1. Celebrate a new holiday. Announce that it's Polka-Dot Day or Purple Day.
2. Throw a doll's birthday party. Wrap up a few "gifts," decorate with balloons and streamers, and enjoy a mock -- or real -- cake.
3. Dress for the weather. Lay out items for different weather conditions, describe a certain day, and ask your child to pick an outfit for it.
4. Open a petting zoo. Place stuffed animals around the room, pet each one, and talk about what they like to eat.
5. Camp out in your living room. Climb into a tent and sleeping bags. Turn on a flashlight, and pretend to eat s'mores.
6. Form a family band. Have everyone grab an instrument and jam to a CD.
7. Imitate animals. Practice hopping like a frog, squirming like a worm, waddling like a duck, and stretching like a cat.
8. Play restaurant. In the real kitchen or a pretend one, alternate between being the customer and the server or chef.
9. Offer horsy rides. Let her bounce on your back while you "neigh" and chew hay.
10. Ride the laundry-bin "school bus." She's the passenger, and you're the driver. Make stops to pick up other kids, and wave bye-bye to the mommies at each stop.
Take-Alongs That Make Waiting Fun
11. Brain Quest. This "flip deck" of age-appropriate questions and answers for children as young as 2 builds smarts and keeps kids busy.
12. A dry-erase pen for dressing rooms. "My daughter decorates the mirror while I try things on," says Stephanie Simon, of Charlotte, North Carolina. "The ink wipes off easily with a tissue."
13. Mini Etch A Sketch. Ask your child to draw what he sees.
14. Bubbles. Blow them while she's in a shopping cart or waiting to see the doctor.
15. Long-lasting snacks. Consider mini bagels, breadsticks, or graham crackers.
16. Pipe cleaners. They can take the shape of a ring, a flower, or a headband.
17. Crayons and a coloring book. Or try Crayola Color Wonder markers.
18. Finger puppets. Act out a story while you're stuck in a long line.
19. A plastic magnifying glass. She'll love seeing objects and people close-up.
20. A little toy train. Introduce a special choo-choo that only appears when you're outside of the house. Create your own track: Tell your child that it's along his arm, up a chair, or over a table -- and he'll keep the train rolling.
Easy Art Project
21. Finger-paint with pudding. Place a dollop on a laminated place mat or a cookie sheet and have your child create sweet abstract art. (You can dye vanilla pudding with food coloring.)
22. Make jewelry. String painted Cheerios or hollow pasta shapes onto yarn and voila, a necklace or a bracelet.
23. Create fingerprint critters. Using washable paint, make thumbprints on paper or a flowerpot. Once the paint dries, use a fabric marker to draw on legs, a face, and antennae. For more ideas, check out Ed Emberley's Complete FunPrint Drawing Book.
24. Go splat. Channel your child's inner Jackson Pollock: Drag an old sheet outside and let him use a paintbrush to splatter it with waterproof paint.
25. Make a collage. Give him paper and a glue stick. Go nuts with decorations, such as torn pieces of tissue or construction paper, cotton balls, feathers, images from magazines, and photos.
26. Adopt a pet rock. Adorn stones from a nature walk with paint, glitter glue, and stick-on eyes.
27. Try Dot Art markers. They're super easy for toddlers to hold.
28. Design a T-shirt. Paint your child's foot or hand with fabric paint and imprint a T-shirt for her or to give as a gift. (To prevent color from bleeding to the other side of the shirt, place cardboard inside.)
29. Knead some goop. Mix a box of cornstarch with water to a consistency your child likes, then add food coloring.
30. Crown your prince or princess. Decorate a strip of construction paper or cardboard with markers, glitter, and stickers. Then staple or tape the two ends to size
To be Continued......