Thinking Skills Club Games Make Great Stocking Stuffers

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The Thinking Skills Club is a kids gaming site with games that improve cognitive skills. Members can track progress through the six sections of the site, building a Brain Puzzle as they go. At only $16 for a six-month membership, it's a perfect stocking stuffer for pint-sized gamers.

Ping Pong helps develop sustained attention.

Ping Pong helps develop sustained attention.

I like that it's challenging.

Andy is very intent on her screen. Bit by bit, she's moving a puffball creature up a purple tower from ledge to ledge, trying to avoid slimy monsters and angry bulls until she gets to the top. "Oh no, he fell off again." Asked why she likes the game, Dream Tower, so much, she replies brightly, "I like that it's challenging."

This combination of fun and challenge is typical of the games on the Thinking Skills Club website. The website is different from other gaming sites in that the games all help develop different cognitive skills, including executive function, memory, attention, problem solving, processing speed and even social skills, such as empathy or cooperation.

Membership on the site lets a child keep track of their progress by building a Brain Puzzle that grows as they beat each game. "The brain puzzle is motivating and it provides structure," says site founder Mitch Moldofsky. "It makes the kids play all sorts of games, not just the ones they do best."

At $16.00 for a six month membership or $40 for a family with 3 or more kids, the price is right for filling those stockings. The price is kept low, says Moldofsky, to put it within reach of most families, and the six month time frame sends the message that this is a site to come back to over and over to win brain pieces. "The games aren't easy," he says, "but that's what makes them so effective. The more time spent on a game, the greater the benefit."

Thinking Skills Club is essentially two websites, one for kids and one for their parents or educators. The "grown ups" side, spells out why each game was selected and provides links to the relevant sources. The game Up Beat!, for instance, in the Visual and Audio Processing section, was chosen because it can help improve the speed at which a child can identify visual cues and relate them to an audio stimulus, such as a musical beat. Research shows that these skills help improve reading speed and comprehension in children who are slow readers but don't have trouble identifying or parsing sounds. Another game, Ping Pong, can help address attention deficits as a child plays against the computer, building up both patience and focus.

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