Tag Archives: simplyfun

The Secret Life of Summer

After a long day of having fun outside, it’s important to have some relaxing down time. Here are four games you and your family will love.

cash out simply funCash Out! (SimplyFun, LLC)
Each player is a fund manager tasked with building a diversified, balanced, high-yield portfolio. The goal, of course, is to cash out with the most points. Along the way, you’re buying, selling, and strategizing. Cash Out! Is a fun way to introduce your child (or yourself) to some basic investment concepts before he or she starts playing around with that college fund. Takes 20-30 minutes to play. For 2-4 players, ages 10+. $24. http://www.simplyfun.com/

compose yourself thinkfunCompose Yourself (ThinkFun)
Every once in a while game comes along that is completely unique. Compose Yourself is one of those games. Open the box and you’ll find 60 transparent, coded music cards, each imprinted with a musical staff and four beats worth of notes. Since they’re transparent, you can arrange each card in four different ways (there’s nothing on the cards to indicate a “right” side). Now comes the fun part. String together any four cards to create a unique composition (there are apparently over a billion possibilities). Then, go to the Compose Yourself website, enter the codes, and you’ll hear your composition played by a full symphony orchestra! If you’re happy, download an mp3 or print out sheet music. If not, re-compose and try again. Besides being tremendously fun, this is a great way to expose children to music and/or to teach music reading. Ages 6+. $19.99. http://thinkfun.com/

hey froggy r&r gamesHey, Froggy! (R&R Games)
Too many frogs and not enough lily pads. Life’s like that sometimes, isn’t it? The good news is that, unlike the rest of life, the frogs can pile on top of each other. Roll the dice to bounce colored (red, blue, yellow, green) frogs around the pond, scoring points when the frogs on the top match the colors of cards in your hand. You’ll need a little luck and a little strategy—extra points if you’re able to eat some flies along the way.  It’s fun and quick (15-20 minutes). For 2-4 players ages 10+. $15.95. http://www.rnrgames.com/

mix up fix up woinder forgeMix Up! Fix Up! (Wonder Forge)
A fun logic and memory game for preschoolers. Players take turns being the patient. Without showing any of the other players (doctors), the patient takes an “x-ray card” that has eight pictures of different medical tools (stethoscope, syringe, thermometer, etc,) on different backgrounds (dots, checkerboard, hearts, flowers, or stripes), with different  colors, and slips it into an x-ray sleeve, which has a window that shows only one tool. The doctors then flick a spinner which tells them to either guess a pattern, color, or tool. For every wrong answer, the patient gets a bandage. Most bandages wins. It’s kind of like Clue. But instead of Colonel Mustard in the parlor with a knife, it’s the stethoscope on the yellow background with stripes. 2-6 players ages 3+. $15.99. http://wonderforge.com/

wink blue orange gamesWink (Blue Orange Games)
The goal of the game is for players to signal your secret partner (with a wink or some other gesture) without any of the other players knowing that you’ve connected. The rules imply that all the players have to agree on one gesture, but who says you have to follow the rules? The game play involves cards, tokens, matches, and accusations. However, the real fun is in trying to forge those secret partnerships. It takes only 20-30 minutes to play and is absolutely impossible to get through without laughing—which makes identifying those secret signals even harder. 4-8 players, 8+. $15.99. http://www.blueorangegames.com/

Educational Board Games Kids Will Want to Play

As parents, we’re supposed to always be on the lookout for “teachable moments”—those golden opportunities to ruin nearly any fun activity by clumsily inserting some educational content. Kids can smell teachable moments a mile away and their eyes start to roll long before the words ever leave our mouth. But some games find the golden ratio, that perfect balance between fun and educational. Here are five games that parents and kids will love to play—and learn—together.

Space It! 
space it from simply funThis is a simple, yet very clever numbers game. Players create sequences of numbered tiles that follow a pattern that they make up. For example if the sequence is 2-7-12, the next player would have to play 17 (adding five) or create a completely new sequence utilizing at least one of the numbers that’s already there. For example, a 5 above the 7 and a 9 below. Although the rules say to create sequences only by adding, you can can add a degree of difficulty by allowing for multiplication, subtraction, or division. Ages 8 and up. simplyfun.com

Let’s Drive
lett's drive, from simply funAnother low-stress-yet-entertaining game for the whole family. Players collect points as they “travel” through the United States and Canada. It’s a great way for the kids to learn state capitals, scenic locations, and trivia about every state. It’s also a good way for moms and dads to brush up on geography—I have to admit that as a west-coaster, the east coast has always been something of a blur. Ages 8 and up. simplyfun.com

blunders, from blundersmaniaWho would have guessed that learning manners could actually be fun—fun enough that a 9-year old would pull the game out from a shelf of a dozen of her favorites and ask to play it? True story. Players move through the board by rolling dice and answering questions from several categories: Dining, Home, Play. Questions can be fill-in-the-blank (“What’s the right thing to do if you’re sitting on a crowded bus and an elderly lady gets on?”), multiple choice, or true/false (“Billy love to zoom around the street and across everyone’s lawn on their bikes. This is okay to do because they are having fun”). Or, they may have to do things like create a proper place setting (honestly, does anyone really know where the dessert fork goes?) Ages 5-10. blundersmania.com

Eat to Win
eat to win board gameDesigned by a concerned mom whose child struggled with weight issues, Eat to Win tests players’ knowledge of nutrition and exercise in a fun, engaging way. Players answer multiple choice (“How many calories do you burn jumping rope for 30 minutes?), or true/false questions (“You should eat Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt”). Plus, there’s a physical activity component, things like “Hop on one foot across the room and back” or “Everyone get up and run around the room and flapping your arms like a duck.” Players earn money for reaching certain milestones (or if they don’t want to hop, they can pay a laziness penalty). Ages 6 and up. Eattowingame.com

jishakuJishaku (the Japanese word for magnet), is a neat combination of strategy game and science lesson. Played with a set of different-sized magnetic stones of varying strengths on a surface that looks like a foam egg carton, it matters not only where you place each stone, but also howyou place it. A fascinating way to spend some quality time exploring the laws of magnetism with boys or girls 8 and up. playjishaku.com