Entertainment: When All You Have is a Pencil and a Serviette

Picture this for a minute. Your phone battery is dead, the kids are getting restless, you've left their toys and books at home and all you need is something, anything, to occupy your rowdy offspring. You search in your bag and find a pencil and a single serviette. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that!?” you ask yourself in despair.

Picture this for a minute. Your phone battery is dead, the kids are getting restless, you’ve left their toys and books at home and all you need is something, anything, to occupy your rowdy offspring. You search in your bag and find a pencil and a single serviette. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that!?” you ask yourself in despair.

Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are a few ideas of how those two simple objects can stop your head from exploding and the children from tearing each other apart…..



*Play Scattegories – list a variety of categories e.g. food, animal, colour, cities. After the list has been completed name as many items as possible for each of the categories OR choose a letter and think of an item for each category beginning with that letter.

*Play Ladybird (A child-friendly version of Hangman) – choose a word and draw a dash for each letter in that word. The other player/s must guess the letters of the word. Each correctly guessed letter is written in the correct position. For each wrong letter a part of the ladybug is drawn. The aim is for the word to be guessed before the ladybird is completely drawn.

*Write a story with each person contributing a sentence at a time.

*Write down the alphabet and as many items you can see that start with each letter.

*Retell/write a traditional fairy-tale or fable such as Cinderella or The 3 Little Pigs

*Play boggle – draw up a 3×3 grid and think of a 9-letter word. Place the scrambled letters of the word into the grid and challenge your children to create as many words as they can from those letters.



*Choose a number (whole number, negative number, fraction or decimal) and write as many sums with that number as your answer as you can.

*Play Bingo. Tear off a piece of paper so each person has enough space to draw a 3×3 grid and place a number in each box. Call out sums for them to work out. If the answer is on their grid they can cross off the number. The winner can be the first to cross out three numbers in a row or all numbers in their grid.

*List as many different coin/note combinations you can think of to total $10.

*Place the numbers 1-9 in a 3 by 3 grid, one number per box, so that the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal sums are all the same.

*Use the numbers 123456789 in that order, add in any combination of + and – to see if you can create an equation with the answer of 100.



*Fold a paper plane and have a competition to see who can throw it the farthest.

*Play Pictionary – draw something for the other players to guess

*Fold a fairy sized hat.

*Sketch a portrait of the people around you.

*Create a Snap Dragon-remember that old future predicting, origami-inspired entertainer?



*Play naughts and crosses – take it in turns to draw either a circle or cross in a 3 x 3 grid. The winner is the player who has three of their symbols in a row.

*Play paddocks- section off a section of paper and fill it with a grid full of dots. Take it in turns to draw a small line from one dot to the next (either vertically or horizontally) with the aim of forming as many squares as possible. The player who completes a square (by drawing the forth line) writes their initial in the middle of that square. The winner is the player with the most completed squares one the whole grid has been completed.


If you don’t trust that you’ll always have a pencil and piece of paper handy or you think you may not remember all these simple activities to entertain your kids, head on over to Flying Sprout’s Etsy store to purchase your own Mini Kit with a notepad, pencil and activity booklet. Next time you’re out with the kids and your phone battery dies, at least you’ll know how to pass the time.


Toys, Activities and Books for Travelling Toddlers

Travel is fun…but not always with a toddler, especially a bored, restless one. Keep your little one entertained and engaged with this list of tried and tested toys, activities and books for travelling toddlers.

Travel is fun…but not always with a toddler, especially a bored, restless one. Keeping your little one entertained and engaged will make travelling more relaxed for you and more fun for your child.

It is super important to keep your child amused and entertained while flying, or on long journeys by road, rail or sea, but it also pays to think about what they’ll need when you reach your destination. You might plan to be on-the-go most of the day but in those moments when you need some quiet time or your child needs to wind down before a sleep, having a quiet, independent activity on hand can be invaluable.

You want to choose a range of activities and toys that will hold your child’s interest, are age appropriate, versatile, are lightweight and also compact so they don’t take up too much room in your travel bag.

Here’s a selection of great toys, books and activities to give you inspiration when it comes to screen-free travel entertainment for your child.


