Speech Buddies Parents’ Corner – Travel Games for Little Ones

So you’re almost set for the drive to Grandma’s house for the holidays, except there is just one problem – the drive to Grandma’s house with bored and fidgety little ones in the backseat. I always find myself remarking to my kids that never had movies in the backseat or iPods to play while traveling across the country in the back of the station wagon and somehow we managed to survive. While my own kids might have access to those luxuries, it still seems that the best boredom busters while traveling are good (dare I say old-fashioned) travel games.

Travel Games for Kids

Mystery Bags – Pack several smaller bags into one for the trip and explain to your child that for every 30 or 60 minutes (or miles) you travel, she can get one more mystery bag of things to do. Some things to pack into the mystery bags include:

  • Books that are new to your child (library, thrift stores, and garage sales are great sources that won’t break the bank)
  • Music – create a CD of some fun children’s songs and have a sing-along
  • Etch-a-sketch or other drawing supplies
  • Small toys or trinkets that are new to your child (again – think thrift stores and garage sales)
  • Snacks – if your child is old enough then gum always seems to be a winner
  • More items like the ones described below

Soft Stories – Felt boards with story pieces are easy to pack, inexpensive to make, provide endless opportunities for imaginary play, and aren’t just for preschool classrooms. You can make or find online to purchase your own travel-sized felt board – and it doesn’t even have to actually be a solid board. My easy, homemade travel board takes about 10 minutes to make and cost me less than $1.

  • Take a sturdy school folder (it can be used because you’re going to cover much of it anyway)
  • Measure and cut black felt to fit the entire inside of the folder (about 18″x11″)
  • Use craft glue to attach the felt to the inside
  • Let dry
  • You can also use a plastic binder or folder, or choose a different background color other than black.
Travel Games for Kids

One of the best things about homemade felt boards is that you can customize the story pieces to match the interest of your kids – castles and knights, pirates, animals, almost anything is an option. Image source: fishersmommy.blogspot.com

Then I found felt story patterns online and made my own characters, which I attached to the outside of the felt board in a plastic storage bag. You can create characters for specific stories, or just random characters and props so that your child can create her own stories and scenes. Make some Thanksgiving themed story pieces to go along with it and have your child create her own story about the holiday.

Magnetic Stories – Pack a small cookie sheet and a set of fun magnets with which your child can create stories or pictures. You can even create your own sets of Thanksgiving or Christmas magnets by taking related pictures and adding self-adhesive magnets to the backs (I laminate the pictures first or use craft glue to attach them to cardboard).

Travelling Photographer – Cameras aren’t what they used to be – which is great for young travelers. Inexpensive digital cameras are perfect for little hands to use to document the adventure. On one of our last vacations one of the most frequent sounds we heard from the backseat wasn’t children complaining – it was the clicking of the camera as our youngest snapped about every picture imaginable, including some fun (if not awkward) ones of his siblings sleeping in the seat next to him.

3 More Ideas for Travel Games for Little Ones

  • Print free travel games and add them to your own 3 ring binder
  • Pack reusable water bottles with your children’s names on them (we like to pack drink mixes for these for a change of pace)
  • Give your child an easy map to follow of your route and a sheet of star stickers to mark progress

Easy ideas like a printable scavenger hunt can get the whole family playing a travel game together – and the pictures on this one are perfect for non-readers. Image source: doblelol.com

Are we almost there? How much longer? If you’re travelling over the river and through the woods with young children this holiday season, don’t forget to pack your patience – and some of these easy travel games for little ones.

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