Take 5 to Flex: Fun Fresh Ways to Practice Mental Dexterity

posted on May 25 2020

by Taylor Ann Spencer, Program Manager

Have you ever left your computer feeling like your brain has turned to jello?

In a society where we are now forced to depend on screens for learning , work, and entertainment , it’s more important than ever to take breaks and stretch our minds so they don’t become mush.

In theater, mental dexterity (quick thinking and creative problem solving) is one of the keys to successful acting and improvisation. But the same skills that actors practice and the tools that they use to perfect their skills are valuable and helpful for all of us, regardless of our current careers or occupations.

Here are five fresh ways to flex your mental muscles in five minutes (or less!)

Card Memory

Divide a deck of cards in half so you are only working with two suits, then lay out the cards face down in rows. Turning over two cards at a time, see how fast you can pair up matching card values.

Circle In

Draw 20 small circles on a piece of notebook paper. Set a timer for 3 minutes, and fill in as many circles as you can with whatever images or patterns you want before time runs out.

A-Z Category Challenge

Letter the left-hand margin of a sheet of notebook paper from A to Z. Choose a category from the list below, set a timer for three minutes, and see if you can come up with an item that starts with each letter of the alphabet and fits in that given category.

Sample Categories: pop songs, countries of the world, zoo animals, movies, vegetables.


YOU are the expert! Choose a subject from the list below, set a timer for 1 minute, and record yourself listing off as many facts about the subject as you can. If you run out of real facts, make some up!

Expert Topics: toothpaste, brands of hot sauce, professional football, anime or comic book characters, board games, international food culture of your choice.

There’s a ---- in my house!

Tap a steady beat on a nearby desk or countertop. In rhythm, repeat the following phrase three times: “There’s a BLANK in my house!” Now, pick a word from the list below and use it to fill in the blank. Then, repeat the phrase, filling in the blank with a word that rhymes with that initial word. Continue in tempo, subbing in rhyming words until you can’t think of another rhyming word or have to break the tempo. Then pick another word from the list and try again!

Words to Start: hat, map, heart, run, foot.

We may be dependent on our screens for socialization, but that doesn’t mean we should allow those screens to gel our brains.

At mainstages, every virtual performance and program that we do includes interactive off-screen activities that encourage participants to interact with things and people in the real world around them.

Find out more about mainstages' Virtual Programs

Find out more about mainstages' Virtual Programs
Taylor Ann Spencer

posted on May 25 2020

by Taylor Ann Spencer

Taylor Ann is an NYC-based theater artist and children's theater director. After graduating from Hope College with a BFA in theater and creative writing, she toured with Missoula Children's Theatre for a year before moving to New York City. Taylor Ann was the Supervisor for mainstages Theater Camp Long Island in its' inaugural summer in 2018.