Activities for When Kids Have to Wait (no materials required)

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We have all been there…what was supposed to be a 10-minute oil change or wait at the doctor’s office suddenly becomes more like an hour (or two!).  Worst of all, you weren’t prepared for the wait and didn’t bring any coloring books or toys along with you!  Don’t panic…you have this list FULL of activities for when kids have to wait!

(With that being said, you *might* want to go ahead and pin this post or bookmark it to your phone…just in case.)    :)

This list is divided into two categories:  activities for when others are around and activities for when it is just you and your kids.  Silly activities are great for when it is just you and your kids, but might not be appreciated when there are other patrons waiting in the same room.


Just You and Your Kids

These activities are perfect for waiting in exam rooms or when you have the place to yourselves…where others won’t be disrupted.


-  Play Simon Says:  This timeless game is the perfect way to keep kids active (i.e. burn a little energy) and occupy their attention all in one!


-  Sing a silly song or recite a finger play (the more actions the better):  Hokey Pokey, Do Your Ears Hang Low, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Deep and Wide, Father Abraham, London Bridges, Old McDonald Had a Farm, This Little Piggie…just to name a few.


Create a piggyback story:  Start telling a story and then pass it along to your child.  Have him/her piggyback off of the start to your story and continue telling it with his/her own flair.  Continue piggybacking off of each other until your wait is over or the story has become too outrageous to continue!  :)


-  Have a Thumb War:  Link knuckles with your child and go to war to see which thumb is the strongest!


-  Do jumping jacks.  Did I mention that it might be necessary (for everyone’s sanity) that your kiddos to get some energy out while waiting?


-  Play the Body Count Game:  I love this idea from Creative Connections for Kids!


-  Find Your Funny Bone First:  Have your kids compete to see who can point to their funny bone first.  Continue the race by calling out more body parts.  (Idea from Teach Mama)



With Other People Around


-  I Spy:  A classic game that can be easily reinvented!  “I Spy with my little eye, something ______” (insert color, shape, beginning letter, etc).


-  Letter Hunt:  Call out a letter and ask your children to identify objects around the room that begin with that letter.


-  Play “How Many?”:  Call out a shape, color, etc. and ask your child how many objects he/she can find.  (idea from This Reading Mama)


-  Read the Room:  Have your child walk around the room and identify words (or shapes, colors, letters and numbers for non-readers).


-  Round Robin Game:  Start with a topic (colors, types of fruit, animals, etc) and go back and forth with your child(ren) naming a color until no one can think of any more (idea from Making Time for Mommy).  Try it with other topics too (four-legged animals, types of fruit, etc.).


-  See how high you can count:  Quietly count aloud with your child and see how high you can go (idea from Nothing If Not Intentional).  Another idea is to guess how many seconds (counts) until the doctor comes in, your food arrives, your car is ready, etc.  Then count together and, whoever comes closest to the actual number of counts it takes, wins (idea from The Chaos and the Clutter)


-  Recite Memory Verses:  A great suggestion from Meaningful Mama!  (Or you could keep these ABC Scripture Cards in your purse at all times).   :)


-  Imaginary Traveler:  Take turns asking your kids to imagine where they might go and what they object want to take along on their trip, beginning with the letter “a”  and continuing consecutively through the alphabet.  For example, “I’m going to Australia and I’m taking my Angry Birds.” “I’m going to Brad’s and I’m taking my Batman shirt.” Encourage participants to be as silly as possible.” (see this and other great “thinking games” at What Do We Do All Day?)


-  Play the “What’s missing?” Game:  This idea from Craftulate is brilliant when you have a purse or diaper bag with you.  You could even play with items you find around the room.


-  Guess Which Hand?:   Put an item in your hand and put your hands behind your back.  Have your child guess which hand the item is in.  (idea from Your Modern Family)


-  Play “I’m Thinking of a Number”:  Think of a number and keep it in your mind.   Begin giving your child clues.  This classic game is great for kids who are familiar with the concepts greater than and less than.


