Games for the Brain: 5 Games to Improve Motor Skills
Today, we are going to continue exploring games that improve cognitive skills. The following 5 games develop motor skills.
You may have heard about fine motor skills and gross motor skills, but what is the difference? And why do they matter?
Motor skills allow us to move our bodies purposefully and perform a multitude of tasks. From riding a bike to brushing your teeth to writing an in-class essay, motor skills allow us to function in our world.
Gross motor skills refer to motions made by larger muscle groups – the arms, torso, and legs. Gross motor skills make full-body coordination and your sense of balance possible. You use these to run around a soccer field and play catch with friends.
Muscles in the wrists, hands, and fingers perform fine motor skills. These movements are more delicate and controlled. They are important in handwriting, filling in answer bubbles, brushing your teeth and using other tools and utensils.
We often take our motor skills for granted. Schools assume their students can sit up and stay balanced in their chairs. They assume their students can easily and quickly write letters, numbers, and words. They assume their students can walk around their classroom without bumping into objects and fellow students.
Sometimes this isn’t the case. When your child struggles with fine motor skills, completing a page of math problems becomes much harder. They have to focus on math and on their writing, too.
How can we help our kids who struggle in these areas? Well, let’s talk about some games that challenge your motor skills!
Barrel of Monkeys™
The classic Barrel of Monkeys™ is a quick-play, dexterity game. Your challenge is to link your monkeys arm-in-arm and pick up the whole troop. But be careful! Those monkeys are easier to drop than pick up.
Barrel of Monkeys™ is simple, but not necessarily easy. You must use your fingers, wrist and – as your monkey chain grows – your whole arm to manipulate your monkeys. It can be particularly challenging to pick up monkeys lying flat on the table.
You can take turns with each player trying to pick up all the monkeys at once. Your turn ends when you drop a monkey. Another option is to take turns picking up monkeys, ending your turn when you fail to pick up a monkey. Once all the monkeys have been picked up, the player with the longest chain wins.
Yeti in My Spaghetti™
Yeti in My Spaghetti™ is a similar game to Barrel of Monkeys™. Players place kinky, rigid noodles on top of a bowl. The Yeti sits on the noodles. Players remove noodles one at a time. The player who makes the Yeti fall into the bowl loses.
Yeti challenges you to strategize which noodle can be removed. Then it’s up to your motor skills to remove that noodle without upsetting the Yeti. You can also play Yeti in My Spaghetti™ solo, challenging yourself to remove as many noodles as possible before the Yeti comes tumbling down.
Rush Hour® Traffic Jam Logic Game
Rush Hour® is a sliding block, logic game that challenges players to escape from a traffic jam. There are dozens of levels in Rush Hour® to challenge the novice and expert alike.
Once you choose a level and set up your board, you slide the vehicles around the board to free the red car from the traffic jam.
At Pathfinders, we like playing Rush Hour® a different way.
We have the player choose their level and set up the game board as usual. Then we flip over the level card and reveal the puzzle’s solution. The player then has to go step-by-step through the directions to solve the puzzle.
Not only does the player need to be able to read the letter and number directions correctly. They also need to be able to find that physical car and move it correctly, too. The vehicles are lightweight and easy to slide. Make sure you slide the correct number of spaces. If you knock over any of the cars you’ll have to set up your board again – oops! As frustrating as this can be, it is great practice for your fine motor skills.
Bop It!™ is a fast-paced physical game that asks you to do various actions as the game calls out directions. You try to get the highest number of sequential actions to be the high-score player. As you continue to play, Bop It!™ speeds up, giving you less time to think about the action you must do.
The newest version is more interactive than ever. You use your full body while playing Bop It!™. Not only do you bop it, twist it and pull it – as the game has always offered – you now can golf it, selfie it and much more. This requires you to use both fine and gross motor skills to excel at Bop It!™.
The higher your score, the faster you must Bop It!™. This challenges you to master your motor skills so you can respond more and more quickly. The more automatic and controlled your motor skills, the easier Bop It!™ will be.
Hyperslide™ is a fast-paced game that challenges you to slide hyper discs through a goal arch. You have four, colored hyper discs. The arch will call out which colored disc to pass under its arch. The more correct passes you make, the higher your score.
With Hyperslide™ you have to find the correct disc, pass it under the arch and catch rebounding discs as quickly as possible. If a rebounding disc falls to the floor, you won’t have time to pick it up and pass the next disc. If you can’t pass the disc under the arch at first try, you might not have enough time to try again.
Hyperslide™ challenges your movements to be as controlled and precise as possible. In Fast Pass mode, you pass the hyper discs under the goal as fast as possible. You want to beat your high score, so make sure you pass the right color. With Solo Play, the discs bounce back, so watch out for flying discs.
Let us know which is your favorite motor skill game. We hope you’ve been inspired to have a family game night and look at some fun games as more than just fun – they help our brains learn, too.