If your family is like mine, we are on the road visiting family for Thanksgiving. Since there are usually no, or few, other kids to play with, I take along an activity bag to keep the kids entertained. Here are some of the new ideas that I have added for this year’s trip.
This time of year finds ours family going out to eat with friends and family more than ever. Taking children to a restaurant (especially a toddler and preschooler) is sometimes very challenging. To help pass the time while we wait for a table or for the food to arrive, I try to have activities available for the kids to keep them occupied. Yes, I do have a tablet that we can bring, but I like to pack other non-electronic forms of entertainment. I usually have a collection of these activities pre-packed in the car – our Take-Along Activity Kit. When we get to the restaurant or appointment, I can pull out a couple of activities to keep the kids occupied.
For most of the activities I like using pencil bags with zippers that I usually get for $1 a piece at Big Lots or Dollar Tree. Some activities that I have pre-packed are:
- Books – I Spy Books are always a hit. We also like to take seasonal books.
- Small Puzzles – Hank loves the tiny puzzles that come in the mini-tins. They can fit easily on a table and are great for passing the time.
- Lacing Cards – Hank and Faith both like to use the lacing cards and “sew” like Mommy.
- Cutting & Craft Bag – I include pieces of construction paper, a pair of scissors, stickers, crayons, and art kits. I also like to use the activity packs that you can get at the store that include an activity pad, stickers and crayons all in one. The activity pads with an “invisible” marker that reveals the colors or pictures on each page are a big hit as well.
- Games Bag – I have a collection of small, portable games that fit easily in a bag. Hank received a Highlights subscription from his grandparents and they sometimes have games at the end. We cut them out and put them in a bag for something different to play on the go. Some free printable games that Hank really likes that are in our bag are: Role A Monster, a free printable available from 3 Dinosaurs; the Little Game Box(a treasure hunt game and a memory game) from Dabbled; and the Travel Dice Game from The Activity Mom.
- And More – I am always finding new activities on Pinterest or when I am out shopping. Following are some of the activities that I have made to include in our take-along kit.
Have a Great Week!
I saw this idea and made it for Hank when he was a toddler. He used it a lot and now Faith does as well. It really keeps her entertained.
Pipe Cleaner Game
From Dose of Happy
- Bottle that has a lid with holes (I used a parmesan cheese bottle, but a spice bottle would work as well).
- Pipe cleaners (I cut sparkly pipe cleaners into different lengths to fit into the bottle).
Dump the pipe cleaners out of the bottle into a pile. Have your child put the pipe cleaners into the bottle through the holes. A fun and easy game that helps your child work on fine motor skills at the same time. While she is doing the activity, we talk about the colors of the pipe cleaners as well.
Hank and Faith both love cars. I combined the ideas from several different ones I have seen to make this kit that they both will love.
Mini Car Kit
- Small Cars – I found a package of 8 mini cars – 2 each of 4 different colors – at the dollar store. I ended up getting 2 packages so we have plenty. I wrote numbers on each car with a permanent marker.
- Car Pattern Cards from Toddler Approved – I printed off the pattern cards and colored them in to match the cars I found for the kit.)
- Road Letter Tracing Book from Playdough to Plato – I put the printed pages in a small photo book.
- Parking Lot Play Mat(idea from Little Family Fun)
- Car Race Game (idea from Little Family Fun) – I customized our game to match the colors of cars we have in the kit.
- Patterns – Have your child pick a pattern card. Then have him take the cars and make the same pattern as on the pattern card.
- Letter Tracing – Have your child pick a car and trace the letters in the Road Letter Book.
- Number Match – Have your child find the number on each car and then drive the car to the correct parking spot in the number parking lot.
- Car Race Game – Put a car of each color at their starting spaces. Then have your child draw a color card. Whatever color is drawn, move that car forward 1 spot. Play until 1 car reaches the finish line.
Hank loves anything Lego. When I saw this idea, I knew that it would be a hit for a take-along-activity.
- Plastic Pencil Box
- Legos (list of needed pieces available through link below)
- Lego Pattern Cards from Fun at Home With Kids
Your child picks a pattern card and builds a structure with the Lego’s that matches the card.
One of Hank’s favorite things is “I Spy”, therefore this bag is right up his ally. I originally got this idea from Grow. Instead of using a bottle, I put the items in a pencil bag
I Spy Bag
- Pencil Bag or Bottle with Lid
- Small Assorted Toys and Items (colored pom pom, penny, paper clip, black bean,puzzle piece, stretchy worm, crayon, decorative jewel, bead, googly eye, noodle, etc.)
- Find It Card of items in bag (I just took a picture of the items before I put it all together)
Look at the picture card and then find the items in the “I Spy” bag.
Hank and Faith both love playing with craft sticks – counting or building. I combined the ideas from a couple of posts that I liked to make this kit.
Craft Stick Kit
- Patterns – Have your child pick a pattern card, and then take the sticks and recreate the pattern.
- Counting Game – Put the sticks in a pile and roll the dice. Take that number of sticks from the pile and put them back in the bag.
- Stick Pile Up – Take turns putting the sticks in a stack. See how many can be stacked without tipping them over.
