This is my first post in the Traveling with Young Children (And Still Enjoying Life) Series. I will also cover how to be prepared with an Oops Box, Air Travel, and Full Tummies: Travel Snacks in other posts.
With spring break quickly approaching, many families are getting ready to travel. There is plenty to think about before leaving the comfort and convenience of your home including brainstorming about how to entertain your family in the car for miles and miles and miles. If your children are toddler-aged, spending long periods of time in the car can be especially tricky as they have much shorter attention spans and electronics aren’t as much of an option as with older children. I have a toddler and a preschooler and have tried many activities out with them. These ideas have all passed and entertained my girls.
9 Ways to Entertain Your Toddler While Traveling
Similar to the alphabet game that many of us played growing up on car trips, go through the rainbow colors (ROYGBIV) and find things outside of the window that match those colors.
Start making up a story, then pause and let your child tell the next part however their imagination leads them. You will each take turns adding to the story. Like a bubble, your story will get bigger and bigger!
To avoid getting carsick yourself when reading aloud, check out digital copies of your child’s favorite books through your local library to listen to as you drive. There is a new magic when they hear their books read in a different voice. By choosing a book with characters that your child is already familiar with, they will already be engrossed.
Fuzzy Stick Fun
A bag of pipe cleaners will give your children hours of enjoyment. They can bend the sticks to make animals and use them to tell stories. The pipe cleaners can also give your children some fine motor work that will keep them engaged when they try to fit them in and out through the holes in a small colander.
I am crazy about all Melissa and Doug products and their reusable stickers and Water WOW! sets are no exception. My girls could paint with the water pads and when they were done, I just needed to hold the pads over the air vent in front of me and they were dry again in minutes. Then they could use them again. My oldest daughter had many of the giant reusable sticker scenes but I knew they might be hard to use in the car. Melissa and Doug also have small puffy sticker sets that work well when seated. My favorite part about these stickers is hearing Madi tell me stories about what she creates.
Did you know that a cookie sheet can be used on your child’s lap as a magnetic table? My older daughter likes to put magnetic alphabet letters together and sound out nonsense words that she made. She also can look at books and pick out words to make. I further made puzzles by gluing photographs onto popsicle sticks and applying Mod Podge. Then I cut the sticks apart and glued magnets on the back of the sticks to make a puzzle. Both girls enjoyed seeing themselves in the puzzles when they were complete.
The cookie sheet can also be used with chalk to draw or write, then easily be wiped off with a rag. Drawing a track can be fun with small cars to race around.
Taking along a child’s magnifying glass can make everything look new. My girls love to examine their snacks as well as anything they can pick up in the car and laugh as they look at each other with magnified faces.
My girls love to use a measuring tape to see how long things are and compare. They love to measure their arms, books, crayons, or anything they can pick up.
What are some of the ways that you entertain your children during travel?