No Toy Games

When we went to Disney World back in February, I scoured the internet looking for fun ways to beat the boredom of standing in line. Turns out going in February alone was enough and we spent very little time waiting, but I am still glad to have my list!

For our full list of items in our Disney Day Bag, click HERE.

As we prepare for our first train ride, stand around waiting for our Italian Residency paperwork to be completed, and work a little harder to focus on a No Toys Needed approach to fun, I thought I would share some of our favorite No Toys Needed games for ages 3+.

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10 No Toy Games


#1) I Spy. A classic for a reason. Of course you can play the version where Person A spies something of a particular color and Person B tries to guess the item. But we play so that Person A thinks of a color and everyone tries to find any object that color. This feels more collaborative and less competitive. Plus we can focus on shades of colors or have conversations about items we see and worry less about who is winning.

#2) From Here to There. Honestly, I made this up. But we enjoy it. Everyone takes turns walking “from here to there” in a manner suggested by the other person. Without stepping on any cracks, backwards, with your eyes closed and on one foot are popular with our now 4 year old. I like this because I get to set the parameters and he gets to practice listening and following instructions. Plus I get to model those same practices back to him. He loves being the boss of me and this is an easy way to let him have a little control.

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#3) Rock, Paper, Scissors. Picture it. July 4th 15 minutes before the fireworks and no one has had a nap all day. Enter- the best game ever- Rock, Paper, Scissors. What I really love about this game in particular is we can set a number of rounds before we start “we will play 10 games” so everyone knows when we will move on. Some of the other games tend to drag out or are hard to stop (so much fun!), so this is a good one if I know our wait time will be limited and we just have to get through the next few minutes.

#4) Tell Me A Story. What eventually evolved into a love of story stones, began as a simple story game. Person A thinks of 3 things items, people, or places and Person B has to tell a story about them. The challenge is remembering your items as the story evolves, but that is also part of the fun. If the story is so good you forget your items, everyone wins!

#5) I Am Thinking Of a Number. When we started working with the number line and measuring in inches and centimeters, I started playing this game with Nico. The concept is simple and easy to understand if everyone has a grasp of numbers and higher/lower. Person A thinks of a number between 1 and 20. Person B tries to guess it. For each guess Person A describes their given number as Higher or Lower than the guess. Like Rock, Paper, Scissors, this game is great because there is a strong start, middle, and end. You can decide beforehand how many rounds you will do and when to stop.

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#6) Red Light, Green Light. Much like “From here to there” this game is a wonderful listening game that can be amped up to burn a few calories as well. And it is perfect for those last few minutes before boarding an airplane. I am sure the airline would like me and mine to board the plane first so that we are not bothering other people as we walk down the aisle (insert eye roll emoji) but trust me, it’s worth it to go last and let him run off some enthusiasm with a few rounds of this classic school yard game.

#7) Man In the Mirror. This is not a favorite for our family, but it works when nothing else will. Person A and Person B face each other, taking turns being the Man and the Mirror. Person A lifts their hand and scratches their nose. Person B does the same. Person A winks their left eye. Person B copies. Person A blows a rasberry… you get the idea. If I am very lucky we can continue this game while I (Person A) walk quietly through the library to the children’s section while Nico (Person B) follows along.

#8) One Point For Me. If we need a game to stretch out without having to actively be involved every second, we play One Point For Me. The concept is simple. I get tired of whining and I suddenly spot an object on the street and announce “Puppy! One Point For Me!” Sometimes, it is a dump truck, or a stop sign or a person on a bicycle. We either play where were we are all looking for puppies or sometimes we will all decide we want to look for different things. Think of it like Bingo except simpler and without the card and no one actually wins.

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#9) Two Truths and A Lie. This one is interesting with a preschooler, but came about after a family discussion about telling the truth. Someone had been testing his ability to be believed when he said something that was untrue. We used this game to explain the difference in the Truth and Not The Truth. But it went over so well, we now play it regularly. Person A thinks up 3 facts, two truths and one lie. Person B has to find the falsehood. I really like that all three of us can be actively involved in this and it is a great conversation starter about our days.

#10) Finally! The last of this list! Our last, family friendly game that doesn’t need a prop but will entertain your people in a grocery store is Would You Rather? I always thought this was more of a teenage sleepover game (Would you rather kiss Brain or Jerry?), but it has truly helped me connect with my preschooler and my husband. We use this time (waiting to check out, standing in line at the bank, pushing the cart through the grocery store) to really discover more about ourselves and each other. And isn’t that the real purpose of play? To cooperate and develop relationships?

I hope this list of 10 No Toys Needed Games to Play will help you and your connect. We learn so much through our relationships to those closest to us and I hope you find these tedious minutes develop into moments of play with a little support and a great list of games.

Happy Waiting in Line!

Stacey and the team at WhereWeAre.Family