Road trip game ideas with a toddler!

Yes there are so many ways to entertain your kids! Nowadays with technology right at your fingertips…not to mention the accessibility of cellular devices, tablets, and portable gaming consoles.

Sometimes we lose touch with human interaction when we are so involved with the latest social media notification or when bombarded with emails and text notifications.

Our family recently took a road trip from Rhode Island to Miami, Florida with stops in D.C. and Myrtle Beach. Along the way we tried out a few different car games with our 2.5 year old son.

Road trip from RI to Fl

Play Guessing Games in the Car

Michael and I both realized that our son, Kai, enjoys playing guessing games! Below are some guessing game suggestions and ideas for you and your family to try while at home, on road trips, or waiting in line at an amusement park or simply when you have time and are bored with your toddler.

Delaware bridge road trip

I Spy Guessing Game

This is a classic childhood car game that brings back memories! The object of the game is to guess the thing(s) that are a certain color.

  • Example: mommy says, “I spy with my eye something that is the color green.” Toddler replies, “trees?!”
  • We found that focusing on objects that are seen for longer periods of time proved to be better for us, since our toddler’s reaction time isn’t the quickest, especially when driving 60 MPH.
  • This game doesn’t usually last us a long time, unless we also focus on items INSIDE the car. Then we can play for a little while longer. Also try and change it up and ask your child to ask the adult or other siblings what he or she spies!!! We have fun guessing too:)

Guess the Animal

Not sure if this has another name, but that’s what we call it in our family! Objective is to guess the animal.

  • Example: daddy says, “baaaa”, and asks children to guess what animal. Child replies, “sheep!”
  • This game is fun and the child also had a blast getting involved in mimicking animal noises.

Guess the Color

As the name of the game provides a wonderful explanation of objective, which is to guess to the color of what is being described.

    • Example: grandma asks, “what color am I thinking of? Apples, stop sign, cherries, raspberries, roses…” child replies, “red!”
    • We have tried playing this game when our toddler was a bit overtired and let me tell you it was an epic failure! He would not concentrate AT ALL and would constantly laugh 😂 which would make me laugh even harder! It was hilarious!

Guess the Item

This game can be played several different ways depending on the children’s ages. The way we have played is fairly simple. Example: grandpa says, “I am thinking about something, this something is the color red. You can eat it. It is sweet. It is a fruit. It’s crunchy. You can pick it off a tree in the fall. You can make pie with it.” Child says, “apple!?”

  • The adult can go on and on and provide detailed descriptions of the item he or she is thinking about until the child guesses correctly. We have found that, depending on your child’s comprehension and vocabulary level, it might be best to start with very simple things.
  • When your children grow older you can start doing the role reversal so they can ask you to guess the item they’re thinking of.

Little Passports

Imagination and Reading to the Rescue!

In addition to occupying your children’s time with guessing games, another form of entertainment we have found to be fun and stimulating is your imagination.

Storytelling

If you’re a creative and imaginative person this is right up your alley! The object is to use descriptive words and tell a fun story.

Unfortunately my attempts at telling our son a story has failed on numerous occasions. It just doesn’t “flow” for me. Therefore, I rely heavily on resources that are available to us.

Audiobooks

My default: the library! If you have a library card you most likely have access to borrow e-books and audiobooks.

  • Prior to our road trip or even during the long drive, I log into my online library account and search for some children audiobooks. I am able to download them right then and there through an app called Overdrive or listen to the book right through our browser. My son loves Curious George and Pinkalicious and enjoys listening to the audiobooks. I have also realized they seem to calm him down and put him to sleep (on a good day).

Playing Pretend

Similar to story-telling, but we are the ones in the “story”. My husband does such an amazing job with this game! Typically we do this at night when we are winding down from a busy day, and if we decide not to read a bedtime storybook.

  • Example: daddy says, “are you ready to go on a safari adventure? What animals do you want to see today?” Then he describes going into a Jeep and buckling up and seeing all of the sights with animal sounds and all! Being in a moving vehicle we could pretend we are in space and seeing all of the spaceships and other life forms go by us, as we are riding.

