Now that my daughter is nine, I look back on her younger years in disbelief. Every outing was devoted to keeping her entertained and preoccupied, so that the adults had the slightest chance at adult communication. Restaurants in particular were hard, frantically shoveling in food and hurling toys at her.
But then (alas, far too late) I came across Karen Kimmel's Kimmel Kids The Art of Exchange Art Tools. These complete kits contain super bright pencils, inventive and organically shaped stencils, paper, and an activity book, all contained in an awfully stylish canvas case. It's so portable that you could literally take it anywhere (planes, trains, maybe even automobiles) for instant child taming. I've been acquainted with Karen Kimmel for years through my daughter's former preschool; she's quite an art and product force, and I definitely think she's nailed a fabulous child entertainment system here.
The entire ultimate set, pictured here, is expensive: about $120.00. But, if you purchase, say, the activity book, neon pencils, and a stencil set separately, it takes the price down quite a bit. These art kits would make a great birthday present for a favorite three year old (it's really a present for the parents of the favorite three year old). Check them out at A+R.