Before I ever created a Toddler Restaurant Kit going out to eat was not exactly a fun experience for me. Actually, the thought of it caused me some serious anxiety.
I think us moms are always thinking ahead to the next moment/melt down and trying to be prepared, like a ninja. Despite my preparedness instincts it took me a while to realized that I needed to prepare to go out to eat.
Until one marvelous day I saw an idea and I ran with it. Then the Toddler Restaurant Kit was born and dining out has never been the same (thank God for that).
The items I have chosen are age appropriate and all have a purpose. As a former teacher I know that if you meet children at their level they are more likely to engage in independent play for a longer period of time. This is exactly what you want when you’re focus is not 100% on your child (aka you’re trying to get your grub on).
Here is everything I use for our kit. I switch things out from time to time to prevent boredom, so I’ve included some rotation ideas as well. But, I stick to the same type of item when I rotate our Toddler Restaurant Kit.
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Toddler Restaurant Kit:
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #1 – Metal Lunch Box
A metal lunch box is my preferred carrier for all the items. There are two reasons why…
Reason 1: It’s the perfect size!
It’s just the right size for all the items I need for our kit. The perfect size also allows for my son to carry it and for me to not add it to my diaper bag of 10,000 things.
Reason 2: It’s magnetic!
Magnetic ability is key because we need that for item #2 items!
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #2 – Magnets
Magnets are like a little piece of magic. Kids are usually mystified by them for a while(read, giving you more time to enjoy your appetizer). I mean after all, what makes them stick(asking for a friend)?!
I start with letter and number magnets. Then as time goes on and my son gets bored with them. I switch it up to some of these type of magnets:
Ideas for Magnet Rotations:
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #3 – Pom Poms
Ideas for Pom Pom activities:
Use tweezers to put them in a container.
Make a design.
Sort them by color.
Count them(even if it’s 1,2,3)
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #4 – tweezers
Ideas for Tweezer Activities:
Put pom poms in a container(plate or cup already on the table).
Pick up a wadded up napkin and put it on a plate.
Pick up a crayon and then release.
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #5 – Small Doodle Pad
Having something to write on is a staple item in the Toddler Restaurant Kit. This one never changes because it’s always needed and super versatile. Things to do with a Small Doodle Pad:
Ideas for Small Doodle Pad:
Let toddler do free draw.
You draw shapes and ask toddler to identify.
Trace items from Toddler Restaurant Kit.
Tear out paper and fold(Show toddler how to fold. This is a great fine motor skill activity).
Let toddler experiment with wadding up the paper and the different texture results from wadding.
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #6 – Crayons
Crayons are just a must for any kid. I love the bigger ones for toddlers so they can grip them better. Here are some ways to extend crayons:
Ideas to Extend Crayon Activities:
Ask your toddler to pick up a certain color(ex: Which one is blue?)
Ask toddler to tell you the color of the crayon they are holding?
Ask their favorite crayon color?
Ask which color they want you to use?
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #7 – Play-Doh
Play-doh is an awesome way for your child to work on their fine motor skills, strengthen their hand and build their pre-writing abilities all while having fun. Plus, they’re great at keeping toddlers busy after they finished their meal in point two seconds but you are still on your second bite of salad.
Ideas for Play-Doh Activities:
Cut the Play-Doh with the butter knife (under your supervision).
Use Cookie Cutters to make different shapes.
Roll the Play-Doh into a ball then ask them to smash it down like a pancake.
Pick it up with their tongs.
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #8 – Manipulatives
As a former teacher I’m a huge fan of manipulative. I started with these Counting Bears because they are very simple and offer a variety of activites. I ask my son to give me a certain color, group colors together or just let him have free play.
Ideas for Manipulative Rotation:
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #9 – Learning Toy
Any type of toy that also offers a learning benefit always gets me super pumped(I’m Lindsey and I’m a nerd). This wooden cheese toy is exactly the type of toy I nerd out about.
Educational Toys for Rotation:
Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #10 – Stickers
Stickers are just straight up fun! Toddlers love the challenge of pulling them of then getting to decide where to put them. Or if you want to direct them where to put it that’s another thing the doodle pad is good for!
Other Sticker Ideas:
Snacks! The answers to everything is snack! Here are my favorite easy, on the go snacks.
For more snack Ideas check out this post – Healthy Toddler Snacks on The Go
With this Toddler Restaurant Kit I am now able to go out to eat with my family anxious free (at least most of the time). Going out to eat as a family should be enjoyable for everyone, including you mama! Happy dining!
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