Keeping the Kiddos Entertained: Fun Game Ideas for When You’re Stuck Waiting

Picture this: you’re out with the kids, stuck waiting for a ride, standing in a seemingly endless line, or trying to keep the peace at a restaurant. The clock ticks slower, and your patience wears thinner. But fear not! We’ve got your back with a treasure trove of game ideas that are guaranteed to turn those boring waits into moments of fun and laughter.

No more “I’m hungry” or “How much longer?” Instead, get ready to unleash a wave of creativity and giggles that will make time fly. These games are designed to keep the little ones entertained and engaged, ensuring that your sanity stays intact.

Games Ideas for Waiting with Kids 

I Can Do Better

I Can Do Better is the perfect game to occupy your time while trying to entertain children while you are waiting on something. It’s a fun challenge game where players perform different physical feats to earn points. Players challenge each other to see who can do better at various activities, ranging from push-ups and tongue twisters to wiggling ears or holding their breath. The game promotes friendly competition and physical activity.

Materials Needed:

  • No materials are needed, but some challenges might require a little space to perform.

Where/When it Works:

This game is ideal for waiting in line outdoors, such as at theme parks, or while sitting and waiting for a ride. It works best in situations where you have a bit of space for physical activities and noise won’t be a bother to others nearby.

How to Play:

  1. Initiating a Challenge: A player starts by claiming they can perform a specific feat, for example, “I can do 30 push-ups.”
  2. Raising the Bet: Another player, who thinks they can do more, responds with a higher number, such as “I can do 31 push-ups.”
  3. Performing the Challenge: The player who claimed they could do more has to prove it by attempting the challenge. If they succeed, they earn a point. If they fail, the player who initially suggested the lower number gets the point.
  4. Proving Your Claim: If no one raises the bet, the initial player must prove their claim. If they can do the 30 push-ups they claimed, they get a point. If they fail, they lose a point.
  5. Strategizing: The key is to bid confidently but not overbid, as failing to meet your claim results in a point loss. Players must find a balance between challenging others and avoiding overestimating their abilities.

Story Swap

“Story Swap” is an engaging, interactive game that stimulates creativity and enhances communication skills. It involves creating a story together, where each participant adds a twist or continuation to the plot. This game is perfect for spurring imagination and keeping players of all ages entertained while waiting.

Materials Needed:

  • You don’t necessarily need anything although a small notebook and pen can be handy. Especially if players wish to record their story.

Where/When it Works:

This game is ideal for playing in lines, during car rides, or while waiting at a restaurant. It requires no physical space or setup, making it perfect for any situation where you might need to pass the time.

How to Play:

  1. Starting the Story: One player starts the game by setting up a basic scenario in a single sentence. For example, “Once upon a time, a lonely frog discovered a mysterious map in the woods.”
  2. Taking Turns: The next player adds another sentence to continue or twist the story, such as “The map led to a hidden underground city that was full of mice wearing tiny hats.”
  3. Building the Plot: Each player in turn adds to the story with their own sentence, developing the plot further. Players are encouraged to be as creative or humorous as they like, introducing new characters, challenges, or magical elements.
  4. Climax and Conclusion: After a pre-determined number of rounds, players must steer the story towards an exciting climax and eventually a conclusion, wrapping up the adventure and solving any mysteries or conflicts introduced.
  5. Story Sharing: If the story has been written down, players can read it aloud again from start to finish, enjoying the masterpiece they have created.

Creature Creations

“Creature Creations” is a quick, imaginative game designed to engage both kids and adults during waiting times. It encourages creativity and laughter, involving the construction of fictional creatures through a team approach to storytelling and drawing. 

Materials Needed:

  • A piece of paper (or napkin, receipt, etc.)
  • A pen or pencil

Where it Works:

Great when waiting in a waiting room or at a restaurant. Anywhere you have a place/table to draw on. 

How to Play:

  1. Starting the Creature: The first player draws the head of a creature on the paper and passes it to the next player. The head can be anything imaginative, from an animal-like figure to an alien or gruesome beast.
  2. Adding to the Creature: The next player adds to the creature by drawing the neck or the upper body without looking at what the first player drew, folding the paper to hide the previous section except for where it should connect. This player then passes the paper to another player.
  3. Continuing the Build: Each subsequent player adds a new section of the body (e.g., middle body, arms, legs), again folding the paper to only show the small connecting part of the drawing they need to continue from. This process is repeated until the creature has a complete body.
  4. Final Touches: The last player adds the final part of the creature, such as the feet or tail. Once completed, they can also add an environment around the creature, like a forest, outer space, or underwater scene.
  5. Reveal and Naming: Unfold the paper to reveal the entire creature. Players then collaborate to come up with a creative name for the creature and invent a short story or fun facts about it, like where it lives, what it eats, or any special powers it has.
Here is a beautiful creation from our family. From the top: 5 year old, Dad, 3 year old, mom.

Game Title: “Mystery Sound”

“Mystery Sound” is a guessing game similar to 20 questions, but instead of simply blurting out their guesses, players must make the sound of that thing. For example, if the clue was “I carry kids to school”, someone guessing would have to make the sound of a school bus instead of simply guessing “school bus”.

