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Smart Mom’s Toy Box: May 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.

Colorful Games to Play with your Kids

We don’t know about you, but sometimes all we’d like is a little more Q.T. (that’s quality time) with our kids. If that’s on your list this Mother’s Day, then these games are a great way to play with your kids, build their brains, and get your quality time in. Plus, these games are all visually beautiful and full of color.

Colorfall Game
1. Colorfall

Dominos, meet design. There’s an almost innate sense of satisfaction that comes from setting up dominoes into elaborate designs, then knocking them down in a chain reaction and listening to their gentle click-clack sound. And that’s all fine and dandy, don’t misunderstand. But where’s the color? Where’s the whimsy? Where’s the ability to create striking images based on design cards or random ideas you have floating around in your noggin? They’re all right here in Colorfall! These eco-friendly, hand-painted wooden tiles come with 20 design cards with images such as the Eiffel Tower, a garden gnome, and a liger. Just set up the tiles according to the design card, then knock down to reveal the image! Or, to let your imagination really run wild, ditch the cards and enjoy creative free-play for hours. Colorfall is a great workout for your visual processing, planning, spatial reasoning and hand eye coordination.

2. BrainpackBrainpack Game

You want your kids to thrive in today’s scientifically, techno-fabulous world. But you’ve been, shall we say, “science averse” ever since that Bunsen burner incident way back when. Enter BrainPack, a trio of polymer wonders sure to mesmerize, delight and send your kids on a scientifically stupendous path of 21st Century career brilliance. Brainpack includes: – Braindrops™: grow up to 200 times their original size when immersed in water. They’re perfect for throwing, spitting through a straw, and ambushing pesky kid brothers and sisters. – Brainfreeze™: allows you to create instant snow year round. Just add water and watch the powdery polymer billow into a gallon of blizzard goodness right before your can’t-believe-it-eyes. – Brainbows™: need 2-3 hours completely submerged in water to reach their full multi-colored potential as marble-sized spheres that are perfect for tossing, smashing, and anything else your child wonder can think of.

ColorKu Game3. ColorKu

ColorKu is a Sudoku-like game with color marbles instead of numbers that exercises all four lobes of your brain in one fell swoop. In other words, it’s kind of like those “miraculous” machines they advertise on late-night infomercials claiming to exercise your entire body with one simple move. Except in the case of ColorKu, it’s true. And you can get the aforementioned quadruple lobe workout without the annoying spokesman and “Just 17 easy payments of $42.95 each!” Yep, for under 40 bucks, you can get a beautiful solid wood game board, countless fun game nights and one incredible brain workout. You’ll be relying on a large network of brain areas in all four lobes as you recognize the patterns of the colors.

4. Van Gogh SmART PuzzleVanGoghPuzzle Game

So long, humdrum existence of snapping puzzle pieces into place for a brain workout. Hello, smART Puzzles, a clever spin on the jigsaw featuring overlapping cards that you have to angle just so to create a continuous image. Here’s how it works: smART Puzzles contains 200 3X3-inch cards printed with various sections of a well-known work of art. To add to the challenge, each side is printed with a different painting featuring similar color tones. Your job is to flip, rotate, and alternate which cards are on top to complete the puzzle. Along the way, you’ll build visual perception skills and hand-eye coordination, while gaining a greater appreciation for some of the world’s most beloved works of art. This is a great puzzle which tests your memory and visual perception. Every piece is square instead of jigsaw, so you’ll have to really look at the images to recreate two Van Gogh paintings!

Memory Game5. Alexander Girard Memory

Alexander Girard was an American artist known for his great fabric designs using brilliant colors, crisp shapes, and lines. Just flip over the 36 beautifully illustrated cards and try to find matching pairs to turbo-charge your memory skills and gain a greater appreciation for this beloved American artist. The Alexander Girard Memory Game makes a sublime gift for design freaks, artistic types, and ever-so-chic brainiacs. This classic game of memory will challenge your prefrontal cortex as you use your short-term visual memory to find the matching cards.