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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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Kinect Sports Ultimate

Ages: Elementary through high school

“We can go skiing as soon as your finish your homework!” That’s the sort of bribe you can use at your house — on Tuesday even if the slopes are hours away — if someone finds the Kinect Sports Ultimate (Xbox 360 Kinect) under the tree. Bored with skiing? Play some darts, a few tennis matches, or a round of golf. You can even tackle a real physical challenge like football or baseball. It’s possible that exposing your kids to these "virtual" games that are fun, challenging, and even physically exhausting, might inspire them to take up the real thing. They probably won't perfect their backhand by playing Kinect tennis or develop the stamina they’ll need for football, but they'll certainly learn to keep score and learn the terminology and rules of each game. For a reluctant middle schooler, that might be enough to get them out on the court, slope, or green to give it a try And it makes for a great family game night — even if some of the family is in another town, because you can play opponents over Xbox Live.

Bottom line: If you own an Xbox 360 and the Kinect add on, this game makes for great family fun. It might even encourage a non-athlete to take up a sport. 

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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? "