Educational Busy Bags

Busy Bags are the perfect way to keep your child engaged and learning while travelling. These Toddler Busy Bags are colourful, compact and provide different task options in one little bag. You can select activity bags to target specific skills and concepts such as numbers 1-10, making patterns, colour awareness and threading.

Flying Sprout’s Carrot Busy Bag


Keeping little hands and minds active is made easy with stickers. Peeling the stickers builds fine motor skills. If you choose reusable stickers with background scenes, like these offered by Tiger Tribe, they can engage your child’s imagination and be used as inspiration for story telling.

Tiger tribe sticker book My little town
Tiger Tribe Sticker Activity Set – My Little Town

Finger Puppets

Puppets are a wonderful way to encourage your child to tell (or listen to) stories. They can be used to perform puppet shows or as little companions that can easily fit in a pocket. This set of 6 finger puppets come in a handy storage bag.

Flying Sprout puppet busy bag
Puppet Busy Bag – Watermelon 2

Puzzle Books

Activity pads and colouring pages are an easy way to occupy your child’s concentration. If they have the dexterity; colouring within the lines, tracing and completing mazes are small, satisfying challenges they can work on. This activity book is made especially for younger children.

The Usborne Little Childrens Travel Activity Book

Magnetic Drawing Pads

These are a fantastic, clean, all-in-one way of drawing. Magnetic sketching pads can be used for drawing or playing games like tic-tac-toe. Having the drawing instrument attached means there is no risk of misplacing a lid or even a whole pencil or texta, plus they won’t mark the furniture! Quack makes this compact magnetic drawing pad.

Quack Magnasketch Art Board
Quack Magnasketch Art Board

Lift-the-Flap Books

Interactive books are always popular with little ones. The joy of lifting a flap, opening a door or peeking behind a window means they are likely to want to read one book over and over again. Spot is a classic lift-the-flap series. Spot Goes on Holiday is perfect to take traveling.

Spot Goes on Holiday Book

Quiet Books

These are not traditional books in the sense that they don’t tell a story, rather each page has a simple activity to entertain and build fine motor skills. Quiet books are fabric, often felt, and stitched to include things like buttons, laces and velcro shapes. A great deal of work goes into the creation of these books so they are not cheap but are a worthwhile purchase. This one is made in the Philippines and money raised from it’s sales helps the local women.

Quiet Book for Toddler travel
Quiet Book by Story Time

Look and Find Books

Exploring all the details in a densely illustrated book is like a visual treasure hunt. Collections like Where’s Wally and Seek and Find are full of amusing and surprising illustrations while books in the I Spy collection contain photographs of many items on each page.

I Spy 4 Picture Riddle Book

A Favourite Story

Having a favourite book on hand can provide your child with a familiar comfort when their surroundings are not so familiar. Reading a story can have an instant calming effect and help transition your child to sleep time. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favourite of many children and parents alike.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


If you’re not sure about letting your toddler loose with pencils or crayons, drawing with water is a fantastic idea. Add a little magic into the mix with these mess free water pictures by Melissa & Doug.

Melissa Doug Water Wow!

A Favourite Toy

Taking a favourite toy along while travelling can be really reassuring for your child and can providing them with entertainment as well as comfort. Just don’t lose it!

mini diggers set of 5
Mini Diggers Set of 5
Ragtales - Tilly Rag Doll
Ragtales – Tilly Rag Doll

Wearable Toys

Often when travelling there are unexpected delays or unavoidable queues. In these situations it is not always convenient to search through your bag for something to entertain your child. Here’s a great idea from @critterz_, a wearable toy! The necklaces each include a toy figure so your child can wear their entertainment.

Critter Necklaces by @critterz_

There are many, many great toys and activities to keep toddlers entertained while travelling. When shopping for items to pack on your next adventure make sure your choices are appropriate to your child’s age, will hold their interest for more than a few minutes, are lightweight and compact and will also provide them with entertainment once you reach the destination.

Activities Using a Deck of Playing Cards

When space in your bag is at a premium but you know you’ll be needing something to keep your children entertained, make some room for a deck of playing cards.

