On a whim, I bought a $1 collapsible brush-mirror for my kids the other day. My son-who proudly has not brushed his hair in nearly eight years-picked up the brush and instantly transformed into a hairstylist extraordinaire. As of yesterday, he has styled my hair a dozen times and asked if I wouldn't mind setting up a little hair salon in my bathroom and maybe posting some signs saying he's open for business.
You just never know what will inspire a kid (or an adult for that matter). There are many ways to stimulate the brain, see things differently and set forth the flow of ideas and creativity-regardless of their age. If you're looking for new inspiration, here are some brainy ideas that might surprise you:
Do the Switcheroo
Encourage people to switch hands while doing daily things, such as brushing their teeth or eating a sandwich. Something as simple as this is enough to get the brain waves flowing and could potentially spark a firestorm of creativity.
According to the Franklin Institute, a premier center for science learning research, program development and educational services, you can give your brain muscles a workout with this neural-building and strengthening exercise.
Try using the computer mouse, dialing a phone number or operating the remote control with your other hand. You'll feel awkward doing this, but that's a sign your brain is learning a new skill!
Challenge yourself and others to stimulate their brain by learning something new. Sign up for an art class, learn how to play chess or take some ballroom dance classes. The Franklin Institute says that sculpting is "an especially good way for children to grow new connections.
It helps develop agility and hand-brain coordination (like controlling the computer mouse with your opposite hand)." So plop some clay in front of the kids and let them craft away.
Neurobics was created by neurobiologist Lawrence Katz. These are brain exercises, puzzles, and teasers that ask you to use your five physical senses in some unexpected ways. New brain circuits are activated by using more than just one of your senses in ordinary tasks. Try getting dressed with your eyes closed.
Or having dinner with a no-talking rule and communicating with visual cues only. Once you've accomplished these tasks, try combining two senses. Smell a vase of flowers while listening to music, tap your fingers on a desk while listening to the rainfall or jump rope while staring up at the clouds.
Your brain is a muscle, so you need to give it steady workouts, by reading, playing games and starting new hobbies. Did you know that a cognitive psychologist in England found that when elderly people regularly played bingo, it helped minimize their memory loss and bolster their hand-eye coordination?
In fact, bingo seemed to help players of all ages maintain mental sharpness.
Stroll the Neighborhood
We all know that walking is good for the body, but did you know it's excellent for the brain, too? "Walking is especially good for your brain because it increases blood circulation and the oxygen and glucose that reach your brain," says the Franklin Institute.
"Walking is not strenuous, so your leg muscles don't take up extra oxygen and glucose like they do during other forms of exercise. As you walk, you effectively oxygenate your brain. Maybe this is why walking can 'clear your head' and help you to think better."