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The Best Toys for Smart Kids

Updated on October 18, 2012

Play Smarter!

Your child's brain is like a huge tinker toy--there are many pieces and different ways to connect them. The more often your child uses certain connections, the stronger they become. The stronger the connection, the "smarter" the child!

According to Dr. Ken Gibson, founder of LearningRx and author of "Unlock the Einstein Inside: Applying New Brain Science to Wake Up the Smart in your Child," the right toys can help kids strengthen the connections that lead to faster mental processes and may even help increase their IQ. Here are some of the best toys to develop young brains.

Toys to Build Attention Span

In order to learn, children need to be able to maintain their attention on the subject. A short attention span can contribute to learning difficulties and may prevent the brain from making solid connections. These toys help build a child's ability to pay attention for longer periods of time.

Bejeweled - PC
Bejeweled - PC

Discover all-new ways to play the world’s #1 puzzle game. Great way to build attention span and focus skills.

 
UNO UNO 40th Anniversery Edition Card Game
UNO UNO 40th Anniversery Edition Card Game

America's No.1 brand of family game. See why this color coded card game is such a popular brand of family game. Be the first player or team to score 500 points. Points are scored by being the first to rid yourself of all the cards in your hand before your opponents.

 
Big Screen Tetris
Big Screen Tetris

The world's most addictive video game just got more intense with Big Screen Tetris. Three game modes - Marathon, Race and Ultra, auto light and sleek, portable design enhance play and make clearing blocks easy. It is good for hour of fun.

 
Simon Trickster Hand Held
Simon Trickster Hand Held

Can you keep up as you follow the colors bouncing from lens to lens' Now repeat the pattern! This handheld version of the legendary electronic memory game features two classic Simon games, a Trickster game and one completely new challenge. Keep the excitement going as long as you can with musical tones and fun verbal feedback. Its scaled-down size makes it perfect for travel and fun on the go.

 

ADD or Poor Working Memory?

Researchers estimate that about 10-15% of school kids have working memory problems, but these are often misidentified as deficits of attention or intelligence (Holmes et al 2009).

Toys to Build Working Memory

Working memory is essential to successful learning. It is the active part of the memory, the "chalkboard" where important pieces of information are kept at the forefront of the mind.

As information comes in, working memory processes it as it stores it. When a child has to mentally hold onto number while doing a math problem, she is using working memory. When a child listens to a story, he uses his working memory to remember the sequence of events and also think of what the story is about.

Toys and games can help strengthen working memory and help a child become more successful academically.

Battleship
Battleship

A great game for boys to build working memory as well as problem solving skills, planning and logic and reasoning skills.

You are the commander of your fleet, so prepare your strategy and lead your troops to victory. Call out your coordinates and mark your hits and misses. Try to destroy your opponent's fleet first. Classic naval warfare game. Look for your opponent's fleet by calling out squares on the grid. Requires strategy and logic. Game sets are portable, making them easy to play at home or on the road. For 2 players

 
Mattel Blink Game
Mattel Blink Game

Only for the highly competitive! The world's Fastest Game. Less than two minutes per game. A game for 2 players. For ages 7 and up. Using sharp eyes, fast hands, players quickly try to match the shapes, count or color on the cards. The first player out of cards wins!

 
SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception
SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception

This award winning card game is for one or more players. It is recommended for ages six and above. The object of the game is to identify "sets" of three cards. Each card is unique in its four features; color - red, green or purple, symbol - diamond, squiggle or oval, shading - solid, striped or open, and number - 1, 2 or 3. A "set" consists of three cards on which each feature is either the same on all of the cards, or different on all of the cards.

 
Squint Jr Game
Squint Jr Game

Squint Jr. brings the creative fun of Squint to the entire family. The 42 simple Shape Cards are used to build pictures. The 168 Squint Junior Cards show the name of an item and give an example of one way of building the picture. 3-8 players.

 

Toys to Build Logic and Reasoning

Humans have the unique ability to use logic and reason to solve complex problems. While other species certainly understand some basic concepts, only humans have the ability to use these skills to plan, create and solve complex problems. All scientific discoveries started by someone reasoning out an idea in a logical way. Help your child develop strong logic and reasoning skills with these fun games.

