Updated: Jan 19
Games that build the brain can be a lot of fun, regardless of the season.
The positive results of brain training games have been presented in multiple studies. It’s simply a matter of choosing the ones that your kids will enjoy the most. Without further ado, here are some of the intelligence-building activities to get little ones engaged in during the summer vacation.
Incorporate Vocab in Everyday Play
Did you know that when children are asked to name tools, the same part of the brain is activated as when they’re using these tools? Something as simple as gardening and using the opportunity to add new words to your child’s vocabulary can be much more effective than relying on cards or spelling games.
You can make these activities thematic. When going for a walk in the forest, name the different plant species and insects. You can even turn the hike in a game, attempting to find out who can identify the biggest number of objects and animals that cross your path.
There’s no need to buy equipment or game kits in order to have fun. On top of being intellectually-stimulating, such activities also focus on the physical development of children. Bringing a competitive element to games gives kids a light form of exercise that’s of paramount importance in a world plagued by sedentary lifestyles.
Unfortunately, the educational system doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on encouraging creativity. Curricula tend to be quite rigid, a shortcoming that you can easily correct during the summer.
Games that put emphasis on creative thinking are incredibly important for brain development.
It’s a good idea to dedicate an entire summer day to creative activities every now and then. Collecting leaves for the purpose of putting together a herbarium is a wonderful idea. Later on, the dried leaves can be glued on paper to create different shapes.
Ask kids to collect different items they find outside – pebbles, sea shells, petals, twigs, moss and leaves. Come up with an assignment for the creation of a certain object out of these materials. Alternatively, give your children free reign over the theme of the game. Once they’re done, ask each child to explain their creation and how the different materials were used to represent actual objects or components.
These are just two opportunities for stimulating artistic and creative thinking. Once again, such games can easily be modified to address the specific preferences and inclinations of your kids. You can stress on music, theatre, sculpture creation, painting, storytelling and any other creative activity that your kid excels in or wants to try.
Yes, dancing can boost brain power! Apart from being a wonderful form of exercise, dancing and rhythmical movement encourage cognitive development in a couple of distinctive ways.
For a start, dancing improves spatial perception. It also builds brain power in terms of judgment and critical thinking.
Studies also show that dancing leads to the production of larger quantities of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. BDNF is a protein that enhances the connection between neurons and allows the faster passage of signals to and from the brain.
Needless to say, dancing is a form of physical activity that enhances the mood and creates a feeling of happiness due to the secretion of endorphins. It’s also a social activity that can improve the communication and collaboration skills of kids. Is there a need to keep on going about the brain benefits of dance? Just give it a try this summer and the entire family will be much happier (plus a little bit smarter!).
Puzzles and Board Games
Those summer days aren’t just about spending time in the sun. There may be a few rainy days here and there and these will be perfect for solving puzzles and playing board games.
For a start, such activities create close family bonds that are invaluable for the emotional development of the child.
The importance of doing puzzles with the kids goes beyond having fun. Puzzles enhance cognitive development, they can be used to teach math skills and enhance spatial perception. The traditional form of jigsaw puzzles teaches children problem-solving skills. They can be used to enhance concentration and they lead to a massive sense of accomplishment once the puzzle is solved.
The same applies to board games. Many such are available for purchase in bookstores and toy shops. Most board games are quite affordable and as such, they’re ideal for every family. An interesting study suggests that board games are particularly beneficial for the development of math skills and they eliminate numerical estimation proficiency challenges.
These are just a few of the options you can consider exploring with kids this summer.
Several other amazing activities to try include observing insects (a butterfly kit is a wonderful choice) to teach youngsters important biology lessons, growing a garden to see how plants transform, starting a rock/seashell collection, building an item together (a castle, a boat, an airplane, a skyscraper) by following instructions or painting rocks (snail shells, bark, etc.) to make jewelry and items out of those.
Always coordinate such activities with your kids and observe which ones deliver the best response. Based on this feedback, you can come up with additional games that will be fun, as well as intellectually and creatively challenging.