prehistoric humans weren’t exactly known for their expansive vocabularies and sophisticated gestures. So you figure it’ll be a cinch to memorize a few nonsensical syllables and primitive actions. But winning Ooga Booga is harder than it looks. This hilarious party game challenges players to remember and repeat a sequence of caveman-inspired words and gestures shown on cards. As the cards stack up, so does the challenge. If you slip up, your fellow cave folk can call you out and stick you with three penalty cards. The first player to get rid of all their cards wins the game and title of clan chief. This game tests your auditory memory and visual perception, and utilizes the speech production processing found in Broca’s area.

4. LinkeeLinkee Game

It’s time to reconnect those neurons that may have lost their way over the years with a fun, new party trivia game where every answer is correlated to each other. Linkee is a rollicking, socially active trivia game where wits prevail. Players must get into teams and the reader reads aloud each question on the Linkee card. Each answer has something in common with the next and the first team to find the common theme in all of the answers and shout it out wins the card. However, guess wrong and you’re out for the round. Use your memory recall and word processing powers to win the game! You’re guaranteed to (The Roman god of affection and attraction, blood pumping organ, famous story of star-crossed lovers, popular Peter Frampton hit) it! Linkee is a unique and addictive trivia game that really stretches my long term memory recall skills.

Thinkamabob5. Thinkamabob

Thinkamabob is a game that tickles every inch of your brain! This Marbles The Brain Store original game stars 64 Thinkamabobs in various colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. Together these game pieces exist to both help and hinder you while completing tasks from the four card categories: see saw, word nerd, locomotor, and recall-it-all. The goal of every round is to complete whatever your card’s task is, before time runs out. However, if you can’t complete a challenge, be prepared to be judged, because as a group, all your competitors will decide your score! Just remember, what goes around comes around… Auditory, visual perception, memory, and critical thinking parts of the brain are exercised when you play Thinkamabob.