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10 Brain Games That Will Help You Get Smarter This Winter

These challenging games give your grey matter a good workout!

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Keeping your mind active this winter

Whether you’re in COVID-19 lockdown or simply hunkering down for the winter, you may have already started to notice how a shift in your daily routine or responsibilities is negatively impacting your drive, focus, memory, creativity and problem-solving skills. Rather than succumb to mindless hours spent in front of the television, why not 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 the winter—and ultimately this entire pandemic—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 while nesting 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 actually 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, many of us can’t escape our own homes either—it’s a great time to explore Escape Room: The Game. 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 mental and physical puzzles in your choice of four themed rooms (prison break, funland, virus or murder mystery), all while the one-hour timer counts down. If you have your smartphone handy, use the corresponding Escape Room app to enhance gameplay, track time, and add a spooky soundtrack to the fun.

Would you believe these childhood toys are now worth thousands?

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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.

Can’t get enough classic brain games like mahjong? Check out these fascinating mahjong facts most people don’t know.

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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 2018. Be sure to read up on the 10 Dragons’ Den products that are actually worth buying, too.

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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 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 winter lockdown buddy (due to the content, it’s not recommended for children under 12) and start solving these cards.

See how you fare with these tricky crossword puzzle clues.

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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 lightning-speed 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, see if you can find the missing words in these puzzles. (Fewer than 60 per cent of people can!)

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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 challenges devised 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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This COVID-19 winter 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.

Need more mental stimulation? Test your trivia skills with these tricky general knowledge quiz questions.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest