I just finished a three week road trip, with five kids, by myself! I know, crazy right? We went through Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho. We drove over 4,400 miles and 83 hours. My children’s ages range from 14-3 years old. Three girls, two boys. Some of them are still young enough that I need to provide some entertainment. The one thing I did not want, was a DVD player for them to watch movies. I used to do that when they were younger, but this time, I wanted less fighting and more sibling interaction and bonding. And it worked pretty well. Here is how to entertain your kids on a long road trip.
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Dot to Dot-
For my 7 and 10 year olds, I bought Extreme Dot to Dot activity books that have 300-2,100 dots per puzzle. My 10 year old daughter enjoys the Gardens dot to dot book. My 7 year old son, has the Animals dot to dot book. Our kids have really enjoyed these dot to dot puzzles and they do a great job of keeping their attention. They really want to see what the picture will be and it’s helping them learn to count to higher numbers.
We also bought mind benders for my 6, 7, and 10 year olds. We have Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. These are fun little mind puzzles that get their brains working in a fun way. The way they work is by giving a few clues. You mark those clues on the grid to eliminate some of the equation and then use what’s left to figure out the answers to the questions.
My kids like to draw their own pictures. My oldest three had their own sketch books that we got a while ago. For my 6 and 3 year old, I did not want to buy an expensive sketch book for them because it’s just to doodle in and I knew they wouldn’t be making any master pieces. They didn’t need nice paper. So I just grabbed some blank paper that I had and a picture for the cover so they could tell whose was whose. Then I took it to my local office supply store and had them bind it for me. Binding it includes a vinyl back cover, and clear plastic front cover and a coil. It only cost about $5 each, not including the paper I already had on hand. If I had bought them sketchbooks, it would have cost me $15 each.
And then of course, when you have sketch books, you need coloring pencils and pencil sharpeners. They each had their own zipper pencil pouch with coloring pencils and pencil sharpeners. I bought these pencil sharpeners here at Amazon. I like that the lid screws on instead of pops off so the shavings don’t accidentally spill out when it’s rolling around the pencil pouch or the floor of the car. And I also like that they are a cylinder shape instead of cube shaped so they fit nicely in their little hands.
I knew we would be driving at night quite a few times and I didn’t really want them using the dome lights, so I gave them each head lamps which worked out really nice. And they could be used as emergency flash lights if we needed it.
We brought LOTS of books. Books from the library. Books from our house. And books on CD. We got all the Fablehaven books, the first two Harry Potter books, and the House in the big woods series on CD’s. With 60 plus hours in the car, I thought this would be a good time to listen to some great classics.
Music was another activity I wanted to provide them. Everyone had their own device. I also bought enough headphones for everyone to have one. The ones I bought my three little’s are really great. They are like ear warmers with little speakers in them. You can move the speaker inside the headband so they are right over their ears. And the best thing? They don’t fall off their heads! That is always so frustrating for them AND for me when I have to keep helping put them back on. Problem solved!
We brought a couple tablets and a kindle reader also. And don’t forget chargers! I have a 15 passenger van. Two rows had two kids each, and the third row had one kid. So one thing I did before I left was have USB car chargers installed in each row. I took my car to a local car stereo shop and they installed them for me, along with a backup camera and new stereo. Each charger has two USB ports. So if anyone needed a device charged, they could do it in their own row. Our devices don’t hold the greatest charge because they are old, so I knew they would need to be charged often and I only had one charger up front for my phone. This turned out to be a great investment.
If you have any magazine subscriptions, bring those. We have some from our church and brought those along for more reading material.
How to draw books-
These are a great way to teach your child some drawing techniques. The ones we have are fairies, princesses, monsters and fairy tales, and planes, trains, and boats.
My kids LOVE these! You can snap them together into shapes that are shown on the provided cards, or you can use your imagination to come up with your own shapes (which is what my kids like to do best). We take these to church every Sunday to keep the little kids quiet. These were a great find. On our trip, I didn’t let the kids play with these in the car because I didn’t want to loose any pieces. But I got them out at the hotel or at restaurants to give them something quiet to do. And all 5 of my children love these, not just the younger ones.
Cookie sheets or clipboards-
I provided a hard surface for drawing or playing but, I only had a couple clipboards on hand, so I got some cookie sheets from the dollar store. If I would have had more time, I would have gotten some fun magnetic games that could be used with the cookie sheets.
With all these activities, my kids had lots of choices to keep themselves busy on our long trip.
Read my post about Road Trip Essentials to see what else I packed so you can be prepared.
What do you take on road trips for your kids? Let me know in the comments below.