-  Ask “Would you Rather?” Questions:  Would you rather be in a pool or marshmallows or in a pool of M&M’s?  Would you rather have bright blue hair or bright blue feet?  Find  more questions like this (along with printable cards) from the Measured Mom.


-  Play the Verbal Memory Game:  Give your child a short list of items (3-6 depending on the age of your child).  Then have them recite the items in order.   (idea from There’s Just One Mommy)



Have a piece of paper and a pen?  Try this fun waiting room idea from Mama Smiles or these no-talking games from Teach Mama.  



Also, I loved this reminder from Study at Home Mama:

I love playing the games like I Spy, but I also find that these boredom times are great to encourage children to either (1) talk, or (2) find their own entertainment.  I think when kids are expected to entertain themselves, and they aren’t always given the answers, they learn to rise to the occasion. I think it takes practice — don’t always give entertainment during car rides, leave some free play time at home every day, etc. Engage your children in conversation and teach them how to start conversations — with you, or other kids. When you do this, your child is more apt to strike up a conversation (asking a question or sharing a story) than start whining about how they are bored.


Finally, as a last resort (i.e. deaf-con meltdown), you can always give them your phone.  I am personally trying to be more engaged with my kids and less reliant on technology because I don’t want to miss out on interactions with them!  But there are times when everyone has had enough (including me…just keepin’ it real).  In these dire situations, I might break out the phone and let them play an educational app for toddlers, preschoolers, or beginning readers.



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What are some of YOUR best tips for when kids have to wait?



Homemade Banana Pudding

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This homemade banana pudding recipe is from my Oma.  She makes the most amazing desserts and this recipe is certainly no exception.  Trying her homemade banana pudding might make you gag at the thought of ever having the boxed stuff again.  :)  The title is a bit deceiving, however.  The more accurate description of this recipe is actually “homemade vanilla pudding with bananas.”  There isn’t any fake banana flavoring in this pudding (thank goodness…we don’t want pudding that tastes like a banana Runt, do we?).   :)

You can, of course, make this in a large bowl and layer it (Nilla wafers, bananas, pudding, repeat), but I thought it would be fun to use these small Ball jars for individual portions.


Homemade Banana Pudding Recipe:

4 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2/3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
Dash of salt
Mini Nilla Wafers
Sliced Bananas
Ball Half Pint Wide-Mouth Jars


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1.  Mix all of the ingredients (except the Nilla wafers and bananas) together in a pot and cook over medium heat until thickened.  Stir continuously.  I mixed my eggs in a small bowl to make it easier to stir within the mixture.

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2.  Once the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, remove from heat.  Fill your sink with water, add some ice, and let it cool before layer it in your bowl/jar.

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3.  If using the jars to layer your pudding, put your mini Nilla wafers on the outside of the jar (they fit perfectly on the edges of this size jar).  Then add bananas and pudding.

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This recipe can also be used as the base of coconut cream pie.  Half the recipe, then mix in 1 cup of coconut at the end for your coconut filling.  Top with whipped cream and a little baked coconut.  :)

Yum!  Be sure to check out more of our family’s favorite recipes!  


Homemade Afterbite (anti-itch salve for mosquito bites)

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  I do not always remember to put mosquito repellent on the boys every time they step outside, so we inevitably have some mosquito bites around here.  After Bite has been a lifesaver this summer.  Unfortunately, however, I left ours at the lake on our recent trip and didn’t want to make a special trip to the store.  So we made our own homemade afterbite (based on the ingredients listed)! Much to my surprise, this stuff really does work!  It has been used and approved by everyone in the household as a remedy for helping to ease the irritating itch of a pesky mosquito bite.  :)   Here’s what you’ll need:  baking soda, tea tree oil, and water.   IMG 9150 300x450 Homemade Afterbite (anti itch salve for mosquito bites) IMG 9157 500x333 Homemade Afterbite (anti itch salve for mosquito bites)

 1.  Mix baking soda and water until it is the preferred consistency.  I used 5 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water.

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2.  Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the mixture (I used 1/8 teaspoon and it is a little bit too strong).  Store in a closed container.

