For places not generous (and wise) enough to provide paper place mats and crayons, tote along these five-star distractions.
- Maze Craze books. Each of these story-puzzle hybrids leads kids on adventures alongside dinosaurs, mummies, or pirates, rescuing them from the boredom of adult conversation.
To buy: $4, barnesandnoble.com.
- Neodymium Science Magnets. The world’s strongest, these magnets work through a table and even a hand. Watch Dad’s fork dangle magically from your son’s palm! Four to a pack.
To buy: $8, instockscience.com.
- Sticker Activity Books. Available in dozens of themes (animals, race cars, ballet). Little fingers decorate the scenes with the included stickers.
To buy: from $1.50, doverpublications.com.
- Scratch & Solve Tough Hangman. Pint-size diners will love this challenging take on the classic game. Scratch-off circles reveal where a letter fits in the puzzle. No playing partner needed.
To buy: from $2, barnesandnoble.com.
- Notebook. Any basic spiral style will do. One of your children can sketch the salt and pepper shakers; another can compose her dream dish (French-fry tower with sides of ice cream and gummy candy).
- Mad Libs. This game is still the [adjective] way to learn parts of speech. The kids can write a doozy between ordering and eating.
To buy: from $4, amazon.com.