Instead of packing lunches and throwing a waffle at each kid on their way out the door, youre eating all of your meals at home as a family these daysand wearing leggings 24/7. These are the great parts of social distancing. But ever since your childrens school closed, youve been worried that easy access to distractions (hello, Nintendo Switch) will set them back. How are you going to keep your kids brains sharp? Easy. Here are six of the best brain games, courtesy of Becky Rodriguez, a real homeschooling mom of three (a 4-year-old girl and two boys, ages 8 and 9).
Best for: Preschoolers
The basic shapes we first learn about as childrencircles, squares, triangles and rectanglesare everywhere in our homes. A great way to teach your kids how to recognize these shapes is to ask what they are as you go about an activity like cleaning.
Well put my 4-year-old daughters toys away, and Ill pick up a block and pretend to forget what shape it is, says Rodriguez. Shes a little know-it-all and cant help herself, so shell be like,Its a square, duh! Sothen Ill try to trickher and ask aboutsomething like her vanity chair, which has a rectangular back and a square seat. But she got it!
Best for: Toddlers and preschoolers
All you need for this game is a roll oftape thats easilyremovable, like painters tape. Find something your little one can reach, like a coffee table. Tearoff piecesof tape and place them all over the tableon the top, hanging off the edge, on the legs.Rodriguez suggests that part of the tape, like an end or a gap in the middle, isnt touching anything.This makes it a little easier for kids to grasp.
The goal here is simple:Remove each piece without ripping it. The activity engages your childs brain and fingers in some fun fine motor work. Its fun for her, but its actually really fun for me to see hertry tofigure it out on her own and become more dexterous, says Rodriguez.
Best for: Ages 6 and up
Pick a letter, any letter, and choose a word that begins with that letter. You can go back and forth with your kids until one of you repeats a word or someone blanks for so long that you all erupt into laughter. Repeat until theyre geniuses.
The last time we played this, we were playing with the letter C and my 8-year-old pulled cardigan out of nowhere, Rodriguez says. I cant tell you the last time I even wore a cardigan.
Best for: Ages 8 and up
Kids in second and third grade are just learning what a synonym is, so why not make a game of it and quiz them a little?
Well start slow, Rodriguez says. After my youngest goes down for a nap, the boys and I will start with something like pretty, and then someone will say beautiful or cute. They get super competitive with it!
Best for: Ages 8 and up
Those overlapping circles our teachers used to help us learn how objects or ideas can be related? Theyre still a thing. But while youre making dinner and your kids are whining, How much longer? you can distract (and educate) them.
Ill point to two thingsthis pastweekend it was a baking sheet and a package of chocolate chipsand Ill ask myoldest, whos in third grade, totell me all the things he can think of that relate to each, she says. Youll be so proud when they say chocolate chip cookies or chocolate banana bread, because it means they understand that to make chocolate chip cookies, you need the baking sheet and the chips, and that the baking sheet goes in the oven underneath the loaf pan when were making banana bread with chocolate chips.
Best for: All ages
You dont need an educational magazine with detailed illustrations to get your babes brain working. This is also a game the whole family can play together, regardless of ages.
Ill ask my 4-year-old what doesnt belong with an apple, an orange and a baseball, Rodriquez says. She knows theyre all circles but will understand that two are fruits, so the ball is out. Then her 8-year-old, who loves art, will get red, orange and green. Hell know that green, the cool-toned color, is the answer. And her 9-year-old will get a lineup like Frozen 2, The Secret Life of Pets and VeggieTales, and hell have to recognize that the first two are movies and the third is a TV show.
RELATED: The Best (Free) Things to Stream with Your Kids that Arent Frozen 2 for the Tenth Time
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