Activities for Toddlers/Preschoolers in the Car


We are traveling to Florida soon, and with a 15-16 hour car ride ahead of us, I’ve been searching for ideas to keep Peanut and Monkey happy in the car.  Most of the people who’ve given me suggestions have said, “DVD player”.  But we don’t have one in our car, and it isn’t likely that we will get one in the next week or so.  So Mommy has been getting creative and hunting for some other forms of entertainment for our 3 1/2 and 2 year old.

Of course I’ve got the basic coloring books, spiral notebooks of paper, stickers, and crayons (the twist up crayon sticks in case one gets lost so I don’t have to worry about melted crayon on my car seats).  I even got each of them a new coloring book, cars for Monkey and animals for Peanut.  (Maybe I should throw a princess one in there, too…)

Both my kids love their Leapfrog Tag Readers, so we are bringing them, with headphones so they can both “read” at the same time. I also splurged on one new book for each of them.

I remember reading on several blogs and maybe even Parenting magazine about bringing old cookie sheets to do magnets on.  Since all my cookie sheets are fairly large, I’ve got a couple really old, small cake pans that I used to use to bake hermit crab rocks.  (Pre-babies I had hermit crabs – baking their rocks each week helps keep the mites away.)   I have some flat alphabet magnets, the kind that don’t have those little magnets on the back but instead the whole letter is a magnet so I don’t have to worry so much about Monkey eating one…  I also have some Disney Fairy magnets Peanut got for Christmas in a kit and some Wonder Pets ones.  Those should entertain them for a little bit.  The Fairies and Wonder Pets even have backgrounds they can sit in the cake pans.

My niece has these felt dolls that you can dress up, and my little girl loves them.  They are a little smaller than what I’d like for the car trip (thinking little pieces get lost and kids cry…), plus I’d like them to be big enough my 2 year old is able to use them as well.  So I got some old felt I had and made our own!


felt dolls


Each doll is 7 inches tall and all the clothes are interchangeable – if you want to put a dress on one of the boys, not a problem, it fits!

What else has Mommy put together for the trip?

Using some of the felt I had I made a couple play mats.  On one side there is a scene to use with their little dollar store dinosaur set.  The two pieces of felt can connect to make a larger area when we get to our stop in Florida.

What’s great is that on the other side I made a little road for Monkey to push his cars on.  I figure he can set one of the mats in his little cake pan on his lap and push away and the cars won’t roll off.  felt car play mat



I also filled a couple small plastic containers with rice and small objects, like buttons.  The kids can turn the bottles to find the little treasures inside.  I glued the lids on when I finished them.    They both like to look at little things, and they are both into puzzles, so I’m hoping they will think they are fun to look at.  Plus, they can use them as shakers while listening to their music in the car.  homemade toddler toy


Speaking of music, I couldn’t drive that entire time listening to the same 4-5 kids’ C.D.’s… So I got a couple Veggie Tales CD’s to add to our collection — It’s so fun to look back and see my 2 year old trying to sing “God Is Bigger Than the Boogieman”.

At Big Lots I found a couple hidden picture coloring books for $2 each. You fill the little “paint brush” with water to color the extra thick pages and images appear. You can do the pages over and over once they dry. Pretty cool. My daughter already tested hers out a few times… She liked it so much that I went back and bought one more so they could rotate the three books between them. water wow doodle book



I have a few other things we are bringing in the car. I have to pack a few “noisy” toys for my youngest — like a play phone, t.v. remote, his play car keys with buttons to push, etc. These are the types of things he is used to in the car. Like most 2 year olds, he loves pushing buttons and having lights and sounds.

Finally, for when all else fails, we are also bringing their Videonow Players, which play short, 15-20 minute videos. I got the first one at Once Upon a Child about a year ago and ordered a second off Amazon for 16 bucks. They are a lot cheaper than a DVD player, and since they each have their own, they can watch different movies at the same time.

I’m packing it all in a car organizer that fits between their car seats. I plan on keeping a few unopened Happy Meal toys in a separate container up front, along with snacks, so if they get bored of everything, we have a few other “tricks up our sleeves” so to speak. I’ll let you know what worked the best to occupy them and what ideas were a total flop (if any) once we get back from our trip. Do you have any suggestions to add to my collection?

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3 Responses

  1. These are awesome ideas! We’re going to Myrtle Beach in August, and I’m planning to steal some of your suggestions!
    Jill recently posted..A Few Happenings

    1. That’s what there here for — I’ll let you know what really worked and what didn’t. I’m hoping our trip goes by nice and smooth…

  2. Love it! I have a few things for your monkey if you want them. New book, cars magnets, few cars related books from the sale, and if you want to borrow our DVD for emergencies we will not be using it for a while.