Hitting the road with the kids means hours in the car listening to them complain about being bored. Well, never fear, the old games we used to play are still around and, to top it off, you can create some new car fun. Who needs the car video player or hand held games?
With the map you can help your children to learn the capitals of each of the states, then work on their alphabetizing skills if they are old enough. Have them list the cities in alphabetical order.
The kids can also play tic-tac-toe on the board, or the connect the dots game, they could even use it like a small lap table to eat off of.
If you don't have an old one to use, or can't find one at the local thrift store, go to the nearest dollar store, you can find one for $1.00. Add on tax and it will be around $1.10 or so depending on your sales tax.
How about a craft project? The kids can learn how to bead, sew, and oh, so much more while traveling. Remember you have their full attention, use it to your advantage.
By TxBluEyes from Kerrville, TX
I have 3 things I use to do when we traveled with my kids when they were young:
1) $1 store toys: Go to a dollar store before you leave (without your kids knowing) & pick out 3 or 4 different quiet toys per child then stash them away & give these toys out slowly when the kids are being good (as a prize!), or when they beg you for a pricey toy at the register at a gas station. You may spend $10 or $20, but in the long run you'll save money by not buying them other pricey toys.
2) Family Driving Games: We also played the "Alphabet Sign Game". We'd look for a sign with a word that begins with "A", then we'd look for another sign that began with "B" & so on. With each family member racing to find the next letter in the alphabet. We had lot's of fun as a family doing this!
3) The Quiet Game: When the kids started fighting among each other or when we could no longer stand their excessive noise we would play "the quiet game". (at the time we had 3 kids). We'd say "whoever doesn't talk for any reason (except for "I have to pee, or an emergency) will get a prize & we'd hand out first place, second & third place "prizes" of One dollar, 50 cents & a quarter. This way each child could win. This means the child who didn't talk & was totally silent for the longest would get one dollar, then the child that stayed silent the next longest would get 50 cents & so on. (You could end the "game" at an hour or at one half hour & if each child is TOTALLY quiet that WHOLE length of the time, then they could EACH get the grand prize of the dollar (or whatever it is). When my kids were young we did a whole LOT of driving & sometimes the kids would be loud or fighting & we'd say "We're playing the "Quiet Game" & Everyone's playing! You have no choice!" Sometimes they'd not care about the money & want to talk anyway - then we'd make them play for free by saying, you can play the quiet game for free or you can play for money, it's your choice, but you're playing anyway! But the money would usually work to keep them quiet... that and the competition of beating their sibling for the grand prize! Oh sweet peace & quiet for a half hour, it's absolutely the best!
* A hint. Watch out for "cheating" like one kid pinching the other to make them talk first!
* Another hint is to think ahead & buy water toys like air mattresses & sand buckets, bug spray, candy, etc, etc at a dollar store before you leave for your trip. We used to save all kinds of money doing this because this way we didn't have to pay 4 or 5 dollars for an air mattress from a resort or a motel!
I would not recommend using a glass picture frame in the car. In an accident it would cause shards that could kill a child, not to mention it could break in the car under normal circumstances causing an unsafe situation. You can use dry erase on the windows and the kids can decorate or draw. I would spring for a real dry erase board.
I think I would use the picture frame but tape up the back with duct tape to make it smooth on the lap and prevent flying, broken glass if, God forbid, there was a crash. Sounds like cheap, multi-purpose entertainment.
Beware....dry erase markers are permanent! I bought washable, vivid dry erase markers at Walmart.
Replace the glass of the frame with plexiglass instead. Sold at lowe's you just use your glass as a a pattern for size and cut it out and put in the frame instead. Safe, will not break, and can be marked on then wiped dry.
By Deborah Weightman 05/29/2009
I like the idea of the frugal wipe board, however I don't think glass is a good toy for children, especially in a car. It would be too easy to get hurt on the glass if something dropped on it. If there was even a minor accident the glass could go flying and break and there would be shards all over. I just don't think that glass is a good idea in a moving vehicle.
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.
We are taking our kids on a long vacation in the car. I need to keep them occupied. They are 6 and 8. What good "car games" do you know? - Leeta
I should add that we bought out tapes from Focus on The Family, our books from the bargain bin at Bookstar, and our travel games at Toys R Us. (06/02/2001)
50 STATES OF PLATES: The object of this game is to find each state's license plate or write down the states and mark each time you see a state and see which state does the most traveling.(06/02/2001)
EXAMPLE: If the plate letters are GDP-123 that would be good dogs play or God does pardon or geeks do perl or whatever you can come up with! (06/04/2001)
By Alekscat the frugal feline in Richmond, VA