A larger vocabulary can be a confidence booster for children and make adults better communicators.
- There are many benefits to developing one's vocabulary beyond just sounding smarter.
- A stronger vocabulary can boost confidence, improve comprehension, and make you a better communicator.
- The entire family can learn and practice new words with these fun games.
Building a larger vocabulary is about much more than being able to impress people with big words. Francie Alexander, VP and chief academic officer for Scholastic Education, wrote about three reasons why a strong vocabulary is critical to reading success. Alexander writes specifically for teachers with children pre-K through 8th grade in mind, but the ideas apply for people of all ages. The first is comprehension. "Comprehension improves when you know what the words mean," says Alexander. "Since comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, you cannot overestimate the importance of vocabulary development." The second reason is communication. "Words are the currency of communication. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing."
The third reason is a big one. "How many times have you asked your students or your own children to 'use your words'?" Alexander asks. "When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too."
And that's only scratching the surface. There are many benefits to having a larger vocabulary, from standardized testing performance to getting through a dense novel without checking a dictionary every five minutes. There are also many ways one can build their vocabulary. For this list, we chose a category that combines learning, fun, and a communal element: games. Here are six board and card games that will help the entire family boost their confidence, become better communicators, and improve their reading comprehension.
Geared toward a slightly younger demographic (ages 7 and up) but great for the entire family, this card game uses fun prompts to encourage players to exercise their brains and use their growing vocabulary. More difficult letters are worth more points, and there is no board or complicated rules to follow.
A twist on the classic single player activity, WordSearch is a 2-4 player game that features a circular board that rotates to reveal one of 464 words. Once revealed, players race to find the word and place their tiles on it first. As the game goes on, there are opportunities to remove tiles played by your opponents and replace them with your own. The player with the most tiles on the board at the end wins. The board game comes with 16 different puzzles, with the option to customize puzzles online and print them out yourself. WordSearch is rated ages 7 and up.
According to the online Scrabble FAQ, there are over 100,000 two- to eight-letter words in most recent edition of "The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary." Playing against other people (or just studying the dictionary) will teach you new words and help you improve your score. There are of course game apps that are very similar, but sitting down with family or friends around a classic Scrabble board is something that can't be replicated on a phone.
Shake it up and see how many words you can find in three minutes! The 5x5 grid with big visible letters makes it easier for players of all ages to see. The larger grid compared to standard Boggle means there are millions more possible tile arrangements, which means that you can play it for years and years.
The scoring system in Scattergories, which penalizes players who use the same word for a prompt and rewards those who provide unique responses, makes it perfect for committing new words to memory. You're learning from those around you and, if you wish to get better, paying more attention to language outside of the game so that you score higher on your next match.
All you need to know is in the name of the game. If you can guess the meaning of words like "transmogrify" and "salubrious" from a choice of three definitions you earn 1 point, but if you can define the word without help you earn double points. There are 300 cards with 700 words, as well as an additional 50 cards for younger players.
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This video game designer's creations have been said to work "neurological magic."
- Video game designer Bennett Foddy's games hack players' neurology to allow them to embody the subjects on the screen.
- Foddy plays with perceptions of sensation to explore how gamers "become" the digital characters.
- Research indicates that video games can change how our brains perform and their structural makeup. For instance, enhancing several kinds of focus.
A gaming surge has begun. Steam, an online gaming marketplace, has seen record numbers of concurrent players over the past week, landline networks in Italy have seen a 70 percent increase in traffic, and console games are drawing millions more, as the world adjusts to life at home. Since we're all locked in until the end of the coronavirus crisis, these are the free games your brain might be craving in the midst of social isolation.
Bennett Foddy’s games
New York-based game designer
Bennett Foddy's programs are about the neurological sorcery in gaming that allows players to embody the subjects on the screen. Foddy's creations, many of which are free to play via the flash-enabled internet browser of your choice, are not overly intense or for "hard-core gamers." They're light-hearted, addictive, and have limited controls that are easy for non-gamers to pick up on, though mastery is not so simple. The gaming wizard's latest creation, Get On Top, is a game hidden in his 2016 gaming time capsule Sportsfriends. The two-player browser version uses your keyboard for input, with arrow keys controlling one figure and AWD controlling the other. "It's designed to sit with one other person and play for hours," the website explains. (Learn how to enable Flash here).