Mattel Apples to Apples Party Box The Game of Crazy Combinations
Mattel Apples to Apples Party Box The Game of Crazy Combinations

Apples to Apples has won numerous awards including "Party Game of the Year" by Games magazine and "Mensa Select" by Mensa International. And for good reason: it involves quick thinking, humor, and strategy. For teens, the game teaches them to think about how different things can be compared to one another and how analogies are formed.

 
Deluxe Blokus Game
Deluxe Blokus Game

Fun for both kids and adults, Blokus is a strategy board game that challenges spatial thinking. Bright colors and simple rules make it ideal for ages five and up, but adults will certainly be engrossed by this unique and challenging game.

 
Connect Four
Connect Four

The rules are simple: try to build a row of four checkers while keeping your opponent from doing the same. Sounds easy, but it's not! The vertical strategy creates a unique challenge: you must think in a whole new way to block your opponent's moves!

 
Gobblet
Gobblet

Gobblet, the award-winning fun game of strategy combines the simplicity of tic-tac-toe with the excitement of surprise attacks and unexpected endings. You can even get fun Gobblet "Gobblers!"

 
Dominion
Dominion

A fast-paced strategy game, Dominion finds each player trying to build a more profitable deck. Play cards from your hands to take action or purchase new cards and money! Wildly entertaining, Dominion is ideal for a friend or family game night!

 

Toys to Develop Auditory Processing

Have you ever wished you could think on your feet? Strong auditory processing skills help you interpret and comprehend the sounds you hear quickly and accurately. The ability to make accurate snap decisions based on what you hear can literally save your life! In the classroom, children with strong auditory processing skills are able to respond immediately and appropriately to a teacher's direction or request. Children with weak auditory skills tend to respond more slowly and may suffer social consequences.

DanceDanceRevolution II - Nintendo Wii
DanceDanceRevolution II - Nintendo Wii

DanceDanceRevolution II is the definitive Music & Motion game that combines fun, fitness, competition, dance and music for everyone!

 
Mad Gab
Mad Gab

Canoe Key Pace He Grit? Mad Gab is one of the most entertaining and fun talk-out-loud games you'll even play. Teams square off against their opponents in trying to be the first to 25 points, which are earned by solving word puzzles. The puzzles are mondegreens of small words that, when said together, sound like a phrase, famous person, place, or thing. For example, "Canoe Key Pace He Grit" when pronounced quickly sounds like "Can you keep a secret?"

 
ThinkFun Zingo (Discontinued by manufacturer)
ThinkFun Zingo (Discontinued by manufacturer)

4 years & up. Zingo is a simple Bingo-style game, with a fancy plastic tile dispenser that kids just LOVE! Everyone who knows Zingo loves it, kids and parents alike. To play, players try to fill their Zingo! cards with matching tiles from the Zingo Zinger. The first player to fill his/her card wins! Rules can be adjusted to favor more or less competition among players, and to vary length of time that each game takes to play.

 
WordWorld Rhyming Word Cards and Matching Game
WordWorld Rhyming Word Cards and Matching Game

18 rhyming flashcards with a word on one side and the matching WordThing image on the other.

 
Learning Resources Radius Audio Learning System
Learning Resources Radius Audio Learning System

This innovative system combines CD technology with advanced card-reading capabilities to create an exceptional learning experience that enables students to learn at their own pace. Using the colorful, double-sided CD Cards and their content-rich audio CDs, students can explore language and vocabulary with varied lesson patterns and hands-on interaction.

The unit has a voice recorder that stores and plays up to 2 minutes of student speech; has prerecorded audio content; and has color-coded buttons that allow for easy navigation. Each set guides students through activities with clear, step-by-step oral instructions, provides immediate feedback for self-checking and reinforcement and incorporates assorted lesson patterns for differentiated learning experiences.

 

Books to Help Your Child Get an Academic Edge

While reading to your children and encouraging them to read themselves may be the best way to develop a budding Einstein, there are other ways to help your child become a lifelong learner. Here are a few notable choices from some of the experts.

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