‘Tis the Season for “Brain Game” Giving!
By: Andrew M. , ERG Coach
With the weather turning cold, and the holidays approaching, this is the perfect time to point out that games are some of the best ways to ensure a healthy brain. Just like a muscle, our brains require exercise to improve and stay strong. Games are able to provide an opportunity for this exercise, and they do it in a way that is fun. With all the research out there about the benefits of brain training there have been tons of games created with brain health specifically in mind. Different games target and strengthen different areas of thought, and below are some of my favorites.
Critical Thinking: QUARTO! (8 yrs+) Quarto is a great critical thinking game for two players that anyone who is a fan of chess of other strategy games will love. The game is made up of a wooden game board and an assortment of wooden pieces of different shapes, sizes, and colors. The goal is simple, line up four pieces that share one characteristic in common. However, you only get to place one piece per turn and your opponent chooses that piece for you. Quarto will literally have its players trying to get into each other’s head and is a great game to strengthen foresight and long term planning skills.
Memory: PENGOLOO (3 yrs+). Pengoloo is a fun game for working on short term memory skills. The game can be played with up to four players and consists of a bunch of wooden penguins that each sit on top of a colored egg. Players take turns rolling two dice before trying to locate the penguins that match the colors they rolled. Players can try to pull penguins from the middle of the table or try to steal them from one another if they remember which player has the colors they rolled. The first player to collect six penguins wins the game. You will be surprised how much your short-term memory is tested as the penguins leave the center of the table and start changing hands.
Word Skills: YOU’VE BEEN SENTENCED (8 yrs+) You’ve Been Sentenced is the perfect game to work on creativity, vocabulary, and grammar skills. Fans of Scrabble will love this game that gives each player a handful of 10 word cards that they must use to create the best, grammatically correct sentence possible. The results are often hilarious as players read their pieced together sentences out loud. Vocabularies will be expanded and creativity stretched as everyone tries to find ways to use the hands they were dealt to their fullest.
Coordination: SUSPEND (8 yrs+) Suspend is a game of steady hands and balance. Players take turns adding metal bars of varying lengths and weights onto a growing web of pieces balanced on a pole extending from a base. If a player causes any of the pieces to topple down from the structure they lose. Suspend not only works on hand eye coordination skills, but it will have players thinking hard and trying to problem solve their way through the increasingly difficult task of balancing new pieces on the metal web.
Visual Perception: MORPHOLOGY (13 yrs+) Morphology takes charades style game play and creates a brand new game that really tests players visual perception and creativity skills. Players divide into teams and one member from each team draws a “word card”. That player then has to get the rest of his or her team to shout out that word in order to advance down the game board. However, the player with the card must remain silent, and can only use an assortment of craft supplies (Popsicle sticks, blocks, washers, cotton balls, etc.) to indicate what their word is to the team. This is a great game for a big group to play.
Those were just some of my favorite brain-healthy games. There are tons of different options out there just waiting to be played. So check them out this holiday season, find something that will be fun to play, and give the gift of a stronger brain!