Do you remember the family road trip in the good old days of family holiday adventures? Mum and dad would pile up the car and the family would drive for hours to the holiday destination. Kids passed the time by playing games of I Spy from the backseat and arguing with a sibling.
Fast forward to now and you probably have your own children in the backseat. The holiday road trips remain but now you are looking for ways to entertain the kids that don’t involve them being glued to a screen for the entire journey. Here is a list of activities to occupy the children and minimise the “don’t look out my window” arguments
Reading is a great time filler but if you have children who get car sick then they need an activity where they don’t have their head down. Enter audio books. Borrow them from the library and store in a CD case, rotating them between the kids. They are perfect for kids who can’t yet read independently. Borrow the accompanying book for kids who are able to follow along. The Harry Potter books or stories by Roald Dahl are good starting points.
2. Laminated Maps
Are we there yet? Kids have difficulty with the concept of passing time. To them in the back a short period of time can feel like hours. Julie at Creekside Learning had the great idea to laminate a map of the route and as you pass markers have kids tick them off. We have used this to great success on our own road trips.
3. Back seat Photographers
We don’t want backseat driving but what about back seat photography? Give children a camera or smartphone and let them photograph things of interest from the backseat. Alternatively provide older kids a list of items to photograph with a promised reward at the end. Sure you may need to delete 100 selfies once you reach your destination but the peace and quiet will be worth it.
4. I Spy Jar
For younger children fill a larger mason style jar with 10 small objects then fill the jar with rice. Give the jar to the children and let them twist and turn it to discover all 10 mystery items inside
A bubble wand is a cheap investment for backseat entertainment. You may want to save this activity for the later part of the journey as it can get sticky, but it is easier to clean off the back seat then texta pens
6. Backseat Shopping
If you are lucky enough to have children who don’t get carsick then give them some junk mail and have them cut and paste their own wish lists. Toy catalogues can become a list for Santa, supermarket catalogues can be menus’ for a fantasy restaurant. Let them surprise you
7. Pipe Cleaners
Your children like craft but you don’t want to clean up small pieces of paper, glitter or textas? Give the children some pipe cleaners. Colourful and textural pipe cleaners can be shaped into animals, jewellery and people. Once kids are bored of their creation simply untwist and arrange again.
8. Backseat Bingo
Good old fashioned I Spy can be upgraded with free printables. Back seat bingo, vehicle bingo, licence plate bingo are all easy options. Free printables can be found at Moms Minivan.
Playdough or goop is a great mess free option for backseat play. Give kids a baking tray or lap tray to play on.
10. Create Art
Before the road trip visit the $2 shop and stock up on coloured pencils, cheap notebooks and stickers. Let them draw what they see out the window or what they hope they will do at the holiday destination. The $2 shop may also have some cheap colouring books or puzzles which the kids can complete.
11. Magnets are Magic
The final activity is a cooking tray and magnets. Use either magnetic letters or add your own magnets to items such as wooden shapes, matchbox cars for a car track, paper cut outs from magazines or sticker characters. The magnets minimise small bits and pieces being dropped to the car floor and the activities are limited to your imagination. There are plenty of magnetic game ideas available on Pinterest such as these.
Michelle is a travel loving, bike riding, mum to two who loves holidaying in a tent and can be found sharing stories at Gee You’re Brave about living life and parenting with an adventurous spirit. Michelle has a Masters in Special Education, currently works at an Art Teacher for children with an intellectual disability and is passionate about helping children express themselves and reach their full potential.