Friday, 24 Sep 2021

Free Games to Play with Young Children

Recently we found ourselves waiting in a coffee shop waiting for a store to open. We’d arrived with the 9 and 5 year olds in tow to discover that the store didn’t open for another hour. After thirty minutes of walking around to get fresh air, we found that while the air may have been fresh, in was in fact too cold to hang out for another thirty minutes. So now we’re sitting in a coffee shop enjoying a cup of coffee while the children sit, now waiting for their hot chocolate to cool. With no books or games on hand, what’s a family to do?

While this day may have been unique, it is actually a familiar situation for parents. Sometimes we go prepared but quickly exhaust our bag of tricks when the wait at the doctor’s office, the dentist’s office, the oil change station, the airport or even a restaurant takes longer than we planned or think that we can stand.

Here is one of our favorite creative free games to pass the time in a fun and constructive way with young children.

Find it in a Magazine:

Almost anywhere we find ourselves waiting, we’ll find plenty of magazines as if they were expecting us to wait. Even inside of restaurants there are plenty of freebies that easily be borrowed and returned.

When my children were little we’d often curl up and just look through magazines at pictures and talk about what we saw. When we’re stuck waiting we’ve turned our magazine perusing into challenging games that can be used to entertain one or create a friendly competition between two or more. The categories are endless. Here are a few of our favorite categories for “Find it in a Magazine” free games.


It can be general as in any animal or more specific such as dog or chicken or even specified to breed like Dalmatian. You can bump it up a notch and search for categories like mammal, reptile or fowl for budding scientist.


Again the search can be general as in fruits or specific as in apple or orange. You can also search for something from each food group including grains, meats, fruits and vegetables, dairy or sugars and fats.


This one is pretty obvious but you can specify capital or lowercase, first letter in a word or two in a row such as 2 of the letters T in “bottom.” Of course you can also work on letter sounds and phonics with challenges like “find something that starts with the letter D.”

Colors and shapes:

Preschoolers will enjoy the challenge of finding colors and shapes and you can add in size too as in “something small and green” or “something big and blue.” It’s also fun to look for patterns like stripes or polka dots.

For more free games and educational ways to pass the time with kids you may enjoy “Learning in the Car.” Busy kids are happy kids and happy kids are fun to be around. Waiting or riding doesn’t have to be boring if Mom and Dad have a few ideas for creative free games in mind.

A quick study of the benefits of sensory integration therapy will help in putting up a sensory gym which the children will enjoy immensely.