"Are We Almost There?" Activities

Updated on June 07, 2008
K.B. asks from Birmingham, AL
29 answers

Does anyone have any ideas of what I can put in a backseat activity box for my son for a long car trip? Most of the ideas I've read about are geared toward girls. I have crayons,paper,books,glue sticks,stickers....any other ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for all the great ideas!!! We do have a dvd player,forgot to mention that, I got some books on tape movies from the library, went to the parent teacher store,and made some of those small bags of surprises for every hour!! Y'all are so much help, Walmart's 88cent aisle was pretty cleaned out,everyone must have read this!! I did find some great things in the clearance aisle in the school supplies, paper pencil aisle, never knew they had this aisle...anyway thanks again to everybody.....we're off.

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P.T.

answers from Monroe on

I have a 6 year old grandson that we take to North Carolina from Louisiana. We invested in a car television and he takes his children movies and watch them almost all the way. It also has a game section on it that he can play games. This usually keeps him occupied and makes for a very easy trip. I also take snacks, colorbooks, sticker books, etc. We also play the color game of I spy something green or blue or whatever. Hope this helped, have a happy trip.
P.

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J.H.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I hate to say it because I'm such a big advocate against - but mebbe a cheap little video game strictly for car use? :}

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S.S.

answers from Lawton on

Car Bingo is fun. Have kid friendly music you can both singalong to. Eye Spy is good in a pinch.

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K.H.

answers from Biloxi on

There are a variety of magnet games available today, or you could make one.
I purchased a small cookie sheet, one small enough for a toaster oven. Then I printed out some of my son's favorite dinosaurs & cars onto magnet printer stuff (you can find it at an office supply store). Then I cut them out with scissors. He has two sets one of dinosaurs, with some trees, and some different rocks and greenery, and one set with cars, street signs, trucks, etc... I store each set in their own tin can that I picked up for a quarter at the thrift store (second hand store). They usually don't fall on the floor all that often, and I just encourage him to make a story as we are driving, and his imagination just goes wild. I've had dinosaurs driving cars going through the city kind of stories. It's great to have him occupied and not frustrated that he was strapped in the carseat.
good luck.

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J.L.

answers from Enid on

K.

I hear where you are coming from; we try our hardest to entertain our 3 year old on long trips. The goal is to not put the DVD player on! We just went on a 5 hour trip and she used her Leap Pad, activity books, and she listened to books on CD! She loves listening to the stories - some of them have books that go along with the stories, but some are just on the CD. There is a Thomas the Train book/cd that has 4 stories in it (I like these because I don't have to change out the book/cd as often) - the library should have a good selection of books on CD too! If you decide to try this I'd use them while driving around town before you go, just to make sure he is interested.

-colorforms are another good carseat toy! Look on the internet - Colorforms Fun Pockets. My daughter has Thomas and one other type.

Good Luck on your trip

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K.W.

answers from Oklahoma City on

One idea I use for my three boys is I get a cheap cookie sheet with sides and get some little magnetized toys. Also he can draw on it with a dry erase marker and it usually comes off but he can draw roads and use matchbox cars on it. I also get one of those little cases of cheap farm animals or dinosaurs and he can use the pan as a play surface. Usually I actually wrap up a new car or two and the animals in wrapping paper and then at certain places on the trip or if they are playing quietly for a while I let them open their surprise. They love it and it is new so fun for at least a couple minutes. I have a couple "presents" to pull out along the trip and don't forget to keep some for the ride home! Good luck

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C.P.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hi K.!

I agree, it always seems easier to find things like that for girls than for boys (I have one of each, grown now)but when my son was that age, he LOVED "legos" and you can get those individual smaller kits that make certain things, or just put them in a big plastic container (even the one they come in that has all the different types in there--you can get it at WalMart for around $25 I think)beside him and let him make all kinds of things. Also, you can buy the Lego platforms that will hold his creations in place. Another thing my son liked was the Transformer action figures. He was your son's age when he got really interested in both those things and would play for hours with them. What about a bag of plastic cowboys and Indians and horses? I bought a book at one of the stores here in OK City, WalMart or Target, that was just for car trips and had all kinds of activities in there--but it was for kids maybe a wee bit older than 5. Still you might find something like that for his age. I'll put my mind to it, and you can e-mail me off list if you want at [email protected]____.com
Hope this helps!
C.

