All of us have heard the familiar phrase “Are we there yet?” from children who are bored from sitting for what they perceive as an endless amount of time in a vehicle or are so excited about their destination that they just can’t wait any longer.
As parents, we often overlook travel time as an opportunity to interact with our children. What better opportunity to spend some quality time? For most, it is a question of ideas for what to do with their children during drive time.
Here are some activities that can be fun for everyone when traveling with children. (These activities should only be done with the adult not responsible for driving.)
• Bubbles: Keep some bubbles in a non-spill container in the car and blow some for baby when someone else is doing the driving. This calms a baby down, and older children will enjoy it, too. Tiny bubble containers sold for weddings or party favors are ideal.
• Read a good picture book: Even very young babies will respond to a good book. You don’t have to read the entire story (especially if you are prone to car sickness), simply hearing your voice as you point to pictures in the book will occupy time and keep them entertained.
• Classical music: Studies have indicated that classical music may boost baby’s intelligence.
•Peek-a-boo: This classic game is perfect for the car.
•“This Little Piggy”: As long as you’re stuck in the car, might as well kick off your shoes!
• Where is your nose?: An older baby can practice learning all the parts of the body. Ask them to show you where they are starting with their nose. Then help them find their head, mouth, cheek, ear, chin, hand, foot, tummy, etc.
• Surprise packages: Prepare ahead with paper bags of items to be given out every 25, 50 or 75 miles as marked on a map with the location. It takes a little bit of prep to do this, but it really helps young children. In each bag, put a wrapped item, usually a small toy. Then, add various other things to each surprise package, such as a juice box or a snack, stickers and a piece of paper, or something pertaining to the trip that you can talk about.
•Aluminum foil modeling: Give everyone a sheet of aluminum foil. Have them mold it into anything they want: animal shapes, balls, jewelry, crowns, etc.
• Pipe cleaners: Pack a bag of multi-colored pipe cleaners, and let their imaginations run wild.
• Cookie sheet magnet board: Use an old cookie sheet and a collection of ABC magnets. Children can work on putting the letters in order or identify beginning sounds.
• Name the clouds: What do they look like? Find as many different shapes as you can.
• Tell jokes: Take turns telling silly jokes.
• Jennifer Russell is an area child and family development agent for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. You may contact her at 453-6803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.