Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Toddler & Preschool Toys for Road Trips

Well we survived another lengthy road trip!
My boys have definitely racked up a lot of miles on their internal odometers in their short little lives. I can't claim that they were happy and content for all of the more than 22 hours they spent strapped into their car seats, but I can say that they didn't cry or fuss too much. We've certainly had worse (and shorter) trips. I still have not so fond memories of a certain trip where an infant Dude basically just screamed for a good portion of the trip. Now that was stressful! This time I packed a backpack full of car toys for the boys and just tried to pull things out as slowly as possible, knowing that we still had a lot of traveling ahead of us (and we still have the return trip to go!) Here are some of the things that were in their bag: (and a few things we've had great luck with on previous car trips)

This was a big hit with Dude. (He tinkered around with it for quite awhile.)

Sesame Street Elmo's Alphabet Bus
This was a hit with both boys. It's electronic. It has lights. It identifies the letters, asks you to find letters, asks you to find the letter that a word starts with, plays the ABC song while the lights flash, and the wheels even roll. It is a bit loud, but wasn't too bad since we were in the car. Otherwise you'd probably want to cover the speaker with some packing tape ;)
LeapFrog Scribble and Write
Dude got this for Christmas and has loved it ever since. It uses lights to prompt you to write lines, upper and lower case letters, and has a couple quiz games.

colored pencils (inside clipboard)
(It's not what we have, but it looks like Crayola also makes a Color Wonder Travel Tote that might be a better value if you're looking to put something like this together.)
A few things to know about coloring on the go:
1. Triangular Crayons don't roll.
2. Colored Pencils don't melt if you drop one under a car seat and forget about it.
3. Triangular Colored Pencil are fabulous!

And we haven't used them yet, but I bought a few Sticker Books for Dude to use in the hotel room or for the return trip.

We also brought along:
&nbspMagna Doodle Ours is actually from Target and has a cushion on the underside. The Magna Doodle has been a favorite of Spudders for a few months now. I just take all the magnets out before letting him have it in the car. (Update: This has now been replaced in our car by a couple of these Fisher-Price Doodle Pro)
VTech Preschool Laptop - Dude doesn't really fully understand yet how to use all the features on the laptop, but it does keep him busy.
The other things pictured above include a bag of vehicles, a little wooden clacker noisemaker toy, a round busy ball type thing that's makes a few different noises and comes apart, and a few things I found in the Target party favor section (mini slinkies, and stretchy/spiky balls on finger loops). With the exception of the spiky balls which definitely aren't safe for a mouther, both boys enjoyed all this junk little stuff. 

If you have the room for it, another toy that we've used on a previous trip is the Melissa & Doug latches board. It's really good for entertaining kids of a variety of ages. 


And if you're traveling with an infant, we've had a lot of luck in the past with alternating between these two toys, theTiny Love Take-Along Arch  & the&nbspBright Starts Hop Along Carrier Toy Bar If they were fussy I'd just stop and switch him out to the other one and maybe give him a small toy or teether to mouth. 

 A few homemade things also made it into the bag this time:

A couple chains made from binder rings. I put some lacing beads on one of them, but you could really attach anything to these and even change out the items as you go.

I put together this Brown Bear Eye Spy Bottle using the printables from Making Learning Fun. I filled ours with split peas leftover from our March & April sensory bins.

I printed off these animal & fruit/vegetable silhouette guessing cards from the Canon Creative Park site and bound them together to make little books.  I eventually bound them to where the the silhouette side of the card was the first page and the color picture was on the flip side. My thought was take Dude would see the silhouette, make his guess then flip the page to check himself. Not sure if that's what he did, but he did flip through them a bit.

And of course there were books. Am I the only one who finds it challenging to pick out car books for non-readers? Don't get me wrong my kids LOVE books, but they tend to love the whole bookshelf more than they're entertained by flipping through any one book. Trying to keep their short little attention spans in mind, here's what I came up with.

This one has little plastic poppers on each page and counts down from 10. The pages are THICK cardboard.

Bee & Me: An Animotion Experience
This book has a cute story and color pictures that move as you move the pages. I think they refer to it as scanimation sometimes. The one we bought was the "boardbook" version on amazon but the pages aren't as thick as most boardbooks we have. It is however very big, about 8x10 inches. There's a great video review on amazon.

Lots of animal photos in this large boardbook

I Spy Little Letters
We absolutely love this boardbook! Each page has a rhyme that describes the letter and pictures of things that start with that letter. There's also an I Spy Little Numbers book that's great, as well as several other of these little I spy books with a variety of topics.

This is a great book with lots of flaps to open. It's educationally focused covering numbers, letters, shapes, etc.

Yummy Yucky (Leslie Patricelli board books)
Both my boys love all of our Leslie Patricelli books! They have very simple text and pictures that babies just seem to "get." Spudder is interested in trying to eat just about everything he can get his hands on these days so I figured Yummy Yucky was particularly appropriate.

Usborne Very First Words (First Words Board Book)
Spudder really likes flipping through this first words book. This is a great quality boardbook.

And since I'm on a roll, here are a few other products that we're loving for being on the go with small children:

When we're traveling I put Spudder's food in the pocket of one of these, strap it on him and let him feed himself, while we continue to drive. It's great for those times when you don't really have time to stop for meals. And since it wipes clean it's the one and only bib I had to bring along. So also perfect for when you don't have easy access to laundry facilities.

I actually forgot this at home, but I'm so wishing we had it right now. Since we're away from home and traveling, we're also eating out a lot more than usual. This would have been really handy if I'd remembered it!

And if you're taking an umbrella stoller, I can highly recommend this cupholder/accessory pocket thing. We've actually had ours for a couple years now, but we're not huge stroller people so we tend to only use them while traveling. This thing has worked great for us though and even fits our double umbrella stroller.

Stroller Hooks

Another product that I never would have guessed would come in so handy are these stroller hooks. Sure they're great for diaper bags and shopping bags, but I'm mostly using mine for carrying a Reusable Bag with snacks, sippy cups, changes of clothes, sunscreen, hats, you know just all that STUFF kids need. I really don't know what I'd do without these!

I think that about covers all the traveling with children info I have that anyone might find useful, but if you have any other questions feel free to leave it in the comments section and I'll be sure to get back to you. Happy traveling! 


  1. Hello,

    I am also a SAHM of a 2-years old girl. I don't remember how I came across your blog but since I've discovered it, I check it on a regular basis. It helps me organize some activities to do at home with my daughter. Thank you for sharing all these ideas, they're really great!

  2. Thanks Celine! I appreciate the kind words. =)

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