5 games to play while waiting

It’s summertime! Officially.

Many parents are spending more time with their kiddos now that school’s out, and a lot of it is spent waiting in public places like the dentist’s office or lines at an amusement park. file0001602761539

I found myself waiting in lines and waiting rooms more frequently with my children, too, and I thought I should share some of the non-electronic ways we spend our time waiting.

Here are 5 ways we play

  1. Questioning/I’m thinking games
    • For younger kids (toddlers, preschoolers, K-1):
      • I’m thinking of... an animal, a vehicle, a shape, a number between…, color, toy, songs, tv shows, family member, piece of furniture, plant, food, etc. There are many categories you can choose from.
      • 20 Questions: same concept as I’m thinking, but you limit the number of questions a kiddo can answer
    • For older kids (2-12 grade):
      1. 20 questions: same concept as I’m thinking.
      2. I’m thinking of... Use concepts your child has learned the past year in school. Example categories are: 3-D shapes, songs, planets, states, presidents, math facts (eg. a multiplication fact that equals 24), noun, verb, adjective, adverb (with these you could give a specific clue such as the letter it begins with); history facts, current event, geography facts, etc.
  2. Math Challenges:
    • For younger kids:
      • Find objects near you that are specific shapes, have a certain number of sides3d5e25e275bdb5c38c8f1d11bafa6575
      • Find numbers (number identification),
      • Find objects that are certain colors, etc.
      • For children beginning to add and subtract, find two numbers and perform either math operation
    • For older kids:
      • Answer multiplication, division, or fraction math problems (if you have your phone or a watch, you can add timing them to answer or recite math facts in a minute or less)
      • Locating objects of certain 3-d shapes, sides, etc.
      • If you are at a store, grab their weekly ad and practice money math
  3. Word/Language challenges:
    • Younger kids:
      • Find objects that begin with the letter…, What letter does a … begin/end with?
      • Find objects or think of objects that begin/end with the blend…(st, str, gr, –st, –sk, –sp, –nd, –nt, –nk, –mp, –rd, –ld, –lp, –rk, –lt, –lf, –pt, –ft, –ct.)
      • Name as many items for a category  (Use the categories listed above with the I spy/I’m thinking games. Such as animals that live in the ocean, shapes, etc.)
    • Older kids:
      • Think of or find around you an example of: homophones, antonyms, synonyms, alliteration, etc.
      • Have a classic spelling bee
      • Name three nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, etc. that begin with the letter…
      • Name as many items for a category (things you pack for vacation, book titles, MLB baseball teams, sports you play with …, etc.)
  4. Storytelling (This is my favorite. Our family will often do this at tuck-in time)
    • Younger kids:
      • Begin telling a well-known story, then the next person has to change the next part but continue using the same characters
      • Make up a story. Each person takes a turn adding a sentence. (Some examples of story starters: Once upon a time in a world in space; Joey was on his way to…when all of a sudden a …. appeared out of nowhere; When Sarah woke up, she wasn’t in her bed anymore she was… You get the idea)
    • Older  kids:
      • Each person picks one of the elements of a story (ie, setting, characters, conflict, etc.) Then each person takes turns adding a sentence.
      • Make up a story together where each person only says one word on his/her turn.
  • MadLibs **This is the one time I take liberty with the screen/electronic thing. As a parent, I hold the device downloaded with the MadLib App.** Or you can still buy the books on Amazon, the Scholastic website, school book fair (awesome way to support education, too), or the next time your kiddo brings home a Scholastic order form and keep them in your purse or diaper bag.
    1. Younger kids: For the younger kids, when they don’t know the meaning of noun, adjective, etc. I just tell them a person, place or thing and may need to provide an example.
    2. Older kids: It’s great practice to work on remembering what nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, etc. are. We also make it more challenging by saying every word we fill in for the story must begin or end with a certain letter (the only place this doesn’t work is when it asks for a verb ending in -ing).

The other important caveats of these waiting games are how to win and the prize. Kids love competition, so being the person who answers more correctly may be enough incentive. In our family, we also may put a cap on how many answers to win (first person to find 5 or answer 5 correctly). What does the winner receive besides bragging rights? Sometimes it’s a mint from mom’s purse or a sticker from the sheet of stickers in my wallet. Younger children may also like earning a penny or nickel. For older kids it could determine who gets to sit in the front on the way home, pick the music on the radio, or what you’re having for dinner/dessert. If you’re still waiting when the game ends, the winner can determine the next game to be played.

Do you have other ways you’ve entertained your kids in public and/or while waiting? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.