Fun family games that are good for your brain

It’s nearly that time again… the new school year! We’ve now had a lovely long break, and in the few short weeks to go until school starts, it’s a good idea to start waking up the brain in some fun ways – no matter what your age!


We have previously written about ways to prepare for the new school year and the danger to the brain of prolonged use of electronic devices. We’ve also discussed lots of ways you can prevent your brain from going to sleep over the holidays, while you travel, enjoy family time and have fun!


This month we want to suggest a couple of fun games you can play with your family that will be a great workout for your brain! Games are a great way to strengthen your attention, memory, language and numeracy skills, logical thought, analytical ability and creative thinking skills! We hope you enjoy trying these out and we’d love to hear your ideas for fun games to play, too.

Game 1: Brain Teaser Family Challenge (Attention and Memory)

A great one to try over a meal or at a picnic with your family… or perhaps while travelling in the car!

Each family member takes a turn to pose a brain-teasing challenge to the group. You can make them up on the spot or pre-prepare a set of cards to draw each challenge from.


Challenges may include:


  1. Say the days of the week backwards, then in alphabetical order. (Extend the challenge: try months of the year, reverse alphabetical order, or do it in another language!)
  2. Find the sum of your date of birth. (Extend the challenge: give only a short time limit to answer, or try it with another family member’s birthday – no hints!)
  3. Name two objects starting with every letter of your name. (Extend the challenge: Name 5 objects, or name objects only within one category e.g. blue things.)
  4. Look around and name 5 things you see that will fit in your pockets and 5 that will not. (Extend the challenge: only name things of a particular colour or starting with a particular letter.)

You can make the game collaborative (e.g. working in pairs or allowing the group to provide hints to the player when asked) or make it competitive (e.g. scoring points for correct answers or eliminating players who get it wrong – recommended for older family members!). Over time your family will be able to come up with their own, more creative and personal challenges.

Game 2: Add a Word Activity (Cognition, Logic, Creative Thinking & Language Skills)

This activity can be a rowdy family game, team against team, or you can play it as a quiet exercise, sitting side-by-side in pairs. Since family members are likely to have different ability levels, choose partnerings where patience by older members will be exercised, with easier challenges. You could also simply set each family member their own challenge suited to their level.


Given a pair of unrelated words, find another word that fits with both. e.g. LOCK – PIANO. A third word could be KEY – it fits both with lock and piano.


For more examples take a look at Dr Pascale Michelon’s original activity at


Try to make up your own challenges too… a brain teaser in itself! You may wish to use visual aids to spark ideas, such as a dictionary or picture cards (but avoid using phones or computers!).


Have fun!



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