Tag Archives: puzzle

Games for One

Our mission here at Parents@Play is to bring you toys and games that parents and kids will enjoy doing together. But all of us need some me-time now and then. So what do you do when you’re home alone and want a fun way to unwind, or when you’re in the car and your child wants to play? Well, here are four engaging, entertaining, and mind-stretching games for solo players. Oh, and none of them are electronic in any way.

 

Clue Master (ThinkFun)

clue master, thinkfun
Your dog Tippy wants to go home. But the only way there is through a secret door that can be unlocked only by arranging his treasures (three sets of bones, three tennis balls, and three dog bowls) in a unique grid pattern. It’s a little like Sudoku, except that you’re using symbols instead of numbers. There are 40 challenges, each with several clues of patterns that will have to show up somewhere in the completed puzzle (for example, a blue bowl has to be to the left of a green ball, or the red bones have to be diagonally attached to something blue and something green). From there, you’ll use your deductive reasoning skills (if this goes here, then that must go there…) to determine where the rest of the pieces go. Challenges range from beginner level to expert, so there will always be a challenge. Clue Master is especially nice for road trips since the pieces are magnetic. Plus, it has a Minecraft-y look that kids will love. For ages 8 and up. Under $23. http://www.thinkfun.com/

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Sometimes You Just Want to Be Alone. Or Not.

Although our focus here at Parents@Play is on games, toys, and activities families can do together, we all have days when we just want to be alone. That’s especially true during the Holidays, which are prime time for stress and family tension. This week, we take a look at four excellent games from ThinkFun (http://thinkfun.com). All of them are challenging, relaxing, and can be (or are intended to be) played by one player.

thinkfun amazeAmaze
Amaze is almost Zen-like in its simplicity. No batteries, no parts to lose, just a tablet with an attached stylus. And the goal is simple too: trace your way from Start to Finish without lifting the stylus from the surface. There are 16 different mazes to choose from and we recommend that you go through them in order, from easiest to hardest. What makes Amaze different from ordinary maze games, is that you can rearrange the maze itself as you go. But you’re not just making holes in walls. Creating one opening closes off others, so instead of taking a short cut, you could end up boxing yourself in. For ages 8 and up.

thinkfun knot so fastKnot so Fast
On each of the 40 challenge cards, there’s an illustration of a knot. Some are made from one piece of rope, other require two. Pick a card and all you have to do is use your rope to re-create what’s on the card. And by “all you have to do,” we mean “Good luck with that.” The knots are, thankfully, divided into beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert categories. But even the beginner knots are quite challenging. There’s also a bit of trivia about the origin of each knot and what it’s used for. This is a fantastic way to brush up on your fine motor- and spatial reasoning skills, whether you’ve used them recently or not. For 1-4 very patient players, ages 8 and up.

thinkfun gravity mazeGravity Maze
This is another engaging, meditative/frustrating (in a good way) “all-you-have-to-do-is” game. In this case, you’re building mazes out of color-coded towers of different sizes with the goal of carrying a marble from top to bottom. Cards (again, thankfully, in four levels) tell you where to put a few of the towers on the game grid, and give you hints as to which colors you’ll need to add to complete the marble run. But it’s up to you to figure out how all the pieces fit together. Comes with three marbles and 60 challenges. You simply provide logic, spatial awareness, and serenity. For one player, but you could certainly add a timer and compete head to head with one or more others. For ages 8 and up.

thinkfun visual brainstormsVisual Brainstorms
The 100 brain teasers included in this game will keep you captivated, entertained, amused, relaxed, and challenged for hours and hours. On one side of each card there’s an illustration and an explanation of a particular problem. On the other side—which you’ll need to restrain yourself from looking at—is the solution. There are logic puzzles (five guys run out of mine, A is not in the front, B is two behind C, D is neither here nor there, etc.), spatial puzzles (looking at a bunch of gears and pulleys, if you turn the first one clockwise, what direction will the last one turn?), and many more. For pretty much any number of players ages 10 and up.

 

 

Piecing Together Memories

Puzzles are a battle-tested, fun, and often educational way for families to spend time together. This week we review a series of traditional puzzles, one that combines elements of a puzzle and a Rubik’s Cube, and one that tells a story as it’s put together. While they’re all very different, they share a trait that’s an essential part of the Parents@Play mission: They’re a wonderful way for dads and moms to spend time with their kids—boys and girls. Oh, and did we mention that they’re fun?

Pieces of History Puzzles (Find It Games)
Pieces of history puzzle from Find It GamesIf you haven’t seen them, we recommend that you check out some Find-It games, an assortment of transparent canisters containing objects hidden in a sea of plastic pellets (they’re a lot cooler than they sound). Now, the folks at Find It have gone old-school and introduced the “Pieces of History” series of traditional puzzles, which include Pharaoh’s Egypt, Parade of Animals, and Dry Ground. Each has 300 pieces, and within the final image you can search for “hidden” objects that are also found in the border of the puzzle. In Pharaoh’s Egypt, for example, you’ll discover a leopard in a tree, a blue hippo in a market basket, and 38 more hidden objects and animals. Played together, these puzzles can spark wonderful conversations about history, geography, and discovery. Ages 6+. www.finditgames.com

Codee Scorpion (Techno Source)
codee scorpion from techno sourceOkay, take a look at the scorpion. Pretty hard to believe that it’s made from a single strand of 64 small blocks. But it is. Every Codee kit (in addition to the scorpion, there’s a penguin, pig, flamingo, gator, and others) comes with detailed instructions on how to twist, cajole, rotate, and prod the blocks into submission. Assembling it takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and even more patience, since each block has to be turned in exactly the right way. But it’s a ton of fun. The one drawback is that Codee isn’t really something you can do with a child–except to help with the explanations (although when I was giving it a try on my own, my 9-year old stood over my shoulder correcting my every move). The solution is to get two of them and race or build something unique. You can also connect two or more Codees to create bigger and more complicated works. Ages 8 and up. www.technosourceusa.com

The City of New York time puzzle (4D Cityscape)
New York puzzle from 4D CityscapeThis is an absolutely masterful puzzle. You start off by putting together the 500+ piece 2D puzzle of the island of Manhattan. Once that’s done–it’s going to take a while–you add the 3D element by inserting over 100 plastic models of actual New York buildings into the 2D puzzle (which, by the way, features glow-in-the-dark streets). Now the 4D part comes in. The buildings range from ones that would have dominated the skyline as far back as 1812 and move forward through time all the way to 2013, when the Freedom Tower (which will replace the World Trade Centers) will be completed. The box itself includes a poster with a brief history of the city peppered with fascinating trivia. An online education feature adds even more education—and entertainment—to the mix. Thirteen other 4D puzzles include London, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Paris, Chicago, and the entire US. An absolute blast for patient dads and kids 9 and up. www.4dcityscape.com