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by Lauren Rush

Related: games, video games, Nintendo, Wii, Play Station, board games, LEGO's, arts and crafts, Crayola ,

   Outside it’s cold, and weather conditions can make a trip to movies, the library, or a friend’s house hazardous. But no worries…All those electronic gifts your kids might have gotten for the holidays will come in handy on snowy days. Here are some options – from high tech to board games to crafts – to get housebound families through the winter doldrums.

Digital Fun

Parents can begin their search at www.touchgenerations.com, a website that shows the many multigenerational games offered by Nintendo’s Touch Generations for both the handheld Nintendo DS and the Wii home video console. Mystery Case Files: Million Heir is one. It’s a DS game that is part mystery, part seek-and-solve adventure. There are several difficulty settings and a multiplayer mode. Other DS games include Nintendogs, Crossword DS, Brain Age, Flash Focus, Big Brain Academy, Tetris DS, and more.If you just got Wii, you can have some real physical fun.With the motion controllers, the whole family can get up and play the Wii Sports collection of games, from baseball to golf, bowling, tennis and skiing.Or you can turn your den into a gym with Wii Fit, which offers over 40 activities and exercises, including strength training, aerobics, yoga, and games. Wii Music lets your rock star wannabes feel like they are playing real instruments in Guitar Hero or Rock Band. Wii Dancing With the Stars teaches all the classic ballroom dances.LittleBigPlanet is the award-winning platform adventure for the Playstation 3. In the game, a villain is robbing the world of its dreams, and players control the hero who travels through a wild variety of stages in pursuit of the bad guy. When a given level is completed, this interactive project can be shared with the LittleBigPlanet community through the PlayStation network.

Remember: when purchasing games, always check the ESRB rating to be sure the game is age-appropriate for the intended users.

Old-Time Classics

For traditional games,www.Hasbro.com can provide you with lots of choices. Hasbro is the parent company of Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers, makers of the games that most parents will recognize from their childhood. The website is a good tool to help narrow down your choices, before you go shopping for a new game. On the site, games are sorted by age and type, with everything from Barrel of Monkeys (for ages 3-7), to Are You Smarter than a 5th-Grader Board Game (ages 8 and up), to several versions of the strategy games Axis and Allies and Risk (ages 12 and up). There are also classics, like Clue, Yahtzee, Parcheesi, Monopoly and Scrabble.

Another option for indoor entertainment is LEGO building blocks. There are sets for babies to teenagers, all with the goal of encouraging creativity and learning. From developing dexterity to enhancing problem-solving skills, each basic set or specialized kit offers hours of enjoyment. Some of the new products introduced this year are additional racers in the Cars and Trucks line, DUPLO® Castle models, additional LEGO King’s Castle models, and TECHNIC models and trains.

Simple arts and crafts can also keep children occupied, with some adult supervision. Some ideas: A plastic berry basket can become a functional work of art, once it is washed and dried. Children can decorate the basket by threading ribbon through the plastic slats, or gluing on buttons or stickers. Once it is finished, the basket can be used as an organizer.Another easy project is for children to use colored pencils to draw a variety of hands on white paper.They can trace around their fingers, if they want to be realistic, and use Crayola Multicultural Crayons to match their skin color. Then, they can design some other hands using their imagination. For instance, what would alien hands look like? When they are done, they have artwork that is a study in diversity. For more craft ideas, visitwww.crayola.com, www.mycraftbook.com, andwww.freekidscrafts.com.  


LAUREN RUSH is a freelance writer and editor living in Westchester with her husband and four children.She has written articles on health, education, parenting, and business for various magazines.

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