1. Create a Craft Binders
Almost all toddlers and preschoolers love creating with art supplies, so why not make a mini, portable “craft table” for your little traveler? Stock a binder with sealable supply pouches and fill each pouch with a different craft or art supply, like washable markers, stickers, stencils—the possibilities are endless!
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2. Kids’ Music CDs
While they can be a wee bit grating for parents, most kids will instantly be mesmerized by the jaunty tunes on a children’s CD. Some good kids’ bands that won’t have mom and dad pulling their hair out are: Raffi’s Owl Singalong; Okee Dokee Brothers; The Not-Its!; The Pop Ups; Sugar Free Allstars; and Lisa Loeb’s “Nursery Rhyme Parade.” If you don’t want to mess with CD cases, some of these artists, plus a few more, are featured on this summery songs playlist created just for Parenting.com readers!
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3. DIY Chalk and Magnet Board
Chelsea from Sunny With a Chance of Sprinkles had the ingenious idea of painting an old baking sheet with magnetic chalkboard. Perfect for doodling and arranging magnets!
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4. Window Markers
Kids love writing on things they’re not supposed to, so why not hand them each a pack of window markers or crayons and let them go to town? And the best part: They wipe off clean with a wet paper towel or baby wipe.
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5. License Plate Game Print-Outs
The Suburban Mom has an awesome print-out of license plates from every state. Have the older kids keep their eyes peeled while you’re on the road and check each state off as you go.
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6. Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks
File this one under #duh, but make sure you think about how you pack your kids’ road trip snacks, not just what you pack. Erin from Strawberry Mommycakes likes to put snacks into individual Tupperware containers with utensils taped to the top while Tara from Pint Size Pilot uses a pillbox to organize snacks. Clever!
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No mom likes to zombify her child with technology, but during the 11th hour of a road trip, it may be necessary.
8. DIY Busy Wallets
Depending on the age of your child, they may get a kick—and an hour of entertainment—out of a DIY busy wallet a la Kaley Ann from Hello Bee. Simply stuff some expired credit cards, Monopoly money, old ticket stubs, crayons, and whatever else you think will come in handy into an old wallet and watch them become mesmerized.
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9. Window Clings
You can either DIY your window clings like Merry from Merry About Town or simply buy a pack from Amazon. Either way, the kiddos will have fun sticking and re-sticking them to the window.
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10. Mix & Match Monsters
You don’t need to be Super Pinterest Mom to make these cute Mix and Match Monsters like Dyan from And Next Comes L. Simply cut a few “monster bodies” from different colored pieces of felt, along with some eyes, horns, and hair, and watch your children stay entertained by mixing the pieces and creating different creatures.
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11. LEGO Kit with Activity Cards
Most kids will happily snap away with LEGOs for a while, but to get a little more bang for your travel buck, Asia from Fun at Home With Kids had the clever idea of drawing up some activity cards with different LEGO formations on them. Your kiddos will lose track of time when they try recreating the formations with their LEGOs.
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12. Bring an I-Spy Bottle
You don’t need much to create this I-Spy Bottle that Liz from Say Yes made. Simply fill an empty bottle or container with a few small trinkets and a whole lotta rice. Label or put a photo on the front of the container, informing the kids what to look for. They’ll happily twist and turn the bottle, trying to find the objects. So cute!
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13. Bring “Would You Rather” Cards
If your kids are a bit older, bring along a pack of “Would You Rather” conversation starter cards. (You can either print some fromThe Measured Mom‘s blog or make your own.) The whole family will be amused by everyone’s answers. “Would you rather never eat your favorite five foods again or ONLY eat your favorite five foods for the rest of your life?” Tough choices!