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Doctor visits, dental check-ups, car repairs – sometimes life feels like a continuous waiting room. Frequently, it is necessary to have our children with us. Do not despair; there are ways to entertain your kids in the waiting room.


The key to making the time pass quickly and without constant questions and whining is preparation. Set up a bag to grab or keep in the car for when you need to keep your child entertained. Consider including the following:

  • Lacing Cards

Durable, portable pictures, and easy to store flat, your child threads yarn through holes to outline pictures. Lacing cards exercise fine motor skills as well as entertain.

  • Coloring Books and Crayons

Get age appropriate books with pictures that are not too easy or difficult for your child.

  • Puzzles

Add some word finds, mazes, and Sudoku puzzles to your bag.

  • Small Toys

Small dolls, cars, and stuffed animals can provide your imaginative child with characters for acting out make-believe stories.

  • Pencil and Paper

Draw a picture with your child, taking turns adding parts to the picture. You can also play Tic, Tac, Toe and Hangman.

  • Books

Make sure the books you choose are age appropriate, take a while to read, and are changed occasionally.

  • Snacks and Portable Drinks

Snack-size packages of nuts and crackers are a good choice. Also, pack some single-serve pouched drinks that come with their own straws.

If you have no bag prepared or forget to grab it, do not despair. Try one of the following:

  • Kid-friendly Smartphone Apps

Playing with age-appropriate apps such as Rock ‘n Addition, UnderSea Adventures, or K12 Timed Reading Practice, provides a quiet, amusing way to help your kid practice math or reading skills. Just make sure you silence the sound to avoid annoying patients and staff in the waiting area.

  • Have a counting game, taking turns counting various types of people, things, or activities.
  • Play an Alphabet Game
  • I-Spy

Choose something in the waiting room and give your child a hint by saying, “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the letter G.” Your child then guesses the item. Continue taking turns with your child.

  • I Am Thinking Of . . .

Choose animals, flowers, plants, people’s names, or whatever. Take turns with your child thinking of all the items of your chosen category that begin with a certain letter.

  • Alphabet Fun

Choose a category and take turns reciting words in alphabetical order. For example, if you choose flowers, you might start with, “A is for asters,” “B is for bellflowers,” and then “C is for chrysanthemums.”

  • Tell a Story

My children loved hearing about the “old days” when I was a kid. You can also make up a fairy tale or other story, and have your child join in to tell various parts or describe characters.

Next time you are in a waiting room, hand your child items from your prepared bag and sit back and relax, or use our ideas to keep your kid entertained. Who knows: waiting time may actually become enjoyable!

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