Friday, November 12, 2010

Eating Out With Kids - Beyond the Restaurant Coloring Books and Crayons

We have some busy little kids in our family.  Having two preschoolers means we are constantly looking for ways to keep their brains stimulated and (at least) their little fingers moving.  The often leisurely wait at a restaurant for seating and food is probably one of the most difficult places to be with lovely, squirmy, hungry, fidgety young ones (who are hopefully) sitting in their chairs.  So we've come up with a few strategies to keep them (us!) entertained with more than the standard coloring books and crayons.

Memory/Concentration or Pexeso as it is called in the CR.  It's easy to find small memory card games made out of cardstock at any local papirnictvi store.  They're sold in sheets, ready for you to cut up, and pack away. We keep ours in a tiny square ziploc we found about the house and cut down the number of pairs for restaurant play.

Miniature puzzles with 20 - 50 pieces or so.  Pack them up and break them out at the table.  And then enjoy adult conversation!

A little bag of Legos.  If you are willing to lose a little Lego here or there, I think it's worth it!

Finger puppets courtesy of IKEA - good for the babe and imaginary play with the preschoolers.

Charades at the table using kid-friendly picture action cards. Get your hands on some printable charades cards here and here, scan some from a charades game you have at home (our source), or draw some up of your own.  This makes for a great little game of bonding around the table.

These slotted building discs are available to download courtesy of MadebyJoel.

Color Sudoku courtesy of The Teaching Palette.  Wonderful printable sudoku games made for 3 years of age and up!

And, the ultimate in keeping children happy just about anywhere - reading books!

All of this is packed up in a ziploc bag, ready for any adventure in restaurant eating that awaits us!  What tricks do you use for eating out with children?


  1. A mom once entertained her kids while we ate with nothing but straws. My favorite was the growing caterpillar. She bunched the straw up like a slinky and then wet it with a drop of water. That's my party trick when I eat with kids now! Older kids seem to really enjoy hangman and the dot game too.

  2. With my oldest son, I used to bring a magna doodle with us. He had fun learning how to recognize words like mom and dad.

  3. hello friend - long time no hear! I love your blog. It is so cute!
    We love tic tac toe with the sugar substitute packets. Take 4 straws or 4 knives to make the "board" and one child is blue packets and the other is pink.
    And we just got into aluminum foil art, which in addition to working great of car trips would also be good for table play -

  4. Oh yes, must do more aluminum art - nice for holidays too! Good tic tac toe game too!!!!