Monday, May 23, 2011

Travel Games for Toddlers

We recently made a weekend car trip 6 hours away from home and I revised my entertainment for Kitten. I thought my ideas may be helpful to those traveling with younger kids. There are tons of things you can do with a 4 year old child and older but it can be tricky to decide what to do with a toddler, an activity that would not be messy or bulky and would entertain them while sitting and not running around. I try to fit each activity in a ziplock bag, that way you don't have to fish around your bag for separate pieces while you toddler whines impatiently.
This is how I set things up in a car, this tray (from Michael's) is very convenient because it fits under the arms of the car seat and doesn't move around. The downside is that it ends up tilted, so small things slide down. Oh well, I guess you can't have it all!

OK, now to the things I carry with us. Most of them can be mixed and matched for more activities, I like things that can be multi purposed.
1. This String a Farm set. Also can play with individual pieces and make up stories and such.
2. Random combination of rubbery frogs and springs. Amazingly these 1 dollar frogs were the best investment in our travel toy collection, I remember when we traveled to Italy 6 months ago Kitten amazed me by playing literally for hours with them on the plane. She arranged and rearranged them, pulled their legs, made them jump and go places and on and on. She also likes to make them hide inside the springs. You can invent all sorts of games with them with the help of paper and pencil (make a road, draw a pond for them to live in, lily pad hopping, etc.)
3. Small magnetic book with animals. There is a matching activity on the back as well. I got it in Joann's in 1-dollar section.
4. This game fit perfectly in a small container.
5. Homemade playdough. A third of a recipe fit perfectly in the old feta cheese container and Kitten played with it the longest in a car. It isn't as messy as modeling clay, thankfully. I also included lids for stamping and to serve as plates (Kitten likes to pinch pieces off playdough and arrange them on plates), a little jar to fill, letter stamps, toothpicks (these are so versatile, you can make kabobs, hedgehogs (ours even eats toothpicks!), draw on a flat piece of playdough, etc. etc.) and tongue depressors for cutting playdough.
 This is how everything fit into a ziplock bag.
6. Different containers to practice opening/closing. These also proved very useful for filling with playdough.
7. Ornaments from 1-dollar section in Joann's. You can also get sheets of this paper and cut it in pieces for traveling.
8. Small (I think it is 5x7 inches) blackboard with chalk and sponge. Very popular with Kitten.
9. Animal matching game. Animals are from 1-dollar section in Walmart and the pictures are found in Internet. I still need to laminate them but they survived this trip. Kitten also loves to play with animals on their own.
10. Puzzle cards from Michael's. I obviously don't pay attention to letters but they are great 3 piece puzzles for toddlers. Kitten already mastered 2 piece puzzles but is still somewhat struggling with these. For your $3 you get 54 puzzles. One side is in color, the other is white and blue for more challenge. The pictures are nice and neutral, no cartoon characters.

I also carry a small crayon pack and a blank notebook. And books are a must. I usually get a selection of stories and rhymes as well as magnetic books, which I just recently discovered, thanks to Kitten's grandparents. They gave us the farm and I got several others because they are great for traveling: On the FarmWild AnimalsAnimals (this one is a bit different and I don't like it that much) and Underwater Sea. There are many magnetic pieces, that are stored in a convenient pocket. You can follow the text and place pieces accordingly or you can make up your own stories.
Do you have any advice on how to make traveling with toddlers easier? I would love to hear it as we are planning a long trip overseas this summer!

I linked here.


  1. Haha, Julie you are so awesome! As I was reading I couldn't help thinking about the mom in "One Fine Day". She also had the most randomest things in her purse, that all proved extremely useful throughout the day :))

  2. I try! :) But still I sometimes find myself without a bottle of water when Kitten is thirsty. And most of the time I forget about sun protection (bad, bad mother).