24 cool things-to-do that work your brain at any age

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.
— Michael Jordan

Fun is ambiguous don’t you think?  One person’s fun is another person’s special agony (I’ve heard there are people who really enjoy cleaning the oven—never met one, just heard), but most of us find that there’s nothing quite as fun as giving our brain a workout. And brains get a workout when we’re doing anything that's physically, intellectually or emotionally challenging.

So here's a collection of things-to-do that work your brain at any age—with links to books to cement, inspire and connect that wonderful work.

1. Climb a tree—and read a book in its branches. The Promise

2. Try out an instrument—recorder, harmonica, drums, guitar, violin. Playing From the Heart

3. Catch a ball—learn to juggle or toss a football. Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten

4. Do a puzzle—sudoko, jigsaw, find-a-word, make something new. Imagine a Night

5. Talk about your birth—the actual day or one of your birthdays. Hello Baby

6. Swim—dive, hold your breath, backfloat. The Pig in the Pond

7. Come up with a personal list of human rights—the things you really feel strongly about. 5 books to connect us all

8. Write a letter to a politician—about one of your human rights perhaps. Dreams of Freedom

9. Talk about peacemakers—especially if you're having trouble being one yourself. Peaceful Heroes

10. Draw—fingerprint art, pencil, paint, stick and dirt. I Am Henry Finch

11. Write something—spoonerisms, limericks, prose. Rip The Page

12. Do some maths—cooking, budgeting, play with circumferences. Spaghetti and Meatballs for All

13. Play board games—or card games, monopoly if you’re brave. Timeline

14. Take a photo—make something everyday extraordinary. A Cool Drink of Water

15. Make a gift—for someone who might be overlooked. Sophie's Masterpiece

16. Grow something—herbs, veggies, crystals. The Gardener

17. Sing—an old favourite, opera, nursery rhymes. We're Going on a Bear Hunt

18. Find a family member older than you and extract a story—about their childhood, their marriage, their career, their travels. The Matchbox Diary

19. Learn about extraordinary lives happening now—refugees, inventors, artists, politicians. Flight

20. Visit a gallery—modern art, private exhibit, a museum. The Museum

21. Cook for someone who needs it—a neighbour, someone who is sick, or sad, the homeless. Space Travellers

22. Tell a joke—or a riddle or a funny story. 8 rib-tickling picture books

23. Build something—a tower, lego, a pizza oven. Up, Up and Away

24. Challenge your world view—how you live, how you think. It's Useful to Have a Duck and Peggy

And most of all, tell stories! Stories help to solidify and cement the workout we’ve given our brains. They’re like a rest day for a weight lifter and they give us ideas for our next workout, rather like a personal trainer. They connect us to generations gone before and to the possibilities that are to come.