12 Mind-Boggling Brain Games To Activate Thinking In Kids

TNN Bureau. Updated: 5/21/2018 11:34:56 AM Features

Your little one wants to watch that cartoon that they just love (and you dread). You just want them to do something a little more productive. What is Doraemon or Peppa Pig going to teach them in the grand scheme of things?
So, to keep them distracted, you attempt a “Hey, why don’t we read this book?” that results in an utter look of disgust on your child’s face and undue defeat on yours.

Well, what if there is a way to fix this problem? What is the solution to make learning and brain development fun? We have the answers to help you!

There are a variety of games and activities that will keep them away from screens, help develop their thinking, all while keeping them entertained and their minds stimulated: brain games!

Child’s play is an integral part of development. Children do not play just to entertain themselves. From the time they are born, they are constantly learning. When your infant reaches out to you to get the soft toy, they are learning.

They just learned that they can stretch their arm out to touch the toy. They learned that they reach out with their arms to get that toy. Learning and development are constantly happening, but it’s our duty to enable that learning with positive reinforcements.

There are various skills acquired while playing brain games for kids.

· Analytical Thinking

· Comprehension

· Spatial Awareness

· Conceptual Learning

· Lateral and Critical Thinking

· Creativity

· Problem-Solving

· Linguistic enhancement and so much more!

Here is a list of 12 awesome brain developing games for you to play with your child:

1) Blocks – Build it up!

Best suited for 2-4 year olds

Blocks have been the most basic brain games for kids since the beginning of time and have remained a constant in the ‘toy-sphere’ — and there’s a good reason why.

How To Play:

Expose your child to blocks of different colours and sizes — and that’s it! Let your child explore the blocks and let their imagination run wild.

All aspects of your child’s development are exposed including shape/colour recognition, creativity, spatial awareness, and so much more.

You can start off with basic colour and shape blocks for younger children and then upgrade to Lego’s or abstract building blocks for older children.

Create simple patterns with blocks, have your toddler try to copy the patterns. This is a simple way to help your child observe patterns.

Blocks have been the most basic brain games for kids since the beginning of time.

2) I spy games – I spy… brain games for kids

Best suited for 5-12 year olds

Classic games such as ‘I spy with my little eye…’, ‘Simon Says’ and scavenger hunts are fun brain sharpening games.

These types of games help your children to follow instructions, enhance attention, develop language and increases their spatial awareness. Books like “Where’s Waldo?” are great for children (and adults!), finding a targeted item in a cluttered environment helps enhance your child’s cognitive systems.

Scavenger hunts can be easily customized and can keep your children occupied for hours!

Here’s an example of a themed scavenger hunt:

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Find the following items!

A flower

3 rocks


Green leaf

Brown leaf


A pink flower

3) Tease Your Brain With Puzzles! Brain games like chess develops the fine motor and problem solving skills.

Best suited for 2-8 year olds

Puzzles can be fun for the whole family! They are a great way to develop your child’s spatial perception, coordination, problem-solving, cognitive skills and fine motor skills— proving puzzles to be an awesome brain development activity.

There are many different kinds of puzzles to choose from: tangrams and board puzzles for younger children, and older children (and adults) can indulge in Scrabble, Sudoku, crosswords, logic puzzles and even Rubik’s cubes! At any age, puzzles are sure-fire brain teasers!

DIY puzzle idea: Line up popsicle sticks in a row, stick a copy of a family photograph on the popsicle sticks. Using a cutter, cut between the popsicle sticks. Help your child line the popsicles and recreate the photograph.

4) Obstacle Courses — Jump, skip, run and hop!

Best suited for 2-5 year olds

Obstacle courses are easy to set up brain games for kids. You can set one up right in your living room.

Create simple obstacle courses using household supplies, increase the complexity with creative obstacles for older kids.

Obstacle courses help enhance your child’s gross motor, visual perception, motor planning, coordination, problem-solving, critical thinking and language skills.

There are so many versions of obstacle courses! Here are some items you can use to create an obstacle course indoors: pillows, chairs, tables, cushions, sofa, tables, storage boxes, string, paper, balls, hula hoops.

A typical obstacle course would include for you to do the following: something to walk on, crawl under, crawl through, jump, throw, hop, solve a riddle, the possibilities are endless!

You can adapt a simple obstacle course for older children by including puzzles and riddles as obstacles to pass through!

5) Nesting and Stacking Toys – How high can you stack?

Nesting and stacking toys improve fine motor and coordination skills.

Best suited for 2-4 year olds

Don’t be fooled by the deceiving simplicity of nesting and stacking toys. These toys are pivotal to early learning development for toddlers. Nesting toys, albeit very simple, pack a punch as great brain boosters for toddlers.

The motion of stacking and nesting helps your little one’s fine motor, spatial and visual perception, balance, sequencing, pre-math skills, and coordination. Who would have thought something so simple could be so beneficial?

Tip: Start off with some basic ring stacking toys and upgrade to stacking toys which include textures, prints or sizes. Nesting toys are the close cousin of stacking toys. It’s important to keep a conversation going while your children play.

“What goes next?” “Does this fit into this cup?” “Why do you think that doesn’t fit there?”

6) Removing Tape Game – Brain Booster!

Best suited for 2-4 year olds

Concentration is key while playing most games. It’s an important brain building activity to develop on. But, children are so easily distracted. Here’s a fun brain sharpening game for the little ones.