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K.W.

answers from Tulsa on

The best thing I've found is to use our laptops (fortunately we have 2) and ear phones and let our kids watch DVDs. It keeps them busy & quiet and most movies last around 1 1/2 to 2 hours, so that takes a pretty good chunk of traveling time. If you don't have a laptop, you can get portable DVD players. I know this isn't the most educational route, but when you're stuck in a car with a bored child, you tend to not care about that after a while...lol. (And I'm in the education field, haha!!!) Happy travelling, and good luck!

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J.S.

answers from Enid on

how about benadryl?? lol....just kidding....thought i would give you a chuckle :-)

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R.S.

answers from Pine Bluff on

if you guys are music folks try a little CD player with headphones and his favorite music or story CD's...that's what we did with our boys, no one was allowed to sing outloud becuase each of the boys had different stuff on their players and we were listening to the car radio....it kept things quiet and the boys occupied and they weren't asking THAT question every 15 minutes.....enjoy your trip...R.

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R.F.

answers from Fayetteville on

My son is quit a bit younger than yours, but a couple toy cars always keeps him occupied in the back seat. I would say a couple cars, maybe a mini magnadoodle or etch-a-sketch and maybe an action figure or something like that. Good Luck.

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J.M.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hello kathy,
we took a trip from oklahoma to seattle washington with my five year old grandson.there is a little portable dvd player called video now it worked wonders for us.you can get little cartoons movies it is very small and compact.other than tristen being hungry and letting us know about that, we heard alot of laughing and we would say whats so funny and he would tell us what he was watching.good luck and enjoy your vacation.

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C.V.

answers from Birmingham on

I read in a magazine one time to write some activities down on slips of paper that they can pull out every once in a while. Maybe every 1/2 hour or so. Include things like stopping to get ice cream, Chinese fire drill, find something blue, etc. Something to break the monotony of the car ride. We've done this with our girls on long trips before and it made it so much more enjoyable. Maybe even let them help pick the activites before the trip so they feel involved and look forward to drawing particular items.

Good luck, I'm sure it will go great!

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S.B.

answers from Little Rock on

Don't know how you feel about this, but a DVD player has been great for us! My boys (ages 6, 4, and 2) have always done really well, even before we got the DVD player, but it is nice to have, especially on long trips. I never use it around town, but for a trip, it is worth the investment. Enjoy your vacations!

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J.K.

answers from Birmingham on

My son always took small cars, legos, action figures, and stuffed animals. I sometimes put something new in there, but he usually just packed up his own favorites. He liked a smooth surface, so we would take a lap desk or a clipboard (the kind that opens & contains papers & pencils inside). We've also found that a pencil box (the type they often store items in at school) is great for keeping small objects. Also, we always listen to books on tape or CD. You could get lots of fun ones from the library. For your son's age, you should be able to get a set with both the printed picture book which he can follow and the recording. You will probably find that you enjoy listening to these as well.

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C.B.

answers from Dothan on

Check at Wal-mart in the children's books and games section. There are some good learning activity books by Playskool for preschool - puzzles, letter writing, matching objects, etc. My children like these. Also, there are some small handheld electronic games for about $10.

While driving you can also play interactive games with your son. As you drive as for objects of a certain color - I spy. You and he will take turns guessing. If your on the Interstate this will be difficult but in cities and towns it works great. If your child knows his ABCs you can play the ABC game. Start with A and look at road signs and billboards to collect letters from A to Z. This can take a while and it is fun learning.

Portable DVD players are also great for a favorite video.

