Stuck in a car together and looking for ways to keep the kids happy? Whether you’re headed cross country or are just looking for ways to make a trip the grocery store more fun, here’s some activities and ideas that work for us. Some of these also workgreat IN the grocery store to keep the kids happy too!
- Play alphabet games. For instance there’s the biography one where you go through the alphabet making up identities to match each letter: "A my name is Anna, I’m from Arkansas and I like arguing…".
- Get books on tape. Your library carries oodles of these, from storybooks read aloud to little song and rhyme collections. They’re fantastic.
- Silly counting: Daryl dreamed this one up. Have your child slowly count. As she is counting, start asking questions to get funny answers. For instance… 1, 2, 3, "How many noses do you have?" …4 "You have 4 noses?!" 5, 6… "How old is your mother?" 7… "7 years old? Wow she’s young!" 8, 9, 10… "How many cats can you fit in your mouth?" 10…. This makes little ones howl with laughter if you do it silly enough.
- Play children’s music. Victoria says it’s important that children sing it too. No matter how cool adults are, she always prefers to sing along with other kids.
- If you’re brave enough, give them washable window markers (Crayola makes some) and a wet wipe, and let them decorate their windows as they ride. Truth be told, we use regular washable markers on windows too.
- Bring a ziplock bag of colorform shapes. These are the little peel and stick people, pets, shapes, etc. They cling to windows so kids can create scene after scene.
- Lend the kids a digital camera and ask them to take pictures as you go. This is a huge treat for our kids during trips and some of the photos have been really wonderful.
- Balance things on your head. Give the kids something like a beanie baby to balance on their heads and challenge them to see how long they can hold it there. Our girls sat for an amazing amount of time quietly concentrating on doing this.
- Put older kids in charge of keeping "the log." We’ve had this tradition on trips since before we had children. We keep track of times, mileage, sights seen, weather, stops, you name it. The goofy entries make us laugh years later. Each night, read the day’s log together.
- Make up a treasure hunt list. Write down 20 things to seeon the trip and have the child cross them out as he spots them. Younger kids can do this with picture lists. Examples of things to list– tractor, semi truck, billboard with a person on it, motorcycle, green house, dog, deer crossing sign, mailbox…
- Bring paper and crayons so the kids can do art. A cookie sheet makes a good lap tray since crayons can’t roll off.
- Print out activity pages from online and keep them in a folder just for car trips.
- Bring the magna doodle
- Sing songs together.
- Play "would you rather." This game occupied a car full of kids ages 4 to 14 for hours in Maine a couple of years ago. Ask the kids to make choices like would you rather take a trip to the moon or the bottom of the ocean, never eat ice cream again or never have chocolate, live in a zoo or a shopping mall, be a surgeon or a painter…
What are your favorite ways to stay busy in car rides?