Car Essentials for Traveling with Kids

Now that I officially have a momobile, there a few items that are always in the car:

  • Diapers and baby wipes– I use my car like a giant diaper bag.
  • Complete change of clothes for each kid– This might be a pie-in-the-sky goal, but it sure is nice if they get wet in sprinkler (or wet for another reason).
  • Anti-bacterial handwash
  • tissues
  • ziploc or plastic bags– For all those new-found treasures!
  • blanket– Use it for picnics in warm weather, warmth in cold months.
  • water bottle for each kiddo

And the most important….  ACTIVITY BAG!  Between the two car seats, I store activities that are easily reachable.  I change out the activities every time I clean my car (so not often!)  The activities are ideally small (to fit in the bag) with no removable parts (nothing gets lost).  Bonus points if I can get two of them so both girls can do it at the same time.  Our activity bag contains:

  • paper and writing tool– The girls like pens, but be careful because you might find your kiddos with some new body art…..not that it has ever happened to us (wink, wink).  Crayons woudl be good in the winter months when they won’t melt.
  • Magna Doodle– This is a Kerr girl favorite.  We have one for each girl.
  • Reading books– Throw in some familiar books so they can practice reading.
  • Flip charts or books–  These books usually have three sections that can be flipped to create different drawings.  Something like this: Flip-o-saurus.  I found ours at a used bookstore.
  • “Look and find” books– Think Where’s Waldo?  This will keep them entertained for awhile!
  • kaleidoscope
  • Movable toys– These are my favorite!  They can be wood, plastic, or wire.  They should be all one piece, but easily movable into different shapes.  Great to stimulate creative thinking!IMG_7396
  • plastic, light-up, talking toys–  I wouldn’t recommend these (for your own sanity), but we have a few.  Hopefully they are relatively quiet or have a volume control.IMG_7394
  • phone or tablet– On long car trips, we give the girls turns on the iPad (with a timer so no one can complain).  As much as I prefer non-electronic toys, the iPad is a great learning tool and the kids LOVE it.  And if the kids are happy, quiet, and learning….then Mama is happy!

Fun Ways to Practice Handwriting

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Ugh.  How can handwriting be fun?  Whether you are teaching little ones to write letters for the first time, or trying to get your elementary kiddo to practice his handwriting, here are some ideas to try out:

WRITING TOOLS- Don’t get stuck in the pencil and paper rut.  Get creative and try out some new tools!

  • colored pencils–  It’s more fun, but might lead to frustration when it won’t erase.
  • crayons- Same as colored pencils, but they come in more shapes (big, triangular, etc.) for little hands.
  • pens– Kids are usually very motivated to write with a pen.  Maybe it seems grown-up?  Let them pick out a cool pen with a character, feather, or other funny top.
  • markers– Save yourself some headache and only have washable markers in the house!
  • chalk– Use on paper or outside.  What could be better than enjoying some sunshine and practicing letters on the sidewalk?  Not the best for cursive, but great for teaching preschoolers.
  • dry erase markers– Very easy to erase, but watch out that they only mark on the board!
  • Magna Doodle– My girls love writing on them!  I love them because they are easy to keep in my purse or the car for on-the-go entertainment.
  • paintbrush- Try out different sizes of brushes to see how the letters look different.
  • Q-tips- Dip them in water or paint and start writing!

WRITING SURFACES- Instead of lined paper, give these a try…

  • sand– Making letters is a great activity for the sandbox.  Dig down to find some wet sand.
  • dirt– Use a twig or your finger.
  • sidewalk– Try out chalk or a paintbrush with water.
  • someone’s back– Play a game and write a letter on someone’s back and have them try to guess it!
  • iPad or other touch screen– There are LOTS of writing apps for teaching letters.
  • ziploc bag filled with paint– This is great fun for little ones!
  • flour (or rice or salt) on a cookie tray– This is a messier option to a ziploc bag.
  • shaving cream on a table– Another messy (but fun) option!

Remember to take some time to teach the proper way to write letters.  It is easier to teach the right way, than unlearn the wrong way!