8 Games to Play With Kids While Waiting at a Restaurant

8 (2)Waiting is a learned skill in today’s society where instant gratification rules. When I’m alone, I’m a Jedi Master of waiting. I have trained my brain and breathing to maintain inner peace despite the trials of people who grocery shop at gas stations with coupons or the tribulations of dealing with AT&T’s offshored technical support services.

However, add kids to the mix and I regress to the immaturity of a youngling in no time. So to help cope with having to wait with children in tow, my husband and I have a host of games we play. Might I add, these games require NO use of electronics.

Clicking Here go right here 1. Guess Animal. My son “invented” this game when he was just able to talk. He’s 12 and still asks to play it today. The goal of the game is to provide clues about an animal until someone guesses it. If someone guesses correctly, he or she is the winner. If everyone gives up, the person who thought of the animal wins. When my son was really young, the clues were as simple as “this animal has a white stripe down its back.” Now, the clues are more complicated, such as “this is a mammal also known as a sea cow – and no, it’s not your mother swimming in the ocean.”

2. Chopsticks. This game is played with two players. While it is complicated to explain in writing, it’s very easy to understand once you play. I’ve included a brief video to help demonstrate. The game is called Chopsticks because it starts with the hands in the same position as when you play the piano song. You hold out your index fingers next to each other, palms facing down. Your opponent does the same.

The goal of Chopsticks is to eliminate your opponent by transferring the number of digits (or points) displayed on your hands, to your opponent’s hands until each of your opponent’s hands reaches the count of 5. Once a person’s hand reaches the count of 5 fingers displayed, that hand is eliminated. The “points” are transferred by tapping fingers with your opponent. Note that you can also use a turn to transfer points between your own hands. For instance, if you have four fingers displayed on one hand and zero on the other, you can rescue the hand in danger of elimination by bumping your hands together and transferring up to three fingers onto the hand that has zero. See the video for an example.

Here is a quick clip from a game to demonstrate.



3. Coin Hockey. Got spare change and a flat table? Take out three coins, preferably of equal size. The objective of the game is to use two of the coins as “goal posts” and to continuously score goals with the third coin until one of the players is no longer able to do so. To get started, put all three coins closely together so they form a triangle. To establish the first goal posts, use your index finger to tap, as hard as you can, one of the coins. This will hopefully cause the other two coins to separate, providing the goal posts through which you shoot the remaining coin you initially tapped. Once the coins are in play, they must stay flat on the table. From there, you just take turns with your opponent flicking the coin through the goal posts. Note: After the initial play, any two coins can serve as goal posts as long as the third is used to pass through them. Also, you can’t play the same coin twice as the “hockey puck.”

4. Topic by Letter. Pick a category like movies, books, super heroes, football teams, etc. Pick a letter and take turns naming a subject from the category. The first person who can’t name one or repeats one said previously loses.

5. Create a Story. What’s the story behind…the name of the restaurant, how your city came to be, how your server got his or her name? Make it up. Have each person add a sentence to the story. Allow imaginations to run wild.

6. At the store I bought… Following the letters of the alphabet, each person around the table takes turns saying what they bought at the store with the name of the item starting with the letter next in line. The tricky part comes in that before you state what you bought at the store, you have to restate every item listed before you. For example:

First person: “I bought an apple.”

Second person: “I bought an apple and a banana.”

Third person: “I bought an apple, banana and celery.”

And so on.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a grocery store. You could allow items from wherever or pick a specific type of store in which to shop (sport store, jewelry store, etc.)

7. Coin basketball. This can get a bit unruly so be sure you have space to play. The goal of the game is to grab a spinning coin between your thumbs to stop it and then launch that coin into a hand-made basketball hoop provided by the opponent. If you fail at catching the coin between your thumbs, your turn is over. Part of the challenge is that you also have to keep your hands on the table while launching the coin. My hubby and son demonstrate in this video:


8. Hangman or…Pizza? Again, it’s a classic game. A person picks a word and makes a line for each letter. People take turns guessing a letter that might be in the word. If they get a letter correct, they can try to guess the word. If they don’t, a line is drawn on a stickman hanging from a noose. Sheesh, writing that sounds horrible. The great thing is, it doesn’t have to be a man “hanging.” Just have it be a stickman. Or have it be a supreme pizza with all the toppings and with each missed letter a topping gets added. Just make it something that needs to built and, if it is finished being created without the word being guessed, then the person who made up the word wins.

There you have it. Eight games you can choose to play with your child or that your children can play with each other while waiting for your order at a restaurant, between games in a sports tournament, or nearly anywhere. The best part about these games is that they won’t run out of a charge and they require some form of interaction with all parties involved. Plus, take it from a Jedi of waiting… “Learn patience and discipline from these games, you will.”

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