A Quiet Drive for the Holiday: Child Occupation in the Car Part I

            My family and I go camping every summer.  The key to our success camping with five children, beginning when our youngest, twins, were four years old, was to keep the children occupied during the long—long!—car rides.  The reason we go camping in the first place is to find quiet time away from the rush, rush of life.  I wanted to leave the television, computer, and video games home and give the children a chance to use their imaginations.  But first, I had to use mine. 

If you are like me, it seems that every few years the children “need” a newer character lunchbox.  Well, don’t throw away the old plastic lunchboxes.  They are ideal for travel occupation.  They store well and keep small parts together.  Of course, it is important to make the lunchboxes age appropriate.  You need at least one lunch box per child, and depending on the length of the trip, bring a few extra packed lunch boxes.  What you pack in them depends on what’s in the toy chest or what your children like to do. 

You are looking for smaller, imaginative-play type toys, like Barbie dolls, G.I. Joes, Match Box cars, rubber creatures and Beanie Babies.  Then stretch your imagination, and subsequently the children’s, by including a wooden-shaped block or a plastic donut-type ring or a large paste jewel or a finger ring, perhaps a colored feather or ribbon.  These eclectic objects will spark the children’s creative play on a small scale as the miles roll by.  Don’t forget Etch A Sketches, story picture books, listening tapes, and sharpened pencils and pads of paper for tic-tac-toe and hang the man.
            I would pack each lunch box differently and exchange boxes often to keep interests peaked.  Sometimes I would give each lunchbox a theme, like sports with sports cards and figurines or aquatic with underwater creatures and boats.  Make the play interactive and practice communication skills by writing notes to each other and passing them along via “child mail” to the recipient.  Tic-tac-toe and hang man can work this way also.

9 thoughts on “A Quiet Drive for the Holiday: Child Occupation in the Car Part I”

  1. Hi Victoria Marie

    It's great that you encourage your children to enjoy the outdoor life, it's far better for them mentally and physically to spend time with nature than in front of the PC or TV most of the time.

    It seems you have found the secret to keeping them occupied on long car journeys. You have brought some old names up there with Barbie Dolls (my daughter had one) and G.I. Joe (my son had one).

    Thanks for your recent visit and bringing the problems to my attention, I have left a reply as to the possible reasons but not solved the comments problem yet.



  2. Lucky you, Theresa, to have found writing time. But then again, a lot of my adventures begin in real life experiences.

    Bill, I truly believe that it is better for children to be actively involved, both mentally and physically, in nature. It helps children to become more observant in the world around them and frees their minds to consider life's possibilities. I feel non-electronic toys can enhance individual creativity.

    You are so right, Lynda. Happy children mean happy parents, and a happy family will have a happy trip. At least more often than not.

    Thank you all so much for visiting my blog and leaving comments. It is truly appreciated. Stop by again!

  3. I am all about reuse and recycle, Marie. Lunch boxes are great for young children to carry and fill with treasures to play with when visiting or traveling.

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Marie. Happy New Year!

  4. Imagination is certainly crucial for children, Michelle. You are absolutely correct. I think it helps to expand their minds and allow for creativity.

    Thanks so much, Michelle, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog.


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