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Activity 1 for School-Age children: Guessing Games

Kid SpyPlay Attention improves the cognitive skills that lay the foundation for strong Executive Functioning, but many of our clients would like to know other activities they can do outside of their Play Attention sessions to improve cognitive skills even more.  In the coming weeks, we'll be giving specific examples of such activities divided into age category.  This week, we're going to talk about school-age children:

 

Activity 1 for School-Age children: Guessing Games
Areas developed: Working Memory

 

Any family who has ever taken a road trip together with kids in the car has probably played a variation of the "I Spy" game, wherein the "Spy" calls out a single characteristic of an object they can see. The other participants have to then try and identify what that object is based on that very limited description. 

"I spy something green!", one child might say, to which the others might respond with guesses like:

"Grass!" 
"That road sign!"
"Mom's shirt!"

This might seem like a fun but ultimately pointless exercise, but it's excellent at developing working memory.  A chief component of working memory is absorbing a piece or pieces of data, and then holding that information in memory long enough and accurately enough to do calculations with it.  In this case, once given the initial piece of data, (the object is green), each participant is keeping that specific criterion in mind while moving their attention from object to object.  When their eyes rest on a target, they absorb the details of that target and compare that information to the aforementioned criterion.  This is the "calculation" part, and it happens over and over again in rapid succession until an appropriate target is located, and the participant verbalizes their assessment.

Seems like a complicated way to explain a simple task, I know.  But that's exactly how working memory operates.  And along those lines, this same game can increase in complexity to further strengthen working memory simply by adding more pieces of data into the mix.

"I spy something orange, and round!"

"The sun!"
"One of those pumpkins over there!"
"Dad's basketball!"

The more components that are added, the higher degree of working memory prowess is required.  So keep this fun but definitely NOT pointless game in mind on your next family trip.  You might find what you previously considered a way to keep the kids from driving you nuts, is actually a fantastic learning tool!