10 Tips for Keeping Your Little Ones Engaged in the Car

Welcome to the September 2012 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Kids in the Car

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our members have written posts about kids in the car.


B4194 Buttonbridge to Bewdley road - geograph.org.uk - 674461
P L Chadwick [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

We recently took a very long road trip… actually 18 hours one way, although we broke it down into two days it still made for a lot of car time.  I tried to things of different activities in the car that would not only engage the children but keep their minds busy.  For Mama and Daddy the last thing you want to hear one hundred times on the road is are we there yet?  Although we did have a mini DVD player, we also wanted more than just 18 hours of movie watching.  With limited space and time to prepare, here were a few of the ideas we put into play on our road trip in August:

Flash Cards-This was a fun way we practiced letter (sounds), colors, spaces and even matching and opposites.  These are nice because you can play them with your child, they can play together or even on their own.

Activity Bags (Busy Bags)-We had received a copy of the ebook about Toddler Busy Bags from Activity Bags and made a few up ahead of time.  This worked out great because we did simple things like felt shapes and animals as well as beading necklaces and bracelets.  Although we found beads in many items, they are super easy to clean up and were worth the enjoyment.

Travel Bingo-My sister lent us two of their travel bingo sets and the kids loved them!  One was more geared for being in the city, another set was more for on the road.  These had red sliding windows and when you spotted certain items, you closed that window: traffic light, specific road signs, a barn, a cow, semi-truck, etc.  As I said, they loved them and it keeps them looking out the window searching for new things to spot.

Memory Games-My kids are at an age they love memory games.  The type you look at a card and then try to find the match while only flipping over one card at a time.

Tegu blocks-These magnetic blocks are super awesome and the kids played with them for hours building all sorts of things.  The pretended to make planes, birds, drills, a hammer, a water faucet, you name it, then pretended they made it.

I spy!-This game doesn’t require anything but looking and finding items.  As the scenery is always changing, so does the game!

Workbooks/Coloring Books-Gather various workbooks or make your own with online printables.  Add coloring pages, writing skill sheets, mazes, connect the dots, matching sheets, the possibilities are endless.  When using online printables, you can tailor each packet to your child and their specific needs/likes.  Since we were headed to the Georgia Aquarium, Disney and Sea World the children selected various themed sheets we found online.

Lacing Cards-These are especially great for young ones as they are thick cards or shapes and they practice lacing a shoe string in and out working on their motor skills.  Both my kids love these.  You can purchase them or make your own.

Maps-Either make your own maps or print online and have your children cross off the cities you pass.  They will get a lesson in geography as well as see you inching closer to your destination.  Maps are a great tool for the children, even at 3 and 4 to understand the various states and destinations we were headed and Austin loved it.

Change it up-Our rule was every hour we changed activities or they picked something different to play with.  At times they were ready to move on, other times they wanted to continue with what they had.  It made the time pass to have to trade every hour as they looked forward to the next hour when they could get back what they wanted.  Sometimes they would forget about it and get really involved again, it kept them engaged.

We used stickers, small toys, lots of singing and laughter to try to also have a great journey!  Although we had tense moments, our trip was very successful and the drive was pleasant.  We didn’t have many tears, except at night when Addie wanted to be cuddled but had a great time watching the scenery change from state to state.  With limited space, we were unable to bring a large quantity of items, so we focused on quality and engagement.  Even with two toddlers, our 18 hour travel to Georgia and then on to Florida was a success!  It was a trip we will never forget!

What Are Your Tips for Keeping Your Children Engaged on Long Road Trips?



Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival!

Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:



3 thoughts on “10 Tips for Keeping Your Little Ones Engaged in the Car”

  1. Amanda, do the kids have a play lap desk to help keep the activities in front of them? If so, can you recommend the ones you have? I’d love to find something to use in our car. I love the game suggestions and look forward to using these ideas as our little one gets older.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.