Do you know how crucial it is to nurture your child’s brain before they turn 5?
“Experts tell us that 90% of all brain development occurs by the age of five. If we don’t begin thinking about education in the early years, our children are at risk of falling behind by the time they start Kindergarten.”
Learning is not limited to schools, books or boring activities. In fact- this is the best phase of your child’s education where both of you can have fun!
The best way to stimulate your child are some simple and fun activities that can help accelerate the verbal and motor skills really fast.
This post will expose you to a variety of activities that you should try at the earliest.
20 MIND GAMES FOR KIDS: BRAIN BOOSTING (2-5 YR OLDS)
There is no time like now. Start with any activity that is handy and see how well developed your child will be in no time.
The games are in order of age suitability. Parents of toddlers can start with more personally engaging and visually appealing games.
ONE ON ONE GAMES
These games don’t require anything but your toddler and an object or your toddler and you.
1) BUILDING BLOCKS
This is one of the most basic games that has evolved over the years but has never faded out. All you need are a set of blocks, preferably in different colours and shapes, leaving the rest up to your child’s imagination. From shape and colour recognition to creativity and mind stimulation, all facets of the child’s development are exposed.
Puzzles are like Khichdi, all the flavours and nutrients in one pot. However, this is one game you need to start ASAP because an older child may ignore it for more exuberant ones.
This is one game though, you can’t risk missing. Right from hand-eye coordination to logical reasoning, it ticks all the right boxes. The biggest benefit is the confidence boost that comes from completing the puzzle which results in better self-esteem and deters procrastination.
3) MEMORY CARDS
Memory games are the best way to exercise your kids’ information detaining parts with fun. The games are available as cards and also for smartphones & PCs so, you can keep them entertained on the go. Choose a comfortable level for your kiddo and encourage them to move on to bigger tiles or more images as they get better. Choose a game that has interesting features for your kid like different smileys, cartoon characters or hearts.
4) WORD HUNT
Using alphabet – cards, blocks or magnets, form different words. Then using flashcards, have your child match the flashcard to the words formed.
For example, the word cat is formed. You can show your child an image of the flashcard and have them place the card near the right word. This game can boost alphabet recognition, memory as well as word formation.
5) ROLE PLAY
Teacher-teacher, doctor-nurse or good witch-bad witch, the options are endless. Role-playing is a great way to boost creativity and imagination.
This game can also help set the right moral tone for your kids that will benefit them while dealing with society and adjust to the environment better.
6) BEADING/PLASTIC CANVAS SEWING
Beading and sewing are great fine motor skill developers and also act as a good workout for the brain. In beading, use colourful beads of different shapes and sizes; switch the patterns up and set rules like three pink round beads after a purple star, which will keep your toddlers engrossed deeply. Plus in the end, they also get a cute bracelet or a garland to happily show off!
If your kid is older, maybe 7 or 8, you can teach him/her to sew on a plastic canvas or an equivalent. Sewing with a plastic canvas does not require sharp needles and there’s no end to the design patterns you can make. Your kids will get to make wonderful bookmarks for themselves and as gifts, and you can level up to pouches and clutches further! It is a very engaging activity, requires them to follow precisely, but easy instructions, and the results last for generations!
YouTube has a ton of videos on different plastic canvas stitches, so check out to keep your kid’s brain sharp and creative!
7) FIND THAT THING
All you need are some flashcards and objects that match them near the toddler. It is a fun way to introduce your toddler to the surroundings, be it at home, park or school.
For example, you show your child an image of a ball in the flashcard and ask them to find it for you. It goes a long way in teaching your child the right pronunciation and object recognition, along with cognitive development.
Go left? Or Go Right?
Turn back? Or Go Ahead?
Mazes are a big hit with kids!
They address a variety of skills and are perfect BRAIN BOOSTING activities.
There are Maze activity books or toys, either one is great. Count improved motor skills, imagination and problem-solving germ as one of the side effects of this activity.
Advantages of making your child solve Mazes:
a) Visual Motor Skill Development:
A maze requires that your child first scans his eyes throughout the page to try and figure out a solution.
Scanning is a very important skill for reading and writing.
b) Fine Motor Skill Development:
A maze also requires that your child draws a line in between the maze (without touching the outer lines).
That his, he needs to be able to control his pencil with his fingers.
c) Problem Solving Ability:
There is a problem – The Maze
He needs to figure out a solution – Get into the maze and get out of it or reach the centre.
How? – Find different paths
Problem Solving Abilities are one of the most crucial skills required in everyday life.
9) MATCH THE FOLLOWING
The matching game works great for toddlers around 2 to 4. Grab some paper and draw some pictures in two columns. Let your kid match the sides with colourful crayons/ fun pencils. We usually pair things up like flower – honeybee, teapot – a teacup, rain – umbrella, tom – jerry, shoe – socks, candies – cavities, baby – diaper and so on.
If your child is not sure about a pair, this is a great opportunity to teach them about it. This game also helps remember and strengthen the concepts you taught them earlier. Get creative and vary the themes and do opposites or rhyming words as your toddler learns them. I also used phrases like thank you, sorry, please, a good night on one side and some situations on the other side for my toddler to match.
If you are worried that your drawing skills are no good for such a game, try piecing images from the internet and print out to have fun! Let your kid colour the images later as a bonus!
