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Summer goods and gear picks

Published on: August 01, 2006

Perfect for kite-flying season: the Prism Triad Kite.
This single-line box kite can be enjoyed by any pilot age 9 and up.
Plus, the kite has its own storage sleeve and folds down to a compact
size -- so you can bring it wherever you go. Great for a local visit to
Seattle's Gasworks Park, or plan a trip to the annual Washington State
International Kite Festival (www.kitefestival.com) at Long Beach, Wash., this year Aug. 20-26. Kite available for $20 at any local REI store or at www.rei.com.

More family game-night fun: Baffle Gab and Evolution.
Both products of local inventors -- Pamela Moore Dionne of Port
Townsend created Baffle Gab while Karl and Julie Archer of Kirkland
developed Evolution -- these award-winning games are made for big
family gatherings (read: reunions or other get-togethers where adults
and kids can sit around a big table). Our family of four -- two teens
and two adults -- tried out both games on different summer evenings.
The journalists in the group (my son and I) especially enjoyed Baffle
Gab, which requires you to write (or, for younger kids, tell) a story
using five words drawn at random -- all in one minute or less. Each
word includes dictionary definitions and players keep track of points
using "bone bucks" -- encouraging kids to develop math skills by
calculating dollars earned and making change. Our entire family also
appreciated the interactive, team approach of Evolution, appropriately
subtitled "The Game That Evolves as You Play." Designed for players
ages 12 and up, the game requires at least two teams of two players
each -- but it's easy to imagine a large competition involving several
teams of four. The game features five phases -- from Primate through
Super Human -- and 18 different challenges. Teams are required to draw,
mime, decode clues, rhyme words, answer trivia questions, act and sing.
Baffle Gab is available through www.bafflegab.com for $29.95. Evolution sells for $34.95 online (www.platypusgames.com), and is also available at several local retailers.

Whether you are planning a family transcontinental flight or a
three-hour drive, keeping the kids busy is always at the top of the
list. At last, here's a travel store designed with kids in mind: www.madallie.com.
This online store features a virtual inventory of fun and educational
items. The Plane Spotter game allows children to identify planes on the
tarmac and then check their guesses, keeping them entertained while
waiting for flights. Books, including Lisa in New York or This is
Venice,
give kids the inside scoop on their vacation destination. Other
offerings include travel-friendly art and craft projects, cuddly
"comfort dolls," puppets, pillows, blankets and travel cases.

Conversations to Go is a portable game
that's perfect for a family car trip, beach cabin rainy day or one of
those rare evenings -- for families with teens -- when everyone is at
home at the same time. Developed by Seattle-based Moonjar (creators of
the popular Moonjar moneyboxes), each version -- original, money and
travel -- features 100 thought-provoking, fun-filled,
multi-generational questions packed in a box resembling a Chinese food
takeout container. Available for $12.95 through www.moonjar.com or visit the Web site for local retailers.

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