Physical Exercises that Energize the Mind and Body
No reason you can’t incorporate brain training into every day activities! These exercises require a trip to the great outdoors, or at least a move off the couch. These were created by LearningRx, the brain training experts. Give them a try, and then come up with your own variations.
Counting Counts – Encourage your child to count by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s etc. when they go up or down stairs. He should say the next number aloud every time his foot hits the floor. This also works while dribbling a basketball (next number every time the ball hits the floor), while swinging on a swing set (next number every time on the forward peak), and while jumping rope (new sum every time the rope hits the ground). This helps with math fluency, divided attention, and memory. Doing it on-beat to an activity will build processing speed as it forces the brain to quickly come up with the answer.
Another version involving lists creates endless possibilities. On beat to an activity, name 15 words that start with “B”, nine types of sports, seven kinds of candy, etc.
Trampoline Time – Use this time to work on math facts, states and capitals or opposites. This should be rapid-fire. Every time your child bounces they provide an answer, then you immediately give the next prompt, which they have to answer on the following bounce. For example, you say “Montana”, they respond “Helena” on the next bounce. Then you say “Alaska”, and they respond “Juneau” on the next bounce. This builds the mental skills of divided attention and processing speed.
To add a memory aspect, quickly give your child five states in a row, and they give the five capitals in order on their next five bounces.
For a math variation, give a constant number to add, such as five. You say three, she says eight. You say one, she says six. This works will with multiplication too.
Jacks – This brain-building playground game originated hundreds of years ago and is still a winner. The old-fashioned version with a rubber-ball and 10 spiked “jacks” will help build visual processing skills, processing speed and attention. To work on divided attention, have your child count, recite a poem, or give directions while taking her turn. To build selective attention, try to distract your child while she’s playing with silly questions, funny faces or obnoxious noises.
Abstract Storytelling – Have your child demonstrate a story, such as “Humpty Dumpty,” by using objects from around the house like paper clips, cups, pillows, chairs, etc. to represent items and thoughts from the story. For older kids, make this more difficult by having your child demonstrate more abstract thoughts. Adages, clichés, or famous quotes work well, such as “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” or “No news is good news.” This helps with executive thinking, comprehension, and visual processing.