Keeping the brain cells firing after lockdown

When boredom strikes or you begin to feel guilty about the amount of time your children are spending online, it's time to dig out the Lego and the games ... or invest in new distractions. These off-screen activities provide easy entertainment and they will also keep those slightly sleepy brain cells firing after months of reduced schooling. They say a change is as good as a holiday after all, and we could all do with one of those. 


A fast and fun word game that requires no pencil, paper or board. Very small, perfectly packaged.


Get all your counters down through the cogs on your side of the vertical board before your opponent does, on the other side. Take care though, because a wrong turn could lead to your …...“DOWNFALL”. (2 players - Age 7+)

History HeroesTravel Quiz Cards or a standard pack of playing cards

For traditional card games like Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Old Maid, Pig and Whist, instructions will be easy to find on the internet. Great fun and brilliant for sharpening up analytical skills, concentration and memory. If you have a pack of cards with pictures, like these, you can be creative and devise a quiz. 

Ivan's Hinge

A tricky and baffling brainteaser puzzle to wrap your mind around. Fold, loop, turn, open and close the perpetual hinge to recreate and match 56 pattern challenges.


An all-time playground favourite requiring skill and dexterity. Ten small ‘jacks’, a ball and a nice flat surface. Each player bounces the ball, picks up a number of jacks, and then catches the ball before it bounces for a second time. 


A block stacking game which you have surely played. The name comes from the Swahili word kujenga, which means "to build". Without knowing it, when you play Jenga, you are learning about engineering - forces, tension, load - and how easy it is to topple a building in an earthquake. The record is 40 complete stories with two blocks into the 41st but most players are very lucky if they can get more than 30 levels before the whole thing comes crashing down. Can you get above 30? (2 -8 players - Ages 3+)

Make this Book Disappear

A science activity book that is perfect for inquisitive and creative children especially if they like to cut to scrunch, throw and discover. Provides the perfect diversion from screens. You will need scissors, sellotape and glue.

Rush Hour

A traffic jam logic game - which, believe me, is a great challenge even if it sounds like your worst nightmare. Your goal is to escape the traffic jam and get your car out of the jam by sliding blocks around the board. This will definitely sharpen up your mind and there are four different levels of play so everyone can have a go. (1 player - Age 8+)

Screwball Scramble

This was recommended to my son when he was in Year 5 by his maths teacher, Edward Matthews, co-author of Maths Fun for Cool Kids. The aim: to guide a shiny ball bearing around a challenging obstacle course with agility and skill. Players also have to focus on beating the clock. Determination and persistence are key when taking on the challenge of the Screwball Scramble course... (1-4 players - Age 5+)

Top Trumps

Many packs exist but my personal favourites are Wonders of the World and Creatures of the Deep with the alien-like freaky goblin shark, the massive Japanese spider crab and the Megalodon. This is how I learnt that Bungle Bungle is a real place in Australia. Each card contains some numerical facts and the aim of the game is to compare the values on your card with those on the card of the other player ...and then try to trump it - ha ha! on so many levels - thereby winning your opponent's card. If you’ve never played it, you really, really should try. But choose a subject you are interested in - it will make the game more fun. (2 or more players - Age 6+)


All of the above could help your child with English, maths, history, general knowledge, engineering and logic. And if you really can't tear them away from their screens, do consider last week's blog on Quality Screen Time for the Summer Holidays

Stay Safe!


Jumping Yak




(*Items from Amazon listed through Amazon Associates.)