Updated: Apr 17, 2020
There are so many educational benefits to playing card and board games including:
Learn the concept of following the rules
Learn to detect patterns
Learn to plan ahead
Enhance thinking skills
Encourages logical reasoning
Improve memory function and focus
Improve fine motor skills
Enhance visual perception
Learn alternate outcomes
Learn how to be a good sport
Our top 6 'brain games' suitable for ages 5+ are:
1) Spot It. This seemingly simple matching game involves deceptively complex mathematics. Every single card matches another card in only one way and a player must spot the match before other players do. You can research the complicated math formulas behind the game or just have a lot of fun improving focus and memory while developing enhanced visual perception, speech-language and fine motor skills. There are several different versions so you can keep challenging yourself with new graphics.
2) Set. Set is a game requiring that players find a combination of features (a "set") within a deck of 81 unique cards. A set must vary in four features across three possibilities for each kind of feature: number of shapes, the shape itself, type of shading, and colour. Each possible combination of features appears as a card only one time in the entire deck. Set is tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will find it helps with visual perception, logical reasoning and the ability to focus.
3) Top That. This cute game is another deceptively tricky brain-game. Each player is given 5 plastic miniature items: a black magicians hat, an orange tube, a red cup, a green coin, and a white rabbit. Players draw from a deck of sixty challenge cards and then race to stack their pieces following the rules on the cards leading to enhanced focus, visual perception, speech-language and speed-related fine motor skills.
4) Ghost Blitz. This lightning fast shape and color recognition game is sure to test the reflexes of everyone in the family. Five miniature wooden items sit on the table waiting to be caught: a white ghost, a green bottle, a cute grey mouse, a blue book, and a comfortable red chair. Each card in the deck shows pictures of two objects, with one or both objects colored the wrong way. With all players playing at the same time, someone reveals a card, then players grab for the "right" object. This game helps younger children identify the differences between shapes and coluors as well as being another great game to develop focus, visual perception, speech-language and speed-related fine motor skills.
5) Scrabble. A classic game that builds vocabulary and improves spelling in addition to the other skills listed above.
6) Monopoly. Another classic game that offers opportunities for lessons in math, negotiation, entrepreneurship, finances, how taxes work, economic equality/inequality... the list goes on depending on how enthusiastic the parent or teacher is about finding teachable moments!