Before we had kids, my husband and I went out to dinner all the time. We loved trying new foods and the restaurants that our local city had to offer. While our type of dinners out are different now with two young kids, we still go out to dinner with them a couple times a week. We've never been the type to just stay home because it's easier to avoid going out. We've always wanted our kids to get to try new things, too, and going out to dinner with them is a special treat for the whole family—whether it's a nicer sit-down restaurant or a more casual burger shack.
However, when you have young children, they get antsy and often have a hard time waiting while the food is being prepared. Now that Ruby is 5, she can entertain herself with solo activities, while Coco (who is 2) needs us to actively engage with her while waiting for food. Otherwise, she wants to run around all over the place. With the help of some of our little friends from Monster High, today I'm sharing a few games you can play with young kids to keep them occupied before/during/after dinner while on-the-go and out at restaurants…
1. Shape and Color Game – For younger toddlers, cut out pieces of colorful felt in different shapes. Ask them to match the character's hair color or outfit color to a shape of the same color. I always want my kids to express themselves and live life colorfully, so I love how these minis express their personalities in all kinds of ways. For an easier option, you can have little ones recognize shapes by asking them to place a character "on the blue circle" or "on the yellow triangle". Coco gets super excited when she gets them right and sees our reaction to her growing recognition skills.
2. Tic-Tac-Toe – Using thick felt, create a board with nine squares to play tic-tac-toe! The kids can use the toys as their playing pieces and the grown-up can use coins or sugar packets from the table. This is good way to start teaching older toddlers about strategy and thinking ahead. Ruby's in a stage where we're starting to talk to her about what happens when you don't win a game. Games like this give us an opportunity to teach what kind of attitude to have if you don't win a game or race, how to be gracious to your opponent, and that practice helps you get better at any skill. Also, by having kids use their own toys as playing pieces, it makes it way more fun than simply drawing x's and o's on a piece of paper.
3. Create a story. For kids that can draw and use their imagination to tell stories, ask them to imagine what that character might have done that day and then draw that scene. Monster High Minis are all about being different and embracing what makes you special so it's fun to have that dialog with your kids as they develop a story to create. We like to encourage our kids to be kind to others, too, so a scenario you can set up for a story is how one character does something nice for a friend. In this case, Ruby decided to make a friend happy by making a picnic they could enjoy together.
And before you know it, 20 minutes have passed and your food is out! We always have the kids clean-up the toys when the food arrives so we can focus on enjoying our meal together as a family. I keep everything in a zippered pouch to make it easy to pop into my bag and save for our next meal time out!
*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Monster High. All words are my own.