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10 Award-Winning Toys and Games that Boost Brain Skills – under $30!

Buying toys for your kids isn’t as simple as it used to be, as many of today’s children and teens are adding the newest smartphones high-tech gadgets and video games to their lists faster than you can swipe your credit card.

For many parents, buying toys can feel like simply stockpiling more useless junk that will sit in the toybox until it’s time to gather pieces for donations.

But what if there was a compromise? What if you chose games and toys that are fun for your kids, but also boost cognitive skills, like memory, auditory and visual processing, attention, logic & reasoning, and processing speed? We’re talking about award-winning games that have a track record of appeasing both bored kids and parents who are trying to build strong brains

LearningRx (, the world’s largest brain training company, has put together its annual list of brain-building games for the 2018 Smart Mom’s Toy Box. These pieces have been named best in class because kids love them and they build cognitive skills. Best of all, they’re all under $30!

1. Tall Tales ($29.95)

This story-telling board game offers five ways to play with 24 story cards, 50 game pieces and a story bag.

Ages: 4+

Cognitive skills: attention, creativity, logic & reasoning, visual processing

Awards: 2016 Scholastic Parent & Child Gold Star Toy Award, PAL Award, Tillywig Toy Award Winner for Best Family Fun

2. Brain Freeze ($24.95)

Make guesses, record answers and eliminate variables until you can guess your opponent’s secret sweet treat.

Ages: 5+

Cognitive Skills: logic & reasoning, memory, strategy, deduction

Awards: 2016 Tillywig Toy Award Winner

3. Disruptus ($24.95)

Play this game of “disruptive thinking” in a competitive or non-competitive format.

Ages: 10+

Cognitive skills: creativity, visual processing, logic

Awards: Creative Child Magazine’s Game of the Year Award, Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Games Award

4. Fish Stix ($15.19)

Ages: 6+

Match fish sticks and count fish then watch the board grow!

Cognitive skills: strategy, visual processing, attention

Awards: Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Games Awards

5. My First Piano Book ($19.99)

Ages: 3+

Get your toddler started on a love of music with this interactive and portable book-sized piano!

Cognitive skills: attention, logical thinking, creativity, memory

Awards: Mom’s Choice Gold Medal, 2017 Tillywig Best Creative Fun Award Winner

6, Splash! ($19.99)

Ages: 6+

Grab a dolphin before it disappears in this colorful, fun game that shares facts about our ocean friends.

Cognitive skills: attention, processing speed, visual processing

Awards: Parents’ Choice Award, San Francisco Chronicle Best Family Game, Sesame Street Parents Top Toys Award, Dr. Toy 100 Best, Tillywig Best Family Fun Award

7. Maze Racers ($24.95)

Ages: 8+

Using magnetic strips, players compete to build on two metallic boards to build the most creative maze possible before swapping mazes to race.

Cognitive skills: visual processing, logic, creativity, planning

Awards: “Games that Make You Smart” Award, Dr. Toy award

8. Outer Space Glow-in-the-Dark Puzzle ($10.61)

Ages: 5+

This glow-in-the-dark puzzles has 100 pieces and measures 18” by 12”.

Cognitive skills: attention, visual processing

Awards: Family Choice Award, Tillywig Winter Award

9. Quirkle Travel Game ($14.95)

Ages: 6+

Build lines by matching titles based on either color or shape to score points.

Cognitive skills: strategy, visual processing, attention, planning

Awards: Parents’ Choice Award, Mensa Select National Competition Winner.

Tic Tac Whoa!! ($12.95)

Ages: 7+

Play fun variations on the classic game of strategy.

Cognitive skills: strategy, planning

Awards: 2017 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award Winner, 2017 national Parenting Product Awards, National Parenting Center Seal of Approval Winner, Holiday 2016

Ready to head to the store (or online!) to do your holiday shopping? Take this list, or download a free Games for Skills Chart at

Michael Ginsberg is the owner of the LearningRx cognitive training centers in Marlboro and Red Bank, NJ. LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. LearningRx has helped more than 100,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx visit

This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings Monmouth/Ocean edition. To subscribe click here, or download the entire issue by clicking on the image below.


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