We were waiting in some long lines recently at a theme park in Orlando. It was hot and our youngest was getting antsy. I was tempted to break out the phone and pacify him with a show. But then I remembered what one of my mentors has taught me about parenting with the big picture in mind. She encourages me to ask myself the following question – is this an opportunity to teach my kids a skill that they will need as an adult?
While handing our child a screen is certainly easier, when we think about the bigger picture, we realize that we do not want our children to grow up and turn to screens every time they don’t know what to do with themselves. We want to foster their God-given imaginations! We want to stir up wonder and creativity! We want them to be givers in this world!
How do we do that while we are waiting at the doctor’s office, on a long car ride, in line at an amusement park, or at a sit-down restaurant? I have some great ideas for you today!
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There are the obvious classics like I Spy (“I spy something insert-color-here…”, Rock, Paper, Scissors, Thumb Wars, and Tic Tac Toe. P.S. Did you know you can play Tic Tac Toe at a restaurant with the sugar packets and silverware? Get creative with what you have! Here are 8 more fun games!
This is the best way to redeem the game of Hangman. Same idea, but different drawing to put together. Check it out HERE.
Place 10 items from your purse on the table in front of you. Have your kids try to memorize the items for 5-10 seconds. While their eyes are closed, remove 1 or a few items. When they open their eyes they have to try to remember what is missing.
Two Truths and a Lie
Everyone takes a turn making three statements. Two must be true and one should be made up. Everyone takes turns trying to guess which is the lie.
Drop a Penny
Take out a penny and try to drop it so that it lands on your shoe without falling off. You can also play this with a small scrap of paper and try to catch it using only two fingers before it hits the ground.
How Many Can You Name?
Name a category and the other person has to come up with as many things related to that category as they can in 10 seconds. Animals, candy, cereal, etc. You can make this more challenging by having their responses be in alphabetical order. For example with the category snacks, the answers would need to be Apple, Banana, Cookie, Donut, etc.
One player chooses 4-5 random letters. Everyone must take turns coming up with sentences where each word starts with the designated letter. For example, TAPT. The Aardvark Plays Tennis.
Fruit of the Spirit Charades
Have the kids act out different fruits of the spirit. Everyone else must guess which fruit of the spirit they are sharing! For example, someone could act really loving by hugging and blowing kisses for “love,” or someone could act really calm for “peace”. You could also give scenarios and the kids would have to apply a fruit of the spirit to the story. For example, “Johnny wanted to play chess, but his little brother wanted to play basketball. Johnny sacrificed what he wanted in order to bless his brother.” What fruit of the spirit is that? LOVE!
What book of the bible?
My kids like this one! Share a Bible verse or story and the kids have to guess which book of the Bible it is in. This is super challenging!
If you have little ones, I highly recommend taking a bag of tricks with you whenever you leave the house. Simply place some good ole’ fashioned paper, crayons, bubbles, Matchbox cars, and stickers into a small backpack like THIS and it will be a wonderful resource when your kiddos start to get antsy! Stickers on the exam table paper, draw a picture for the dentist, blow bubbles in line at the theme park, run a Matchbox car along the restaurant table… In addition, these novelty items below will inspire lots of fun!
These Water Wow! Books are seriously amazing. I am impressed and fascinated every single time my son uses them. They are mess free and so satisfying!
These are hands down the greatest tool to inspire quiet creating. My kids LOVE these and use them constantly.
A friend of mine reached out and said THESE small dinosaur water ring games kept her boys busy on a long car ride. Travel-sized Etcha-Sketches and Magic Wonder Tubes are great, too! My boys also love THIS fidget ball.
Pull out a magnifying glass and suddenly everything gets a million times more interesting! Encourage your kids to observe the world around them! Clothing fibers, grass, dirt, skin, etc. Get a good kid-friendly magnifying glass HERE.
Someone gave this Flip to Win Travel Memory Game to us as a gift and Zion loves it!
Wherever we go, I make sure we have books. I love creating opportunities for my children to get lost in a good story! We visit the library almost every weekend. Here are some engaging books for long waits. You can also find a list of our favorite picture books HERE.
My boys absolutely LOVE Dude Perfect. They could read this book for hours.
These Seek and Find Bible books are a great way to keep kids busy and learn more about the Bible!
These books have so many great facts about the Bible. My kids love to read them.
Building relationship and having fun together is so important. Focus on eye contact and laughing. Here are some simple resources to help you and your little ones connect through conversation while waiting.
HERE is a great post with jokes for kids. Sometimes we will use the phone to Facetime my mom and tell her some jokes.
Would You Rather?
Would you rather hug a porcupine or an octopus? HERE is an amazing list of 100 Would You Rather questions to inspire fun and lighthearted conversation. And if you happen to be waiting in line at Disney, HERE are some Disney-themed Would You Rather questions.
Before doing any of the above, try letting them be without your direction. See what happens! They may lead with a new idea! Children are naturally wired to create and play! Plus, the more they are allowed space to do so, the better they will get at keeping themselves busy without a screen. But, if things take a turn and they start climbing on the furniture in the waiting room, then I am thankful I could help you to be ready. 😉