March 21, 2010

Waiting Games: Super-simple activities for passing the time with kids

Kid in Airport

photo courtesy of Mom of Two

by Crystal Thomas

Waiting is no fun, especially for kids. That’s why we’ve gathered a list of some favorite waiting games from Cozi staff and Cozi Facebook fans. The following are some of most fun yet ridiculously simple games we know. The best part is that you can play these anywhere—in the car, waiting for a plane, or standing in line at an amusement park—because they require nothing more than you and your kids... and a little imagination.


Choose a letter and a category, and take turns naming something in the category that starts with that letter. (Example: T and Food = tomato, tortilla, turkey, etc.) When someone can't name something, they’re out; keep going until no one can think of anything. Then start again with a new letter and category!


The first player says a word, and the others take turns rhyming until there are no more words. Simple, fun, and a great game to help with reading!

Thanks to Lauralee Saad for this idea.

I’m going on a picnic

The first player says the phrase, "I'm going on a picnic (or vacation, or camping trip, or wherever you happen to be going) and I am bringing ______." The first item should start with the letter A. The next player repeats what the first person is bringing and adds an item beginning with B. Continue taking turns until you reach the end of the alphabet. Players are out when they miss an item. This is a great concentration exercise for kids.

Waving competition

Challenge your kids to see who can get people in other cars (or in the airport, or anywhere with lots people) to wave to them. They can smile, wave, or make funny faces or wild gestures. The best part: this can be a silent game! (If you don’t count the giggles, of course.)

Guess the color

One person thinks of a color, and the other players take turns trying to guess the color. After 8 or 9 guesses, the players get the first letter as a hint. Absurdly simple, yet always fun.

Name game

Take turns naming celebrities (or, for younger children, names of anyone they can think of) using the first letter of the person’s last name for the first letter of the next person’s first name. (Example: Fred Astaire, Anthony Hopkins, Hugh Grant, Gina Davis, etc.)

Thanks to Dawn Ward-Lau for this idea.

Phrase game

Similar to the name game, but even simpler: Take turns naming phrases, using the last word of the previous phrase for the first word of the next phrase. (Example: chocolate milk, milky way, way out, outside, etc.)

Thanks to Roni Reed for this idea.

Thumb wrestling!

Quick, easy, and sometimes...sometimes, you can let them win.

Thanks to Erika Wiksten Cloutier for this idea.

The classics

Don’t forget the oldies but goodies, such as Simon Says and I Spy. Also, games like Charades and 20 Questions can be simplified for younger family members by choosing a theme, such as animals or cartoon characters.

Get into the habit of playing some of these simple, no-prop games whenever you have some time to kill, and soon you’ll have your own set of family favorites, some of which were no doubt invented by your own kids.

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There's also the dictionary game: one person reads a definition from the dictionary (there's probably an iPhone app for that) and others guess the word.


When we travel by car with our Grandchildren we play the ABC game.

Starting at the letter A and moving forward, they must find that letter any where outside the car. On other cars, signs, buildings, mailboxes etc.

Whom every gets to Z first wins.

Keeps the kids busy and pretty quiet as well ;)


While waiting at the station my Kids have wheeled backpacks that they raced up and down the platform. Lol it tired them out so they were as good as gold in the train.

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