A Vacation from Vacations

With all the camps, family trips, excursions, and non-stop activities, after a few weeks, summer vacation can sometimes start to feel like work. Here are some great ways to slow things down and get back to having some good, old-fashioned, low-pressure fun.

Math Dice Chase (Think Fun)

math diceThink Hot Potato, but with math facts. This game comes with two pairs of 12-sided dice and the goal is to pass your pair to your opponent before he or she does the same to you. The way you get rid of your dice is by rolling them, multiplying the two up-facing numbers, and calling out your answer. The speed factor and the element of competition make Math Dice Chase a fun, engaging way for kids (and adults) to master their multiplication tables. There are, of course, plenty of other ways to use the dice. You might, for example, roll one and have three players roll a die of their own and be the first to multiply theirs by the one in the middle. Ages 8+. Retails for about $6.99. http://www.thinkfun.com/products/math-dice-chase/

Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor (Think Fun)

escape the roomThere’s something very strange going on at the old manor down the street. Your neighbor, a famous astronomer, has seemingly disappeared and you and your guests have decided to investigate. Being adventurers, you let yourselves into the astronomer’s house, but, gasp, you find yourselves locked in a room. And time is running out. The only way you’ll survive the night (why do these things always happen at night?) is to work together using logic and problem-solving skills to solve puzzles and unlock clues. It’s a delightful (but a little sinister) way to spend time with your family and/or friends. The kit includes scene cards, sealed envelopes containing secret items (no, we’re not going to tell you what they are), instructions, and more. It’s for 3-8 players, ages 10+, and retails for under $22. http://www.thinkfun.com/products/stargazer/

Back Spin (Think Fun)

back spinImagine a two-sided flying saucer with six color-coded slots on each side. Every slot can accommodate three colored marbles, for a total of 36. But there are only 35. That allows you to push a marble from one side into the empty space on the other. Mixing everything up is plenty of fun, and involves lots of twisting and spinning and poking. But the real challenge is getting all the marbles back into their original positions. Back Spin is frustrating (in a good way) and requires logic, planning, time, and patience. But it’s also incredibly addictive and you won’t want to put it down. It’s for one player aged 8 and up (so it’s perfect for when you need a little “me” time) and retails for about $14.99. http://www.thinkfun.com/products/back-spin/

Wet Head (Zing)

wet headIf you’re looking for a fun way to cool down after a long day out in the sun, Wet Head is perfect. Imagine a small tank mounted on what looks like a hardhat. The tank has eight pins sticking out of it. Then, fill the tank with water and put the hat on. One of those pins will dump the contents of the tank onto your head. Now, spin the spinner, which will tell you to pull one or two pins, skip a turn, or do something else. (There’s also a Wet Head Challenge app that brings in trivia questions and just ads to the fun factor.) If you follow the instructions and stay dry, pass the hat to the next player. Eventually, someone’s going to get soaked. You can play indoors or out, fully dressed, or clothing optional. Ages 4 and up. Retails for under $20. http://wethead.toys/