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Creative Ideas to Keep 2 and 5 Year Olds Busy on a Long Car Trip???

We will be taking a fairly long car trip this summer, and I was wondering if anyone had any creative ideas to keep a 2 year old and 5 year old (both girls) entertained in the car. We of course have the standards: DVDs, books, coloring, music, etc. but does anyone have a favorite toy, game, or activity that entertains their child for hours on end? I'm not worried about my 5 year old, but my 2 year old just does not like to sit still! Thanks in advance to all you creative mamas out there!

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Do you have an iPhone? I just read an article last week written by a mom who made a long car trip with a two-year old. She said her iPhone was her savior. There are many kid-friendly and educational apps that can be downloaded. Here's the link to the story: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30815376/

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Okay, this is going to sound weird..........aluminum foil! Seriously, it works wonders with my kids! I give them a large piece and they make "sculptures" out of it; animals, letters, etc. Believe it or not, this keeps them entertained for hours.

I also made car bingo cards for them and laminated them, then as they saw each thing on the card during our trip, they would just check it off with a dry erase marker.

You can laminate a map (for your older daughter) and she can color in states when she sees a license plate for that state. Great way to learn some geography!

I love the idea for some grab bags. That adds an element of fun and mystery to it. May keep them interested in each activity longer.

Books on tape are always good. We especially liked the Hank the Cow Dog ones....they seem to entertain all ages.

Hope some of these help!

1 mom found this helpful

Oh what fun. Been there done that. Make sure you make some stops along the way so the kids can run. We would usually stop at a roadside park and have a picnic and there is plenty of room for the kids to play for a while. Instead of bringing the new toys and books out at once, bring them out a few at a time. You know, every hour or when we get to the next town. This gives them something to look forward to. Bring something that you don't always let them play with, like washable markers. Engage the 5 year old in trying to find things along the road. You could look for animals, short trees, tall trees, letters of the alphabet, and incorporate math into these searches. Bring some fun snacks, a little along the way. Be prepared for several potty breaks. Most truck stops have nice bathrooms. Use tablets for writing and drawing, this does away with a lot of loose papers, unless the two year old is entertained with tearing pages out, in this case have cheap tablets available. Don't get in a hurry and have fun. This faze will pass. Another thought about time, when your 5 year old wants to know how long until something takes place, tell her it will be as long as it takes to watch 1 or 2 Sponge Bob shows or some other show that she might watch. We will be going on a long trip and now my daughters are teenagers and the older one wants to help drive, a little nervous about that. It is always something. Sometimes we would make two 600 mile trips a year before my in-laws passed away. I am a proud mother of 3. My son lives on his on and is attending college and my daughters are well, they are teenagers and I love them dearly. Have a safe trip, I pray for your safety and harmony as I send this.
J. W.

1 mom found this helpful

One thing that worked well for us last summer for our 5 year old was doing "grab bags". As I collected activities for the trip (dvd's, coloring books, cheapy toys, even candy in a few of them) I put them in brown lunch bags. Some she new about, some she did not. Then, every so often (you could do it every hour, every stop, every new city, or just whenever you need a change) we had her grab a bag with something in it. She really looked forward to the surprised. It broke the trip up, gave her something to look forward to, etc. It also turned "ordinary" things into something exciting and kept her from getting bored of all her stuff right away. (One of the items I remember was a fancy pencil w/feathers on it. It never would have kept her busy otherwise, but as a surprise she found all kinds of ways to use it on the trip). We saved some bags for the trip home as well! Good luck and have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

I just took a VERY long car ride alone with my daughter who turned 2 in April and she has always hated riding in the car. I too had the standards but what made it go smoothest for us was a bag of new toys from the dollar store. I packed half of what I bought for the ride home and kept the rest in a bag up by me. When she started getting fussy and I couldn't stop I passed her a new toy (her favorite were the kazoo , the silly glasses with a nose and mustache attached, and a "magic" bottle where the milk disappears when you turn it over)A toy she already had was also very helpful- a magnadoodle. I also had a couple new dvd's of her favorite shows she hadn't yet seen. And of course, junk food, fruit, and juice's were handy little helpers too.

When I stopped to eat I made sure the place had a playground. I'd take her to the bathroom, buy the food for me and then let her play until we had to go. Then on the way out I got her food and she ate in the car (I bought her a nice little car seat tray by Fisher price so she could eat easily and color also). Being organized really helped it go smoothly. Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

Do you have an iPhone? I just read an article last week written by a mom who made a long car trip with a two-year old. She said her iPhone was her savior. There are many kid-friendly and educational apps that can be downloaded. Here's the link to the story: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30815376/

My daughter has been making trips to Florida since she turned two and she just turned four. We created a Mp3 player of her favorite kid songs and gave her a pair of headphones, she also has a dry erase board or doodle board to draw on, the crayola light board is great if you are going to travel at night. Most of the trip however she sleeps. Make sure to pack snacks and make them go potty at every stop. Check to see if their car seat have enough padding in the bottom to make the trip comfortable. Also make sure you check the direction of the sun (will it be shining into their windows) those shade covers are nice but we use a pillow case and roll it up in the window . The older one might wear sunglasses in the car. Activity wise most of the time they just want to talk and to do something that can fit in their laps. Music has been the best thing to keep the car ride occupied though. Good luck. -J. White

We have made the trip from Arkansas to Arizona several times when we lived up there. It is a 3 day drive with 8-10 hrs of driving for the first 2 days! I have 4 kids and have found some different things to keep them busy along the way. When we are getting ready to stop, we always find a park to play at for about 45 mins. A portable dvd player has been amazing and our kids also have a ds game system to play(they have games for 5 yr olds). We also bought one of those little electronic hand held video games, you can find them at wal-mart and we let our youngest play with that(he's now 3). Different sight games like I spy were fun and sometimes we get stuff that is just for the trip that they don't know about until we are well on our way- little dollar toys, bubbles, a small easy craft to put together. They get those through out. We have also stopped at wal-marts along the way and bought a $5 movie that they haven't seen before.
It will be a long trip but hopefully some of these will help!
~ C.

