Do you have a child that watches Sesame Street? If you do, you’ve probably watched them respond to questions or commands from their favorite characters. Children naturally want to interact with what they see on screen, but the depth of that interaction has always had strict limitations–until now. Enter the Xbox Kinect, Microsoft’s answer to breaking down the fourth wall of children’s entertainment.

The Xbox Kinect itself isn’t new–the console is already a popular household gaming system–but the focus on children’s education and entertainment is. The Kinect offers a unique opportunity for the pre-K set because it doesn’t require the use of controllers that young children often have trouble utilizing. Kinect also uses a camera to display players on screen, letting children actually see themselves in the middle of the action.

Microsoft calls the initiative “playful learning” and will be partnering with Sesame Street and National Geographic to create educational and interactive games for children. Check out the video below to see the system in action!

One of the most interesting applications of the “playful learning” initiative might be Project Columbia–a program geared toward boosting literacy through game play. As the video below states, “The single statistic that correlates most closely with future success in life is the age at which you become comfortably literate.” Spark is already aware of the importance of early childhood literacy, which is why we support successful programs like Ready Freddy. We hope that Project Columbia will bring literacy to living rooms all over the nation. We know that the more fun children have the more interested they are in learning and these games certainly look like fun! Watch the video below to see more!