Materials Needed:

None. The game uses players’ abilities to make and guess sounds.

How to Play:

  1. Players take turns being “it”. Meaning that they will be the person who thinks of an item and gives clues.
  2. First, decide who is going to start, they will then think of an item, person, thing, animal, etc., that others will try to guess. 
  3. The other players must ask questions about the item in order to get hints and guess what the person is thinking of. Players should ask “yes or no” questions. For example: “is it an animal?”, “does it fly?”, “can it swim?”, etc. 
  4. When a player thinks they may know and want to guess, they do not get to speak their answer, instead, they must mimic the sound of the thing they are guessing. For example: if you think the answer is a duck, you would quack. 

Quick Sketch

“Quick Sketch” is a creative and fast-paced drawing game that challenges players to sketch simple prompts within a limited time. This game is ideal for engaging kids and adults, enhancing observational and drawing skills without the need for storytelling or guessing.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper (or any drawing surface, like a napkin)
  • Pens or pencils

How to Play:

  1. Setup: Each player gets a piece of paper and a pen, pencil, marker, etc.
  2. Prompt Selection: One player, the “prompter,” thinks of a simple object or scene to draw. This could be anything like a cat, a car, a tree, or a house. The prompter announces the subject aloud.
  3. Drawing Time: All players have 60 seconds (or a suitable short time limit) to draw the prompt as best as they can. The emphasis is on speed and creativity rather than perfect accuracy.
  4. Revealing Sketches: When time is up, players reveal their sketches to each other.
  5. Voting (Optional): For a fun twist, players can vote on the sketches based on different categories like the funniest, the most creative, or the most accurate depiction of the prompt. However, scoring is optional, and the game can simply be about enjoying the drawing process and sharing results.
  6. Rotation: Another player becomes the prompter for the next round, and the game continues.

Mimicking Madness

“Quick Tap” is a dynamic and energetic game that involves quick thinking and fast reactions. This game is great for kids and adults to play in short bursts, such as while waiting in lines or sitting at a table, and it focuses on observation and reflexes without the need for storytelling, drawing, or guessing.

Materials Needed:

None. This game uses only the players’ hands.

How to Play:

  1. Setup: Players stand or sit in a circle where they can easily see each other’s hands.
  2. Starting the Game: One player starts as the leader. The leader will perform a specific hand action, such as a clap, snap, or a tap on the table. It is good to keep it simple at the start and then progress to more complicated movements as players get more experience.
  3. Action Sequence: The leader performs the chosen action, and then the play passes to the next player to the left. Each player must replicate the previous action exactly once.
  4. Adding Complexity:
    After one full circle, the leader adds another action to the sequence. For example, if the initial action was a clap, they might add a snap next. Now each player must perform the clap followed by the snap. The sequence of actions continues to grow with each round, and players must perform the entire string of actions in the correct order. The pace of the game should increase as the sequence grows longer, requiring quicker responses.
  5. Mistake and Elimination: If a player acts out of sequence, they are eliminated. Then the game resumes with a new leader.
  6. Winning the Game: The last player remaining, or the player who can complete the most rounds without making a mistake, is the winner.

Game Title: Chicken, Cow, Horse, Farmer

“Chicken, Cow, Horse, Farmer” is an energetic and fun game where players mimic different animals based on the game leader’s calls. When the game leader calls out “Farmer,” all players must quickly sit on the floor. The last player to sit is out. This game is perfect for keeping kids active and entertained while enhancing their listening skills and reaction time.

Materials Needed:

  • No materials are needed.

Where/When it Works:

This game works well in open spaces where kids have enough room to move around, such as parks, playgrounds, or indoor play areas. It’s ideal for waiting periods or breaks when kids need to burn off some energy.

How to Play:

  1. Choosing the Game Leader: One player is chosen to be the Game Leader. The rest of the players stand in an open space, spread out to give each other room to move.
  2. Calling Out Animals: The Game Leader calls out the names of animals: “Chicken,” “Cow,” or “Horse.” Each time an animal is called, players must mimic that animal’s actions:
    • Chicken: Flap arms like wings and cluck.
    • Cow: Moo loudly and pretend to chew cud.
    • Horse: Neigh and mimic galloping in place.
  3. Calling “Farmer”: When the Game Leader calls out “Farmer,” all players must immediately stop what they’re doing and sit on the floor. This mimics animals returning to the barn/pen.
  4. Elimination: The last player to sit on the floor is out for that round. They can help the Game Leader watch for the next round to ensure fairness.
  5. Continuing the Game: The game continues with the Game Leader calling out different animals, mixing up the calls to keep players on their toes. The process repeats until only one player remains standing.
  6. Winning the Game: The last player remaining who hasn’t been eliminated wins the game and can be the Game Leader for the next round if desired.

Wrap Up

We all know how kids can be a handful when they are bored. Their young minds crave direction, structure, and entertainment. With these ideas, you should have no problem keeping them from causing trouble or driving you crazy. With a little luck, they may forget what they are even waiting for!

Be sure to check out these other games for kids:


Shane is a big fan of learning new games. He is very competitive and enjoys games that incorporate some physical skill. He approaches most contests with a contrarian approach, always looking for an edge!

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