*Art supplies – for the younger crowd, self-contained sets of art supplies are great – I found this cute travel portfolio, which zips closed, at Target. The older ones prefer Sketchbooks and Prismacolor Colored Pencils – if you’ve never used Prismacolor, you may be a wee bit shell-shocked at the price, but they are SO worth it. (shhh, but I always get mine with my rewards from turning in empty ink cartridges at Staples; I’d be buying the ink anyway, so free, quality, colored pencils are a bonus!). Sketchbooks come in several designs; we always get spiral bound so there aren’t loose papers floating around the van.
*Pipe Cleaners – I know. But the kids adore them! Hand them a 97 cent pack of brightly colored pipe cleaners, show the littles how to twist them around themselves to hook together, and let the imaginations run wild!
*Silly Putty! Did you know that they STILL make Silly Putty? I had forgotten about that goofy stuff for years! It’s a tried and true fav
at our house in our van – mom loves it because it’s cheap, doesn’t stain or stick, and is great for independent (meaning quiet) play. You can find it in the office supply section at Walmart, in with the kids’ art supplies. (and I’m not linking to this one on Amazon because their prices are not competitive – Wallyworld is $1.97/2pk).
*Writing Materials – pad of paper pencils/pens, game pads, sticky pads… The kids can use them for keeping score, drawing what they see, playing paper games, journaling (including chronicling how exhaustifiedly bored they were driving across Nevada). Mad Libs totally belong in here…
*Role Playing figures like action figures, little dolls (American Girl mini dolls, little sister Barbie…), and our favs – Playmobil! The kids take a few figures, with a limited number of accessories, in the van; they can just pick figures out of sets, or you can purchase special Playmobil Carrying Case sets, which include a case and pieces, which are perfect for in the car (like this Western Playset, or this Princess Playset. (not necessarily great for in motion, but check out the cool RVs that they have: Camper Playset and the Family Motorhome. These are our fav toys ever- house, car, or RV!)
*Games! Both independent and group! Card games are our favorite games to take on the road, and hauling along a cookie sheet to use as a multi-use play board works great -the short sides contain pieces and cards! Check out our Top 10 Favorite games post – all are very car friendly with the exception of Canasta…
All these are great on-the-go activities! And while we love to take our favorite activities in the vehicles with us, the thought of them floating around loose in my van is enough to give me high blood pressure. We’ve found the very best way to keep everything in check, and taking up as little room as possible, is to use (wait for it…) Binder Pouches! Also known as pencil pouches, these zippered bags have see-through fronts that allow the kids to see what is inside. They don’t get smashed like boxes, and they don’t take up more room than what is inside of them. Add a small bin (ours slides under a bench seat in our van) to toss them into, and it’s easy peasy to keep things neat and tidy. No more excuses!
Our extensive van time while traveling inspired us to find a way to take the Legos along too!
If you missed it the first time, you can find my quick and easy Lego Case tutorial here.There are tons of toys, games, and activities that are wonderful for keeping little minds and fingers occupied during long drive times! I’ve only covered a few here, but will be highlighting more in the next few weeks.