FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Recommended thinking games new on the market:
FOR PRESCHOOL TO EARLY ELEMENTARY:
Disney’s Mulan Animated StoryBook ($35, Disney): Fans of “Mulan” (ages 5 to 9) will have fun while using critical thinking skills to search for the magic scrolls that tell her story. Additional challenges include using strategy to acquire supplies, learning to play mah-jongg and using logic to “Wake Up the Ancestors.”
Scholastic’s Magic School Bus series: Aimed at ages 6 to 10, the games get more affordable this fall as Microsoft bundles the CD-ROMs two to a package for $39.95 each--almost half-price. Best bundle bet: Volume 2, which includes “The Magic School Bus Explores the Rain Forest,” in which kids have to capture bits of the rain forest for a class project and “The Magic School Bus Explores the Ocean,” in which they solve clues to find the sunken treasure.
FOR LATE ELEMENTARY
The Un-Encyclopedia Adventure Series ($54.95, V-Tech Soft Inc.): The Irvine-based company, known for its V-Tech electronic toys, expands into the educational software market this fall. This six-CD set, geared to ages 7 and up, challenges children to make their own decisions as they design airplanes, cook quartz and manage the Earth’s baseball team as a way of teaching the differences between the planets (1-800-742-1050 or https://www.vtechsoft.com ) .
Star Wars DroidWorks (Lucas Learning, $39.95): Designed for ages 10 to 12, George Lucas’ first home-learning program will challenge “Star Wars” fans to build their own robots according to the specifications needed to accomplish a variety of missions.
FOR THE OLDER SET
Strategy Heads (Theatrix, $29.99): Designed for middle-schoolers ages 10 to 14, in which kids design their own characters and unravel mystery clues while identifying patterns and recognizing spatial relationships (1-800-955-TRIX or https://www.theatrix.com ) .
The Amazon Trail 3rd Edition ($29.95) and The Oregon Trail 3rd Edition ($49.95): Updates of quality thinking programs from the Learning Company. Both games encourage kids to make a series of decisions about journeys and show the consequences of those choices.