9 Ideas to Keep Your Kids Occupied in the Car This Labor Day Weekend


USA Labor Day. Car.

Monday is Labor day, that means last minute vacations before school starts and, unfortunately, bored children in the car.

Here are nine tried and true ideas to keep kids happy on your last road trip of the summer!


  • Start with the items that are the least interesting to your kids early in the trip.  Save the most cherished items like reading books and screen time for the very end of your trip when kids start to get the most antsy.
  • Spread out activities to about one per hour with the occasional snack in between.  If you do everything in the first hour your are going to have a rough eight hours ahead…
  • Putting activities into food storage bags keeps activities organized and easy to clean up.

{So here’s the list:}

1. Magnets and an Old Cookie Sheet

Magnets. Car.

This simple set up it so much fun for kids to arrange magnets in their car seats.  I use an old cookie sheet because the magnets scratch non-stick surfaces.

2. Blocks

Blocks. Car.

Stick ’em in a bag, let them build while they ride!

3. Play Dough (with cookie sheet as table)

Play dough. Car.

On our last trip this turned out to be my daughter’s favorite activity.  I usually make my own, but time was short this last trip so I bought some.

Here is a great recipe for homemade play dough:

  • 1 c Flour
  • 1/2 c Salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 c water
  • food coloring

Cook over medium heat until mixture forms a ball.  At this point, take it out and let it cool until it is comfortable to touch.  Flatten out a little bit with hands, drip your food color of choice and then roll dough up. Roll and mash dough until color shows throughout.  You may need to add food coloring a couple of times before it is the color you want.  This part can be fun for kids to help with but can be messy so put them in clothes you don’t mind getting stained.

Keep in an air tight container.  Enjoy!

4. Keyboard

Keyboard. Car.

My son is very musical. He is always singing and playing piano at home. Bringing a small keyboard let him express his musical self to his heart’s content.

5. Dolls and Doll Clothes

Dolls. Car.

My daughter is the little mother of our house and it would just not even be right to leave the dolls at home.

6. Coloring Books, Markers, and Clipboards

Coloring books. Car.

For my three year old I got regular washable markers and for my seventeen month old I got the no-mess markers so he could free his inner Jackson Pollock without.

7. Library books

Library books. Car.

Before we left town on our last trip i checked out our weekly lot of books for the kids and packed them in a crate that would serve as our book shelf in the car.  For my three year old I got longer illustrated books. For my 17 month old I checked out a bunch of brightly colored board books so he could look on his own without destroying them.

8.  Audio Books

Audio books. Car.

We love listening to books in the car even when we are just driving around town. Some audio books we love include out Judy Moody, Junie B. Jones, and Beazus and Ramona

9. Pre-loaded Video Tablet

Playaway view. Car.

We don’t own any tablets or have games on our phones but I do like for the kids to watch a show here or there.  Our library has these things called Playaway Views which are hand-held pre-loaded videos. You can find Playaway Views with everything from episodes of Sesame Street to learning Mandarin!  The kids love them and this kept everyone calm in our last hour of our trip.

How about you? What kinds of things do you do to keep your kids occupied on long trips?  Or if you have a funny story about a trip with the kids, share in the comments below!

Safe travels!

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