Are you ever in a situation where you need your kiddos to be quiet for thirty minutes or an hour? Sometimes it is difficult for kids to comprehend the importance of quiet time.
Here are 16 games and activities that require little or no supplies to keep your kids quiet and entertained. Some of these games I played in school when my teacher needed to grade tests. There were at least 20 of us kids, but the room was un-earthly quiet when our teacher told us to occupy ourselves with these games. Some of these games are also fun things that my kiddos and I made up to keep them entertained and quiet during long road trips, waiting times and while I am cooking dinner. These games can come in handy at just about any time of the day!
Keeping kiddos quiet AND happy is a super sneaky trick that all moms and teachers need to have up their sleeves. These games are much better than shooing your kids into a room to watch a movie. Keeping kids occupied lets them know you want them to be quiet — but happily engaged in a learning, connecting activity.
If you are in an airport, a waiting room or anywhere that needs kids to sit quietly, try these games to cut out the stress of repeatedly shushing your kids. Many of these games work for ages three and up, but some are only appropriate for school-age children. Feel free to adapt these games to your child’s level.
16 Quiet Games for Kids
- The Quiet Game. There are many variations to this game. We play it in the car, in a public place and even at the dinner table. The simplest version is just to pick the quietest to start the game. The person that starts the game then picks the next quietest child, and then that child picks the next quietest child. Even though this is simple, kids do not normally tire of this game until about 30 minutes. A different twist, is to have the kids sit in a circle and have the first person walk around and gently tap the quietest person’s head. They then take that person’s spot and the next person walks around the circle and pats the next quietest person. This version seems to entertain kids for a longer period of time.
- Telephone. Many of you probably already know this game, but never thought about using it for quiet time. Have the kids sit in a circle and choose a person to begin. That person whispers a phrase into the person’s ear beside them and then that person whispers to the next person. The phrase cannot be repeated so it is very important that all the kids stay quiet so everyone can hear the message. At the end, have the last person say the message out loud to see how silly the message turned out!
- Graveyard. It’s a little morbid, I know, but dead people don’t move or talk. All kids lie on the ground, close their eyes and don’t move. Choose one person to stand up and pick the best dead person. Or, have the first person stand up and watch the others. When someone moves or talks, they are out. The person standing up lets the others know when they are out.
- Quiet animal. Choose a small stuffed animal for this game. You can always keep one in your purse or diaper bag. Have the kids sit in a circle and give the stuffed animal to the quietest person. That person then gently tosses the stuffed animal to someone in the circle. Whoever drops the stuffed animal, talks or throws the stuffed animal out of the circle is out.
- Quiet Statues. This simple game always brings a smile! Quietly whisper to the kids what kind of statue you want them to make. Some ideas are a monkey, elephant, mommy, daddy, policeman, bear, tiger or even a silly hamburger statue! At the count of three, the kids have to freeze into their statue and then you pick the best statue. That person then whispers to the kids what kind of statue to make next, and so the game repeats. Remember, statues don’t move or talk!
- Silent Monkey See, Monkey Do. A reader suggested this game, and I Love it! Choose a child to look at the other children and make silent silly actions. Anyone that laughs is out and has to sit out for three consecutive rounds. Switch up monkeys to keep the quiet fun going!
- Bubbles. Keep a bottle of bubbles in your purse, and if a friend needs to have a silent talk, take the chat outside and give your child some bubbles. Keep a variety of bubble wands in a separated baggy to add to the fun!
- Educational Apps. There are lots of new apps and learning games on the smart phones now. Take a quiet night, when the kids are asleep, and go through and pick your favorite. Load everything so it is ready to go when you are in a situation where you need the kids to be quiet. Surprise them with a new game or activity to play on your phone!
- Thumb-wrestling. My brothers and I did this all the time on long car rides. It took us quite a while before we were bored with these one. I still play it with my kids on road trips. Both players should place their thumbs in mid-air, facing one another. With the right hand fingertips, instruct a child to grab their opponent’s right hand fingertips and clasp tight together. Start with a beginning thumb bow, and then chant, “One, two, three four, I declare a thumb war!” Then, let the wrestling begin! First one to pin the other thumb down for five counts wins!
- Rock, paper, scissors. Does anyone not know how to play this game? Just in case, each player makes a fist and hits their own hand while saying “Rock, paper, scissors!” On the word scissors each player makes a rock, paper or scissors motion with their hand. Rock beats scissors, paper beats paper, and paper beats rock. Once your kids know how to do this game out-loud, they can easily play it silently.
- Heads Up, Seven Up. This was my favorite game in school! You need a large group for this one, but I just adapt it for our family. The original way is to tell all the players to put their heads down on a table with their thumbs up. Seven people are chosen to walk around and pick seven players. We’ll call those players the “tappers.” The people that are choosing the players gently tap the thumbs of the children that are sitting down. They can only tap one person. After the group that is doing the tapping has each tapped one person, they all return to the front of the room. Everyone can then look up. If a child had his thumb tapped, he then stands up and tries to guess which one of the tappers tapped his thumb. Repeat and switch out “tappers.”
- Tic-Tac-Toe. Keep some scratch paper and pencils in your purse so your kiddos can play tic-tac-toe at any given moment. My three and four-year-old have still not comprehended the winning strategy of this game, but love drawing x’s and o’s!
- First Name Game. Choose a random name (shorter for younger children, longer for older kids) and write it down the left hand side of the page, one letter under another. Now give everybody 5 minutes to write down as many first names as they can think of which begin with the letters in that name. Score one point for each name that you come up with. You can make the scoring more exciting by awarding two points for any name that no-one else comes up with!
- Skittles or M and M’s Game. Place Skittles or M and M’s in a clean, see-through container. Split up in teams. Each team player needs to close his eyes and pick one piece of candy from the jar. Assign points for each colored candy and see which team can reach 100 points!
- Flower Petals. Choose a flower with many petals, like a daisy or a rose. Place the flower in front of the children and ask them to study it for a few minutes. Then ask them to guess how many petals it has and write down the number. Now pull off the petals carefully and, together, count the number of petals. Whoever had the most accurate guess, wins!
- Mystery Socks. Choose five or ten socks. Hide one object from around the house in each sock. Let each person feel the socks, but no peeking! Assign each sock a number and have the kids number a piece of paper. Have them write down their guesses on the paper, and then slowly reveal the hidden objects and see who guessed correctly!
What games do you use to keep your kids quiet? I would love to hear your ideas!