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/


Ghost Hunters (Smart Games)

ghost hunter, smart gamesThe only way to rid your haunted mansion of those pesky ghosts is to shine a light on them. The six ghosts in question are arranged on a 4×4 grid and all you need to do to light them up is arrange the six translucent plastic flashlight pieces in the right configuration. Get ready to use your logic and spatial reasoning skills. You’ll also need a heavy dose of patience. Comes with 60 puzzles (divided into three levels of difficulty, easy to expert), each of which has exactly one solution. You’ll also get a booklet with game rules and solutions to all the puzzles (which you won’t look at unless it’s a true emergency, right?). For ages 6+. Under $15. http://www.smartgamesusa.com/


IQ XOXO (Smart Games)

IQ xoxoIf you’ve ever had a chance to play with any of the other puzzles in the IQ line (Puzzler Pro, Candy, and more), you’ll love IQ XOXO. In this one, you’re using colorful, double-sided pentomino pieces (meaning that each differently shaped piece is made up of five connected elements—in this case Xs and Os) to completely fill a grid. There are a total of 120 challenges, divided into three experience levels. Each provides starting positions of a few pieces, but then you’re on your own. The game board is its own case. Come with a booklet of challenge and solutions. Ages 6+. Under $10. http://www.smartgamesusa.com/


Parking Puzzler (Smart Games)

parking puzzler, smart gamesAs with many of the games here, Parking Puzzler gives you a few clues and turns you lose to find the solution. In this case, you’re arranging cars in a parking lot—and you’d better not even think of blocking the exits. The cars are attached to pieces that will fit together to complete a 4×4 grid. Includes 60 easy-to-expert challenges (each with only one possible solution) and a booklet with solutions.  For ages 6+. Under $15. http://www.smartgamesusa.com/