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Smart Mom’s Toy Box: November 2014

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.

Phone Apps to Build Brain Skills!

Are you and your family heading over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this Thanksgiving? If you’re looking for some brain-friendly iPhone apps to help your family pass the time, look no further. These apps are BrainBuzz staff approved and will be sure to keep the family entertained and keep their brains engaged!

Groops Phone App1. Groops [For iPhone] [not available on Android, but here’s an online version]

Groops is a puzzle game that will put your mind to the test. Match tiles three at a time based on either shared or completely unique attributes – the number of possibilities will tie your brain in knots! Keep your mind sharp. Play Groops! This game is very similar to a procedure we use in our LearningRx centers called Reasoning Brain Cards, and will help build logic and reasoning skills, as well as processing speed and working memory!

Blek Phone App

2. Blek [For iPhone] [For Android]

Blek is a unique game about imagination and personality. Everything you draw keeps moving – and watching your creations move is like watching magic.

The goal is simple: shape a line that collects all colored circles avoiding black holes on its route. There are no specific moves that you need to master. To every level countless solutions exist, from delightfully simple to exceptionally deep and complex, yet always elegant. Build logic and reasoning and visual processing skills with this beautiful, fun-to-watch game!

Move The Box Phone App

3. Move the Box [For iPhone] [For Android]

Move the Box is a logic puzzle about moving boxes around. Clean the dock, do it fast!

You can move, drop and swap the boxes. Three or more boxes of the same kind in a line disappear. Watch out for turns, you only have a limited number! Build strategy skills and learn to think a few steps ahead with this super engaging puzzler!

7 Little Words Phone App4. 7 Little Words [For iPhone] [For Android]

If you enjoy crossword puzzles, word finds, and anagram games, you’re going to love 7 Little Words!

Each bite-size puzzle consists of 7 clues, 7 mystery words, and 20 letter groups. Find the mystery words by deciphering the clues and combining the letter groups. 7 Little Words is FUN, CHALLENGING, and EASY TO LEARN. We guarantee you’ve never played anything like it before. Give 7 Little Words a try today! This is a great game to play as a family – pass the phone or tablet around as each of you tries to solve one of the word puzzles. And build word attack and vocabulary skills while you’re at it!

And Then It Rained Phone App Game5. …and then it rained [For iPhone] [For Android]

… and then it rained is a minimalist arcade game as well as an acoustic and visual experience.

Set in an abstract world, you have to catch colored and different sounding rain drops by dragging and reordering matching towers, resulting in a rhythmic and nearly meditative world of sounds and colors. The gameplay is optimized for mobile devices: It’s simple at the beginning with intuitive one-finger-controls, but later levels require fast thinking and good reaction times. Different game modes let you decide whether you want the game to be a relaxing, Zenlike experience or a swift and difficult challenge. This game will help build processing speed as the levels get more difficult, and good strategy skills will develop, too!

On The Line Phone App6. On the Line [For iPhone] [For Android]

On the line is a fast paced endless runner and for the first time your finger is the main character!

It’s never been so easy to play: you just have to hold your finger on the screen and try to stay on the line as long as possible! Each time you play, the maze is different. Compare the distance you’ve traveled with world famous monuments heights. When you complete monuments, you’ll unlock new objectives and background colors – increasing intensity! On the Line builds visual processing and processing speed as the levels and objectives become more difficult.

Flow Phone App7. Flow [For iPhone] [For Android]

Flow Free is a simple yet addictive puzzle game. Connect matching colors with pipe to create a flow. Pair all colors, and cover the entire board to solve each puzzle. But watch out, pipes will break if they cross or overlap!

Free play through hundreds of levels, or race against the clock in Time Trial mode. Gameplay ranges from simple and relaxed, to challenging and frenetic, and everywhere in between. How you play is up to you. So, give Flow Free a try, and experience “mind like water”! Flow will build visual processing skills and logic and reasoning skills as you connect the pipe and fill the game board. Add the time trial feature and your processing speed will get a boost, too!

Shape Shift Phone App8. Shape Shift [For iPhone] [For Android]

Get ready for Shape Shift, a colorful new puzzle game! In this gorgeous twist on the classic genre, players swap tiles of the same shape to match colors and clear the board. The mechanic is simple, but the strategy can take a lifetime to master! Try to eliminate all of the bombs in the action packed Classic Mode, or simply chill out and play endlessly in the peaceful Zen mode. Create mega-chains and unique combinations to gain tons of bonus points. Try to collect all the achievements or just relax and enjoy the beautiful effects. Shape Shift is sure to build visual processing skills, processing speed, and logic and reasoning!

Cut The Rope Phone App9. Cut the Rope [For iPhone] [For Android]

Cut the rope to feed candy to little monster Om Nom®! 500 million downloads around the world of this phenomenal puzzle game. 400 levels and more to come! A mysterious package has arrived, and the little monster inside has only one request… CANDY! Collect gold stars, discover hidden prizes and unlock exciting new levels in this addictively fun, award-winning, physics-based game! With the challenge to get every star and feed the hungry little character, his pout of disappointment if you fail in giving the candy to him encourages you to keep trying until you achieve your goal. This game helps keep the brain stimulated and a pleasant way to pass the time.

Two Dots Phone App10. Two Dots [For iPhone] [For Android]

Join two brave dots as they traverse arctic tundras, navigate fiery jungles, and plunge the ocean depths. Sharpen your skills across 185 challenging levels while uncovering many exciting new features along the way. Two Dots is a BrainBuzz staff favorite – you’ll build memory skills, processing speed, and logic and reasoning as you try to meet the objectives, avoid fires, break ice, and crush boxes. Add to that the excellent Two Dots soundtrack and you’ve got a winning game the whole family can enjoy!