Summer is just around the corner, and there’s a lot of fun to pack into a short season. For my family, summer always comes with long drives to campgrounds, family, and other adventures. My kiddos are screen-free (read more about that here), so we have to find other ways to stay sane during road trips. Today I’m sharing 5 great, Disciple Mama-tested toddler car activities to make the journey (almost) as fun as the destination. And, just so you know, the links marked * are affiliate links, which means I might earn a commission if you click and decide to buy. Of course, I never recommend products I don’t use and love.
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5 Screen-Free Toddler Car Activities
- Read-Along Audio Books. These are genius. They’re picture books with a cd in the back that reads the story aloud. We have a couple of read-along audio books that E loves to listen to and ‘read’ along with, but we borrow most of ours. Check out your local library’s selection. Pro tip: read the book to your child before using the cd, just to get them used to the story and how it matches up with the pages. It’ll make it easier for them to follow along on their own, later.
- Drawing toys. Drawing is always fun, but a toddler+crayons=disaster in the car. To solve this problem, we keep the Magna Doodle in the van at all times. We also take his Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Water Reveal Pad: Bible Stories* with us on all of our trips. These are reusable paint-with-water pictures that are perfect for quiet, mess-free entertainment. Pro tip: have water available to refill the little brush pen.
- Music. Everyone knows a road trip needs a soundtrack, so put on your favorite tunes and have a sing-along. We call this “Family Choir,” and it’s a big hit with cranky infants and toddlers alike. Or, put some quiet music on to facilitate toddler naps. Disciple Mama officially recommends Wee Sing Bible Songs(FREE from Amazon Music for Amazon Prime members). Pro tip: give your toddler a cute little bluetooth speaker and pipe the music from your phone. (E loves this one:
My Audio Pet Mini Bluetooth Animal Wireless Speaker*.)It will allow you to have a pleasant conversation with your spouse without shouting over the entirety of “Father Abraham.”
- Games. Playing games is a great way for the family to interact on long trips, and it will keep your toddler’s mind engaged, too! Simple I spy-type games are fun and help kids learn their colors and shapes. Work with your toddler to spot letters or numbers on signs. (Just remember that your rear-facing kiddos will not see everything that you do). Or, just bring the cards from your favorite toddler-friendly trivia game (Egypt to Canaan is our favorite) and ask questions.
- Magnets. Toddlers love magnets, so why not bring them on a trip? Find a mini cookie sheet and pop your magnets onto it to create a fun visual and tactile experience. E loves his alphabet magnets, but any set will work! Safety tip: Make sure the magnetic pieces are securely fastened, and DO NOT give magnets to kids who still put everything in their mouths!
I hope these ideas help you get on the road with confidence and reach your destination with your sanity intact. You may still feel like bringing the iPad for backup; I get it. But, keep these toddler car activities (and snacks) on hand and you’ll have fun and feel great about minimizing screen-time. Best of all, you’ll be making room for a lot of family bonding, which is what summer road trips are all about, right?!
If you need further screen-ditching inspiration, read this: Screen-Free Activities: 5 Fun Things You Can Do at Home!.