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7 brain-building video games

You don't need to tell your child, but video games can be educational and entertaining. Our tech expert chooses this year's best that get kids moving and thinking.

By Christina Tynan-Wood

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Once Upon a Monster

Ages: 4-8

This is Sesame Street like it never was when we were kids. Instead of parking it on the couch and sitting while Elmo and his buddies have all the fun, Once Upon a Monster (Xbox 360 Kinect) invites your tot to stand up and move, which we know is good for the body and brain. Your child isn't watching TV, he's playing: Jumping, swinging his arms, strumming virtual instruments, dancing, and helping an endearing group of monsters do everything from get dressed to run through the forest, throw a birthday party, and more. Elmo can’t go it alone! He needs your child to keep the action moving. And you can drop in to play along whenever you like. After a half hour romping with this high-energy, educational Muppet team, your child will need a nap.

Bottom Line: TV is so sedentary. Get kids up off the couch and engaged in this story featuring Elmo and Cookie Monster as they tour a book about monsters.

Christina Tynan-Wood has written for Better Homes and Gardens, Popular Science, PC World, PC Magazine, InfoWorld, and many others. She currently writes the "Family Tech" column in Family Circle and blogs at

Comments from readers

"Any comments on trend of anti-social kids and gaming surge? "
"THANK you for this very timely list of educational vidoe games! I woul dlove ot see more on math and reading for elementary age students. Is there a longer list that we can reference? "