QWOP , one of Foddy's more popular creations, is a simple and diabolically addictive game about sprinting down the straightaway on a track. It can be played on PC or a smartphone mobile browser. The screen shows a man lined up to race the 100 meter dash, and you must press the QWOP keys to manipulate his left and right calf and thigh muscles to (hopefully) propel him forward as fast as you can. (The cult classic game was even featured on the U.S. version of The Office on the sitcom's season 9 premiere.) In 2012, it was updated so that it could be played with two people at once.
The phenomenology of gaming
Photo Credit: Foddy.net
In a 2011 piece for WIRED UK, Mark Brown wrote that Foddy's games are about "turning gaming's heavily abstracted and automated actions – like running forward or scaling a perilous cliff face – into brutal simulations of the most intense micromanagement."
For Foddy, it's about playing with perceptions of sensation to explore how gamers come to embody the digital characters in the game.
"When you play a [video game]," Foddy explained, "as long as there is a very short time between your formation of an intention to act and something happening on screen, there's a kind of neurological magic which makes you feel like you are the character, rather than just controlling a little guy on a screen." QWOP is unique in that it does this by making a "deliberate disconnect between your intentions and the character's actions."
Another of Foddy's games, GIRP, enhances the experience of embodiment. The game, whose hero is a rock climber, turns your keyboard into a cliff face. The player needs to finger-tip grip the keyboard as if he or she is white-knuckle clinging to a cliff. In this way, when you play this game you phenomenologically become the daring climber as your consciousness moves through the electronic space in the virtual reality of the game.
Foddy, who studied addiction at Oxford, designed GIRP to hijack the neurological reward-system by allowing players to set their own achievable goals in the game. WIRED's Brown described GIRP as "maddeningly compulsive."
How video games affect the brain
Video games can change how our brains perform and their structural makeup. A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that video game players display enhancements in several types of attention such as sustained attention (the ability to focus on an activity over a long period of time), divided attention (focusing on multiple pieces of information at once), and selective attention (the process of focusing on a particular object in the environment for a certain period of time). Moreover, the areas of the brain that play a role in attention are more efficient in video game players as compared with non-gamers. Gamers also don't require as much activation to stay focused on demanding tasks.
There is evidence that gaming increases the size and competence of regions of the brain that are responsible for visuospatial skills, or an individual's ability to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects (for example, hitting a ball zooming towards you with a baseball bat before it smacks you in the face). The 2017 research also suggests that video games that require players think spatially can increase the gray matter in the right hippocampus.
So go ahead and game the plague away. You can find Foddy's games for free here.
Playing and being creative shouldn't stop when you grow up.
- Growing up doesn't mean your life has to be all about work.
- Studies have shown that playing and being creative has numerous health benefits for adults of all ages.
- Simple exercises like drawing, finishing a puzzle, or taking breaks outdoors can have a positive impact on your life.
Peter Pan had the right idea: growing up is overrated. As adults we often forget to stop and have fun in between paying bills and being productive members of society. We're often stressed about our lives and the world around us, and after a while that mental anguish starts to take a toll on our bodies. There have been countless studies on the power of play and of mental and physical exercise. Here are some "childish" activities you should be doing to strengthen your mind, distract you from work, and keep you feeling young at heart.
With popular shows like LEGO Masters and films including "Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary," it's clear that building with plastic bricks is not just a kids' sport. The popular interlocking pieces have been used in the past to reduce anxiety and stress, to inspire and promote creativity in the workplace, and to improve dexterity and coordination for patients with dementia. LEGO building is also a just fun way to spend a few hours alone or with family and friends!
In addition to being a great tool for calorie-burning cardio workouts, jump ropes help with coordination, can be more efficient for heart health than jogging, improve bone density, and decrease the risk of foot and ankle injuries. When shopping for one, make sure the handles are comfortable and that the length is adjustable (or specific to your height).
Researchers, teachers, and artists are starting to realize that drawing is more than an art form. Studies have shown that doodling increases memory and helps with focus, while more involved drawing exercises enhance one's understanding of concepts and objects. With this How-To book, you'll be upgrading those stick figures and reaping the benefits that drawing has to offer in no time.
