Toddlers: Props Please
Edible Jewelry Before you leave the house, accessorize your kid with a Cheerios necklace. Kids love making them, but that's an activity to be done at home. The thing to do while waiting at the post office is to eat the cereal from the necklace. This is a double-duty activity. It banishes the hunger pains, and it takes a lot longer than just eating the Cheerios from a baggie.
Stuck on You What is it about tape? Kids love playing with it, balling it up, sticking it on their knees. It's a sensory delight! Give your toddler a strip of Scotch tape -- it's not too sticky, so it won't hurt the skin when it's pulled off. If you want to get something out of the deal, ask your kid to use it as a lint brush on your sweater.
Toddlers: Let's Pretend
Beauty Parlor Get out that hairbrush and ask your kid to go to town on your hair. Your child will think you look like a movie star (you can put your hair back the way you want it when she's not looking).
Big Spender Give your older baby his own wallet, filled up with old store discount cards and business cards. Taking out his important cards and putting them back is way fun. An old handbag can serve the same function.
Preschoolers: Art Appreciation
Quick. Look around you. Is there a painting on a wall? Ask your kid questions about the painting and, together, create a story. Who lives in the house? Why does the man look so happy?
Preschoolers: Police-Sketch Artist
For this activity you'll need a small notebook and a pencil. This is the perfect game to play during long airport waits. Draw a picture of a random person in the crowd. Don't worry if art isn't your thing; it actually makes it more fun if you're not a great artist. Challenge your kid to guess which person you drew. Teach him to identify the suspect by whispering in your ear -- not by jumping up, pointing, and yelling, "He's the one!" Then switch roles and have your kid draw the suspect.
Advanced Police-Sketch Artist Add a twist. Instead of just drawing a picture of the suspect, describe to your kid the person you want her to draw. Tell her the shape of the person's face, the color of his hair, the kind of clothes he's wearing. After your kid finishes drawing the picture, she has to guess who she just drew. Again, encourage quiet talking to lessen the chance of an embarrassing moment.
Preschoolers: Use Your Imagination
Vacation Time Pretend you're going on a family trip to the beach. Ask your child what to pack. Make suggestions, especially silly ones like snow boots. Then try a vacation to the mountains. Or to the moon.
Robot 20 Questions This is almost exactly like the regular 20 Questions, but with one difference that will delight your kid: You are a robot. Think of an object, and have your kid ask yes/no questions. But instead of answering "yes" and "no," answer, in a robotic monotone, "affirmative" and "negative." Trust me, it makes all the difference.
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