How To Keep Kids Busy During Long Car Rides Without Electronics


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Long car rides with kids can be…shall we say….interesting…. or should we be more honest and say stressful.

10 ways to keep kids busy during long car rides without electronics

Planning ahead to pack a few activities for the kids can take a bit of stress out of the trip. You probably won’t get rid of  the dreaded question “are we there yet?” completely but you will reduce it significantly when you pack things that will keep the kids busy.

I am not including movies or video games in this list not because I have anything against them, trust me our kids watch movies and play on their iPods often during road trips, I am simply not including them because I wanted to offer something new and different that you can pull out when the iPods and movies become boring.

Supplies For Entertaining A Child On A Road Trip Without Electronics

1. A Lapboard

Lap boards are great for letting little artists go to town creating art while driving. You can also stick some sticky velcro to one part of the lapboard and then stick the other side to cups, pens, snack containers or what ever you want to keep within your child’s reach. I like the curved ones because you can pull them in closer to your body, this one on Amazon has a storage pocket and built in trays that you could use to keep various supplies handy.

2. Clipboards

Clipboards are smaller and less expensive than lapboards and  you can clip paper in them as well as tie a few colored pens with string to them which makes for drop proof art making. I find the inexpensive plain chip board ones hold up best but this one that is attached to a storage box might be great for an older child as it would keep all their art supplies within reach and hold the paper.

3. Cookie Sheets

No I am not suggesting you try and bake in the car some how. Cookie sheets are great for magnet art. You can also tape sheets onto them that could have roads all marked out for hot wheel lovers to enjoy, or draw out rivers and forest for an animal lovers dream scene. You want to make sure that your cookie sheet is actually magnetic, from what I read around the web those that have non stick coatings often won’t work for magnets. If you are not using one from home for this I would suggest taking a small magnet with you and testing the various cookie sheets out at the store with it to make sure you buy one that works.

4. Coloring books

You can get simple coloring books for little ones but don’t leave the older children out of the coloring fun. There are very complex coloring books available that can keep older children and even adults entertained for hours.

To make coloring pictures easier cut the pages out of the book and put them in the clipboard that way they will be flat and easier to color in the small space.

5. Crayons Or Markers

Markers can lose their lids but crayons can break and the pieces can get messy on a hot day when left in the car while your family grabbed lunch, so really it is a toss up as to which to pick.  I prefer thick toddler crayons for the younger crowd and  good quality markers  for children old enough to know not to color themselves from head to toe in marker (yep that has happened 🙂 ) .

6. Magnetic Dress Up Dolls

My daughter had a set of magnetic dress up dolls  when she was little and she had so much fun with them. Good sets like this one by Mellisa & Doug generally come in their own box with stands for the dolls  but I much prefer giving the child a cookie sheet to lay them out on so that the pieces can’t fall out like it can in the box.

7. Personal Dry Erase Boards

Another great art item is a personal dry erase board. I like using the dry erase board markers made by crayola as they seem to have less of a chemical smell . These boards come in handy not just for art but for games of hang man or tic tack toe.

8. Books on CD

Books on CD are great to listen to as an entire family. I once attended a lecture given by a reading expert that said listening to audio books improved reading comprehension levels, so it is a great way to get some learning in on road trips. (family favorites list by age group)

Thrifty tip: Most libraries have awesome CD book selections. If you are a paperbackswap member you can also choose them for 2 credits and one .50 cents request fee which makes them very reasonable. Tyndale rewards also offers CD books from time to time which of course are free (click browse and scroll to Audio to see what is currently available).

9.  Books & Activity Books

Some children can read for hours in the car but for those that either can’t or won’t try Search and Find books, word searches,  or connect the dot books.

I Spy are my favorite search and find books and they make board book titles for toddlers  and more complex hardcover books for school age children.

10. Travel Games

There are a lot of different travel games out there and they can be a lot of fun especially when the whole family gets involved. Spot It The Road sounds like a whole lot of fun and it comes with a 5 star rating and over 1200 reviews on Amazon.  Mad Libs on the Road also have a 5 star rating with over 60 reviews and is under $4.

How do you keep your kids busy during road trips?

Psst… Cashing in Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards is a great way to pay for all the above supplies. Here is a tutorial of all the day to day things you do on the internet that could pay you in gift cards through Swagbucks.

Road Trip Packing To The Max (small)Trying to squeeze in all you need for your road trip into the trunk? Here are some tips to help


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  1. Oh my gosh, I needed this this weekend! Pinning and remembering for my next long car ride which is right around the corner in a few weekends! Thanks

  2. This is great! We have a 6 hour car trip coming up this summer! I love the lap board idea!

  3. These are all great ideas! My kids found a free scavenger hunt list online that we use almost every road trip. There’s a list for the city and a list for the country! I also like the cookie sheet thing, because the edges mean they can keep Legos or whatever on them without them sliding off. 🙂

  4. We’re going on a long car ride this weekend so this came at the perfect time! Great tips! Would love to have you share it on our link up

  5. These are in perfect time! We have three road trips this summer and I’m hoping to make them electronic free so we can enjoy each other’s company! Thanks for the help!

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