Many of us will be traveling in the car over the holidays. Whether it’s a one-hour ride to Grandma and Grandpa’s house or a long journey, many of us will be looking for ways to keep our little ones entertained while driving. Nothing is worse than being stuck in the car with a couple of bored (and screaming) toddlers!
Some ideas/items that have provided Jasmine and me with countless hours of talking-to-daddy car time or even peaceful flight time are below:
The Crayola lap desk comes with Color Wonder markers and paper. If you’re not familiar with Color Wonder markers, they are wonderful. The kids could (theoretically) write all over the inside of the car (not that we condone this!) and no one would ever see any color because they are designed to create color only on color wonder pages. Kids love these markers and if you save them for car use only, they’ll be a treat that will keep your kids entertained for long stretches of time.
The other thing I love about the lap desk is that it provides the kids with a mobile surface for reading, coloring, and/or working with the rest of the ideas below. I bought one to take on our last 10 hour drive to Boston. Unfortunately, my kids ended up fighting over it the entire trip. So I have since bought another one when I found it on sale at Target.
2) Magnetic or Felt Storyboards
Storyboards are wonderful for the kids because they can create endless creative combinations and stories using their imagination. Jasmine picked up Disney princess magnets from the dollar bins at Target and a $3 magnetic whiteboard for each of her girls, and they were busy for hours talking to their princesses. I’ve also seen Disney and Melissa and Doug magnet boards, with everything from Princess magnets to insects and athletic magnets (i.e. clothe a princess magnet in various clothing and accessory magnets, or dressing a boy in sports clothing, hockey masks, sticks, etc.).
3) Sticker books
Sticker books are always a huge hit in our house, especially the ones that come with specific pages for a set of stickers. If the kids can create or populate a landscape with stickers, it gives them something more than plain paper to focus on. And some sticker books have a special surface that allows the kids to unpeel and re-stick the stickers.
4) TAG Reader
The TAG reader pen is perfect for traveling because it is small and compact, and the kids can follow along books by themselves while you’re driving. They also come with a host of games, which we’re only beginning to discover on ours after owning our Tag for over a year. Make sure to pack extra batteries, though, because they will be very upset when it runs out of juice!
5) Sliding Puzzles
Recently my daughter discovered one of these puzzles while we were in a pediatrician’s waiting room. I didn’t even know they still made them because I haven’t seen them in stores in ages. No fear, Amazon has them and they are inexpensive.
6) “I Spy” Game
My kids always ask to play “I Spy With my Little Eye” when we’re in the car or running with the kids in the jog stroller. Even my two year old participates. Traveling at night makes the game a little difficult, but we always find lights inside/outside of the car to focus on.
7) Portable DVD Player
When all else fails, we whip out the portable DVD player – a sure way to calm bored, tired, or anxious children. We usually don’t let the kids watch a lot of tv, but we make exception for long trips. If you don’t have screens built into your car, a variety of mounts can be purchased that will secure a portable dvd player to the car’s headrests, such as the ones found here and here.
What are your favorite games or activities for your young children while traveling?