POPSUGAR Celebrity

8 Toys and Apps to Prevent Summer Brain Drain

Aug 5 2016 - 12:02pm

Studying may be the last thing on a tot's mind during Summer break, but there really is some truth behind the theory of Summer brain drain. During the break from school, kids lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in math and reading skills [1], but the slide is easy to stop. You don't need a stash of workbooks to keep kids' brains going, just a few toys and apps that disguise the learning behind some fun activities. Don't believe us? Click through to see 8 picks for kids from preschool through elementary school.


What it is: A free website designed to teach younger tots their letters and sounds, Starfall's [2] games are divided into four sections, starting with letter recognition and graduating to small books designed to develop fluency and comprehension.

What it teaches: Starfall was created to teach prereading skills through a series of fun games.

Who it's for: Ages 4+

Jumbo Bananagrams Word Board Game

What it is:The new, waterproof Jumbo Bananagrams Word Board Game [3] ($28) has tots race against each other to build a crossword puzzle using all of their letters as quickly as possible. Given the new game's size, it's great for picnics, the beach, and the backyard.

What it teaches: Bananagrams is great for building vocabulary and encouraging kids to practice their spelling.

Who it's for: Early readers on up — starting around age 5.

Professor Noggin's Presidents of the United States

What it is: Think of Professor Noggin's Presidents of the United States [4] ($13) as Trivia Pursuit in a card game. Each box comes with cards that combine trivia, true or false, and multiple choice questions to challenge tots (and their parents) about our nation's leaders.

What it teaches: Use the cards to help kids brush up on their history, and to get their brains moving.

Who it's for: Ages 7+

Smarty Pants Brain-Building Cards

What it is: Melissa and Doug's Smarty Pants Brain-Building Cards [5] ($11, originally $16) are grouped by grade and filled with 120 cards packed with age-appropriate trivia and puzzles.

What it teaches: Each pack is filled with math, vocabulary, and problem-solving questions.

Who it's for: Preschool through fifth grade

Math Bingo

What it is: Math Bingo [6] ($3) is a math skills app that asks kids to complete math equations. The answers to the equations are spread around the bingo board, and once they get five in a row, they win!

What it teaches: Basic math skills.

Who it's for: Ages 5+

Add-It-Up! Archery Set

What it is: Math is anything but boring when you're shooting a bow and arrow to pick the numbers in your equation. Lakeshore's Add-It-Up! Archery Set [7] ($60) has kids shoot the suction cup arrows to the target and then complete a math problem as they play.

What it teaches: Addition, subtraction, and it can even be used for multiplication with older kids.

Who it's for: Ages 6+


What it is: Budding engineers will love littleBits [8] ($100+), tiny circuit boards that snap together with magnets. Each board serves a specific function (light, sound, sensors, buttons, thresholds, pulse, motors, etc). Once they're snapped together they make larger circuits that turn, move, etc. No wiring or programming necessary.

What it teaches: Creativity, engineering, ingenuity

Who it's for: Ages 8+

Wipeout!: Vocabulary Game

What it is: A Summer-themed reading game, Wipeout!: Vocabulary Game [9] ($25) has players surf across the board as they complete sentences using the correct vocabulary.

What it teaches: Vocabulary

Who it's for: Ages 9+

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