Games to Play in Line for Happy Kids -Screen Free
July 21, 2021
Feet of people with luggage in casual clothes waiting patiently in line

10 Games to Play in Line for Happy Kids {Mostly} Screen Free

Need games to play in line to keep your kids happy and occupied while you travel this summer? If you've taken a family vacation trip you are well schooled in the art of line standing. But how about those kiddos?

Waiting is painful for everyone but add short attention spans and it's a recipe for disaster. To keep the chaos at bay we've got a fun list of games and activities that work marvelously for my family. Whether waiting at the airport, in line for a restaurant, amusement park ride, or Uber, you're sure to find something on this list the whole family can enjoy!

Bored girl waiting for something fun to do

Screen Free Games?

Well, not exactly. See, you need the screen at first to learn the game. But after that, you're good to go! It works for all of them except the smart phone charades…..which is self explanatory.

Alphabet Game

You've likely played this while driving long distances or being stuck in traffic. The same rules apply:

  • Start by finding an “A” on a sign, bag, or t-shirt in the area
  • Then proceed to through the alphabet one letter at a time
  • Only one person needs to find the letter in order to move ahead but you might want to hold back older kids to give little ones a chance to search
  • Alternate rules for a group: EACH person needs to find the letter on a different sign, bag, hat, shirt, etc. in order to move forward

Clapping Games to Play in Line

Two girls playing hand clap game in line - Parties With A Cause

Clapping games are my kids favorite while waiting in line. Since we don't have great videos of us doing them I'll link to some easy tutorials:

Pat-A-Cake {Basic}

Everyone knows this one but it's a fun refresher. Check out this cute Mother Goose video.

My Mother is a Baker {Basic+}

Super cute little hand clap mixed with a memory game. It builds on itself with each family member's occupation. Check out this video, it's the first of 6 similar hand clap games in the video.

Miss Mary Mack {Intermediate}

Start this video at 1:00 to learn the movements and clap along as she plays the song. Once you learn the words you won't need the video.

Tic-Tac-Toe or “Down By The Banks of the Hanky Panky” {Intermediate}

There are LOTS of different songs that accompany this hand clap but we learned it to the words of Down by the Banks. These ladies call it Tic-Tac-Toe.

There's also a group “Down by the Banks” game you can play if you've got 4+ people, but it's best if you're sitting. Check it out here.

Slide or “Numbers” {Advanced}

Slide is best for those a little older or who have outgrown other clapping games. It's a fast paced clapping game that builds on itself with increasing numbers each round. Check out this simple tutorial.

Boom Snap Clap {Advanced}

This is a fun chant with movements involving one hand, then two hands, then your leg. It's a fast paced clap game that'll keep you laughing. This tutorial nicely breaks it down.

String Games

Have a piece of yarn along for each child and you can play one and 2-person games while waiting in line.

Cats Cradle

Cats Cradle is a classic 2-person string game that creates 3 different string figures over and over again, switching the string back and forth between players. Watch this tutorial for a refresher.

Single Person String Figures

Fighter Jet String Figure Tutorial {Basic}

Jacobs Ladder Tutorial {Intermediate} – Need a longer string for this one

Witch's Broom or “Parachute” Figure Tutorial {Intermediate} – works well with longer string too

Cup Rhythms

Cup rhythms are a great activity BUT they make noise and need a tabletop. SOOOO if you are waiting in a moving line, a quiet area, or standing without a table, this is NOT the activity for you.

However if you don't mind a little noise at the table, these are excellent games for increasing brain function and hand dexterity. A noisy restaurant is PERFECT!

The Cup Song

The cup song is one you can do with a large group of people by passing the cup down to the next person in line after you complete the rhythm. OR you can play alone by keeping a single cup in front of you whole time. This is a great tutorial that breaks it down. No need to sing “When I'm Gone.” You're playing your own melody.

More Percussion Rhythms

Kaboom Percussion has other rhythm tutorials with different sounds. Think drum line, with cups.

Smart Phone Charades

Friends playing forehead phone charade games while waiting in line at cafe - Parties With A Cause

This one uses your phone, but only as a tool of the game. Once you download the app, hold the phone on your forehead and start the game. Different words pop up that your friends try to describe or act out. If you guess correctly tip the phone down, if you need to pass, tip the phone up for a new word.

Heads Up! is our favorite and available in the app store for $1.99 with limited trivia packs. You can purchase additional packs like Harry Potter for $2.99 {which was totally worth it for us}.

Charades – Best Party Game is another good one but has limited packs for free.

Guess Word! Forehead Charades allows you to play several rounds for free, then locks up for the day until you upgrade and purchase. You can play a little for free each day but the daily lockout gets annoying so I deleted it.

These forehead charades are a great way to pass the time, can be done with just 2 people or a whole group. It's perfect for trivia buffs. We happen to the love the Heads Up! Harry Potter pack to test our general nerdiness for all things Hogwarts!

If you're a Harry Potter fan check back for our Halloween at Hogwarts series starting in September 2021!

Any More Games to Play in Line?

I hope you love this line up of games to play in line as much as we do! We don't always have happy kids but this makes things SO much better! Did I miss a favorite waiting in line pastime of yours? If so, please let me know in the comments below.

If you try any of these games, I'd love to hear about it. And if you share photos, I want to see it too! Please tag us @partieswithacause on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We love celebrating all your hard work! 


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Girls playing clapping game while waiting in line

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Is this type of content helpful for you? Would you be interested in more activities in do the car on a road trip? Let me know in the comments below.

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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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