Little Passports

Other Activities and Ideas!

Here are some other suggestions and things we have tried with our toddler on our long road trips.

Toys

Sometimes bringing his favorite toy(s) are extremely helpful! If your child has a stuffed animal he or she can play pretend and feed it snacks and have fun. Kai enjoys playing with his “shark blaster,” which has lights and sounds.

Snacks & Food

Kai loves snacks! Eating and snacking on stuff keeps him occupied and entertained for a long time. I usually try and find some healthy snacks for him to munch on. His favorites include the following:

Tablet

When all else fails, we do resort to playing movies or TV shows on his tablet. This is the one we have, along with the case we got for him:



Our sons enjoying watching certain shows and tends to fall asleep to the movie Moana, which was his favorite for a long time.

Some of the toddler games are very educational, but we have found that we need to sit down with him and show him how to play the games before we sit in the car. The games are a little complex for him to figure out all on his own after downloading them.

I recommend letting your child play games that he or she is already familiar with so they can explore on their own. Otherwise, you will have a toddler constantly asking you how to do this and that in each level or in each game.

Play Packs / Coloring Activity

Our son doesn’t typically have the attention span to sit for long periods of time, but when we are in the car he actually enjoys coloring and playing with some stickers. He has been rather intricate with his coloring nowadays…compared to just a few months ago he would just color a few lines and said he was all done.

We hope these road trip ideas are helpful for you and your family during long drives or when you’re traveling:) Enjoy!

The 50 States: A Road Trip of a Lifetime

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Ten Red Apples Felt Board Activity Prep

For my toddler homeschooling lesson this fall, I organized an activity that encourages participation!

Turn your lesson prep into a FUN time with your kids:) That’s what we did.

Ten Red Apples

After checking out some books from our local library, I selected Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins (ISBN: 0688167977) for our apple-themed felt board activity.

Preparation

Kai, my two-year old son, and I had a blast making the cute cut-outs for the hand-me-down felt board I inherited from my husband’s Aunt Linda. She used to teach pre-school, and she passed along all of her material to me. I’m so blessed and thankful for all of the resources! Thank you.

Here are some pictures from our activity.

I searched for clipart images of all of the animals in the book, from a horse to a donkey to a hen and a duck! Then, I printed them out on regular paper. I also printed out a large tree and some apples and the farmers.

Afterwards, I used Mod Podge Original 16-Ounce Glue, Gloss Finish Party Supplies, 16 Oz, 12 Pieces with some paint brushes to stick them on thick paper (cardstock).

I asked Kai to help me paint over the images I printed out. Definitely don’t be shy with the glue. I painted underneath the images and then Kai took over! After there was a nice coat over the images, we lay them out to dry for a few hours.

Then we started cutting them out. I used a hot glue gun and glued felt on the back of the images. To stick the apples on the tree, I used mounting putty, so they could easily be removed from the tree as we counted down from 10 to 0.

The Activity

For the actual felt board activity during the day of the lesson, I asked a parent volunteer to read the book as I assisted with the images. It was a semi-success. Some kids were very focused while others were not.

You win some and lose some.

We had so much fun with the whole process though:) and hope you enjoy!

Weather by Kai

We live in New England so we are fortunate to inevitably experience all four seasons.

It’s winter! Every day I take Kai and our dog Stanley for morning stroll.

Yesterday, I thought about a cute idea to teach Kai about the weather! On my way to my tennis match, I picked up a few pieces of felt from a local craft store. I also got some felt letter and number stickers.

Here’s the final product!Weather by KaiIt’s “Weather by Kai”. My plan is that every morning, after our walk, I will ask Kai to tell me what the weather was like outside. He can use his words, but I also want to add another element so he can be his own show and tell meteorologist.

