• 7 Video Games You Can Say Yes to After School
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  • School's back in session, so it's time to pull the plug on your kids' video games, right? Not so fast, Mom and Dad. To the great relief of kids everywhere, it turns out video games and school are not incompatible. 

    New studies on the effects that playing games has on kids indicate positive benefits for learning, thinking, social-emotional skills building, and, yes, even school performance.

    Games provide new ways to engage with various subjects, whether it's learning about math through an air-traffic-control simulator or practicing musical timing with a dance app. So the next time you see your kid playing a strategy or music game, know that he or she may actually be learning history or working on physical fitness. Below, we have recommendations of apps and games to support every subject on your elementary student's schedule.

    Math

    Math Blaster Online, 7+

    Do your little ones need help with equations? Math Blaster Online gives them plenty of practice as they join the Blaster Academy to save the universe using their math skills. It also lets your kids team up with other players to solve problems together in a safe, socially positive online environment.

    Science

    Lifeboat to Mars, 8+

    Young scientists can experiment with creating a brand-new ecosystem on Mars to help support terrestrial life on Earth. Players can choose to work on microbes or on animal and plant missions to accomplish the task of terraforming the red planet. Even cooler, once they've finished a few missions, players can design their own missions for other players to try.

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    Language Arts

    My Reading Tutor, 5+

    My Reading Tutor builds on the basics of early reading skills to help strengthen kids' literacy. Phonics, letter sounds, and more are presented in a fun, engaging manner, and kids can even record their voices as they read stories. Parents can track their children's progress in the reading tasks to see how well they're doing and what they need help on.

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    Music

    Just Dance: Disney Party, 5+

    You don't have to be a fan of Disney classics such as "It's a Small World" to love Just Dance: Disney Party. Players imitate characters on-screen that are dancing to hit songs from Disney movies and TV shows. The completely contagious game teaches how movement and music work together in a fun, social environment.

    Art

    Art Academy, 8+

    Art Academy is more than a video game -- it's a fun art tutorial. The game walks you through the basics of drawing, shading, and other skills so you can apply them to real-life creations.

    PE

    Zumba Kids, 6+

    Want to get your little ones' blood flowing? Zumba Kids takes kid-friendly songs from pop artists and lets them perform 30 routines in a wide variety of dance genres. Plus, they get to imitate the kids dancing on-screen, who provide lots of positive reinforcement through each song.

    Social Skills

    Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, 6+

    Parents who want to make sure their kids learn about friendship, generosity, and other positive life skills should look no further than Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster. An interactive experience wherein players engage with characters from the show, the game teaches as it lets kids play active roles in stories and participate in entertaining games.

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    Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out its ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org and sign up for its newsletter to read more articles like this.

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