About me:
I am a 41 year old mother to two girls ages 6 and 3. The 6 year old travels easier because she is old enough to find independent things to do. The 3 year old needs to interact and get direction for most activities. Our traveling is normally 3 to 5 hours in length so all trips are long. :)

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C.W.

answers from Oklahoma City on

We used to love to do mad-libs on long road trips. It also helps to maintain and teach language skills during the summer. And hearing the stories that are created is a great laugh. At 5 he should be able to come up with some great stuff as long as you can explain to him what things like nouns, pronouns, adjectives etc. mean. It'll be stuff he'll learn next year in 1st grade anyway.

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S.S.

answers from Oklahoma City on

My 5 year old son likes to watch movies on a portable dvd player on really long road trips. Hand held gaming devices, like Leapfrog Leapster, are also a great idea. My son also likes books and coloring books. Have fun!

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T.S.

answers from Jonesboro on

a great idea i read about: a way for kids to mark the time until you get there. the original idea was a line strung up with cards clothespinned to it that have the remaining time written on them: 5 hours, 4 hours, 3 hours, etc. (or half hours, for shorter trips) i think the line would bother me, tho, so i might make a little 'book' out of the cards, maybe write a fact on each one about your destination, or attach a little piece of candy.

the best idea, i think, would be to make a little packet of activities in ziploc bags for each hour, then it would be exciting to see what's in each bag. only catch is you have to remember to tell him to open each bag each hour. can you set your cell to go off every hour? that would work great.

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B.L.

answers from Oklahoma City on

magnet play sets - they open like a book, have a scene and a set of magnets - a castle and knights, or a farm and animals, dinosaurs, tractors, etc...

color wonder marker sets - colors appear when special marker is used

leap pad or similar interactive learning system

may even be old enough for simple game boy games

look and find books (hidden pictures)

his favorite music on CDs

etch-a- scetch, wrap up surprises - small cars, etc...

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L.W.

answers from Auburn on

If anyone can read in the car, that's what I always do (my husband drives). There are also various games where you look out the window and try to spot things--letters of the alphabet from a-z, license plates from all 50 states, or make up your own list. You should also gear things toward your child--see what he wants to do or bring. My son has entertained hiimself for long periods with his action figures or a few stuffed animals. We have also told stories in a circle, each person adding his or her bit, or made up stories and told them to each other.

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S.L.

answers from Fort Smith on

My kids LOVED the Adventure in Odyssey series from Focus on the Family. Some Christian book stores have it. They may not be on you 5 yo level though. Books on tape or stories on tape might be good. If you have the money you could invest in a portable DVD and bring along some of his faves. Sometimes the local library has given me an extension on due dates for the DVDs without overdue fines if I tell them we're going on a trip. I just read the response about putting something different in zip lock bags and he gets something different every hour. That is a GREAT idea in many ways. It teaches delayed gratification and time management to name a few things. You can even plan one hour to count all the red cars you pass or whatever, then watch for something else, etc.

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L.H.

answers from Jonesboro on

I have five children and when my boys were little I packed picture books, wooden puzzles, stuffed animals, and little plastic "cowboys and indians" that you can find real cheap at Wal-Mart or the Dollar Store.

I've found that the crayons, etc don't travel well because if you leave the car, it gets really hot and the crayons melt. I think you'd have the same problem with glue sticks.

Maybe those washable markers would travel well -- and be sure to stop often at rest areas to let the child RUN and that helps out with the travel too.

We've traveled from Arkansas to the northern most border of North Dakota, across Minnesota and Wisconsin and all over Michigan and back to Arkansas - so my kids know what a LONG car trip is. :)
L.