All it takes is some masking tape and a flat surface. Use this brain game to help enhance your toddler’s concentration. Toddlers love feeling, scratching and pulling, and this activity uses all of those actions!

Tip: On a flat surface, table or notebook, stick strips of masking tape. Make sure the tapes overlap. Demonstrate to your toddler how to remove the tape one at a time by scraping the ends with your fingernails.

Allow your toddler to explore and remove the tape themselves. You can add different coloured tapes (insulation tapes) or textured craft tapes to add more elements to the activity.

7) Pretend Play Kits — Doctor, doctor! Pretend Play helps in social and cognitive development

Best suited for 2-6 year olds

Pretend play, role play or make-believe play is a great brain development activity as it plays a critical role in a child’s cognitive and social development.

Pretend play helps develop a child’s language skills, social and emotional skills, nurtures their imagination and improves understanding of the world around them.

Pretend play is a great time to put out some open-ended questions to your child and stimulate their thought process.

Pretend play is a great time to put out some open-ended questions to your child.

DIY idea: Repurpose some old shelves to create a ‘market’ area, upcycle cardboard boxes to create washing machines, houses, forts, stove top, anything that your child fancies. Don’t forget, it’s all pretend — so anything’s possible!

8) Improvisation Games — Improv this!

Best suited for 6-12 year olds

Improv games are the most fun brain-boosting games! The benefits of improv games are aplenty!

They help increase confidence, refine brainstorming abilities, improve learning and observation, improve decision-making and spontaneity. Improv games are great for the whole family, you can play them anywhere and at any time.

Here’s a simple improv game you can play with the whole family:

‘One-word story’

Each person in the room helps narrate a story but one word at a time! Come up with a quirky story title or theme and let the fun begin! Simplify the game by narrating the story one sentence at a time instead of one word at a time.

9) Storytelling – Once upon a time… Storytelling helps in developing confidence and memory.

Best suited for 6-12 year olds

Storytelling helps prompt a different brain development compared to what children gain when listening to a story or reading a picture book.

Storytelling requires for your child to pay attention and focus for a long period of time. They also help their memory, as they have to keep track of the story characters, the sequence of events and what’s going to happen next.

Storytelling also helps develop your child’s language, vocabulary and confidence! Each story requires for them to make connections and articulate them.

Children at the age of six are developing self-confidence and independence; stories are a great way for them to express their feelings and emotions in a positive manner.

Tip: Use a magazine as a story prompt. Pick a page with lots of elements, your child will have to make up a story using the elements on that page.

Another fun prompt idea is to fill a jar with one-liners: “the green monster in the castle”, “the lost astronaut in the rocket”, “the ladybird with green spots”. The more creative the prompts, the funnier the story!

10) Phonic Fun – Imaginary Traveller

Best suited for 6-12 year olds

This game is simple but so much fun! A simple brain exercising game that you can play in the car, in the supermarket line or just when they are bored.

This activity helps your child (and you) to think quickly, develops communication, improves decision-making skills and builds confidence.

Tip: Everyone playing takes turns to continue with consecutive letters of the alphabet, and fill in the following I am going (blank) and I’m taking (blank).

For example, I am going to Aunt Anita’s house and I’m taking my apple. I am going to Bombay and I’m taking the boat. I am going to the Circus and I’m taking the clown. Make them as silly as you can to ensure maximum fun!

11) Memory Game – Elephants never forget!

Best suited for 5-12 year olds

Brain boosting memory games help improve memory in a fun and entertaining way. Memory games help exercise your child’s brain, improve concentration, enhance cognitive functionality, trains visual memory, boost focus and attention.

There are many variations of memory games you can play at home: simple matching activity for younger children, increase or decrease complexity by changing the number of elements.

Get the picture is a fun game to play right at home! You start the game by saying, “When we go to the beach we take…” “On the table there is…” all the participants of the game take turns adding an element.

When one person says an object, the next person repeats that object and adds another object. The idea is to repeat all the elements the person before you has said. Keep the chain going till someone breaks the chain!

12) Math Game: Mathematics + Brain Games = Fun!

Best suited for 5-12 year olds

A simple math game is great for helping children with their numeracy skills. Card games are great for enhancing consolidated math skills. Math brain games help your child with number identification, counting, addition/subtraction, greater than/lesser than and other basics of mathematics.

A simple math game is great for helping children with their numeracy skills.

So, here are two simple math brain games for kids:

Dice Wars

You will need dice and some counting elements (pebbles, buttons, seeds, etc).

You play the game by taking turns rolling dice and you count the number on the dice.

The player with a higher number gets to steal a pebble or button from the other player. The player who steals all the elements is the winner!

I spy cards! Brain games with cards can improve math and memory skills.

You will need a deck of cards with picture cards removed. Deal all the cards in an array with number side up. One player says “I spy with my little eye two cards that add up to make ___”, and the other player must find the two cards.

Once the cards are found, remove from the set. Continue till all the cards are cleared. Apart from all of these games, you can use riddles and classic card games like Uno, Go Fish or even crosswords to get some brain juices churning.

Also, children enjoy creating games of their own. Maybe they’d like to play ‘Imaginary Traveller’ with a twist, so allow your child to explore and express themselves freely.

So, the next time you are bored— just play a game! You have 12 awesome brain games and ideas to chose from.

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