In just a few short days, 6 of us will pile into a van for a 16 hour road trip from Monticello, IL to Outer Banks, NC! I don't mind road tripping...some great conversation and good music and hours can pass like minutes. But put a 5 year old and a 7 year old and booster seats and no attention spans in the van, and you've got a problem. I'm hoping that my hard work to keep them occupied pays off. Its better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, right?
I turned a simple little clipart van with a family into our theme for the trip and simply added some text. This laminated paper will be added to a piece of ribbon and tied to the side of the back of the van where the kids will be sitting.
As we progress through our trip, I will move the van along the ribbon and the kids will be able to see how far we've gone and how much farther we have to go.
The dollar store and garage sales have been my best friend for the past few months. I've wrapped up TWENTY gifts for each child to open ( remember, we have to travel 16 hours there and 16 hours back!). These wrapped items are very very very simple things such as books ( my kids adore books and can read all the time so the 25 cent bin at a garage sale or the thrift store was a great place for me), small toys to play with, sticker books, DVD's, etc.
I think I only spent around $12 for all 20 gifts. And I've been collecting for months. Remember, its not about what it really is but rather how much time it will occupy them. One of Alaric's books is a joke book. That will last him a LONG time. Amara has one of those sticker doll dress up books. Those will be good ones. Many items are also things they can engage with the adults on.
Nana did help me with one larger gift for each of the kids. Amara LOVES to dig and play in the sand. While she wont really be able to use this in the car, she will open it on the way there.
Alaric is receiving a lego Beach set. He can build it on the way there. Each child will also get a cookie sheet with sides to use as their work space. The cookie sheet will contain their legos or crayons or whatever and is skinny enough to fit under or along side a seat.
They each will be given their old backpacks on the morning of our trip.
Inside each bag as everything they will need to start the trip off right
Each has an age appropriate atlas. As we pass through states, the can look at the map, read about the state and follow along. ( I picked these up at a garage sale too)
A pencil bag with a few crayons and markers for anything they may need later.
A few books they requested for the trip ( they will add to these along the way)
Clipboards! These will be great for lots of things. They allow them to have a surface to write or color on or to pass something back and forth too.
I made each of them their very own Road Trip Binder with our van, their names, and the date!
Inside is another pencil box with some supplies- including post it tabs for games later.
The book has tons of different things to work on at their own pace. Many things I created myself and many I simply printed off line. They each start with a map with our starting and ending points so they can use their dry erase markers and follow along how far we've gone. They each have age appropriate games too (Amara's are simplified versions of Alaric's)
I made word finds for each child that are personalized to them and our trip. I also printed more than a dozen age appropriate school worksheets to do. Nothing too challenging but things to actually train their brain too.
They each have scavenger hunts to look for ( Mara's have pictures, Bubba's just words), MadLibs, and the License Plate Game)
A few different versions of bingo and also a blank page for every single day of the trip so they can keep a journal of pictures and words.
In addition to them getting a gift every once in awhile and having the binder, they will also have time with the iPad, Leapsters, and portable DVD player.
I too have a bag of tricks. Its my job to make sure I'm relaxing and enjoying the road trip when they are self soothing and content and I'm on point and ready to go with another activity before things get crazy...it's imperative for us to keep in the car and moving and not dealing with screaming kids.
First, I have my very own clipboard where I have written down lots of different ideas of things to do on a moments notice with one or both kids. Some will last minutes and others quite awhile, depending. The clipboard serves as my reference and also a work space for me too. The adults hope to put together our meals and grocery list on the trip too. I tried to think of unique things to bring for the kids to play with and explore. You can make some pretty incredible things with a roll of aluminum foil. Every given a kid 2 or 3 pipe cleaners and let them explore? really impressive. How about a stack of post its and let them post the windows, the seats or each other? ( Post its come off everything without leaving residue). Even just a roll of tape can be a blast. I also have a roll of receipt tape. Who knows what that an a marker will do. I also have songs and I'd rather questions and all sorts of ideas.
Don't forget about the basics....coloring books, pads of paper for hangman, tick tac, toe, dots,etc. Flashcards will be a big one for us this year too as both kids have come so far academically and are so capable.
I also bought two of these bead/ accessory organizers. One came from a garage sale for 50 cents brand new and the other I got at hobby lobby. SNACKS keep my kids content! Knowing they will not be denied food and that the snacks they get are ones they like will make for happy Fulton children. I will fill these tiny spots with some of their favorites...and mix in some healthy things too....gold fish, raisins, yogurt melts, peanuts, graham crackers, etc.
We will also have apples and oranges and drinks, etc in the cooler. We aren't stopping for any sit down meals on our roadtrip. Sandwiches will be premade and consumed while driving. Rest stop visits along the way will be the only time the kids will be able to be free and get some exercise. If we find rest stops with play areas, we will definitely let the kids stop and play for awhile and burn off some steam but they will also be able to pick one ( or two) of these rest stop activities to do before getting out of the car....
I plan on switching car seats around in the back of the van at each stop as well so they have a different view, a different person next to them, etc.
This little green bag also contains my scissors and extra tape and smaller items for the trip.
The kids are so excited to get in the car and get to North Carolina. Who knows, maybe I won't need any of this stuff. Better to be safe them sorry! Can't wait for Saturday's big trip! I'm ready!