Growing children have brains that are capable of absorbing an enormous amount of data. We can train them to start thinking and keep their minds continually occupied with thought processes when on a long drive, waiting at the clinic for a check-up, when walking back from a store or even when at home. Most of these games mentioned below do not require anything more than a sheet of paper and pencil. Keeping these two handy will make things easier for you when you are baby sitting a youngster. Involving children in mind games keeps them better occupied than when passively watching a movie or reading a book. You have the opportunity to help increase the gray cells in their brains!!

  • Naughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe) – a very easy and absorbing game which two players can play. You need a paper and pen/pencil to draw two parallel lines and another two parallel lines crossing the earlier two – making a 3X3 grid. One player marks X (cross) in the grids and the other marks an O (naught). The player who chooses to mark X goes first. The aim of each person is to make a set of X's or Os that form a straight line. Naturally, each player tries to stop the other from making three O's or X's in a straight line by strategically placing his X or O.
Naughts and Crosses
Credit: copyrighted Aruna V
  • Join the dots game- Two, 3 or 4 persons may play this game. A grid of 10x10, 20x20 or 30x30 or of any number of dots is made. Then, each player, in his turn, joins two dots. The person who completes a square by joining four dots owns the square by writing his initial inside it. If the player has completed a box , he gets to play again. He continues playing till his last join does not create a box. The player with the maximum number of squares to his credit wins the game.
Join the Dots
Credit: Copyright Aruna V

Hangman -This game can be played between any number of individuals. It is a guessing game. A word, name of a movie, name of a book, or a phrase is written out as blanks with only a few alphabets filled in by one of the players and the other player has 13 chances to guess the word. For each wrong guess , the first player who wrote out the word ,will start drawing a stick figure- head (circle) , one eye , another eye , nose , mouth , body , one hand , another hand , one leg , another leg , the noose(an inverted L from the head) the pole and the floor. This gives 13 chances to the second player to guess the word/phrase/title before he is “hung”. The rule here is that a player can guess if a particular alphabet exists and if it does, the first player will have to fill in all blanks that use that alphabet

Credit: copyright Aruna V
  • Name, place, animal and thing- An amazing game for children which improves their general knowledge. This game is ideally suited for a small group. Each player needs a pencil and paper. Four columns are drawn with the headings “Name”, ‘Place”, “Animal”, “Thing”. Each player is given the option to start saying the alphabets in his mind and when asked to stop, the alphabet at which he stops is selected. The payers will write out a name of a person, a place, an animal and name of an item starting with the selected alphabet. This is done within a fixed time and the answers are compared. For all unique answers the player is scored 40 (10 for each correct answer), if two players have a similar answer, the score is halved. The player with the highest score at the end of the game is the winner.
  • 20 questions or Who am I? - This game can be played between two people. One of the players thinks of a person, place or thing. The other player has to guess what he has in his mind by asking a maximum of twenty questions. The only answer the first player can give is a “Yes” or “No”. Through this game, the child learns how best to utilize the limited chances he has by analyzing the answers and planning future questions intelligently.
  • Antakshari- Antakshari is a Hindi word –“anth” (end) and “akshar” (alphabet), literally meaning “last alphabet”. This is a game of singing wherein each team sings songs. One team starts a song and stops when the chairperson asks them to. The syllable/alphabet at which they have stopped becomes the starting syllable/alphabet for the next team to start a song with. It is a very entertaining way of keeping youngsters occupied when on journeys , at picnics , and at parties.
  • Puzzles – Before embarking on a long car journey or planning a picnic with youngsters you can read up some puzzles or buy a puzzle book, or download numerous puzzles online. Sharing these with children can be a lot of fun. Apart from the fun factor, it gives us a chance to train children to think out of the box.
  • Jest a minute – also called JAM, this is a very challenging game in which a player is given a topic and he has to speak continuously on it for exactly one minute. Certain rules apply. The speaker should not stammer, should not repeat any word or phrase and must not pause. At the same time he has to speak on the given topic and must stick to it as far as possible. The speaker who speaks humorously and imaginatively is given higher points.
  • Dumb Charades – this is a very entertaining guessing game based on pantomime. One person picks up the name of a movie/book and tries to convey the name to the other player without speaking, but with actions. Watching the actions, the players from the other team try and guess the name of the movie/book. There are some standard hints on what actions can be used. For example if the player wishes to convey the word “Monopoly”, he can show one finger which means what has to be guessed has only a single word. He can then hold his arm outstretched and use his other hand to show two partitions in the extended arm .This means he intends break down the second word into two syllables (“mono”,”polly”) – and act them out. He will then show the first part of his arm and act out “mono” and so on.
  • Book Cricket – A form of cricket where two players pick a book and take turns to flip the page open. The number on the right hand side of the book is picked and added. If the number adds to 4 or 6, the player gets to play again. If the number when added gives a result of more than two digits, it is added again. E.g. page 94=9+4=13, 13=3+1=4, which is 4 runs. A particular number (usually 7, 8, 9 or 0) is selected as “out” and when that number is the result, the player is voted “out”. This is a very good game for helping children add numbers quickly.