I combined ideas from 3 different blogs for this Paperclip Kit. It is already a favorite.
- Pencil Bag
- Colored Paperclips
- Color Sorting Circles from Powerful Mothering (I laminated the cards to hold up to multiple uses)
- Brown Bear Number Cards from Totally Tots (I punched a hole in each card to put a paperclip through to form a chain)
- Paperclip Pattern Cards from Counting Coconuts
- Sorting – Have your child take the paperclips and put them on the matching color circles, either just piling them up on top of the circle, or clipping them around the outside of the circle.
- Counting – Have your child take pick one of the Brown Bear Number Cards and put a chain of paperclips together to match the number on the card.
- Patterns – Have your child pick a pattern card, and then take the paperclips and make the same pattern as on the pattern card.
Children of all ages are naturally drawn to music. Infants coo at lullabies, toddlers bang on pots and pans with a wooden spoon, and preschoolers sing and dance to music.
Children learn a variety of skills from musical experiences. Shaking, tapping, and beating instruments enhance fine motor development. Children listening for a beat, the sounds of different instruments, tones and lyrics are developmentally important listening skills.
To encourage children’s exploration of music, you don’t have to buy expensive instruments. Simple instruments can be made out of cans, wooden blocks, containers with beans or other small items. Adding props for movement and dancing enhances learning. Balance, coordination, rhythm and beat are all important skills for young children.
The other day on our way home from a weekend away, the kids started to get restless. I really didn’t want to put in a movie, so my mind drifted back to some of my favorite songs to sing while I was teaching. Instantly, I thought of Raffi and the wonderful songs that used to fill my classroom. I quickly used my phone and found some videos of him singing his songs on YouTube. We pulled up Apples & Bananas, 6 Little Ducks, Baby Beluga, and Down By The Bay. All were big hits. My kids were mesmerized. In fact they haven’t stopped singing the songs.
This got me thinking about other songs that I could share with the kids, both from my classroom experience and even further back to going to camp as a kid. So I created these Song_Cards to put in my purse and use while we are out and about, in the car and on the go. I hope you enjoy.
This experience reminded me that sometimes drawing inspiration from the past is a great way to connect with the ones you love in the present. I got to share some of my musical favorites with my kids and create memories that they can carry with them for a lifetime. I hope that one day they will share some of these musical memories with their children as well.
Have a Great Week!
Does your family have a road trip coming up this summer? Mine is no exception. In fact, we have a couple in the very near future. First off, let me tell you that being cooped up with the kids in a vehicle for an extended number of hours is NOT my idea of fun. However, it is a necessity to arrive at a desired destination. To help keep everyone’s stress level under control and make the experience as pleasant as possible, we tend to stop every couple of hours.
In the car we always keep the following on hand for rest stops: bubbles, a couple balls, a Frisbee, sidewalk chalk, and a jump rope. We are also packing a soccer ball this year since Hank started playing in the spring and absolutely loves it.
In planning for longer time in the car, I put together an activity kit to use when we stop along the way. This will help everyone get the wiggles out and burn off some excess energy. I thought it would be fun to have some additional games/activities that we can do as a family and make the rest stops more effective.
I would love to hear what you do to re-charge during a long road trip?
Have a Great Week!
- Basket (Multi-Purpose: used in Games and also to hold everything)
- 4 Mini Frisbees
- 2 Jump Ropes
- Paper Plates (at least 2 for each person)
- 8 Balls (Various Sizes)
- 4 Rope Circles
- 5 Mini Cones
- Movement Dice
- Rest Stop Exercise Cards
- Rest Stop Game Cards
When it came time to include items in our Rest Stop Kit, my mind kept drifting back to the following two posts. So combined both ideas and created the Movement Dice.
- I read this blog a while ago from Education.com called Exercise … with Dice! and thought it was an interesting idea.
- I also kept thinking about the Physical Activity Cube idea I saw a couple of years ago from Little Family Fun.
Since my brain usually stops working during our road trips, I wanted some printed Exercise Cards. These cards have ideas of ways we can move our body during our rest break so we don’t have to come up with them on the fly.
- I absolutely love the Backyardigan Action Cards that were linked to in the blog Kids Exercise Action Cards by Pinning With Purpose.
- I also printed a copy of From Head to Toe Activity Cards Head to Toe Activity Cardsfrom Teach Beside Me.
- I found some great information from Road Trip! 10 Rest Stop Activities for Kids by The Inspired Treehouse. I used a lot of their ideas and created the printable exercise cards (activities) linked to above. Be sure to check out their Outdoor Sensory Motor Scavenger Hunt. I plan to use it as a stand-alone activity when my kids get older.
I created printable Game Cards so that all of the ideas would be right at my fingertips. Most of the games I previously used in another blog, but decided they fit in perfectly with our Rest Stop Kit as well. However, the following games were inspired by other blog posts that I have recently read.
- Ins and Outs – I was reading a blog post from Organize Your Stuff Now about Outdoor Games for Kids and thought this game would be great to use as a resource for our family.
- Miniature Frisbee Golf – I saw a pin from Moms of All Trades and thought it would be nice as a mini take-along version.