21 Tried and Tested Waiting Games for Kids to Pass the Time

Jill Holtz

October 10, 2016

waiting games

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Being in a waiting situation is never fun with kids, especially when you have no idea how long it’s going to take. I’ve been in hospital waiting rooms, at airports, or even at the Post Office and started to feel the stress of the situation. So here are 21 Tried and Tested Waiting Games for Kids to Pass the Time:

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#1. I Spy

The classic game, I Spy is where you take it in turns to guess what the other person spies. You start your turn by saying “I Spy with My Little Eye something beginning with (letter)”

For a variation for younger kids, instead of “I Spy something beginning with T” try the colour version “I spy something coloured red”.

#2. Guess Who

Take it in turns to think of a person and the others have to guess who it is asking only questions that can be answered Yes or No.

We always start with Is it a boy? and Do we know them personally? to help narrow down the options.

#3. Animal Vegetable Mineral

Also known as “Twenty Questions”, the first person thinks of something that’s either Animal, Vegetable or Mineral and the others have 20 questions to guess what it is. Questions must only have a Yes or No answer.

#4. Rock Paper Scissors

On the count of 3 each person shows their hand in the shape of either scissors (snipping fingers), paper (flat hand) or stone (fist).

Scissors beats paper as they cut paper, paper beats stone as paper can wrap the stone up and stone beats scissors as the stone can blunt the scissors.

rock paper scissors

#5. Would You Rather

Take it in turns to give the other players a choice of two horrible (or nice) options. For example,

  • Would you rather live in a Haunted Mansion or a Creepy Castle?
  • Would you rather pat a tiger or tickle a lion?
  • Would you rather eat a slug or eat a snail?
Recommended Reading: 30 Fun Games for Car Journeys

#6. Alphabet Zoo

Another family favourite, in Alphabet Zoo each player takes it in turn to come up with an animal, bird, insect or reptile name in order of the alphabet.

So, for example, Armadillo, Bear, Cat, etc.

Tip: for X we allow Fox or any other animals that have an X in the name.

alphabet zoo

#7. Stop the Bus

You will need a piece of paper and a pen for each player.

  • Each person has a piece of paper and draws on columns for these headings Girls Name, Boys Name, Animal, Food/Drink, Place.
  • One person says the alphabet silently in their head, then another says “Stop the Bus” and that letter is the initial for the words in each category. e.g. Say the letter is D –  Categories could be Dora, David, Dog, Dates, Denmark.
  • When everyone has finished you add up their scores for that round, awarding 10 points for a unique answer (one no one else has), and 5 points for a duplicate answer.
  • You can come up with new categories as well to play against.

#8. Dots and Boxes

You’ll need a piece of paper and at least one pen for Dots and Boxes. Start with an empty grid of dots. Players take turn adding a single line between two unjoined dots next to each other.

The player who completes the fourth side of the 1×1 box puts their initial into the middle of that box. The player with the most boxes at the end of hte game wins.

dots and boxes

#9. Mini Scavenger Hunt

If you are in a waiting room with lots of magazines, use a magazine for a mini scavenger hunt and instruct your child to find certain items, for example, “Find something red that starts with a P,” or “find a yellow car.”

#10. Memory Game

Take 10 things from your handbag or your child’s bag and lay them out on a seat or table. Give each person 1 minute to memorise the items then either have them recite as many back as they can or take one item away and see if they can say which item is missing.

#11. First One To Laugh

Everyone has to be silent and the first person to laugh loses the game. This inevitably descends into giggles all around!

Young Girl laughing

#12. Paper Catch

Take a small scrap of paper and drop it. Your child has to try to catch it with two fingers before it hits the ground.

Recommended Reading: 15 Fun Card Games for Kids

#13. Alphabet Names

A variation of Alphabet Zoo this time do girls names and boys names taking it in turns to run through the alphabet.

E.g. Alice, Barbara, Ciara, … or Adam, Ben, Charlie, …

#14. Hangman

Another classic, Hangman is a paper and pencil guessing game for two or more players. One player thinks of a word or phrase, and they write down a row of dashes representing each letter of the word or phrase. They can give a clue like “It’s a movie” or “It’s a famous book”. The other players try to guess it by suggesting letters.

If the guessing player suggests a letter which is in the word, the other player writes it in all its correct positions. If the suggested letter is not in the word, the other player draws one element of a hanged man stick figure, starting with noose, head, body, arms, legs, hands, feet. The word or phrase has to be guessed before the complete hanged man is drawn.

 Hangman

#15. Fortunately/Unfortunately

Start a story and then everyone has a turn where they have to add to the story starting their sentence with “fortunately” or “unfortunately” depending on the turn.

E.g. Once upon a time a man was walking down the road when he met a tiger. Unfortunately the tiger was very hungry. Fortunately the man had a pizza on him which gave the tiger… (and so on)

#16. Rhyming Pairs

Each player picks 2 rhyming words and then gives the other player(s) a clue to guess. For example, fat cat = clue chubby feline or hairy fairy = clue elf with a beard.

#17. Word Chain

Play word chain where one player starts and the second player has to come up with a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word.

For example, Star – Radio – Orange – Earring – Grape and so on.

#18. Thumb Wrestling

Start with each player placing their thumbs in mid air facing one another. With the right hand finger tips, grab your opponent’s fingertips and grab tight.

Bow to each other thumbs, say the verse “One, two, three, four / I declare a thumb war!” and you can add “Five, six, seven, eight / Try to keep your thumb straight!”

Then try to catch one another’s thumbs! The winner pins their opponent’s thumb for a set count of e.g. 5 or says the verse “One, two, three, four / I win the thumb war!”

thumb wrestling

#19. Tongue Twisters

Here are some of our favourite tongue twisters, see who can say them the most times without making a mistake!

  • She sells seashells by the seashore and the shells she sells are seashells I’m sure
  • Unique New York
  • Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

#20. Alphabet Imaginary Travels

Take it in turns to travel around the imaginary world taking with you items beginning with your letter of the alphabet.

For example, “I’m going to Aunt Annabel’s and I’m taking my Armadillo.” or “I’m going to the Bahamas and I’m taking my Blue Boots.”

#21. Simon Says

Take it in turns to be Simon who gets to instruct everyone to do something. If it starts with Simon Says the others have to do it, if you don’t say Simon says and they do it then they are out.

Some good commands while waiting are clap your hands, touch your nose, count to 10, stick out your tongue, stand on your toes, hop on one foot.

#22. Cribbage Online

This classic card game is available online for free. The main objective of the game is to score 121 points through a series of card combinations.

Cribbage Online also features a history of the game, rules and popular strategies. Additional the website has multiple difficulty settings, making it perfect for players of all skill levels.

Try Cribbage Online.

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