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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Travel games for little ones

This is a much delayed post, but I did want to share some of the things I prepared for the kids to do while in the car for our 44-hr round trip drive to the beach this summer!  So here are some fun ideas.  We had so much fun doing these things we hardly got to our movies that we'd brought!

1. Print a map for your kids to follow.  If it's a short enough trip I draw it myself and add things to it I know they'll see along the way, also including the road signs we'll be looking for.  But for this long trip, I just printed some Google Maps marking our journey, one showing the entire trip, and then three other maps showing the journey for each day.  (Note, I did marker along the state lines so it was easier to see.) Along the way we'd draw on the map what kind of terrain we were seeing.  Lots of trees in Missouri, yellow flowers in Illinois, red soil in Kentucky, mountains and trees in Tennessee and North Carolina.

2. License Plate Game. We didn't do this ALL the time, but when we did it was fun. We'd look for different states on license plates, then color that state on this U.S. map. Kids also colored in the water and everything. Then each time we found a new state we'd read a flash card about it (I happened to have a set of State flash cards I'd found at Target dollar bin). Pennsylvania has the chocolate factory, Indiana has the big race car track, Alabama has a rocket museum, etc. We'd occasionally review all the states we'd learned about so far. Another idea would be to print worksheets of different state flags and have the kids color them as you drive through each state.

3. BINGO cards. I've already blogged about these before, I think here. The pictures on our cards mostly applied to things we see here in the midwest, but I'm sure you could play anywhere.

4. Graph the colors of semi-trucks.  The kids color in the squares, or just mark them somehow with an X or scribble, when they see a truck of each color. Older kids can make sets of 5 tally marks in each square instead. White was by far the most common color of semi-truck. Then ask kids questions like Which color has the most? Which color has the least? Which colors are the same as each other?

5. ABC game. I made a list of the ABCs in order and we'd have to find the letters in order until we got to the end, although the kids didn't quite make it the end before losing interest because we got stuck on a certain letter.  You can do the same with numbers.

Now for other car entertainment ideas...

6. Books on CD. A friend of mine shared with us The Mouse Cookie CD and the kids LOVED it and still ask for it today just driving to and from town! The CD includes four different mouse cookie-type stories and 2 songs to go with each, one that's just a song, and one song that's more interactive.

7. Kids songs on CD. When we discovered that we could put music and story CDs in the car's DVD player and they could listen with headphones we were GOLDEN!  They'd just sit and listen for a long time, singing along not-so-quietly!  =)
as you can see from this pic, I also let Hannah and Eli switch seats occasionally just to give variety since the middle seat has the best view, and is the seat next to Carter. *E & H are close enough in size that the only buckle adjustment is strap tightness.

8. Read aloud books.  We just had short library books but just recently we've started reading aloud chapter books (Magic Tree House series) and that would've been great for that trip! The kids could also look at books quietly to themselves too.

9. Activity packets. For our MOPS kids I make packets of activities that include mazes, dot-to-dots, coloring pages, counting or matching worksheets, and tracing.  I have packets for different seasons, and I had several left over so I brought those along on our vacation.  Driving in the car was a perfect time for activities like that! And as you can see, there's plenty of blank space for free drawing too...

10. ipod and DS games. I had a DS that we've since found some kid games for so they could use it too. We have Dora birthday game, Let's Draw, and SmartKids games. One child could play games on the ipod and one child could play on the DS for a certain amount of time and then they could switch. We mostly used this as a quiet time activity for when Carter needed to nap in the morning.

11. Rhyming game. As we drove by things one person would pick a word, and everyone else had to come up with other words that rhymed with it.  ie We see a traffic light, and someone says LIGHT. Then others can say BRIGHT, NIGHT, SIGHT, FLIGHT, etc.

*12. Guess the gas price. This one is more geared to older kids, I guess, as my kids (ie, Eli, since I knew Hannah was too young) got upset when he didn't win and so we stopped playing altogether. Every time we stopped for gas, we'd each guess how much it was going to cost. Whoever was the closest got a jelly bean. (still have candy from Easter I was trying to use up)

THEN after ALL that if we still needed some quiet time from the kids we'd do a movie.  On our long driving day we didn't even get to a movie at all!!  We all had so much fun and I really enjoyed the interactive learning experience with the kids!

I used a folder with the three hole attachments to store all of our papers and maps and driving directions inside page-protector sleeves. I used a large shoe-box size box to keep our activity packets, markers, coloring books, flash cards, and games etc. I was more than pleased at how the long hours in the car went and afterward felt excited about the possibility of taking MORE driving trips like that!

ABC/Color Graphing
BINGO Card 1, BINGO Card 2, BINGO Card 3
U.S. Map
Activity Packets: Autumn Theme, Dinosaur Theme, Apple Theme, Spring Theme


Kassandra said...

Wow! Those are all really neat ideas - we're headed up to Iowa next weekend (8 hour drive with 2 stops) and I'm really excited to use some of these!

Oh, and I have no idea (I completely lack any technology know how) how to make files downloadable, but if you figure it out let me know!

In Light of the Truth... said...

Kassandra, if there's any files you want me to email to you, just let me know! Either on FB or here leave me your email address!

bp said...

Thanks so much for sharing these!! I don't know how to make them downloadable either but would love copies of them because we are heading on vacation. I love your idea for the maps and the graphs are great. Caleb will have such fun with these. Thanks !

Holly said...

You know you can always pass along all your files to me!!! LOVE YOU SISTER!

~Amanda said...

I tried one of those links and it worked, it just took a really long time to get the downloads. Definitely better than the jpg file though, and since it opened in the office program you used to create it, then people can tweak them how they want. Good job, Sarah!

melissa * 320 Sycamore said...

These are so great!!

Helen said...

I would love a copy of your semi truck graph. However, I cannot seem to download it. Can you send it to me? My email is helen_forster at hotmail dot com Just found you through pintrest and have pinned this. Thanks!