Things to Do While You’re Waiting: Learning Activity Kits

It’s happening again! You’re running errands with your children and suddenly you’re stuck—in traffic, at the clinic, in the checkout line. Homemade learning activity kits can engage a child who hates to wait.

All of these kits

slip easily into a purse, glove compartment, backpack, or diaper bag. The kits are for ages 3 and up. Cost depends on what parents include. Every kit needs:

  • a zipper pouch or resealable plastic bag big enough to hold everything
  • smaller bags to organize the parts of the kit
  • pencils or pens
  • a memo tablet for notes, counting, games, lists, drawings (NOTE: To make your own tablets: Cut pieces of blank scrap paper the same size. Staple them together across the top. Add a piece of stiff cardboard to the kit to support the tablet while in use.)

A math kit

lets your child play with numbers and problem solving. You might include:

  • a lightweight tape measure
  • an assortment of items to count and sort—coins, beans, buttons, coupons, checkers, game pieces, playing cards, dice, dreidels, etc.
  • a list of favorite fingerplays and action rhymes that involve numbers
  • puzzles made from cut-up postcards or magazine photos glued to thin cardboard

An art and literacy kit

encourages creative expression. A child can practice making letters, write and illustrate a book, cut out paper dolls, or play games like Tic-Tac-Toe. You might include:

  • gel pens, washable fine-point markers, or crayons (Don’t leave crayons in a hot car.)
  • transparent tape or washi tape
  • stickers, stencils, or stamps
  • colorful paper (such as bright magazine pages) for folding or cutting
  • scissors—safe but not frustrating to use

A science kit

encourages children to look at the wider world. You might include:

  • a small, inexpensive magnifier
  • paper and a marker or pencil for sketching specimens
  • pipe cleaners
  • sandwich bags for collecting specimens
  • an assortment of items to study—keys, pebbles, seeds, nuts and bolts, etc. (NOTE: You can change the assortment from time to time.)

A music and sound kit

helps you and your child investigate sound. You might include:

  • small plastic containers with seeds or buttons inside for shaking
  • a variety of rubber bands
  • small scarves or 24-inch ribbons to wave
  • a paper towel roll (for a mini-drum or a “voice changer”)
  • a list of favorite songs and poems