Children face a continual stream of distractions throughout the day, including the chatter of their peers at school, the sounds of the TV and radio at home and the endless distractions of portable computers and electronic devices. You can help children develop better focus and concentrate with games that require their full attention. Many games allow children’s focus to wander while they wait their turn. In effective focus-building games, children must pay attention at all times.
Set, a game of visual perception, won the Mensa Select award in 1991. In this game, players must study a group of 12 cards to find sets of three cards each. The cards differ from each other in four aspects, including the number of shapes shown on the cards, the color of those shapes, the shading of those shapes and the shapes themselves. The cards can show one, two or three shapes, including ovals, diamonds or squiggles in red, purple or green and with solid, striped or open shading. For three cards to qualify as a set, each aspect must be all alike or all different. For example, a set of three cards that show three solid red ovals, three solid green squiggles and three solid purple diamonds makes a set. These cards are all alike in the number of shapes they show and in the type of shading, but all different in the shapes themselves and in the colors. When a player spots a set, she must call out “Set!” and then claim the set from the board. The dealer then replaces those three cards with three new cards so that 12 cards remain on the board at all times. When the deck runs out, the player with the most sets wins.
In the classic memory game, players take turns flipping over two cards at a time in an attempt to find pairs. Players must remember the locations of cards they flipped over on previous turns in order to make pairs more quickly. The player who has collected the most pairs by the end of the game wins. You can play this game with an ordinary deck of cards, or you can make your own memory game using mounted family photographs. Make your own memory game by drawing pairs of animals on index cards or cutting pairs of items out of magazines and gluing them onto index cards.
In Bananagrams, a speedy variation of the classic letter-tile game, players must remain constantly alert to avoid falling behind. Begin the game with all 144 tiles placed face down in a pile on the table. Each player then takes 21 tiles from the pile. When one player says “Split” or “Start,” all players flip over their tiles and begin forming the letters into intersecting words. Each player works in his own space on the table or floor. When a player has formed all of her tiles into words, she calls out “Peel” to take another tile. All other players must take another tile as well. If a player wants to return a difficult letter to the pile, he must take three letters in return. When fewer tiles remain in the pile than there are players in the game, players compete to finish forming all tiles into words. The first player to do so wins the game.