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Smart Mom’s Toy Box: November 2010

Smart Mom’s Toy Box: Good Old Fashioned Family Fun Games

During the holidays, family and friends often gather to play games over a piece of pumpkin pie or munch on cute Christmas cookies. Remember games you used to play as a kid? Maybe it was Scrabble or Uno or Chess. Perhaps you don’t remember the specifics, but it was more about being together and enjoying a laugh or a good challenge. No matter what, this holiday season, break out the games! There are so many that sharpen your cognitive skills (see bottom of page for definition of cognitive skills) and make your minds just a little more fit. Don’t let the turkey make your brain slow down this Christmas. Have fun and learn at the same time!

Expert Advice on Choosing Toys and Games

Nationally renowned brain training experts Ken Gibson and Tanya Mitchell have created a free list to help parents shop for toys, games, and brain activities that will help improve their children’s learning skills. (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.”

Gibson is the founder of national brain training franchise LearningRx, and the 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 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. Apples to Apples

Original version $20.00
Jewish Edition $20.00
Junior (Jewish, 9+) $24.97
Bible Edition $20.74
Disney $19.99
Kids (7+) $15.42
On-the-Go $13.10
Junior $19.99

Skills it strengthens:
Executive Processing
Inductive Reasoning
Logic and Reasoning
Planning
Problem Solving

2. Chess

Chess Game Set
Classic Wood Chess Set $14.90

Skills it strengthens:
Divided Attention
Executive Processing
Logic and Reasoning
Planning
Problem Solving
Sequential Processing

3. Legos

box of legos
LEGO Ultimate Building Set
(405 pieces) $24.54

Skills they strengthen:
Deductive Reasoning
Executive Processing
Planning
Problem Solving
Sequential Processing

4. Puzzles

Smart Moms Toy Box_Ravensburger Puzzle
Ravensburger Puzzle
(3000 pieces) $24.88
The Learning Journey Animal Puzzle
(48-piece puzzle) $9.49
Hollywood Ultimate Trivia Collection
Puzzle
(1000 pieces) $12.79

Skills they strengthen:
Deductive Reasoning
Inductive Reasoning
Planning
Problem Solving
Short-Term Memory
Visual Processing
Working Memory

5. Scrabble

Smart Moms Toy Box_Bananagrams
Scrabble Board $12.00
Bananagrams $14.60

Skills it strengthens:
Deductive Reasoning
Inductive Reasoning
Long-Term Memory
Problem Solving
Sequential Processing
Short-Term Memory
Simultaneous Processing
Visual Processing
Word Attack

6. Sequence

sequence  board game
Sequence Original $19.36
Jax Sequence States
and Capitals
$18.28

Skills it strengthens:
Logic and Reasoning
Planning
Problem Solving
Sequential Processing
Visual Processing
Working Memory

7. Slap Jack

slap jack board game
Slap Jack Card Game $2.99

Skills it strengthens:
Logic and Reasoning
Numerical Concept
Numerical Fluency
Planning
Selective Attention
Sequential Processing
Short-Term Memory
Visual Processing

8. Stare! and Stare! Junior

Stare board game
Stare! 2nd Edition $27.99
Stare! Junior 2nd Edition $21.99

Skills they strengthen:
Long-Term Memory
Short-Term Memory
Visual Processing
Working Memory

9. Uno

uno cards
UNO Original Card Game $6.20
UNO Attack! $20.00
UNO Horse Edition $12.99
UNO Star Trek Edition $12.99
UNO It’s the Great Pumpkin,
Charlie Brown Edition
$12.99
UNO Wizard of Oz $12.99

Skills it strengthens:
Logic and Reasoning
Numerical Concept
Numerical Fluency
Short-Term Memory
Sustained Attention
Visual Processing
Working Memory

10. Say What?Say what memory game

Say What? $27.30

Skills it strengthens:
Auditory Processing
Divided Attention
Logic and Reasoning
Processing Speed
Problem Solving
Selective Attention
Sequential Processing
Short-Term Memory
Sustained Attention
Working Memory

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These websites and analyses are provided by LearningRx. We do not support any particular website or store, but just want to bring you some initial resources to find these games more easily! We searched for the best prices to keep these games within a reasonable budget. Have fun!

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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.