Clever Kids Mysteries: Fun for Young Detectives

Illustrated child's face, wearing fedora and holding a magnifying glass

How’s your summer vacation going? Do your kids love playing outdoors and enjoy the long, care-free days… or are they constantly glued to a screen, jumping on the furniture, and generally driving you crazy?

When my kids start to fall into the behavior I don’t like, I want to redirect them to something else. Especially on days with nasty weather, I want to give them new things to work on and puzzles to solve, rather than yell at them for the hundredth time to stop poking each other!

On a recent rainy day, we received a mystery box from Clever Kids Mysteries – the Mystery at the Lux Museum. Opening the box, the kids were immediately interested in what this mystery might be, and how they could solve it!

Susie, Banks, and Nick are the Clever Kids Detective Agency, and they want your help to solve a mystery! Their field trip to the Lux Museum didn’t quite go as planned, and they ended up pulling a note out of a stuffed alligator’s mouth. Could it be a clue to something Kieran Lux (a notable thief) stole so long ago?

Our Clever Kids Mystery starts with a white box, an illustrated letter, and a parchment tied with string

Puzzles

illustrated picture of an empty art exhibit
What can we learn from this exhibit under construction?

Working through Mystery at the Lux Museum involved some critical reading and pattern matching, as well as careful observation of the “room photos” provided.

From shining a flashlight through a series of strategically placed statues, to using a decoder wheel and some patterning to figure out a symbolic alphabet, my kids were hooked!

Each of the Clever Kids Mysteries encourages logical thinking, using 8 distinct puzzles to give clues to a final solution. In Mystery at the Lux Museum, the puzzles involved some simple math, spatial & pattern recognition skills. They’re just the right level of cleverness to be interesting for upper-elementary school kids.

Clever Kids Mysteries components: paper statues, illustrated photos of museum exhibits, map, flashlight, pencil, decoder wheel
Figure out who’s who in the family tree, reassemble the paintings, find a missing tooth, and examine statues, among other puzzles.

Impressions

We’ve played Unlock boxes with our kids in the past, which has been a frustrating experience. They just don’t have enough life experience to understand some of the puzzles, and even “easy” sets are sometimes too hard. Clever Kids Mysteries don’t have that problem, since they’re designed for kids to solve! As long as your kid is a solid reader (and can come to you for help once in a while), they can make progress on their own.

Two paper statues, a flashlight, and a decoder wheel
What do we do here?

Between an adult, an 8-year-old, and a 10-year-old, we easily solved the mystery in about an hour. It was a great experience, although I unintentionally short-cut a bit of the puzzle by pointing out things that were obvious to me. I wouldn’t mind letting the kids do the next one by themselves, and I know now that they’d enjoy it.

The components in the box were mostly handcrafted from cardstock and paper. It could have been a bit more polished, but the quality of the puzzles is what really matters here. Our kids certainly didn’t mind as they cut, taped, and puzzled away. And it’s hard to beat the price! Priced around $10, it’s a great value to get an hour or more trying something new with your kids.

What Did the Kids Think?

Claire, 10: “It’s a lot more fun than Unlock. I like that there were obvious (ie. discrete) puzzles and they weren’t too hard.” This might be a good group activity for a sleepover or a Girl Scout meeting, too.

Asher, 8: “I feel left out when we try to do an Unlock as a family, and I didn’t feel as much of that.”

Elliot, 4, was interested when we opened the box, but lost interest quickly when every puzzle required some amount of reading. Maybe in a year or two he’ll be ready with some reading skills and a longer attention span.

While writing this review, the kids also asked if we were getting any more Clever Kids Mysteries. We’ll definitely be first in line to buy the next adventure, “Mystery at Eerie Island”, due out in August. I’d love to keep one in stock for our next rainy vacation day!

Check out the website for Clever Kids Mysteries, or buy your box directly on Etsy.

Clever Kids Mysteries provided The Family Gamers with a copy of Mystery in the Lux Museum for this review.

Clever Kids Mysteries - Mystery at the Lux Museum
  • 6.5/10
    Art - 6.5/10
  • 10/10
    Mechanics - 10/10
  • 9/10
    Family Fun - 9/10
8.5/10

Summary

Number of Players: 1+

Age Range: 6-12

Playtime: 45-120 minutes, depending on your children

5 comments

  • We’ve had the same experience/frustration with the Unlock games. It isn’t always clear you have all the stuff you need to solve a puzzle and the kids aren’t ready for some of the challenges. The seemingly random scores the app gives you at the end leave us scratching our heads too. We’ve discovered it’s much better to play Unlock or Exit the Game without the timer going, it adds another level of stress that’s tough on the kids. We’ve done a lot of pausing on the Unlock app!

    This game sounds really fascinating and perfect for our kids (11, 10, and 4 year-olds). We are going to try it out!

  • Peter

    My youngest had a little trouble keeping interest the whole time. I thought it was pretty well done, but she couldn’t focus for the whole time we needed to play.

    I also had a little trouble somewhere with the letters for the last code – not sure which puzzle(s) I missed, though most solutions seemed to be correct.

    • Our four-year-old definitely wasn’t ready. I appreciated that this mystery wasn’t timed, so if you were doing it with younger kids whose attention span is short, you could try to figure out one puzzle and then take a break and come back later.

    • Hi Peter. You were one of our first customers – THANK YOU! Sorry to hear your youngest had trouble keeping interest. We’re thinking of trying a different format for the next game that would sort of walk the user through a story as they solve puzzles. More guided and hopefully engaging. Do you think that would have helped?

      • Peter

        I think a story might very well have helped as opposed to the “try out this thing”. While that’s interesting to me and I can see that overall story, something that holds the interest and guides to the next mystery to solve is definitely going to be more up my kid’s alley.

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