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10 Cool Thinking Games and Brain Toys

When it comes to toys, I confess that I like the ones that offer the most mileage. I like them to be appealing to look at, nice to play with, and educational. The toy design should also offer children room to grow alongside the toy so that they can be played with for years to come and not just for a few weeks or even months. I like toys that are open-ended, constructive, and creative so that children may choose how they wish to play with the toy rather than be limited by the toy’s indications.

Previously, I wrote about toys for the toy box which were mostly directed at the younger child. Now the my boys are older, I found some more interesting toys to engage the older child that fit my fussy requirements of a toy…

MindWare Imaginets

Combine your imagination and magnets and you’ll get Imaginets, a puzzle to help boost fine motor and visual thinking skills with brightly-colored magnetic blocks and 50 full-color design challenges, including animals, faces, vehicles, sports, structures and more. The magnetic board surface doubles as a dry-erase board, so kids can create a backdrop for their creations!

Age Recommendation: 3 years and up

Small World Learning Pattern Play

Pattern Play offers children an opportunity for artistic play with endless possibilities. It is a simple activity set using a plastic board, activity cards and 150 colorful plastic tiles and your child’s imagination. Children select an activity card, then use the plastic tiles to assemble a matching shape on the game board. They can also use their imaginations to create shapes and mosaics of their own, on the game board, the floor or a table top. With Pattern Play, children can learn to count, develop visual perception, color-matching, and motor skills.

Age Recommendation: 4 to 8 years

Elenco Snap Circuits Lights Physics Kit

  • Be amazed at what your music can do with the new Snap Circuits Lights
  • Enjoy your music as the lights change to the beat
  • Plus many more Snap Circuits projects
  • Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging
  • Another fun, educational product from the company that brings you Snap Circuits
  • Features: Infrared Detector, Strobe Light, Color Changing LED, Lighted and Glow-in-the-Dark Fans, Strobe integrated circuit (IC), Fiber Optic communication, Color organ controlled by iPod or other MP3 player, voice or finger.

Age Recommendation: 8 to 15 years

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Set

Challenge patterning and problem solving skills with this exciting set of gears, cranks, connectors, pillars, and interlocking plates! Includes over 80 pieces in one size for hundreds of 3 dimensional possibilities.

Age Recommendation: 3 to 10 years


Magna-Tiles® are fun and easy to use, whether creating designs on a flat surface or building in 3-D. Children develop math, science, spatial and tactile skills as they build basic shapes – cubes, pyramids, and other geometric shapes – through play. They are great for guided activities or hours of open-ended fun and exploration.

Age Recommendation: 3 years and up

Eitech Marble Run Construction Set

Learn about speed, gravity and movement with Eitech’s Marble Run Construction Set. Children and adults alike will love to play with Eitech’s durable and fun marble run, made with high quality steel. The bright, blue plastic track reaches nearly 16 feet of railway. You’ll love watching as the ball excitedly as it moves down the railway. Build 2 marble run models with over 1,100 steel parts that stand over 2 feet tall. Merely 2x AA batteries are required for the engine. This high-quality steel set is the next step in building, perfect for those who’ve already mastered Eitech’s basic sets. Learn different mechanical functions by building each model. Step by step illustrated instructions are included for easy to follow directions.

  • contains illustrated instructions for 2 marble runs
  • includes tools for easy building
  • expands play into gears, remote controls and motors
  • promotes creativity in more experienced builders

Age Recommendation: 8 to 15 years

Perplexus Maze Game

The Perplexus Original Maze Game is a clear sphere filled with multicolored pathways covering different areas of the sphere’s interior. A small metal ball rolls around on the inside, and the task is to guide that ball through the maze to its end. Moving through the different pathways is a wacky exercise in spatial reasoning and stimulates cognitive reasoning. The ball is moved along a track, requiring flips, twists, and spins in one way or another to keep the ball rolling all the way to the end.

Pick up the challenge by racing against a clock or against friends. The Perplexus Maze Game includes a super spiral, a tightrope, and a swing arm to form 3 different puzzles and 100 challenging barriers to discover and overcome.

Age Recommendation: 6 years and up


Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 is a unique system of colorful cubes that interlock to form a marble run. Create marble maze sculptures in the form of animals, geometric shapes or any other design! Configurations are unlimited, allowing for unpredictable action when steel balls travel the various routes. Q-Ba-Maze is a live demonstration of probability, physics and art, all in one!

Age Recommendation: 5 years and up

Keva Contraptions: Trebuchet

Build your own medieval siege engine from pre-drilled planks, a little glue and the help of easy, step-by-step “blueprint” instructions. Then let the fun and experimentation begin! What travels farther: a marshmallow or a piece of macaroni? Alter the counterweight to adjust the trebuchet’s hurl, and practice knocking down a field of target planks using the two included balls.

Age Recommendation: 7 years and up

See also:

Zoob Bot

ZOOBBot Moving Mind-Building Modeling System was designed for kids who love to build robots! Invent your own ZOOBBots with a pull-back motor and wheels that make the robot models roll. As the ZOOB-Bot lurches forward, the motion makes the eyes light up! Build one of four ZOOBBots from the instructions included or invent your own design. The ZOOBBot set includes 50 ZOOB pieces, 4 wheels, a pull-back motor and a replaceable battery for the light-up eyes. ‘

Age Recommendation: 6 years and up

See also: More from Zoob


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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