It may surprise readers of Cool Mom Tech, but I am pretty much a no-screens-in-the-car kind of a parent. Back when my youngest was still a toddler and four consecutive episodes of Dora meant a needed stretch of quiet. But now, unless it’s an extra extra long car ride, we have a pretty good roster of car games that do the trick. Until I run out. Which is why I’m thrilled to have a copy of Amanda Morin’s new On-the-Go Fun for Kids: More than 250 activities to keep little ones busy and happy anytime, anywhere.
250, mamas. That’s a lot of ideas.
The activities are grouped by situation like planes and trains or shopping trips, with 45 pages alone of car trip ideas ranging from variations on the license plate game, to billboard designing, making up palindromes, or teaching kids how to convert miles to kilometers. But I’d say plenty of the ideas are mix and match; playing Rock Paper Scissors Spock isn’t just something you can do while you’re stuck in a waiting room.
Just know some of Amanda’s ideas require the actual book, like word searches or brain teasers. There are also some DIY ideas peppered through the book that do require advanced planning like if you plan on creating a DIY mandala game using an egg carton and pebbles (which is too much work for me, honestly); or packing blank postcards so kids can fill in their own drawings of things they saw on the trip (which I love).
Even her idea for coming up with campfire stories requires a little prep work — but we can actually help you there, with our campfire story starter grab bag with free printable artwork.
I like that not every idea is an actual game or activity in the traditional sense; the author is an education writer by background, and there is definitely a strong thread throughout the book about creating educational moments from everyday situations. Like having a child figure out why she can’t tickle herself. Or having her to interview the servers at restaurants you visit about their lives and jobs.
(That could go many ways, of course. Use that one with discretion. And don’t hold up the cars behind you at the drive-thru.)
But overall I think you’ll find a ton of ideas you hadn’t considered — even you tested road warrior families. Just be aware that it’s pretty much geared towards toddlers through tweens, if they’re not cynical and jaded yet. And it’s a fantastic gift for the grandparents or aunts and uncles to keep at their home, so there are always fresh ideas on hand when the kids visit.
Oh and maybe the best idea of all: Amanda’s Are we there yet? trick, which involves handing a young child a ticket for every designated amount of time or distance traveled on the road. That way, when they’re all collected, your kid will know just when you are, in fact, there.
I would just say, let the kids hand the tickets to you. That way you can ask your own kids, are we there yet? the whole trip long. Beautiful.
Find On-the-Go Fun for Kids: More than 250 activities to keep little ones busy and happy anytime, anywhere by Amanda Morin at our affiliate Amazon or your local indie bookseller.