This week on the Melissa & Doug blog, we’re sharing all the ways your family can stay entertained (and sane) while traveling during the holidays. Today, we have 5 easy activities for your kids to enjoy while on-the-go! What would you add to this list of travel strategies? E-mail your suggestions or family travel photos to socialmedia@MelissaAndDoug.com for a chance to be featured on the blog later this week.
1) Create a Sensory Travel Kit for Kids!
Are you planning a family road trip, but starting to wonder whether or not your child will be able to stay still from A to B? Don’t despair! Here are some clever ideas that can keep their arms, hands, and fingers moving all the way to your destination! Create your own Sensory Travel Kit for a 3-5 year old by filling a container (lunch box, tote bag or plastic container) with some of the following items: lacing toys (O-shaped cereal or large beads and shoelaces), stickers, paper, crayons, lacing cards, a sorting activity, a dish with sorting compartments (or muffin tin), a mystery bag (identify the object by touch: burlap, cotton, wool, satin, velvet, and fake fur), card-matching game or travel game, travel cards (for storytelling), or books. Leave your kit in the family car so that you’ll always be prepared for hours of entertainment!
2) Packing Play
It may seem like a chore to grown-ups, but to kids, packing is the first exciting piece of a vacation adventure! We think it’s a great time to practice decision-making and creative thinking, too. Develop these skills and help kids pack wisely with some pre-trip prep:
Step 1: Write or draw a list of essentials. (Yes, toys are essential!)
Step 2: Try it. Give your little ones a suitcase and let them try to pack everything on their lists.
Step 3: Modify, retry, repeat! Help kids make choices (and jettison the overflow) with role play: Pretend to unpack at Grandma’s house or get ready for bed at a hotel; throw in some laughs by imagining a bear that eats dropped puzzle pieces or a flight attendant that only lets you open your bag 10 seconds at a time! Then lavish praise on your organized travelers when everything finally fits.
3) Daytime Fun
Pick some of your child’s favorite arts & crafts activities or games, and select them as your “daytime” activity (this is especially good for long road trips). Pick their favorite games, such as Travel Bingo or Hangman, or a simple craft like Mess-Free Glitter or Scratch Art Light Catcher Kits (kids will love sharing their masterpieces with their happy travel companions).
4) Talk it Up
A perfect nighttime activity can be a simple rhyming game! Or go around to each family member in the car to answer a silly (or serious) question. You may learn a lot about your fellow passengers! (For more road trip activities, visit our recent Road Trip Fun Around the Clock blog post).
5) Write Postcards!
Step 1: Cut a piece of poster board or cardstock into rectangles. (To send via U.S. Mail at the postcard rate, keep them between 3.5 x 5″ and 4.25 x 6″ and draw a line on one side to section off an address area. If you’ll keep your postcards for pretend play, make them a little bigger so there’s more room to decorate!)
Step 2: Ask your child to decorate a postcard for a family member or friend back home using markers or stickers.
Step 3: Help your child write a note that to accompany the drawings.
Once your postcards are complete, you can mail them (put them in envelopes first if they’re oversized) or use them for pretend play: Have your travelers drop them in a “mailbox” for each other, or lay them out in order to plan the trip of a lifetime. Then stick them in a travel journal (folded and stapled construction paper works great) to remember your amazing journey!
Tell us how your child enjoyed any (or all!) of these activities in the comments below, and have safe travels this season! Be sure to share travel strategies you found helpful!