Surviving Arsenic Hour: Part 2 Mind Games

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Another favorite way to pass the time is playing games.  Family game nights, while absolutely wonderful, are a different beast, and we'll do another post on those in the future.  Those nights are all about fun.  Everyone is home, fed and happy, probably eating treats. Games during Satan's Revenge?  None of the above. We're focusing on games here that encourage independent play and problem solving and which keep kids occupied.  Here are some of our top picks:

1. Rush Hour: We'll start out with the classic traffic jam logic game.  Released in 1996 with more 10 million sold, this game is a classic for a reason.  In case you're not familiar, Rush Hour sets up "traffic jams" on a grid and the players goal is to manipulate the pieces until you're able to drive the red car off the board and out of the jam.  It says ages 8 and up but I've had more than one 5 year old sit down and work through multiple beginner level cards without getting frustrated.  The game comes with 40 challenge cards in 4 different levels.  And, bonus, when my son gets tired on working on the challenges, he'll often entertain himself with cars and game board for an additional 20 or 30 minutes.

2. SmartGames Little Red Riding Hood: Isn't this just darling? This is similar in some ways to Rush Hour but the story element and fewer steps makes it a little friendlier for the younger crowd. Appropriate for ages 4 and up.  If Little Red Riding Hood isn't your kid's cup of tea, there are multiple other versions of the game: dinosaurs, North Pole Expedition, the Three Little Pigs, etc.

3. Q-bitz and Q-bitz Jr. : This is a newer game in our home and a great addition.  The winner of numerous awards (Parent's Choice Gold Award, National Parenting Publications Awards' Nappa Gold. Tillywig Toy Award's Brain Child Award Winner, and the Major Fun Award), Q-bitz is simultaneously engaging in numerous ways.  Each player has a tray with a number of patterned dice (16 for regular and 4 for the junior version) that they must use to recreate the pattern on the challenge card.   And there's a lot of room for improvisation, you can create patterns with the dice for your child to extend, challenge them to recreate patterns from memory, or have them create patterns on their own.  

4. Set and Set. Jr.   The idea for set came when Marsha Jean Falco was doing genetic research on German Shepards and drew symbols to represent the different traits she was tracking.  After seeing the fun in finding patterns among the traits, SET (and a game empire) was born.  This versatile game is genius, you can play alone or with up to 4 people, and it's a great for a wide range of ages.  The Jr. version is a great way to ease into recognizing the patterns, which can seem a little overwhelming at first and is suitable for ages 3 and up, but the regular version is for ages 6 and up so no need to get it unless you've got really young kids.  Each card has four different characteristics and a set is formed when three cards have each of those characteristics ALL in common, or ALL different.  It's fast-paced, challenging, educational and still fun.

5. Keva Brain Builders : If you've followed us for a while, you know that we're huge proponents of building toys.  Both of our toy rooms are filled with them.  I love that this game incorporates building, and requires you to consider the challenge from three different angles to come up with the solution.  Taking the challenge from 2 to 3 dimensions, building, and problem solving all in one.

If you miraculously have all these games, here are five more on our wish list:



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