August 01, 2019

Ashley Coblentz

5 Fun Brain Games to Foster Learning

Topics: Learning at Home, Learning Through Play


Games are a great way to trick your brain (or your kids) into some sneaky learning time. While you think you’re spending some time just having fun, your brain is still getting a lot out of everything you’re doing. Time spent playing a game is not really time wasted at all. gerson-repreza-5hHeyBFLrso-unsplash

Games like Sudoku, mahjong, and solitaire are all great examples of games that require a lot of planning and strategy to win. While you’re engaged with the game and focusing on winning you’re also building things like math skills in a fun way. It’s something to keep in mind the next time you think playing some online mahjong was time you spent not being productive. 

If you’re wondering what games might help you or your kiddos to keep feeling encouraged to learn, keep on reading. Here are some awesome brain games to help encourage learning that you’ll probably want to go play as soon as you’re done with this article.


1. Mahjong


Mahjong requires a lot of focus and strategy. If you aren’t careful when you’re playing you’ll end up being an asset to your opponents instead of building towards a win. There are complex rules and scoring involved, which also requires a lot of mental math. 

As you’re working through the game you’ll need to keep an eye on what your fellow players are doing. You’ll be watching for patterns in the tiles they pick up or discard to make decisions about which moves will be great for your own strategy for winning. Much like chess, mahjong requires you to be mentally one move ahead of your opponents to win. 

Mahjong will help encourage players to unknowingly use or build on their math skills, concentration, and attention span. All of these skills will be able to translate to real life situations in a lot of highly beneficial ways. It’s a great option for a game that encourages learning. 


2. Solitaire


Much like mahjong, solitaire requires a lot of planning and skill. The difference is you won’t be playing against someone else, which means you can also focus on self-improvement. When you’re playing solitaire you’re naturally keeping track of how well you’ve done in the past. You’re mentally setting goals to beat that score or get farther in the deck of cards the next time around. 

Solitaire will keep you focused on strategy and the moves you plan to make as well as using your memory to keep track of what cards you’ve already seen. Between building your memory, your strategic thinking skills, and your self-esteem by setting personal goals you’ll find that solitaire is a very valid way to sneak in some learning along with your fun. 


3. Sudoku


What word games can do for spelling skills sudoku can do for math skills. Figuring out these number puzzles is highly addicting and the entire time you’re working on them you are sharpening your mental math abilities. You also get the chance to keep developing skills like patience and persistence. 

When you're first learning the game there can be a lot of erasing or restarting involved. The great thing is that’s part of what makes this game so intriguing. It’s what keeps people coming back. Sudoku is a wonderful game to keep your brain sharp when using numbers and solving basic math problems. 

Since you also continue to use your patience and persistence skills in real life it’s a guarantee that any time spent solving a few sudoku puzzles is time well spent.


4. Scrabble


Speaking of word games don’t forget about Scrabble. When it comes to having fun and learning at the same time Scrabble should be at the top of your list. Since you’ll need to be using reading and spelling skills as well as strategic planning there’s a lot this game has to offer. 

If you’re hoping to encourage a love of words in a child you love, there are even easier versions of the game made for children. It’s such a versatile learning tool that its possibilities for real-life applications are almost limitless. Scrabble will encourage learning or building on skills for players of all ages. Plus it’s just super fun.


5. Yahtzee


Another opportunity to encourage using mental math while playing a game. You’ll need to be able to add up the dice to make sure you’re choosing the highest possible scoring slot for each turn you have. Young players may have to use a piece of scratch paper to add things up but they’re unlikely to count that as actual time spent doing math since it’s for a game that’s fun.

Yahtzee will also require players to use their best decision-making skills to choose what to use for which slot. As you’re playing you’ll be gaining critical thinking skills that will help you out in other situations. Even with a game that’s very entertaining and quick paced like Yahtzee you can see there’s still plenty to gain while you’re playing. 


There are a lot of games that can foster a love of learning, or sneak in learning while no one notices. These are just a few examples of the best options out there. When it comes to playing games you can always count on developing skills you’ll be able to translate to real life. Your choice of game can be adjusted depending on what types of skills you’re building. 

Games encourage players to learn about social skills like taking turns and being patient. They also tend to require you to use your memory to keep track of at least one or two things during gameplay.

No matter which game you choose from the ones listed above everyone playing is guaranteed to have a good time and still learn a lot (even if they don’t know that’s what they’re doing). Have fun playing!



Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 10.24.31 AMAshley Coblentz is a lifestyle blogger currently writing for and a political journalist. After graduating from college, she worked as a Registered Nurse at one of the largest hospitals in South Dakota until deciding to be a full-time mom. She remains very passionate about the nursing profession and often volunteers in her extra time to teach community education classes on first aid and other related topics. She has one amazing child who keeps her on her toes. Who knew 10-year-olds could have so many questions? If you want to keep up with her and see what she’s writing next you can find her on Twitter.

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