Top 10 Table Toys: for Eating out with kids

It doesn’t take much (or any thing BIG) to keep little ones entertained at a restaurant. But keep a few of these tricks up your sleeve (or in your purse) for when you need them. I just keep it all in a handy ziploc bag inside by big, green, cavernous purse. (But you probably have a cute little zipper tote you can put them in.) Then, when the food comes we sing “Toys away, toys away.”  These are all fairly quiet toys, and most are great for development of fine motor skills, as well. Many double up as good car toys for long trips (or for airplanes). When you’re out as a family, try to make the experience about connecting and conversation. Try one of the games from my list, Top 10 Table Games for eating out with kids. But if you need to have a grown-up discussion with your spouse, or you’re trying to catch up with old friends, pull these out (instead of the ipad) for kids to self-entertain.

1. Tops – little ones for spinning to build fine motor skills (uses the pincer grip that we need for writing, etc.) I’ve gotten bags of the little plastic ones at the Dollar Store.

2. mini-magna-doodle – good for pictionary, name the letter, and writing secret messages.

3. crayons, pen and paper. Are your crayons broken into pieces? Even better, this encourages use of the correct pincer grip.  And with paper, folding and tearing is also good for strengthening little finger muscles.

4. little plastic toy or action figures (dinosaurs, cars, animals) – bring a combo so you can make up a story, hide them under plastic cups to move around and play memory

5. wind-up toy (also great for strengthening that pincer grip) – race from the salt to pepper shaker!

6. silly putty – great for sculpting, pressing down onto coins, stretching, rolling, making shapes and letters

7. wikki stix – more endless possibilities for fine motor, mess-free fun etch-a-sketch 

9. lace and trace

10. sticker book or page – draw a path or maze for the stickers to follow, have a spare piece of paper handy for them to decorate a card for a friend, or make a picture to thank the waiter.

Take a look at my family’s Top 10 favorite family-friendly restaurants!


  1. […] to backpacks and travel bags. Stickers and paper, crayons and coloring books, gadgets and gizmos. my top ten table-top toy ideas for eating out work great for road trips, too, and the Wicki Stix are worth a little […]