Here's my plan. Both of my children are potty trained, but they are only three and four years old. We pretty much have to stop at every single rest area. The car entertainment cycle will run like this:
- Stop at rest stop. Keep the stop as quick as possible because every extra 10 minutes you spend at a rest stop cumulatively adds at least an hour or two that you can't afford on to the end of the trip. Go potty and stretch their legs by playing a quick dancing, hopping, or running game.
- When you get back into the car give each child a busy bag or other car ride activity. Let them play with their own for 10-15 minutes and then have them stuff it back in the bag and switch. After they finish the activities they have to put them back in the bags and return them to an adult who will put that activity in the finished (and save for the return trip) pile. Then turn on some tv until the next stop.
- Watch 30-45 minutes of tv until the next stop.
- Repeat the cycle approximately 12 times occasionally substituting running into a fast food restaurant for a bathroom break/stretching legs/getting meal to go instead of stopping at a rest area.
So, here are the first five activities I've prepared this time.
Car Ride Activities Set 3
Busy Bag 1: Popsicle Puzzles (x2)
Print a picture your children will like that is approximately 5.25 inches tall and 4.5 wide (or 4 wide and use one less jumbo popsicle stick). Cut the pictures into strips slightly less than the width of a jumbo sized popsicle stick. Glue the strips onto the popsicles. Voila. You have very portable puzzles. I made two and put them in the same bag. That adds the additional difficulty of figuring out which puzzle pieces (craft sticks) go with which puzzle.
Busy Bag 2: Felt Chain
Cut strips of felt. Mine are 1.5 inches wide by 9 inches long. Sew small pieces of velcro to the ends of each strip on opposite sides. The children can use them to make roads, bracelets, necklaces, "paper chain" style links, etc.
Busy Bag 3: Lego Duplo "Puzzles"
Dig into your duplo stash (or any other kind of building blocks you may have) and build several small structures. I deliberately chose the smaller/slimmer duplo blocks to try to save space. I made a vehicle set, a flower garden set, and two random block tower type sets. Take a picture of each set and print the pictures. Put the picture along with the blocks necessary to build the pictured structure in a bag. Now you have homemade portable building puzzles. They can try to build what they see in the picture or simply play with the blocks in their travel trays.
Busy Bag 4: Felt Picture - House
Just sit down with some craft felt and a pair of scissors and create a simple picture. I made a very simple house. Stick all the pieces in a bag and then the children can recreate the picture and just play with the pieces.
Busy Bag 5: Bead and Pipe Cleaner Counting
Take 10 pipe cleaners (or perhaps only five if your children or younger). Wrap a piece of tape around the top of each pipe cleaner and number them 1-10. Put the appropriate number of pony beads in the bag with the pipe cleaners. The children can thread the appropriate number of beads onto each pipe cleaner. They may even notice that they can have each pipe cleaner be threaded with a different color bead. If your children are even younger, skip the number part of the activity and simply stick some pipe cleaners and pony beads in a bag. Consider cutting the pipe cleaners in half as they will be easier to handle that way.
(Inspiration found: here, here, here, here, here.)
If you like these activities, you may be interested in more.