10) TEXTURE PLAY
Sensory play with textures simulates kids and their brains. Exploring the world with our senses keeps our brains active and helps build new neural pathways. Textures teach something vital to kids that cannot be simply taught from books. Actually experiencing and actively goofing around with different textures is a delight. Allow your kids to feel and play with crumbly sand, smooth plasticine, glittering slime, soft bubbles, foaming shaving cream, rough walls, fine clay and other everyday objects to stimulate their minds.
While one on one games are a great way for a parent-child to bond, it is also important for children to develop their social skills. Apart from social skill development, group games teach a toddler sharing, empathy and improved communication skills. It’s the start of the path that leads to self-confidence.
On those lines- here are some group games that are not limited to a group of toddlers only. If you have a large family, make sure to have them join in as well.
11) BOARD GAMES
Snakes and Ladder, Ludo, Candy Land and Chess – these are some of the best board games ever.
Board games teach PATIENCE – You child HAS to wait his turn. This is a virtue that comes in handy when you take your toddler to a restaurant and the fries ordered are taking time (maybe)!
12) SIMON SAYS
Touch your feet, turn around, find the colour red, clap your hand, jump, wave your hand…the list can go on and on but your child won’t get tired of playing this game. Best played in a group with the rest as adults or slightly older children, this will help improve listening skills and interpretation skills, leading to better social development.
All you need to do is give your child some commands beginning with the words ‘Simon says dance or jump’ and the toddler has to follow to get points. If you give the command without beginning with Simon says, and the child follows, he loses points. The one with the highest score at the end wins.
13) THE HOKEY POKEY
Technically a song and dance routine, it fulfils all the categories of a fun, stimulating game.
This song is great for learning about body parts and movements.
You can also come up with variations of your own to keep it interesting to match your child’s skill level. You will find many versions of this on YouTube.
14) HIDE AND SEEK
Who knew such an old game existed for a reason. Hide and Seek, like its name is full of hidden benefits.
You need to hide and ask your child to find you or vice versa. The more people that are involved, the better.
Apart from the physical exercise, this game makes your child think of places to both hide and search. It helps develop problem-solving skills and object analyses at an early stage.
15) MUSICAL NUMBERS
A fun way to learn to count, all you need are some number flashcards and different objects in quantities of 1-10 (adjust as per the skill set).
Place the objects in different quantities randomly in a straight line or circle. Play the music and ask the child to circle the objects.
When the music stops, pull out a number card and the child needs to find the right number and stand beside it.
A great way to learn to count as well as number identification. The numbers can also be substituted with an object or alphabet flashcards.
Another classic game that has travelled the globe that provides ample stimulation is Statue, also known as Freeze. It’s a simple, no investment game where music is playing in the background and the children need to keep moving and performing a different action. When the music stops, they need to be still in different poses. The first one to move is out. This game is best played in a group. The plus point of this game is it can be played anywhere and it builds team spirit and imagination.
To make the game more interesting, call out a theme just after the music stops and the child least matching can be out.
For example – the word said is ‘Mom.’ The children should freeze in various poses of what they think their mom is like. The list can go on with dad, sister, animal, etc. It’s a fun way to develop their social skills and gauge their observational powers.
17) NEW LANGUAGES
DID YOU KNOW?
If your child speaks 2 or more languages (other than English), he is more likely to be better at spelling and grammar, because he can understand patterns better which makes it easier for him to understand and remember the rules of the language.
A child up to 6 years of age is the best learner and observer.
He is learning every second from his surroundings.
Exposing him to different languages will boost his abilities to learn new things throughout life.
It will activate both the right and the left areas of the brain equally and such kids will have better learning and grasping powers than otherwise.
(Also see, 11 Tips for teaching Grammar early)
Teaching different languages is one of the BEST BRAIN BOOSTERS till the age of 5.
Everything from patience to social development to motor skills is nurtured while playing sports. It’s also one of the finest ways of parent-child bonding.
Here are a few games that can be played one on one or as a group:
Tug of War
19) CREATIVITY & COMMUNICATION
These activities are more like skill enhancers. It’s a window to the future. You can unlock your child’s potential here by introducing them to their inborn talent or building on their inclinations.
Below are various ways to find your child’s potential or build one!
SINGING – Singing stimulates and develops the positive centres of the brain and it also needs memorising the songs which is a great boost.
DANCING – Dancing improves the coordinating capabilities of the brain + motor skills + socialisation and confidence.
HAND OR FINGER PAINTING – Fun, colourful, creative and imaginative (Need I say more)?
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT TOYS – The sounds created are like nirvana for the brain. Your child is the one to create that music. It’s a great way to nurture emotional skills, IQ and social skills. Motor skills also come into play here.
This can also lead to serious learning of an instrument which is a great way for a child to learn discipline and patience.
The only side effect is neighbours complaining of loud noises!
READING STORY BOOKS – The best way to develop language and communication skills.
I thank my aunt for spending money on introducing some great storybooks to me. I read all the classic stories in one of those huge storybooks with pictures and that helped me ace English all through school and college.
Reading is the best way to build your imagination and one of the strongest foundations of CREATIVITY.
Uno is an entertaining card game for both kids and adults. It’s a fun way to bring the family together every day. The rules of the game are simple, yet powerful, allowing your little one to plot mischievous plans to kick others out. Some version of Uno cards also have different editions featuring lovable characters, so you might want to check them out to make the game extra special! We have a pack of Minion Uno 4cards and it’s always a fun activity during cousin sleepovers, vacation and travels for both us and the kids!
These are some great ways to expose your child to various activities that can help develop their personality and interest. In the end, all that matters is a lot of love and attention at the right age!