Making the Car Ride More Enjoyable for Small Children

The holiday season is officially among us. And with it comes lots of traveling.  This week, we’ll be featuring posts all about making traveling with our kiddos safe and bearable, maybe even fun!

Planes, Trains, and AutomobilesTraveling

I know that we have all been there: you get in the car, back out of the driveway, and immediately your kids start fighting, or whining, or screaming for something that dropped on the floor.  For my kids, it’s that they always want to watch a movie.  And I’m all for the convenience that comes with DVD players in vehicles, but I really try to use that for long-distance driving only.  In my opinion, my kids watch enough TV as it is.  Furthermore, when I was a kid, I LOVED car rides, mostly because I loved observing the world around me.  It’s hard for my kids to do that when their eyes are glued to the screen.

ben car

In an effort to make our rides more enjoyable, I have adopted a few tricks that I have found useful.  You may be doing some of these things already. If you are, I hope that are as useful for you as they have been to me!  Here are a few things that have been the most beneficial to me and my children (ages 2 and 3):

  1. I Spy.  There are numerous variations of this game that you could play in the car. One way to play is that every time you are at a stop sign or red light, each child has a turn playing “I Spy” something (choose a color). This is the original way to play the game, but it is the one that I have found to be the most difficult to play in the car.  You only have so many minutes at a red light, and oftentimes we are driving off before the object has been identified.  Instead, we choose one item (usually something seasonal or of specific interest to the children).  Some of our favorites are I Spy an American Flag, I Spy a Pumpkin, and I Spy a Tractor.  We don’t usually play for the entire car ride, but it definitely keeps their attention for a good portion of the journey.
  2. Children’s Music.  Our family loves listening to the Pandora station “Preschool of Rock.”  My children could be in the middle of a full-blown meltdown, and they will stop as soon as they hear music that they can identify with.  Kids love familiarity and repetition, so it’s understandable why this works so well.
  3. Lacing Cards.  My children LOVE these!  The basic idea with these awesome toys is that children take a shoestring and thread it in and out of small holes that are on a picture card.  It is a great tactile learning activity, and it requires concentration.  These activities will often keep my boys busy for twenty or thirty minutes.81vQs6qEdmL._SL1500_
  4. Look and Find Books.  My children love these!  It’s basically another version of I Spy, but it is one that they can play on their own.  We always like to keep two or three of these in the car, especially for longer car rides.Look and find

Those are just a few of my tips!  What are some things that have been useful to you?

Megan Wall
Megan is a wife and stay-at-home-mommy to Matthew and Benjamin. A Navy brat, she spent her childhood moving and traveling throughout the country. Her family finally settled down in Louisiana, and she has called Baton Rouge her home since she became an LSU Tiger in the fall of 1998. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and her Master’s in Secondary Education, she and her husband, Kenny, were married in 2004. For nearly ten years, Megan taught literature on the middle and high school levels. She is passionate about reading and instilling the love of reading to children. After four years of struggling through infertility, they were ecstatic to enter the world of parenthood in 2010. A true lover of lunching with friends, pedicures, exercise, literature, and lattes, her latest interests include tractors, pirates, climbing, and superheroes.


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