Bring on the Brain Games

It sure has been a long winter here in New England, and it doesn’t seem like the end is in sight yet. Although building snowmen, enjoying sledding and launching snowball fights can be a lot of fun, it’s difficult to spend much time outside in this frigid New England weather. Therefore, we find our kids trapped inside our four walls, parroting the dreaded phrase “I’m bored,” as we not too patiently await the coming of Spring.

So if you’re anything like me, you’re looking for a few creative and educational ways to keep those little minds active as we wait out some more mild weather. I have a few suggestions that you might want to consider until we can break out the scooters and the bikes, and put the snow boots away until next year.

There are a bunch of great games that you can play with your child that are fun and interactive, but also stimulate the brain. I’d like to share with you some of my favorite “brain games.” I use these games in therapy to “warm-up” a child’s brain before doing more rigorous work. I also use them to build skills such as vocabulary, retrieval, turn taking, listening, spelling, visual skills, and processing. Another great aspect to the following games is that children can experience success with the challenges after only playing for a short time, which provides a great confidence booster as well.

Spot-It , Spot-It Jr., Spot-It on the Road

These and other games created by Blue-Orange engage visual processing, word retrieval, and speed of processing. I am able to “jump-start” a child’s thinking, memory, and processing skills after only having played these games for the first five to ten minutes of a therapy session. However, they’re having so much fun, they don’t even notice that they’re learning!

Head’s Up App

This popular app is promoted by Ellen Degeneres and is a quick-witted spin off to Spin Master’s “Headbanz” board game. It can be played on your smart-phone and it has a wide variety of options for topics and levels of play. Also, it can be downloaded for only 99 cents!


This ever popular board game can now be played on the phone or ipad. I use it all of the time with children who are struggling with spelling. It’s one of the greatest games made for developing spelling and vocabulary, and the Internet version is even faster and more fun than the original. Before playing the game, we discuss strategies for finding more words, such as searching for vowels and vowel combinations, and looking for options for plurals, and blends. Another great feature of the game is that there are bonus points for longer words and there is a self-check at the end. It’s also a good idea to take some time to go over the words found and discuss their meanings when the child is finished.

Hope you enjoy the benefits of these games and find some smiles on your little ones faces, as they find out that learning can definitely be fun!

Joanne C. Hanson MS, CCC-SLP