Fun Cognitive Activities for Kids

Michele Meleen
Girl and boy doing a puzzle

Cognitive activities include thinking and reasoning, or logic skills. Promote your child's cognitive development with fun brain training games that are like a workout for your child's mind!

A Walk Down Memory Lane Activity

Memorization techniques help kids keep more information stored in their brain. A simple memory activity like this uses your child's imagination and a place they see every day to help remember things. Preschoolers can try this activity, but it will be most effective with kids ages six and older. The older the child, the more items they'll be able to memorize.

What You'll Need

  • boy thinking about bananas and avocado
    A list of things to remember, 5-10 grocery items for example
  • Your house

Directions

  1. Start at the door you typically use to enter your house with your child.
  2. You will need to walk through the same number of rooms as items on your list.
  3. Walk from the door through your house, stopping in each room to look around for a second.
  4. Choose any room and sit down.
  5. Go through your list of items, close your eyes, and imagine each one in a separate room, starting with the first room inside the door. You have to imagine each item in its room in a strange way such as milk pouring out of the sink and tub faucets in the bathroom.
  6. Open your eyes and have your child try to name everything on your list.

Live Logic Puzzle

Logic puzzles give kids bits of information they can use to find the correct answer to the question. These are typically word problems on paper, but you can make an easy live version of this cognitive game in your classroom. Brain training games like this work on memory and logic skills. When working with younger children in preschool or kindergarten it's best to start with only two or three items. For groups of older kids, you can increase the number of items and even have them work in pairs to solve the puzzle.

What You'll Need

  • Group of five kids
  • One play food item for each child, each should be different

Directions

  1. Designate one child to solve the problem. This child should leave the room or have eyes closed while you prepare.
  2. Each of the other four children should choose one play food item.
  3. Look for similarities and differences in the play food items. Help children come up with simple statements about these similarities and differences.
  4. Put the play food items in a basket and bring back the problem solver.
  5. All kids sit in a circle.
  6. The problem solver listens as each child makes one statement about the type of food they like or don't like based on the play food they chose. They should not use the name of the food in their statement. For example, if a child chose a fruit and no one else did, he might say "I only like fruit."
  7. The problem solver places the play food in front of the child she thinks picked it based on everyone's statements.
  8. If there are incorrect answers, each food child can make another statement and the problem solver can try again.
  9. Play continues until the problem solver gets all the foods matched with their owners.
  10. Choose a different student to be the problem solver and play again.

Teach Me How Telephone Activity

Create a live action version of the secret whispering game Telephone for preschoolers and toddlers or kids of any age. Kids will need to learn a few simple steps, remember them, and teach them to another child in this activity that includes sequencing, memory, and attention skills. The older the child, the more steps you can include.

What You'll Need

  • Kids working on craft project
    A three-step process kids can physically do such as color, cut, and paste to end up with a tangible result
  • At least three participants
  • A large room

Directions

  1. Set up stations in your room so only two people are at the Teach Me How activity at once. The other kids should be occupied with other things until it's their turn.
  2. Start with one child and show them your three steps.
  3. Bring over another child and have the first child teach the new child those same three steps.
  4. Repeat this process until every child has learned the three steps.
  5. Look at all of their completed projects to see how well the information was shared and used.
  6. Talk about why they all look the same or why some of them look different.

Strike a Pose Sequencing Activity

Sequencing activities help with logical thinking skills and are easy to use at any age. The older kids get, the more steps your sequences should have. Choose poseable toys, dolls, or figures that fit your child's interests to get them excited and engaged.

What You'll Need

  • 2 to 5 sets of matching poseable figures like Barbies or action figures
  • Two flat surfaces
  • Timer

Directions

  1. Take one set of dolls and give each a different pose. Place them on one flat surface in a row.
  2. Place the other set of dolls unposed and in a different order on the other flat surface.
  3. Position your child between the two flat surfaces so they are facing the posed figures and the unposed figures are behind them.
  4. Set a timer for one minute and instruct your child to examine the order of the dolls and their poses.
  5. When time is up, turn your child so they are facing the unposed dolls.
  6. Set the timer for two minutes and challenge your child to put the dolls in the correct order and in the correct poses.

Printable Cognitive Games for Kids

There are dozens of simple printable games kids can play that enhance different types of cognitive functions. Look for activities and games that require critical thinking, reasoning, or logic skills like puzzles and mazes.

Get in the Brain Games

Exercising and strengthening your brain is as important as developing social and physical skills. While the term "cognitive activities" might sound like schoolwork or homework to kids, brain games can be a lot of fun. Get your kids excited about working their minds by playing fun games that have a cognitive benefit.

Fun Cognitive Activities for Kids