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12 Brain Games That Will Help You Get Smarter During Self-Quarantine

These challenging games give your grey matter a good workout!

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Keeping your mind active in isolation

Only a week or so into self-quarantine, you may have already started to notice how a shift in your daily routine (hello, working from home in jammies) or responsibilities (home-schooling, caregiving, and cooking) is negatively impacting your drive, focus, memory, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Rather than succumb to mindless hours spent in front of the television during the coronavirus pandemic, carve out time each day to stimulate your mind. Get started with these fun brain games guaranteed to boost your brain power. Then graduate to this list of brain games that will help maintain the critical thinking skills, strategy, and innovation you’ve honed throughout your career and lifetime—when this global outbreak is behind us, your sharp mind will put you ahead of the curve.

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Edison Deck

Whether you’re looking to boost your idea-generation skills or not lose your current skills during your time at home, the Edison Deck can help. No complicated instructions here: Simply pick one of the 150 prompt cards and come up with at least ten ideas. By solving problems, thinking laterally and innovating, you’ll stay sharp as a tack. Who knows? You may even come up with a brilliant side hustle, write that book you’ve been talking about for years, or have some other life-changing revelation in the process. Like Thomas Edison said, “Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.” Check out these truly bizarre things Thomas Edison invented.

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Escape Room in a Box

Do you love gathering clues and solving mysteries? Since you can’t visit a real escape room right now—and, let’s face it, you can’t escape your own home either—it’s a great time to explore Escape Room in a Box. If you have a large family or roommates, the more the merrier, as each person will undoubtedly bring an important perspective to this intricate game. You’ll work together to solve 19 mental and physical puzzles before the mad scientist turns you into werewolves, all while the one-hour timer counts down. If you have Amazon Alexa, use it to enhance gameplay, track time, and add a spooky soundtrack to the fun.

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Trying to squeeze in a game in the half-hour between your virtual meeting and your online class? That’s all the time it takes to play Blokus, a fast-paced strategy game that’s perfect for the whole family. There’s just one rule, so it takes less than a minute to learn—but it takes many rounds to master the delicate balance of defense and offense you’ll need to win. In a nutshell: Stake your claim and protect your territory by fitting as many of your 21 pieces on the board as possible while also strategically blocking your opponents. Trust us: It’s not as easy as it looks to conquer this board.


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Brain Games

Fans of National Geographic may have already tuned into the Emmy-nominated series Brain Games—the TV show explores visual perception, memory, skill learning, and decision making. Now’s your chance to play at home with a board game version that can be played solo or against a handful of opponents you’re isolating with (ages 14 and up). You’ll be busy for hours thanks to the 192 challenge cards, broken out into four categories: logic, vision, language skills, and physical coordination.

Can you find the missing words in these puzzles? (Fewer than 60 per cent of people can!)

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Silicon Valley Startups

Love watching CBC’s Dragons’ Den and ABC’s Shark Tank? If you often find yourself scratching your head at the contestants’ absurd business ideas, then Silicon Valley Startups is your jam. By luck of the draw, you’ll receive an absurd startup company (you’ll draw various cards to discover the business name, industry, and target user) and then have to get creative to secure funding from an investor for it. You’ll need to pivot when a “hot trend” card is pulled and answer a curveball question, so it’s all about quick business thinking. Shark Tank‘s own Daymond Johnson even partnered with Silicon Valley Startups when the game was first introduced in late 2018. Be sure to read up on the 10 Dragons’ Den products that are actually worth buying, too.

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Logic Links

It’s time to dust off those critical thinking skills with Logic Links, a game that helps enhance spatial learning and deductive reasoning skills. Each of the 166 cards uses a series of clues that instruct the player where to place coloured chips to solve the puzzle. The game requires you to think in multiple directions (sideways, backward, right to left) as you read the clues and figure it out—you can play alone, but when playing with others, it’s fun to see how many puzzles you can complete in a set amount of time.

Next, try your hand at these tricky crossword puzzle clues.

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Word games—like Scrabble or Words With Friends—are cognitive exercises, but having a set board doesn’t add much element of surprise. With Bananagrams, each player draws 21 lettered tiles and then races against each other to form their own sets of connecting and intersecting words with no board to confine their imagination. It’s fast-paced since you’re working on your own “board” and also helps expand vocabulary, especially if you brush up on these 30 little-known words that will help you win Scrabble.

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Challenge the way you think with the 20th-anniversary edition of MindTrap. This game is jam-packed with brainteasers and convoluted logic, categorized by riddles, conundrums, puzzles, and mysteries. There’s a reason over 3 million copies have sold worldwide. So grab your quarantine buddy (due to the content, it’s not recommended for children under 12) and start solving these cards. After all, family time is one of the 11 wonderful things that will never be cancelled.

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Feeling a bit sluggish after seemingly endless days at home? Then you need the world’s fastest game, stat! Blink is a matching game, where you face off against your opponent to see who can discard like colours, shapes, and numbers the fastest. You’ll need fast hand-eye-coordination and quick-thinking skills to discard your pile first. Don’t blink, or it’ll be over before you know it! After you’ve mastered Blink, tackle these brain-teasing puzzles.

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Wrebbit 3D Puzzle

Just because foreign travel is currently off the table, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the world’s most iconic architecture from your own kitchen table. A 950-piece 3D puzzle of the Taj Mahal will help you appreciate the intricacies of India’s 17th century shimmering ivory-white marble mausoleum almost as much as if you’d built the real version yourself. Plus, it helps with visual-spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills. (Read more on how jigsaw puzzles are good for your brain.) Want to make quick work of this bad boy? Check out these pro tips on how to solve a jigsaw puzzle fast.

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The 125 Best Brain Teasers of All Time

Think you can solve 125 brain teasers written by a professor of puzzles at Victoria College of the University of Toronto? It’s time to find out. These brain teasers will help develop your problem-solving skills in math, logic, and wordplay. They build momentum as you move through the book, increasing in difficulty as your skills improve. Curl up on the couch and ponder them solo or invite anyone else in your household to play along. As a warm-up, see if you can answer these challenging math riddles.

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Self-quarantine will give couples plenty of time to canoodle, but what about singles? Luckily, there’s Kanoodle, a brain-twisting solitaire game that includes 12 puzzle pieces and 200 challenges covering problem-solving, critical thinking, and strategic thinking skills. The tricky 2D puzzles and twisted 3D pyramids are fun for adults and kids ages 7 and up—there are hundreds of possible combinations, but only one correct answer. Next, find out more things you can do when it seems like your whole life has been cancelled in the wake of coronavirus.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest