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Having Fun Together

12 Games to Play While Waiting in Line

Stave off whining with these easy ideas

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Online banking and grocery deliveries may have eliminated many of the lines parents used to dread. But inevitably, you’ll still be stalled with kids some place—in the doctor’s office, at a restaurant, or the airport—and these games can save the day while you inch to the front-of-the-line.



Unpack the purse Who knows what lurks at the bottom of your bag? Invite your toddler to find out by letting her dip her hand in and pull out a (single) prize. Line everything up and discuss new words—wallet, brush, keys. Note this does require supervision so your credit cards don’t end up on the floor in the frozen foods aisle.



Color fun Learn the shades of the rainbow by going around the room and counting all the items you see that are the same color. Keep a tally and take turns as you name them (red book, green plant, yellow wall).



Shape shifting Everyday objects can appear to be letters of the alphabet. Point out a chair that looks like an ‘L’ or a mark on the floor that could be an ‘S’. Look for other letter shapes around the room.



Doodle time Grab the back of an envelope, piece of newspaper, or other scrap paper and draw pictures for each other. Suggest your child sketch something and you then can try to guess what he’s drawn. Or have him draw a portrait of you.



Guess the hand Take an object from your purse, put it in one of your palms, and then put both hands behind your back. Challenge your child to guess which hand is holding the item, and then give him a turn.



Do the wave Kids love it when other people return a gesture, so take advantage of this by playing the wave game. Together with your child, try and get a stranger to return a smile or wave of the hand.



Categories This classic game helps expand your tot’s vocabulary, group by group. Start with something easy, like fruits or animals, and take turns naming them for each other (banana, apple, pear). Kids who are 5 and up can try harder topics like girls’ names or cities you’ve visited.



Finger letters Which of the A, B, Cs can you make with your hands? What about a couple of fingers? For example, three digits turned sideways makes an ‘E’ and bringing all of your fingers to your thumb creates ‘O’.



Count the room How many of the same objects do you see? Start with people wearing glasses, girls with blond hair, plants, or exit signs. Then move to count the number of cars that pass by the windows or trees you can see outside.



Paper toss Indoor soccer, anyone? Crumple a small piece of paper and bat it back and forth across the table in the waiting room. You could also set up a goal with two toys or other objects and keep score. Or just have a game of catch and count the number of times you toss and receive the paper ball without dropping it.



Making Faces If you don’t have paper or other objects on hand, use your body parts as entertainment. See who can make the silliest face, the scariest look or the saddest one. Little kids also love to hop on one foot, blink their eyes, or stick out their tongues. Count how many times he does each.



Pretty mommy Let your kid go to town and make up mommy with less messy beauty products like lip balm or hand lotion. Then you you can give her the same treatment. You might also treat each other to new hairstyles with a comb or brush. You've got the time!