Create an Emergency Entertainment Kit!

What do you do with the kids when:

  • the power goes out?
  • you're stuck at the airport?
  • you're stranded in your car during a snowstorm?
  • you've been evacuated to a temporary shelter due to a natural disaster?
  • for whatever reason, your kids are without their usual toys and diversions?

If you're not prepared, children will likely find their own creative ways to occupy their time - whining about how bored they are, harassing siblings, or tearing up whatever is nearby.

With a bit of advance preparation and some simple toys, you can create an emergency entertainment kit that makes downtime pass quickly and gives kids something creative and stimulating to do.

Things to Pack

Here are some inexpensive, easy-to-find items to put in an emergency entertainment kit.

  1. a deck of playing cards
  2. a small guide to card games and rules of play
  3. a handkerchief to use as a blindfold, a flag, a blanket, a headband, etc.
  4. sidewalk chalk
  5. a couple of ping-pong balls for playing catch, blowing races, spoon races, table soccer, etc.
  6. a notepad and pens, pencils, crayons, or washable markers
  7. a Chinese jump rope
  8. a bag of balloons for playing catch, Keep It Up, etc.
  9. a tape measure for marking off playing areas, measuring things in the room, etc.
  10. jacks
  11. a yo-yo
  12. dice
  13. a Frisbee or Nerf ball
  14. nail polish, cotton balls, barrettes, clips, comb and brush for playing salon
  15. comfort items, like small stuffed animals
  16. paper cups for tossing games, stacking contests, relay races, etc.
  17. paper plates to draw on, for flying discs, masks, etc.
  18. straws for blowing relays, pick-up sticks, etc.
  19. a book of read-aloud stories
  20. small packages of nonperishable snacks

Keep your entertainment kit in a waterproof bag or backpack near other emergency supplies. Add some to your car emergency kit or a carry-on bag - just in case.


Include a list of games that need no equipment at all.

  1. Categories
  2. Simon Says
  3. Scavenger Hunt
  4. Twenty Questions
  5. I Spy
  6. Telephone
  7. Duck, Duck, Goose
  8. Red Light, Green Light
  9. Blind Man's Bluff
  10. Follow the Leader
  11. Charades

Low-Tech Fun!

Here are some other activities that require little or no equipment and can keep kids - or whole families - busy for hours.

  1. playing school or office
  2. putting on a play
  3. putting on a talent show
  4. having a sing-along
  5. telling a chain story
  6. taking a walk

Why Play Is Important

Along with keeping children constructively occupied, an emergency entertainment kit can help kids in other ways:

  • Sports and large-motor activities have been proven to be an effective form of trauma therapy and stress relief.
  • Structured activities provide a sense of comfort and security to children whose regular lives have been turned upside-down.
  • Interacting with parents and siblings in a new pastime can bring families closer together and open up new lines of communication, which is especially important when a family is under stress.

Last Updated: 5/2009