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HOUSTON—This Christmas many parents are looking for toys and games for their kids that develop brain power during play time. We have found five fun games and toys, all under $20, all aimed at building up the brain. They also provide great quality time for parents to bond more with their children.

The “3D White House Puzzle” lets you and your kids build a replica of the White House that is incredibly detailed.  The puzzle even includes lights.  When you are done, your completed puzzle will be a worthy display. You’ll also need two size AA batteries. The 3 D White House puzzle costs $19.95. It is well documented that working on puzzles sharpens brains.

The game “Brain Box-The World” is a memory builder. You pull a card and look at it for 10 seconds.  The card has all kinds of images on it. Then you turn it over and answer rapid-fire questions about what you saw. Whoever remembers the most gets to collect the memory cards. The one with the most cards wins the game. Brain Box costs $19.

“Call It” is a game that develops quick thinking. Players flip cards, match a symbol with an opponent and try to be the first to call out a word that was on their opponent’s card. This game was recently named one of the “Best Children’s Products for 2010.”  “Call It” is nine dollars. It was invented by actress Daryl Hannah.

A new twist on Tic Tac Toe is called Tic Tac Two. It has a grid that moves. It’s $9.99. The object of the game is to get three in a row while dealing with a board that can change.  This game is a great strategy builder.

Paper robots called “Muscle Joe Piperoid” have been all the rage in Japan and now they have come to the U.S. They require no glue, staples or tape, just scissors.  In 30 minutes you and your child will have a paper robot warrior with movable joints.  Older kids can handle the project alone but those younger than teenagers will need a parent’s help.  Muscle Joe promotes dexterity and visual perception.


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