I may have missed this in the other responses, but finger puppets are great. Last year our granddaughter (now 3) would put on silly shows with finger puppets on her fingers and toes. It was great. Also since you will also be traveling with a 5 yo, she can help with eye spy games. We usually do colors or letters or items that she can see over and over since the little ones sight is partially blocked from the car seat and she may not be able to see the original item as quickly.

Another silly game we play is to ask her which direction we are going and how fast. For instance when we go over an overpass was ask if we are going up or down, are we going fast or slow (she loves the Little Einsteins so it is usually Allegro or Adagio).

Another thing I never leave home without is her potty chair! It rides in the back and if she says she needs to go, we don't have to look for a place! Liquid can just be tossed on the side of the road to evaporate and solids we wrap up real tight and dispose of at the next stop! Be sure you have wipes instead of tissue since you won't have water to wash up with! She would rather go there than in a public restroom which is just fine with her grandpa and me.

I also make a list of Bible and nursery songs that she likes and so I don't forget them all. Grandpa even gets to participate in the sing-a-long. There are some great DVD and CDs to sing with.

When we stop to eat, we usually do her favorite EIEIO's (McDonald's) and let her play then eat in the car. Just something else to keep her occupied! And we travel on her time. It usually makes the trip about an hour longer but worth not having the tears!

We will be making the 7 hour trip to Galveston in two weeks! And I will be taking a hand help tape recorder. She gets into telling a story and I don't want to forget what she says. Plus, her mom and dad won't be joining us on this trip, so they will be able to join in on the memories and it really helps when journaling in the scrapbook!

Hope you have fun on your trip!

We have a 2 year old and just came back from a trip to Austin which was 4 hours. She was exhausted on the way back so slept the entire way; however, was wide awake on the way down. We had the standard stuff like you are bringing - favorite toys, books, dvd's, etc. We stopped every so often so that she could get out and run around; plus go potty. I sat in the back so that I could attend to her needs a little easier - we have a van so there was room. You may also want to consider playing games such as -"tell me when you seen an airplane; tell me when you see a boat, etc" That kept her busy for a little bit. Plus she got so excited when she spotted something. I think the key is just planning to make frequent stops for her to get and run around. You really can't expect a 2 year old to sit for a long period of time without having some sort of frustration. Good luck!!

One more thought: Something that I am going to purchase for our next trip. They have a tray that sits on a carseat. That way they can draw, color, etc. I saw it advertised in a parenting magazine. I bet you could do a search for it on the Inernet.

We've had good luck with books on CDs, especially a great CD of Little Einstein stories.

Sticker books, or just a few sheets of stickers and some blank paper. Also, an activity book with a "magic reveal" marker entertained my son on a trip last weeked between Dallas and Corpus Christi. He didn't know what the activities were, but loved scribbling and watching the "secret" whatever show up. His was Spider Man, and came from the Target dollar spot.
Window clings can be fun if he's near a window.
MyFirstLeapPad or similar electronic game.

We've made these long trips before, and every time I fill one of their bags or backpacks with trip activities. I hit the Target Dollar Spot, toy clearance, school supply isle (fun pens/pencils/markers, etc.).
We start the trip with music, then about every half hour pull something new out of the backpack, and fill in other times with driving games, like finding letters of the alphabet on billboards, or pretending our car is a submarine and taking turns naming what sea creatures we see out the window. We might put in a half hour DVD a few hours into the trip, then save a longer movie for the end of the trip. If you depend too heavily on the DVDs, they fail to work their magic when you need it!

Also, we're just not bothered by stopping often. We try to look out for places to eat that have play areas, or find a city park when they just need to get out and stretch their legs.

We are also planning a vacation that will have us in the car for many days. I have been collecting ideas of things for them to do in the car. Some I have tried, some I haven't. Sorry if I duplicate others responses. Silly putty, finger puppets, kids joke book to read jokes to them, pipe cleaners, roll of tape, Pez Dispenser, books on CD, leapster, MadLibs (I found one for young kids in which they don't have to know the parts of speech). Hobby Lobby has a craft (don't know what it is called) but they are like sticker mosaics. It uses square foam stickers to make a picture.

My family takes a 16 hour drive one way each year. We love car Bingo. You can find the cards on ebay. Their great. Will keep the kids busy. I also make a small map of our trip and give the kids stickers so each time we get to a point of interest they can put a sticker by it. It helps with the are we their yet question. They can see on their map that your half way ect.. I also bring their doodle pads and extra toys that are only for car trips. Makes it a little easier. Good luck and have fun.

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