Games to Play While You Wait


Waiting at a restaurant, waiting in line, long car rides, long plane rides, doctor’s offices, checkout lines, waiting… waiting… waiting.

No one likes to wait, right?  So why not make it fun for young and old alike, no game board necessary. Grant yourself and your kids a little sanity while you wait.  Here are some of our family’s favorite games to play while you wait.

The Classic Games

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Who doesn’t love a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors?  This list wouldn’t be complete without this classic game.

I Spy:  Instructions in case you need a refresher on how it’s played.

Dots and Boxes:  This is one of the first games I remember learning.  A piece of paper and pen is all you need. Here is quick video instruction on how to play.

Thumb War: “1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a thumb war”. Our kids always love it when the adults join in on this one.

Alphabet Memory Game: We also call this, “I’m Going on a Vacation.”  The first person says, “I’m going on vacation and taking…” and chooses something that starts with an “A”. The next person repeats this with the ‘A’ item, and then says an item that starts with ‘B’. The alphabet continues with each player recalling all the items in order and then a new item with the next letter of the alphabet.

The Newbie Games

How Many?: Call out a shape (or color or letter, etc.) and ask your child how many things of that shape they can find.  Great for helping younger kids with shape and color identification.

Sticks Game (also called Chopsticks or Numbers): Our kids learned this game last year from their cousins and we’ve since taught it to several others when we had waiting time to spare.  Here are the basic instructions for this quick to learn game.

Thumb Game  For 2+ players. With everyone’s fists on the table, the first person says a number (0 to 2 times the number of people playing – for example, with 2 players, call a number from 0 to 4).  When the first person calls out a number, everyone (including the person who called the number) either gives two thumbs up, one thumb up or no thumbs up.  If the number of thumbs up matches the number that was called that person wins and gets to sit out.  The goal is to not be the last person left.  Whether the number matches or not, the game continues with players taking turns calling out a number and then everyone putting thumbs up.  Make sure to decrease the number range as players get out of the game.  Here is the game in action.

Word Chain: Similar to the Alphabet Memory Game, one person says a word, the next person says the first word plus a new word, the third person says both words in order and adds a third word. Continue until someone forgets a word or the order for the words.

Would you Rather?: Another favorite of ours.  Check out these creative questions all ready to print out and stick in your bag to help the time pass the next time you’re waiting.

What about you? What are your favorite ways to pass time with kids while you wait?