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Even straightforward games can require creative thinking that goes beyond just punching the right button. In the classic math program Zoombinis Logical Journey (the Learning Company; ages 8and older; $25), a tribe of critters must wind their way through a labyrinth of nine different puzzles, each based on a different principle. Another excellent math game, Math Arena (Sunburst Communications Inc.; ages 8 to 12; $30), tests geometry by getting kids to tinker with fly-swatting angles and arrange quilt squares in a symmetrical pattern.
Young children can benefit from math software too, as long as parents are sitting alongside to answer questions and serve as sounding boards. Then again, Healy says, "if you have that much time, why aren't you doing something concrete that uses math, like categorizing bugs or cooking?"