According to the New York Times, 62 percent of professionals say they spend their lunch break eating at their desk. Taking a break away from a work environment gives you the chance to do just that: take a break. Sometimes a short walk and some fresh air is exactly what you need to feel creative and energized to make it through the day. Plastic bags are bad for the environment, and paper bags will make you look like a 3rd grader, but this lightweight neoprene bag is perfect for transporting for homemade meals to a park bench or somewhere your computer isn't. The bag keeps cold things cold and warm things warm for up to 4 hours, stores flat, is BPA free, and is also machine washable.
More than 164 million Americans play video games on their phones, computers, or gaming consoles. Hundreds of millions more dabble in gaming around the world. In addition to being a fun leisure activity, video games have been shown to have benefits for players of all ages. From increased gray matter in the hippocampus of people between the ages of 55 and 75, to improved performance on recognition memory tasks and a boost in keyboard proficiency, the diversity in video games today has created a vast library of useful tools that anyone can take advantage of.
A recent obsession among gamers is Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch. Build a community, collect materials, hang with cute creatures...this game has it all.
A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that solving jigsaw puzzles "strongly engages multiple cognitive abilities," and that when practiced long term is a "potential protective factor for cognitive aging." The options are nearly endless when it comes to themes, shapes, and the number of pieces in a given puzzle, but we think this round puzzle of the Moon is both challenging and beautiful. When you're done, you can glue it and hang it on a wall, or take it apart and start over again.
The benefits of cycling are almost too many to list, but here are a few according to Harvard Medical, Cycling Weekly, and Bicycling.com: save on carbon emissions, increase muscle strength and joint mobility, decrease stress and body fat, explore your surroundings in a new way, and save money on fuel costs and maintenance. Oh yeah, and it can be a lot of fun!
It may seem like just another lazy day activity, but keeping that string and wind-catching material afloat can do a lot for your body and mind. According to Dr. Jeannie Kenkare of PhysicianOne Urgent Care, kite flying is great for eye stimulation, neck/shoulder exercise, stress relief, filling your lungs with fresh air, and reconnecting you with nature. This one is of a massive bird, because you also want to look cool doing it.
Journaling (or mature diary keeping) is a great way to track the progress of life goals and daily moods, to manage stress and anxiety, and to generally be more reflective in order to gain new perspectives. Journaling also helps strengthen your organizational skills and can be used as a meditative practice.
Published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, a 2005 study involving 84 college students found that coloring a plaid form and complex geometric patterns (mandalas) reduced stress levels by inducing a "meditative state." The study also found that these exercises were more effective stress reducers than free-form coloring on a blank page. Coloring also benefits older adults by improving motor function and vision.
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About 21 percent of gamers in the United States are over the age of 50.
- More than 164 million Americans play video games on their phones, computers, or gaming consoles.
- An entire fifth of American gamers are over the age of 50.
- Results of studies suggest games can improve memory and reduce signs of aging.
According to a 2019 report by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), more than 164 million adults play video games and three-quarters of all American households have at least one gamer inside. While the average gamer is 33 years old, 21 percent of gamers are over 50. Reasons vary from leisurely fun, to spending time with younger relatives, curing boredom, and improving mental dexterity.
While there are no rules to which games more mature players can enjoy, studies have found that certain games are more popular among older players. Some have even been found to improve the health of senior players diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Here are 6 games across numerous platforms (Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC) that are worth adding to your cart.
According to the EPA report, Baby Boomer gamers (ages 55 to 64) are really into virtual board games and the classics such as Monopoly and Scrabble. This pack is available for Xbox and PS4 and also contains solitaire and Risk.
A recent study conducted by the University of Montreal on people between the ages of 55 and 75 found that video games (specifically Super Mario 64) caused a significant increase in gray matter in the hippocampus. The loss of gray matter is associated with diseases such as Alzheimers.
Based on the results, the researchers hypothesized that 3D games could be used to improve memory and prevent the effects of the disease. Super Mario 64 was made for previous generation consoles (Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS) but Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is similar and available for the Switch.
A 2012 study by researchers at North Carolina State University found that seniors who played the "cognitively challenging game" World of Warcraft showed an improvement in spatial ability and focus, especially those who scored the lowest in the baseline tests. The multiplayer online role playing game was originally released in 2004 and has since had several expansion packs, Battle for Azeroth being its seventh (released in 2018).
One of the top-selling games of 2018, Minecraft is great for older players who like puzzles and simulations, and for those who want to spend time with the young gamers in their family.
