What to Do While We Wait

How do you keep the kids from going stir-crazy while waiting at the doctors’ office, while waiting in the car, or while they are bored somewhere that is not too kid-friendly? Here are top five educational games we do, that require little if any props:
  1. The classic Eye Spy Game. Take turns ‘spying’ an object in the room and ‘I spy something [name the color]’ and have everyone else guess what it is. This game helped my middle daughter learn her colors and then it became her favorite game. You can also vary up the game if the kids are ready for something different. ‘I spy something made of wood (or metal or plastic or fabric or whatever).’ or ‘I spy something that starts with the letter B.’
  2. The animal game. This one does require the kids to move around a little, so maybe you wouldn’t do this one in the car, but we have definitely done this when stuck in the room waiting for the doctor. Have kids (or parent and kids) take turns acting out animals while everyone guesses what it is. Sounds are usually allowed and used, which makes it too easy, but then we try to venture away from just the ‘cat’ ‘dog’ ‘pig’ ‘cow’, to ones with more movement or posture ‘ostrich’ ‘flamingo’ ‘penguin’ ‘snake’.
  3. Name that tune. We take turns humming or la, la-ing to a song and then guessing what song it is. Again, this activity doesn’t require anything but voice and turn-taking.
  4. Twenty Questions (although we don’t usually limit it to just 20 questions). Someone is thinking of an object. The others guess what it is, narrowing it down by asking yes or no questions. This teaches categorizing skills and logic skills. Ask the question: is it a person? Yes. ‘is it a kid? no. By logic, then it must be an adult. Or if it’s not a person, then what else could it be? If it’s a thing, then where is it (in this room?) or what color is it or how big is it.
  5. Quiz Time – asking questions, making it into a game. See my Quiz Time blog post for more ideas on this activity.
The great thing about the above games is that they can be played almost anywhere, with no props and can be modified for any age group or level. We can take a few minutes that we would just be waiting and play a game that will not only keep them from getting antsy, but will keep them thinking and learning as well.
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