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 3.  Rub a little bit of the salve onto your child’s mosquito bites to help relieve the itch!


 And there you have it!  Be sure to check out our homemade mosquito spray as well!  


Printable Summer Schedule for Your Refrigerator (just add magnets)

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As a classroom teacher, I maintained order and routine by following a pretty regimented schedule.  This gave us predictability for the day and ensured that we accomplished everything we needed to accomplish.  For some reason, this same characteristic has not transferred over to my stay-at-home mom life.  Since I am not a morning person I am content to just “ease into the day” (as my husband likes to call it) if we don’t have anywhere we have to be.  Before I can get my act together, it is nearly lunch time!   All I know is that my sanity for the summer depends on some type of schedule!


I created this printable summer schedule so that it can be interchangeable for varying days.  My goal is to plan ahead the night before what our day will look like and make sure to arrange the schedule accordingly.  I have one child who thrives on routine and predictability, so I know this will be very beneficial for him without being too regimented.  :)


Download your summer schedule printables here.


Once you download the printables, you can print on magnetic paper or laminate and use magnet tape to add to your refrigerator.


Here are some of the activities included in the printable: 

  • Get Dressed
  • Breakfast
  • Table Time (will vary each day:  includes handwriting, workbook pages, puzzles, learning games, play dough, etc)
  • Free Play
  • Library
  • Park
  • Swimming
  • Screen Time
  • One-on-One time (my goal is to spend at least 30 minutes a week one-on-one with each child doing something of their choice)
  • Rest time
  • Lunch
  • Chores
  • Field Trip (zoo, museums, etc)
  • Reading (independent or audio books)
  • Read aloud (me reading to them)

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I  included blank plates for you to add your own activities as well.  I did not, however, include dinner or any activities that come afterward just because this time of day is already a well-established routine in our home.  The printable includes 30-minute time increments from 8am to 5pm but also comes with blank clock faces that you can customize (which I will be using later in the summer to reinforce telling time).

Despite how it may look, there will be a lot of flexibility in our day.  Activities are spread out enough to allow plenty of “down time” in between.  I also asked the boys some themes that interest them, so we will be doing some weekly activities related to their interests.

Finally, we’re implementing a new screen time policy at our house.  The boys can early 1 minute of screen time for every minute that they read (or listen to an audio book/book read aloud).  I bought them both book timers and we’re hoping to keep track this way.


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Do you have a summer schedule for your home??? 

Frozen-inspired End Of School Celebration

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School is nearly over!  Although I am a little nervous about keeping the boys occupied all summer (especially having an infant), I am SO EXCITED for stress-free mornings.  :)  Our boys are currently obsessed with Olaf from Frozen and they have memorized the entire song “In Summer” from the Frozen soundtrack.  What better way to kick off Summer than to have this Frozen-inspired End of School Celebration featuring Olaf, who loves summer as much as anyone?!?!  :)


I created this printable “In Summer” banner for you to use for your own End of School/Beginning of Summer Celebration!  You can print the banner here.  We also put up some Olaf Wall Clings and I used some pre-cut foam snowflakes I bought a long time ago.  The boys were super excited about our little celebration and I had fun combining the summer and winter together in such a cool way (no pun intended)!



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Here is our little window sill with our Olaf-inspired snacks


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 We used powdered donuts for our “impaled” snowmen.  This is one of my favorite lines from the movie.  :)


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These “sand treats” are just vanilla pudding layered with food-processed Oreos.



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 “Kristoff’s Ice” is Blue Raspberry Jello in ice cube trays.  *Tip*:  Soak the bottom of the ice cube trays in very warm water for 1-2 minutes to get them to pop out easily.



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Blue Gatorade for Olaf’s drink!


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 Print your “In Summer” banner here!


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The boys definitely enjoyed drinking their ice cold Gatorade with an umbrella straw.  :)



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Once we had our treats and listened to the “In Summer” song, we just had to watch Frozen (again).  :)



I’m thinking this might be our End of School tradition from now on.  :)  What is your family’s favorite way to welcome summer?!?!