We are planning a very long drive this week. We’re hitting the road before sunup and driving until way past bedtime. As a survival strategy I’ve prepared a giant set of road trip activities for kids.
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In just a short while our family is going to be taking a road trip.
A very loooong road trip.
As in, start driving at 3 AM and reach our destination after 10 PM. With five kids ages 7 and under.
And no, we don’t have a DVD player in our van.
This may sound a little crazy, but seriously? Putting all seven of us in a hotel room with a baby still waking up every two hours sounds a whole lot crazier. So I’ve been working at a creating and collecting a variety of activities to keep my crew busy for our big adventure.
I have seen some amazing DIY lapboards on Pinterest. But I don’t sew beyond buttons. I don’t do well with wood, foam, or stretching fabric. I don’t even cut a straight line. So this is my version of a DIY lap board.
Find a cheap magnetic baking tray (tip – they’re not all magnetic; check first). This 9 x 13 tray cost 99 cents. Then get some markers or crayons and hot glue magnet strips to them (even adhesive strips can use that extra glue).
Anything to keep my toddler from dropping a marker every five seconds.
The sketchpad was from the dollar bin at Target.
Books on CD
Our number one activity on long car rides is reading. Thankfully, my Seven and Five can read on their own. But my Four in particular does not have patience for long trips, and he’s not ready to read independently. I’ll read aloud periodically, but it’s not something I want to do for ten hours! That’s where books on CD come in. I borrow them from the library, store them in my CD holder, and reserve multiple copies of each book so each of the big kids can follow along.
I also referred to my Best Picture Books for Kids Pinterest board and found a huge stack of new-to-us books to take along. (The hard part has been keeping my kids from reading them before the big trip!
Road Trip Printables
I searched high and low for free road trip printables. These were the best I could find because not only are they from talented bloggers, they’re also easy to download and print.
The beautiful road trip drawing prompts (empty road and truck) are from Picklebums.
The lovelyhand-drawn BINGO games are from Housing a Forest.
The simple and colorful Road Trip BINGO is from This Reading Mama.
For children who can read, Interstate BINGO is another fun printable from This Reading Mama. My Five and Seven will enjoy this one.
The Car Scavenger Hunt is from a giant set of road trip printables from 123Homeschool4Me.
This reusable sticker pad from Melissa and Dog is totally awesome as is. But I wanted to find a way to make it work in the car. The scenes are too large for laps, and definitely for our little trays. So I decided to cut each scene in half and cut the stickers into sections. Then each child can have part of a scene and a set of stickers to play with. The scenes won’t be as striking as they would be with the full sheets, but you can’ t be choosy when you’ve got seven people jammed into a seven-passenger van.
These are 100 conversation starters in the form of “would you rather” questions. I love these! Would you rather have a pet chicken or a pet elephant? Would you rather lounge in a pool of marshmallows or M & M’s? Learn more and get your free printable cards (or simply a list of questions) in this post.
This Complete the Picture drawing pad from Melissa and Doug is brilliant. It’s definitely too advanced for my Two and probably my Four. But I think it’s something my older two kids, ages five and seven, will really enjoy. I had to trim the pages to fit them into the small baking sheets.
Beginning Sounds Coloring Pages
I don’t do a lot of worksheets with my preschool boys, but a car trip is the perfect time to pull some out. I created this set of 26 coloring pages. They simply need to color the pictures on each letter that begin with that letter. You can get the free printable in this post.
Magnetic Matching Activities
I created these simple matching activities for my Two. He loves this sort of thing, and it will give him something to do when he’s starting to get antsy. Since there are magnets on the back of each piece to keep him from spilling them, I’m hoping that this will be easy and fun. This does take some time to assemble, but I think it will be worth it. See the tutorial and get the free printables in this post.
Color by Number Addition Pages
My Seven asked for color by number pages. I wanted to create something that would challenge her as well as give her something she enjoys, so I put addition facts on these fairy tale characters. You can get the set of ten free pages by visiting this post.
Magnetic Pattern Block Activities
We already have pattern blocks, but for this trip I bought a magnetic set of blocks so the kids can use them on their baking sheets. I found the large pattern block activities at PreKinders. I printed a transportation, snowflake, and animals set. The kids can each set a paper on their board and cover it with the magnetic blocks. I also printed the small set of designs from Kelly’s Kindergarten and bound them with a ring. (You will need to shrink her designs before printing them if you want them small.) My older kids can recreate these pictures on their boards.
Snacks, Snacks… and More Snacks
And what would a long car ride be without snacks? We don’t usually have prepackaged snacks at our house, but I’m making this trip an exception. I’m packing mini chocolate chip cookies, honey graham sticks, crispy cheddar crackers, granola bars, and bunny snacks. I’m also packing some dry cereal (a rare treat – our kids have plain yogurt with just a sprinkle of cereal for breakfast), string cheese, snap peas, and baby carrots. Plus a brand new water jug filled with ice water.
We’re ready for our trip!
After I pack the suitcases, of course…