These three fun and exciting mind-boosting games help challenge the concentration and focus of children in your ministry.
In a recent study, researchers at Oregon State University found that preschool-aged children who could sit still and focus were more likely to graduate from college. In an article on Wall Street Journal’s website, Megan McClelland, early childhood research core director at OSU’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families and a lead author on the study, talked about the findings:
“We know that early academic skills predict later academic skills,” McClelland said. “But the ability to pay attention and focus are foundational skills that help kids persist through difficult tasks when they need to.”
What grabbed my attention in the article the most was the suggestion that parents and teachers could help their kids grow stronger in the areas of persistence and self-discipline by playing simple games to challenge concentration and focus. McClelland suggested changing the old playground game of “Red Light, GreenLight” to make red mean “go” and green mean “stop.”
Any time we can mix play with learning, especially when it can help our kids’ persistence and self-discipline, I’m for it! After reading about McClelland’s new twist on “Red Light, Green Light,” I decided to try making some game changers myself. Here are a few I came up with:
Mind-boosting Game #1. Freeze Tag
Instead of one against everyone else, call out rules that change who can tag who. For instance, start the game off with taggers being people who wear glasses. As the game progresses, change the rules so taggers become runners, and vice-versa. Kids will have to be ready to listen to instructions while trying to figure out who is a friend and who is a foe.
Mind-boosting Game #2. Memory
Over the years, there have been a lot of memory games that kids play. Games where you find matches or remember a pattern or a long list of items that keep growing are all classic games. What I like to do is ask kids to look at their surroundings. I give them a minute or two to focus on what’s around them, and then I ask them to close their eyes. I ask them questions about who is wearing what or how many chairs are in the room. Then I remove or move an item in the room and ask kids what has changed. It’s a simple game that doesn’t require much but gets all the kids thinking and challenges their focus.
Mind-boosting Game #3. Don’t Say No
One of my kids’ favorite games to play during spare time is the “No” game. I ask kids questions and they must answer. The catch is they can’t say any form of the word “no.” Then I challenge them by adding words to the taboo list. Try answering “How old are you?” when you can’t say any numbers. This game gets kids using their vocabulary skills and makes them stop and think before they answer.
After reading about how simple changes can help change the way kids think, I will never look at playtime the same way. See if you can make some game changers of your own! Let us know what you come up with in the comment section below!
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