When space in your bag is at a premium but you know you’ll be needing something to keep your children entertained, make some room for a deck of playing cards.

maths activities using a deck of cardsWhen out and about be it in a café, sitting in a waiting room or in the airport departure lounge a simple deck of cards can provide your kids (and you) with plenty of entertainment. Sometimes it can be tricky to think of what to do with all those cards so, to make life easier, I’ve compiled a list of simple activities. In addition to being nice and easy, the activities on the list are educational, enjoyable and provide some quiet time.

playing with cards kids maths

Rainbow Facts – Turn over one card at a time and ask your child to tell you the number’s partner to 10.

Addition – Flip over two cards at a time and ask your child to add the numbers together.

Subtraction – Ask your child to flip two cards at a time and subtract the smaller from the larger number.

Multiplication Facts – Flip two cards at a time and have your child multiply the numbers together. To increase the challenge, you can add a third card (or more).

Multiplication Tables – Decide on a number to multiply by (a set of times tables). Turn over one card at a time and multiply the displayed number by the selected number. Timing your child while they go through the deck of cards can make this more engaging.

Make 10 – Ask your child to choose four cards that add together to make 10 (or any other number you choose).

dice and playing cards Flying Sprout

Vertical Sums – Lay out a vertical sum using the cards and ask your child to show the answer using cards rather than writing it down. As an extra challenge, you could lay out the top line of the sum as well as the answer and ask your child to work out the missing number.

Skip Counting – Create a number pattern for your child to identify and complete. To make this more challenging, create 2 digit numbers with the cards, count backwards or start at a number other than zero. You can also ask them to make their own counting pattern.

Missing Numbers – Ask your child to put some cards in number order (they can use single digits or make the numbers more complex with multiple cards). Have them close their eyes while you remove a card. When they open their eyes ask them to identify the missing number.

Making Sums (also requires operation cards) – Lay out some cards facing up, ask your child to make some sums using the operation cards.

Greater Than/Less Than (also requires < and > cards) – Lay out two numbers, side by side. Ask your child to place the greater than (>) or less than (<) sign in the correct position to show which number is smaller/larger

Making Numbers – Ask your child to make numbers meeting specific criteria e.g. Select three cards and ask them to make the largest or smallest number possible or, ask them to make a 3 digit number that is a multiple of 5 or ask them to make a number with a 3 in the tens position

take a deck of cards with you kids maths activities

Roll and Collect (also requires a 10 sided dice) – Lay a full suit of cards face up in a row. Ask your child to roll the dice, read the number aloud and collect the correct number card,

20 Questions – Make a 2-digit number using the cards and have a partner guess your number by asking yes or no questions.

Roman Numerals (also requires matchsticks or paddle pop sticks) – Select a playing card and make the number in roman numerals using the sticks.

Snap – Divide the deck of cards equally between the people playing. Players take it in turns to turn over one card at a time, placing it face up on the centre pile. When two cards of the same number are placed on the pile one-after-the-other, the first person to yell, ‘snap!’ collects both cards. The winner is the person with most pairs when all the deck has been played.

Memory – Select two full suits of cards. Lay them facedown in rows. Players take it in turns to turn over two cards. When a player turns over two cards of the same suit, they keep the pair. Continue until all pairs have been found. The player is the one with the most pairs at the end of the game.

Traditional Card Games – Play some good old-fashioned card games such as Solitaire, Rummy, Poker, Go Fish etc. For instructions on how to play an enormous range of traditional card games click here.

Your child will have heaps of fun building a card tower.
Your child will have heaps of fun building a card tower.

Build a Tower – Make a tower, as tall as possible, using the full set of playing cards.

52 Pick Up – Drop all the cards on a surface and have your child pick them up. They could pick up the cards one suit at a time, in number order or by skip counting.

If you liked these suggestions, head on over to Flying Sprout’s Etsy Store to purchase your own Grab & Go Bag, complete with an activity idea, extension tasks and set of playing cards.

As you can see from this list, there are plenty of ways a humble deck of cards can help your child to improve their maths skills while they are keeping entertained and having fun!

Flying Sprout's Grab & Go Bags practise maths skills in a fun and engaging way.
Flying Sprout’s Grab & Go Bags practise maths skills in a fun and engaging way.