Sugar and Spice Advice – Mental Calisthenics for kids

Scrabble Junior
Scrabble Junior

We all know how important getting outside and exercising or riding bikes or playing kickball, etc. is for children. Try some fun games that involve mental calisthenics to keep those young brains in good health. Keeping the brain fit is as important as outdoor activities. There are ways to get your children learning without making them sit at the table poring over The Oxford English Dictionary – all 26 volumes, thank you very much. (Your children will thank you, too, for not making them do that.)  Here are a few suggestions for good times and mental sharpness:

  • Learn big words. Everyone can take a turn looking in the dictionary for an uncommon or big word. Everyone then has to look up what it means and then use it during everyday conversations. I guarantee everyone will gain some knowledge and make some funny sentences out of the experiment. How many ways can you use the word: verisimilitude? It’ll take some practice to get that word to just roll off your tongue!
  • Hide and seek. Yes, I did say hide and seek. Hide a small prize or book in someone’s room or somewhere around the house. This would make a great party game to play at a friend’s house, too. Then give cryptic clues to the hiding spot. Let the players use their smarts to unravel the clues.
  • Tell a story. Have every one write a story about how they spent their winter vacation (that is coming up really soon) or describe Thanksgiving Day: who was there, what foods were served, and any family traditions, etc. The tales have to be presented in a different style rather than just writing an essay. The story has to be told in song or in a poem of some sort. Rhyming actually helps retention of information and can help develop a deeper understanding of language and communication.
  • Scrabble battle. For the younger set there is Scrabble Junior. Great way to learn vocabulary and spelling. It also helps with finding different ways to fit words in. How about TEACH across and LEECH up and down, using the E in TEACH. For the teens and adults have a Scrabble Battle using the adult game. We take Scrabble very seriously around this house. Deaths have hinged on who won the game! (Not really. But is sure was fun the time I beat my bro-in-law and watched him turn red and sputter. No offense, Dale. I’ll give you a rematch.)
  • Another awesome word game, one of my very favorites, in which you have to come up with words in different categories using a single letter. I will tell you that Q and K are hard. I even believe there is a Junior Scattergories edition. (I am the consummate winner at this game. Hey, Dale, would like to challenge me?)

My children should be thanking me about now for making them learn vocabulary words and doing book reports when they were younger outside of the ones assigned at school. We’d discuss these over dinner. I thought it was great. Ahem! Adam and Daphne, I am waiting for that gratitude. Guys? I can’t hear you. Guys? ….

This column is sponsored by Sugar and Spice Designs.
Makers of handcrafted all occasion cards, bath salts, soaps, and beanies. A catalog of items will be presented soon on

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