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B.L.

answers from Texarkana on

Hi K.!! Funny that this came up today because I am in the middle of getting ready to travel with my son :-)
When he was your son's age, I had a duffel "travel bag" and the things in it were only for when we would travel (that way he would be interested in them because he didn't see them very often). You can go to Wal-Mart and there is an aisle in the toy section where the toys are 88 cents. They were a little cheesy, but hey, they were cheap and kept him occupied. I always put books to read and a coloring book in the bag as well as a couple of toy cars and trucks. He also had a Nintedo SP to play with. If your child doesn't have a Gameboy, they have electronic handheld games for around $15 in the toy department. My son had a travel Yahtzee game and a travel Simon game. One year on my son's birthday, my sister went to a craft store and bought a little shallow wooden tray. She painted the inside bottom of it with magnetic paint and then painted it bright colors (you can paint over the magnetic paint). Then she bought a set of those magnetic letters and numbers and my son had a blast spelling words in the tray and they wouldn't fall out. I, unfortunately, am not an artsy-craftsy person like my sister and would never have thought of something so fun and educational..that's why she's the teacher.
Now that my son is nearly eleven, as long as he has his Gameboy, his Ipod and his pillow, he is a happy camper. Hope some of these ideas are helpful and hope you have happy safe travelling!!

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A.J.

answers from Tuscaloosa on

Books on CD (with a CD player and earphones might work well. I don't have a DVD player in my car but from what I hear it works well too. Maybe some type of handheld game and of course there are games yall can play as a family. Hope you have some safe and fun trips.

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C.T.

answers from Fayetteville on

Magnet sets are good-although I've never looked for boy ones-I have 2 girls and the oldest is 3 1/2, but if you found some magnets he liked to use you could bring a small cookie sheet to stick them to. We make sure some of the activities are new, it seems to keep them occupied a little longer. One thing my mom did when we were travelling cross country was a small toy we got to unwrap each time we got to a new state, that way all the new stuff isn't used up in the first hour of the trip. You could try a trivia game with cards that he could read to you. I also might try looking for a cheap hand held electronic game. Good luck.

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J.H.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hi K.,

I have a 6 year old little boy and I keep a plastic tool box in the car at all times for when we go on family trips or to one of his older sister's sporting events. It really has been a life savor! I keep toys in there that he does get to play with unless we are on the go. He has some small dinosaurs and hot wheels. Those are the main thing that he likes to keep in there. You could take your son to walmart or target and let him pick out a few small toys so that he feels that he is getting to pick something special. We also keep a small size zero soccer ball in there, it helps we you reach your destination to give him something that will help stretch his legs after being in the car. We also have a leapster that he loves to play in the car and most of their games are educational!

Good Luck,
J.

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E.B.

answers from New Orleans on

My three girls and I (ages 7,5,3-and 38) are gearing up for a 3,000 mile summer road trip. The goal is to make the journey as good as the end point. Here is what I got.
1.Pace yourself. Don't give them all of the activities at once. Allow a little mystery and use them as a reward for good car behavior. Take brown lunch bags- go to the dollar story/grocery and load them up, with little prizes, two or three crayons (not the 64 assorted pack that is just going to end up on the floor), a juice box, raisins, animal crackers, those magnets picture scenes (available at Magic Box). Offer a brown bag every 100 miles..or every rest stop that they don't ask for junk food, and simple use the bathroom. REWARD the good behavior!! Bring an empty shoe box for all that they collect on the journey.
2. Books on tape! They go a long way. I am not kidding you, children get as engrossed as we do. There are some great Roald Dhal (sp?)books on tape that you will enjoy as much as your child. The children's resource center library has a bunch of them, and you can renew them by phone if you are out of town and can't return them.
3. Stop and stretch often. Before you leave, take a night and do some research regarding your route, locating schools that will have jungle gyms for burning off sit in the car energy; stops of interest..for the child. Think like a 5 year old, the worldest larget ball of twine might make the best photo for show and tell at school in the fall. Bring a disposable camera for those moments, and let them take all of the pictures.
4. Targeted activity. You are on a road trip. Your 5 year old can't write their impressions of the journey, but they sure can draw them. While stopping at a rest stop, buy a postcard from wherever you are. Have them draw a picture of where they are, or something that struck them along the way..i.e beautiful clouds, a big hill, a cow. Have them draw it on the postcard, mail it back to themselves. What a great memento from the trip for the both of you upon your return home.
Need more? I am full of them.
Good luck and drive safely
Beth

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