I drew and cut out a yellow sun, rain, snow, and white and gray clouds. I also put together the words: cold, hot, warm, and windy. I ran out of letters to spell humid, but I will get to it once summer rolls around:) Kai is supposed to select and display what he thought the weather was like on our walk.

Once I try this brain-building interactive activity for a week, I’ll share my thoughts on the whole process.

Do you think there are ways I can improve what I’m trying to have my toddler convey and communicate and learn?

Update – 2/8/18
It’s officially been a week since I introduced this activity to Kai.

Words, Words, Words…
A few days into learning about how to describe the weather, Kai really liked to use his words to say: cloudy, sunny, bright, cold, windy, snowing, and raining.

His favorite word to use has been cloudy! When I ask him what the weather is outside, his go-to word is cloudy. Although we were visiting Grammy the other day, and we asked him what the weather was like that morning, and he accurately described it as sunny and cold! I was so pleasantly shocked it wasn’t even funny.

When I was walking Stanley and Kai in the afternoon one day this week, we noticed a beautiful orange sunset! Now, every time Kai walks past the pond where we saw the sunset, he recalls the “橙色 clouds”. I’m happy to hear him using his words.

Incorporating Books, Media, & Resources
We were watching Curious George, which is one of daddy’s favorite shows to watch with Kai and the weather episode just so happened to be on! It was nice for him to see that George enjoys trying to predict the weather.

I was talking with a friend of mine, and she gave me an idea. One of the local libraries has a weather board for the kids where they also added a thermometer! I didn’t ask if it was a real digital thermometer or if it was a makeshift one where kids can just add numbers themselves.

Regardless, I think this is a wonderful idea to incorporate into this mini learning project. I think I’ll add both! A real mini outdoor thermometer to our house and create a felt thermometer and add it to our felt board:)

After our cruise, I’m hoping to find some books about the weather too!

Improvements and Challenges
Overall, I have noticed an improvement in his language usage and association with the weather outside. What I haven’t yet had him actually do is stay focused long enough after our walks to put the descriptive felt figurines and words on his weather board.

I might need to figure out a way to display all of the pieces out in front of him without Stanley causing a ruckus and stealing the sun or clouds and running away with them.

Don’t be Afraid of Being Creative
The day I was preparing this activity, my parents were visiting. I was asking Kai to help me stick the letter stickers on the felt. He, of course, was just sticking them wherever and then pulling them off because he was simply having fun. My father was telling me that Kai is too young to understand these concepts and that he’s just a baby. I got very frustrated at him. Thoughts running through my head at the time: Frustration, Negativity, Anger, It doesn’t hurt to try. Kai is a pretty smart kid overall. Why not just give it a whirl?

My mom had to intervene and explained to how Chinese parents are not creative, etc. While I understand where she is coming from, I don’t think this generalization is accurate because I’ve seen many creative and non-creative parents in general, Chinese or not.

While I got frustrated at my dad, I know his intentions were good. He doesn’t want me to put in the extra effort if it’s a nuisance or a chore for me since he thinks Kai has no idea what is going on. I mean we are all learning together, one day at a time.

It’s okay to have different parenting styles. Everyone is unique, with varying levels of education, backgrounds, cultures, foods, languages, etc.

Don’t be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone and sometimes go against cultural norms to be creative and your own person and parent.

Catch-22
Don’t let your parents define what kind of parent you are. Although sometimes it’s hard to not get influenced a little. I know it sounds weird but, sometimes I look back and try to think about what my parents did and try and do the exact opposite with my child.

Ahhh, that means they’re still influencing my parenting style.

Experiential Learning
When I was growing up I don’t recall having lots of toys or an over abundance or learning resources available to me. I went into elementary school very unprepared and was very behind in reading and writing. I recall being put in a smaller group with other struggling kids to work on language skills, etc.

I’m hoping to be an active and involved mom to Kai. I want to encourage him and facilitate a safe and open learning environment for him to be able to flourish. And if he doesn’t want to blossom, that’s okay too. At least I know I tried.

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. It’s what we decide to do with them that makes the difference.

Thanks for reading this update!