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14 Brain Games That Will Help You Get Smarter During Self-Quarantine

There's no excuse to let your mind atrophy while self-isolating with these no-brainer exercises.

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Keeping your mind active in isolation

Only a week or so into self-quarantine, you may have already started to notice how a shift in your daily routine (hello, working from home in jammies) or responsibilities (home-schooling, caregiving, and cooking) is negatively impacting your drive, focus, memory, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Rather than succumb to mindless hours spent in front of the television during the coronavirus pandemic, carve out time each day to stimulate your mind. Get started with these 71 brain games guaranteed to boost your brain power. Then graduate to this list of brain games that will help maintain the critical thinking skills, strategy, and innovation you’ve honed throughout your career and lifetime—when this global outbreak is behind us, your sharp mind will put you ahead of the curve.

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Edison Deck


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Whether you’re looking to boost your idea-generation skills or not lose your current skills during your time at home, the Edison Deck can help. No complicated instructions here: Simply pick one of the 150 prompt cards and come up with at least ten ideas. By solving problems, thinking laterally and innovating ideas, you’ll stay sharp as a tack. Who knows? You may even come up with a brilliant side hustle, write that book you’ve been talking about for years, or have some other life-changing revelation in the process. Like Thomas Edison said, “Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”

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Solitaire Chess


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Stuck at home by yourself? Use your alone time to develop such crucial life skills as logical deduction, spatial reasoning, and critical thinking with a solo chess game that offers 80 challenges for beginners and experts alike. This set comes with a board, ten chess pieces (a king, queen, and two knights, rooks, pawns, and bishops) and clear instructions so you can start playing right away. Your mission, should you choose to accept it? To have only one piece left. Try your hand at solving these 20 brain teasing puzzles.

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Escape Room in a Box


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Do you love gathering clues and solving mysteries? Since you can’t visit a real escape room right now—and, let’s face it, you can’t escape your own home either—it’s a great time to explore Escape Room in a Box. If you have a large family or roommates, the more the merrier, as each person will undoubtedly bring an important perspective to this intricate game. You’ll work together to solve 19 mental and physical puzzles before the mad scientist turns you into werewolves, all while the one-hour timer counts down. If you have Amazon Alexa, use it to enhance gameplay, track time, and add a spooky soundtrack to the fun. When you’re finished, try passing the time by asking Alexa to do any of these 15 hilarious things.




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Trying to squeeze in a game between your virtual meeting and your online class? You’ve only got 30 minutes in this fast-paced strategy game that’s perfect for the whole family. There’s just one rule, so it takes less than a minute to learn—but it takes many rounds to master the delicate balance of defense and offense you’ll need to win. In a nutshell: Stake your claim and protect your territory by fitting as many of your 21 pieces on the board as possible while also strategically blocking your opponents. Trust us: It’s not as easy as it looks to conquer this board. When you do have the time to play a longer classic, find out how to win Monopoly, according to experts.

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Brain Games


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Fans of National Geographic may have already tuned into the Emmy-nominated series Brain Games—the TV show explores visual perception, memory, skill learning, and decision making. Now’s your chance to play at home with a board game version that can be played solo or against a handful of opponents you’re sheltering in place with (ages 14 and up). You’ll be busy for hours thanks to the 192 challenge cards, broken out into four categories: logic, vision, language skills, and physical coordination.

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Mastermind is one of the best-selling games of all time and happens to teach STEM (science technology, engineering, and mathematics) principles like deductive reasoning and logic. This strategy-centric game pits a code maker (who sets a secret code and provides feedback) and a codebreaker (who tries to match the code) against one another in ten moves or less. You’ll switch roles between rounds, so each player will have a chance to experience both sides of the board.

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Silicon Valley Startups


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Love watching ABC’s Shark Tank? If you often find yourself scratching your head at the contestants’ absurd business ideas, then Silicon Valley Startups is your jam. By luck of the draw, you’ll receive an absurd startup company (you’ll draw various cards to discover the business name, industry, and target user) and then have to get creative to secure funding from an investor for it. You’ll need to pivot when a “hot trend” card is pulled and answer a curveball question, so it’s all about quick business thinking. Shark Tank‘s own Daymond Johnson even partnered with Silicon Valley Startups when the game was first introduced in late 2018. Be sure to read up on the 50 most successful Shark Tank products from the last decade, first.

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Logic Links


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It’s time to dust off those critical thinking skills with Logic Links, a game that helps enhance spatial learning and deductive reasoning skills. Each of the 166 cards uses a series of clues that instruct the player where to place colored chips to solve the puzzle. The game requires you to think in multiple directions (sideways, backward, right to left) as you read the clues and figure it out—you can play alone, but when playing with others, it’s fun to see how many puzzles you can complete in a set amount of time.




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Word games—like Scrabble or Words With Friends—are cognitive exercises, but having a set board doesn’t add much element of surprise. With Bananagrams, each player draws 21 lettered tiles and then races against each other to form their own sets of connecting and intersecting words with no board to confine their imagination. It’s fast-paced since you’re working on your own “board” and also helps expand vocabulary, especially if you brush up on these 30 little-known words that will help you win Scrabble.

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Challenge the way you think with the 20th-anniversary edition of MindTrap. This game is jam-packed with brainteasers and convoluted logic, categorized by riddles, conundrums, puzzles, and mysteries. There’s a reason over 3 million copies have sold worldwide. So grab your quarantine buddy (due to the content, it’s not recommended for children under 12) and start solving these cards. After all, family time is one of the 12 wonderful things that will never be canceled.




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Feeling a bit sluggish after seemingly endless days at home? Then you need the world’s fastest game, stat! Blink is a matching game, where you face off against your opponent to see who can discard like colors, shapes, and numbers the fastest. You’ll need fast hand-eye-coordination and quick-thinking skills to discard your pile first. Don’t blink, or it’ll be over before you know it!

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Wrebbit 3D Puzzle


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Just because foreign travel is currently off the table, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the world’s most iconic architecture while sitting at your own kitchen table. A 950-piece 3D puzzle of the Taj Mahal will help you appreciate the intricacies of India’s 17th century shimmering ivory-white marble mausoleum almost as much as if you’d built the real version yourself. Plus, it helps with visual-spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills. Once you’ve mastered this bad boy, move on to 14 of the most challenging jigsaw puzzles you can buy.

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The 125 Best Brain Teasers of All Time


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Think you can solve 125 brain teasers written by a professor of puzzles at Victoria College of the University of Toronto? It’s time to find out. These brain teasers will help develop your problem-solving skills in math, logic, and wordplay. They build momentum as you move through the book, increasing in difficulty as your skills improve. Curl up on the couch and ponder them solo or invite anyone else in your household to play along. As a warm-up, see if you can answer these 25 hardest riddles of all time.

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Self-quarantine will give couples plenty of time to canoodle, but what about singles? Luckily, there’s Kanoodle, a 14-piece brain-twisting solitaire game that includes 12 puzzle pieces and 200 challenges covering problem-solving, critical thinking, and strategic thinking skills. The tricky 2D puzzles and twisted 3D pyramids are fun for adults and kids ages 7 and up—there are hundreds of possible combinations, but only one correct answer. Next, find out more things you can do when it seems like your whole life has been canceled in the wake of coronavirus.

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Jill Schildhouse
Jill Schildhouse is an award-winning writer based in Phoenix who regularly covers travel, health and wellness, personal finance and e-commerce. Her bylines have appeared in Reader's Digest, The Healthy, Oxygen, AAA, Brides, Vegetarian Times, and Phoenix Home & Garden magazines, among others. She earned a BA in corporate communications from Northern Illinois University. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin