With the Kids

Simple Games for Passing the Time

With 3 little kiddies and long lines at the grocery store, I’ve been getting pretty good at coming up with quick games to help pass the time. Something fun to keep their attention before they get too restless. These games also work great for long car rides or even while waiting for dinner to come at the restaurant.

Long Lines

Image from Mind Your Decisions

Rhyme Time

  • For younger kids: I usually start by having my kids give me a word like, “blue”. Then I show them how to rhyme it by choosing the word, “shoe”. I’m the one rhyming for a while, until they hear how it works and are ready to try. Then I give the word and they try to rhyme it. If I say “red”, they may say “blue”. I try to explain that although red and blue are colors together, they don’t have the same sound in their words. They need to be “same, same”, as we call it.
  • It’s important to remember that when kids are just learning to hear and recognize rhyming words, even the silliest nonsense words can be used. You may be tempted to correct your little ones, but if they make up silly words it’s okay as they’re just getting used to the idea that rhyming words have the same ending sounds. Then as they get better, try to ask them to only rhyme with “real” words. As their comprehension grows, they’ll understand this more.
  • For Older Kids: Try to have your older kids make up sentences that rhyme. Have them do it in beats. Here is a 3 beat sentence: You say “I went to the store for some rice” Then they say, “I hope it’s not eaten by mice”.

Animal Guessing Game

  • For Younger Kids: Each person takes a turn saying an animal sound, then the others try to guess. You can start with animals that live on a farm, move onto a jungle, or in the ocean. Then, once you’ve gone through 20 or so, start all over.
  • For Older Kids: Play this by describing an animal with only 3 clues, then let them try to guess. If they can’t guess the correct animal, give another clue or you can always give the sound it makes.

I Spy With My Little Eye:

  • Fun for all ages: The person who is “it” chooses an object in the room they can see. Then they say “I spy with my little eye, something blue”. The rest of the group takes turns making a guess at the object. If they have trouble, ask for another clue. This is a great game to play with kids who are just learning simple concepts like shapes, colors, and letter.

Any of these games can be altered to meet the needs of your family. The point is to have fun and provide a simple way to pass the time.

What games do you play to help keep your kids engaged?


  1. GREAT ideas! BOTH my little ones love games and we play the “animal” game over and over (and over and over!!) Nice to have some variations of this to try!!!! Lots of good ideas in comments too :-)

  2. Something I use to keep my younger kids busy at the Doctors office is to bring some crayons along and let them color on the paper that they put over the exam table. (5 crayons fit great in the mini m&m containers and store well in your purse or diaper bag)I sometimes draw the pictures and have my 5 yr. old son guess what they are or write letters of the alphabet. Helps him learn and I find this keeps them from touching everything in sight and entertains them until the doctor comes in. I do have to make sure they don’t accidentally write on the table, but so far so good!

    Thanks for the great tips…I will definitely be using some of them next time we’re in that horrible long line at the grocery store!

  3. I had a great game for my kids (now 28 and 29!!!) to play at restaurants (and that’s the only time we played it, because that made it more special and held their attention better). I always took two pieces of paper (one for each child) on which I’d written two of every number (a distance apart on the page), say 1 through 30. I gave each child a pencil, and they had to connect the matching numbers with a line, without crossing over any other line. Great for the 6 through 10 group! The older the child, the more numbers you put on the page.

  4. We used to play the “Sub” game and come up with as many words as we could that started with Sub back and forth. Then we’d try other prefixes or suffixes like “ing” or “ly” (great way to explore adverbs!)
    Our favorite game time is in the car. We tell “ant” jokes (the answer has to have the ant sound in it. Like what kind of ant is in the army? LieutenANT, SergeANT, CommandANT) What kind of ant is really old and valuable? ANTique, decendANT. LOL!!
    We also play “Down by the bay” to make rhymes.

  5. WOW! Fabulous games! I remember some of these from my childhood, like the ABC license plate game.

    I’m loving the “Parking Lot Adventure”! One of us is always waiting in the car, and this is a perfect game.

    Great ideas. Thanks for sharing everyone!

  6. We play a game where we take turns telling what we would have in our dream house. There are no limits, we are dreaming! The kids love this.

    We also figured out how to say our names if they were spelled backwards.

    When we are all out together and we stop at the store on our way home and I run in leaving my husband and 6 kids in the car, he will drive the parking lot on an “Adventure” and makes up some story about dinosaurs or exotic places.

  7. I love this post and comments! We like to play “A, My Name is Anna.” The first person starts by saying, “A, my name is (name beginning with A) and my husband’s name is (name begining with A). We come from (place beginning with A) and we sell (something beginning with A).” Continue playing with things beginning with b,c, etc.

    We also like “I’m thinking of an animal”. Someone thinks of animal and gives clues until someone else names the correct animal.

  8. Red Robin Restaurant once had charade clues written on their kids menu and my kids loved playing it. They kept it up until their food came. They had things like planting a flower and a dog barking, so you can still be sitting while playing.

    I had forgotten all about that until I read this post. Hopefully I can remember the next time we need to pass some time.

  9. wow, what creative games! I am going to have to try those out when my oldest starts talking a bit more. I love the ryhming one!

    I am hosting a children’s Valentine sawp if your interested :O)

  10. We play a game we call “Which do you like best?” Someone asks the first question, which always begins “Which do you like best…” (Examples: Mondays or Fridays? Apples or oranges? Daytime or nighttime). Everyone answers, and tells why they chose what they did. Then it’s someone else’s turn to ask the question. When it’s my son’s turn, he always tries to gross everyone out, “Which do you like best on your ice cream, pickles or hot sauce?” Since you HAVE to pick one, hilarity can ensue. And it’s a great way to get to know more about your kids and how they think!

  11. A game that a lady at my daughter’s school suggested playing was an association game. Some up with two things that seem unrelated she gave the suggestion of a water bottle and an innertube you swim with. And have you son/daughter list how they’re a like:
    -you take them both to the pool or beach
    -they’re both made of plastic
    -they both touch water

    I tried it with my daughter, but she’s not quite old enough yet. I’ll try again in a little while.

  12. We play all three of these games and they really are a sanity saver! We also will play the alphabet thankful game where you go around and think of something you are thankful for for each letter.

  13. What great game ideas both in your post and in these comments! Our games lately consist of spelling. My oldest son is learning how to read and so we do a lot of “How do you spell” questions – not really games.
    I am for sure going to adapt some of these games and start playing them. My little guys will love them!


  14. We made up a dinner game called “Something in the oven.” One person thinks of something we eat, and the rest try to guess…When do we eat it? Is it a vegetable? Do you bake it? Pretty simple but the kids love it.

  15. i’ll definitely try those games next time i’m at the grocery store.
    one game we play in the car is… well there’s no name, but we look at the clouds and say what they look like. most of the time they look like a boat, but sometimes they look like a dinosaur, or a shark, etc. it’s a great way for the kids to use their imagination.

  16. we play another version of the alphabet game – you have to find all the letters of the alphabet in order. Works great in the car too – find signs and license plates with the letters.

  17. My kids get fidgety really easy. When we used to wait for the bus we played the alphabet game. We would use the alphabet to name colors, food, animals, names, etc. One category for each game. The usually like to play the animal and the food version over and over and over again. It helps pass the time.

  18. I love these games. One that we play (actually my husband and I have used this when waiting before) is “I’m going to the moon.”

    It goes like this …
    The first persons says, “I’m going to the moon and I’m going to take an (A-word)apple
    The second person says, “I’m going to the moon and I’m going to take an apple and a (B-word)bat
    The third persons says, “I’m going …. and I’m going to take an apple, a bat and a (C-word) cantaloupe.

    You get the idea. You keep going until you have to remember 1 item for every letter of the alphabet. It’s really fun :)

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