Sixty-five (65) percent of older male gamers prefer playing alone, according to the EPA. The percentage is slightly smaller for female gamers in that age group at around 58 percent. A large portion of gamers over 55 (35 percent of men, 45 percent of women) are also big fans of puzzle games. Tetris has been the king of the solo puzzle genre for decades, so this this one is an easy recommendation. This recent version for the Nintendo Switch comes with an online membership, but there is also an extensive "Marathon mode" for offline play.
This farming simulation game lets you do everything from raising livestock to mining ore, all while making sure that you have enough time, energy, and money to get things done. It's not the most exciting game in the traditional sense, but for those looking for a calmer gaming experience it comes highly rated by industry critics and online reviewers alike.
From STEM kits to fashion dolls, these creations all came from the minds of female inventors and designers.
- You love the games and toys they made, but do you know their names?
- The women behind these products are engineers, CEOs, and accomplished designers.
- Learn about the creators while adding their toys to your holiday shopping list.
Most people have heard of major toy and game companies including Mattel, Hasbro, and Parker Brothers and have, for generations, purchased their products. Unfortunately, not as many people know the names of the individuals behind those board games, playsets, and action figures. Being an inventor is often a thankless job, especially for historically marginalized groups. While many creators have already been forgotten to time, the women on this list don't have to be.
From an iconic doll introduced in the 1950s, to a popular building block game, to new STEM kits designed to inspire young girls to become engineers, what the toys and games in this gift guide all have in common is that they were first designed (and often prototyped) by creative women. Some of them became entrepreneurs and still run their own successful toy companies, while others never got the credit and compensation they truly deserved. In honor of the brilliant minds that made them, here are 7 of the best toys and games invented by women that you should consider adding to your holiday shopping list.
Born in Tanzania and raised in West and East Africa, Leslie Scott was inspired to create Jenga after reflecting on her childhood. The game was based on one that Scott's family played using wooden blocks. Scott wanted a strong name that would become synonymous with the game. She chose Jenga, which comes from the Swahili word kujenga, meaning "to build."
Debbie Sterling created GoldieBlox to give young girls a curious female engineer character to look up to. With maker kits ranging from an inventor's mansion to this smartphone projector, girls can learn to build and customize their own fun toys and objects. Major companies wouldn't back Sterling's vision because they said that girls would not be into engineering play, so Sterling launched her own Kickstarter campaign and successfully launched GoldieBlox as an innovative and independent toy company.
Monopoly as we know it was introduced in the 1930s, but Elizabeth Magie's "The Landlord Game" dates back to around 1903. Magie originally created two sets of rules for the game: one that rewarded players for creating monopolies, and another that rewarded everyone for creating wealth. The game was not a cash cow for Magie, but a man named Charles Darrow was able to hijack her idea and sell his version for millions to the Parker Brothers. Controversial past aside, the game is an undisputed classic that has divided and delighted families for generations.
LittleBits building block kits include magnetic modular "bits" that can be configured and reconfigured to perform various functions. The color-coded pieces teach builders about electronic circuitry in a way that is fun and easy to understand. LittleBits CEO and founder Ayah Bdeir told Entrepreneur.com that her company's kits are designed for boys and girls and that "accessibility helps everyone to unleash creativity and instill a love of STEAM through the cycle of inventing."
While recovering from polio in a hospital in San Diego in 1948, a retired teacher named Eleanor Abbott created a board game to keep young patients entertained during their long and often painful treatment cycles. Candy Land was well-received by the sick children, so Abbott decided to pitch it to Milton Bradley the following year. The sugary-themed game was bought and quickly became the company's best-selling title. Five and a half decades later in 2005, Candy Land was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
The idea for the Moonlight Storybook Projector came from Natalie Rebot's bedtime ritual of making shadow puppets with her daughter using the flashlight on her smartphone. After building a prototype and launching a successful Kickstarter campaign, Rebot left her career at Google and turned Moonlight into a full-fledged company. There are now story reels available for the projector from Disney and other major publishers.
Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler debuted the first Barbie doll at the New York Toy Fair in 1959. Named after her daughter, Handler was inspired to create the fashion icon after watching how young Barbara played with her paper dolls. Barbie has since had over 180 different careers and has spawned a pocket universe of friends, family, pets, vehicles, and structures. This doll in particular, designed by Caroline DeMersseman, commemorates the figure's 60th (diamond) anniversary and features an elegant ball gown with silver earrings.
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