This time of year finds ours family going out to eat with friends and family more than ever. Taking children to a restaurant (especially a toddler and preschooler) is sometimes very challenging. To help pass the time while we wait for a table or for the food to arrive, I try to have activities available for the kids to keep them occupied. Yes, I do have a tablet that we can bring, but I like to pack other non-electronic forms of entertainment. I usually have a collection of these activities pre-packed in the car – our Take-Along Activity Kit. When we get to the restaurant or appointment, I can pull out a couple of activities to keep the kids occupied.
For most of the activities I like using pencil bags with zippers that I usually get for $1 a piece at Big Lots or Dollar Tree. Some activities that I have pre-packed are:
- Books – I Spy Books are always a hit. We also like to take seasonal books.
- Small Puzzles – Hank loves the tiny puzzles that come in the mini-tins. They can fit easily on a table and are great for passing the time.
- Lacing Cards – Hank and Faith both like to use the lacing cards and “sew” like Mommy.
- Cutting & Craft Bag – I include pieces of construction paper, a pair of scissors, stickers, crayons, and art kits. I also like to use the activity packs that you can get at the store that include an activity pad, stickers and crayons all in one. The activity pads with an “invisible” marker that reveals the colors or pictures on each page are a big hit as well.
- Games Bag – I have a collection of small, portable games that fit easily in a bag. Hank received a Highlights subscription from his grandparents and they sometimes have games at the end. We cut them out and put them in a bag for something different to play on the go. Some free printable games that Hank really likes that are in our bag are: Role A Monster, a free printable available from 3 Dinosaurs; the Little Game Box(a treasure hunt game and a memory game) from Dabbled; and the Travel Dice Game from The Activity Mom.
- And More – I am always finding new activities on Pinterest or when I am out shopping. Following are some of the activities that I have made to include in our take-along kit.
Have a Great Week!
I saw this idea and made it for Hank when he was a toddler. He used it a lot and now Faith does as well. It really keeps her entertained.
Pipe Cleaner Game
From Dose of Happy
- Bottle that has a lid with holes (I used a parmesan cheese bottle, but a spice bottle would work as well).
- Pipe cleaners (I cut sparkly pipe cleaners into different lengths to fit into the bottle).
Dump the pipe cleaners out of the bottle into a pile. Have your child put the pipe cleaners into the bottle through the holes. A fun and easy game that helps your child work on fine motor skills at the same time. While she is doing the activity, we talk about the colors of the pipe cleaners as well.
Hank and Faith both love cars. I combined the ideas from several different ones I have seen to make this kit that they both will love.
Mini Car Kit
- Small Cars – I found a package of 8 mini cars – 2 each of 4 different colors – at the dollar store. I ended up getting 2 packages so we have plenty. I wrote numbers on each car with a permanent marker.
- Car Pattern Cards from Toddler Approved – I printed off the pattern cards and colored them in to match the cars I found for the kit.)
- Road Letter Tracing Book from Playdough to Plato – I put the printed pages in a small photo book.
- Parking Lot Play Mat(idea from Little Family Fun)
- Car Race Game (idea from Little Family Fun) – I customized our game to match the colors of cars we have in the kit.
- Patterns – Have your child pick a pattern card. Then have him take the cars and make the same pattern as on the pattern card.
- Letter Tracing – Have your child pick a car and trace the letters in the Road Letter Book.
- Number Match – Have your child find the number on each car and then drive the car to the correct parking spot in the number parking lot.
- Car Race Game – Put a car of each color at their starting spaces. Then have your child draw a color card. Whatever color is drawn, move that car forward 1 spot. Play until 1 car reaches the finish line.
Hank loves anything Lego. When I saw this idea, I knew that it would be a hit for a take-along-activity.
- Plastic Pencil Box
- Legos (list of needed pieces available through link below)
- Lego Pattern Cards from Fun at Home With Kids
Your child picks a pattern card and builds a structure with the Lego’s that matches the card.
One of Hank’s favorite things is “I Spy”, therefore this bag is right up his ally. I originally got this idea from Grow. Instead of using a bottle, I put the items in a pencil bag
I Spy Bag
- Pencil Bag or Bottle with Lid
- Small Assorted Toys and Items (colored pom pom, penny, paper clip, black bean,puzzle piece, stretchy worm, crayon, decorative jewel, bead, googly eye, noodle, etc.)
- Find It Card of items in bag (I just took a picture of the items before I put it all together)
Look at the picture card and then find the items in the “I Spy” bag.
Hank and Faith both love playing with craft sticks – counting or building. I combined the ideas from a couple of posts that I liked to make this kit.
Craft Stick Kit
- Patterns – Have your child pick a pattern card, and then take the sticks and recreate the pattern.
- Counting Game – Put the sticks in a pile and roll the dice. Take that number of sticks from the pile and put them back in the bag.
- Stick Pile Up – Take turns putting the sticks in a stack. See how many can be stacked without tipping them over.
I combined ideas from 3 different blogs for this Paperclip Kit. It is already a favorite.
- Pencil Bag
- Colored Paperclips
- Color Sorting Circles from Powerful Mothering (I laminated the cards to hold up to multiple uses)
- Brown Bear Number Cards from Totally Tots (I punched a hole in each card to put a paperclip through to form a chain)
- Paperclip Pattern Cards from Counting Coconuts
- Sorting – Have your child take the paperclips and put them on the matching color circles, either just piling them up on top of the circle, or clipping them around the outside of the circle.
- Counting – Have your child take pick one of the Brown Bear Number Cards and put a chain of paperclips together to match the number on the card.
- Patterns – Have your child pick a pattern card, and then take the paperclips and make the same pattern as on the pattern card.