Motivating children to learn comes with a unique set of challenges such as a lack of interest or difficulty in retaining information. So, if you can make learning fun, you absolutely should. Your role as an educator, whether that takes the form of a parent, guardian, relative, or teacher, comes with a vital responsibility to encourage learning in a variety of ways to stimulate the mind and nurture organic growth. Below are six fun brain games to play with your kids for inspiration.
Online Educative Games
There are thousands of apps and internet-based games that were created for educational purposes. Core subjects are covered across a wide range of options and there is nothing more exciting than learning through playful stimulative outlets. This can be taken one step further by using a platform like Unscramble.me which provides a database of sorts of possible word solutions to typical letter-based games you may play to encourage learning. Sometimes, having a source of information like this is incredibly useful for presenting a clear picture of possibilities.
Traditional Jigsaw Puzzles
To ensure that kids don’t have too much screen time, which can be harmful for multiple reasons, try to take things back to basics with a jigsaw puzzle. Most people are familiar with the format, but these are images that have been broken up into smaller pieces which are then mixed up with the purpose of being put back together. Jigsaws improve problem solving skills, memory, and image recognition and can also be used to encourage teamwork and time management.
Problem Solving Activities
Problem solving activities are one of the easiest types of brain games to set up and make fun. Any of the games below are great for supporting solution finding, creative thinking, analytical and evaluation skill sets, and nurturing autonomy. Try some of the following suggestions to add a splash of fun to cognitive focused games.
Make a scavenger hunt. It can be as widespread or localized as you like. Hide some common items, provide an image alongside a clue sequence, and even provide a prize upon completion for an extra incentive to get involved. Incentivized learning has its place; while it shouldn’t be used all the time, it is a valuable tool to use sporadically. Split the children into teams or set them off on their own, allow them to think independently, and encourage them to try as hard as they are able.
Try a missing object game, as there are so many options here to play with. One popular idea, particularly for younger children, is to have a set of physical objects. Allow the children to look at the objects for a minute or so, and then ask them to turn around or cover their eyes. Remove one to two items and then it is the kid’s task to uncover what is missing. This encourages memory recall, visual focus, and concentrated thinking.
Memory Games are easy to create and don’t require too much planning or resources. For a completely free activity, try a verbal memory game. For example, the supermarket game which asks players to add an item to the list every time someone takes a turn. So, player one would say “I went to the supermarket, and I bought an egg.” This would then be followed up by player two: “I went to the supermarket, and I bought an egg and a cake.” And so on for as many players are participating.
Escape Rooms have a set of clues or riddles that need to be solved to secure a fake escape from an equally fake locked area. The answers are the key to unlocking the door, of course metaphorically.
Quick Math Rounds
Short snippets of math in the classroom or at home keep the day fresh while encouraging the brain to keep moving. Math is an essential skill that every child should have access to, and rapid-fire questions in a concentrated time frame are one of the most effective ways to fight boredom and build basic skillsets too. These can be online, in a group, or made into an independent activity or even a whole-class collaborative effort. Hold up a question on a board and allow the students to hold up their answers on their whiteboards or put everyone in teams with a buzzer and allow them to score points for correct answers.
Language games are anything that uses words, letters, or language to encourage learning and brain focus. Some ideas are listed below.
1. Hink Pinks are intended for slightly older children but are a fun brain game regardless. Take a description of an item like a dog moving out of the way and create a rhyming couplet to meet the imagery. So, for this example, pooch scooch could work.
2. Thesaurus games are anything that encourages the mind to think about synonyms for common words or phrases. Say a word, and then ask the child to write as many synonyms as possible. This is vocabulary building and requires concentration, careful thought, and digging a little deeper into the mind.
3. Alphabet games use the letters in the alphabet to create a fun activity. You could also use the supermarket example in this context just by making some small tweaks. Every person who has a turn, for instance, has to say an item that begins with the next letter along.
4. Home-Made Spelling Bees are a competitive bit of recreational educative project that inspires superior spelling skills and teaches children how to manage or channel their ambitious urges too.
A quiz is a stimulating game to encourage interactive study. They are a tried and tested method for bringing a topic together and concluding a piece of learning. A quiz is a different thing entirely from standard exams at the end of a term. This is intended as a fun game to encourage confidence, team-building, and cognitive focus.
Brain games are a fantastic avenue for keeping children motivated with their learning and allow them autonomy in their interests too.