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Keeping Kids Busy on Summer Road Trips

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I'm sure you've been there before. You've packed snacks, shoved your luggage, roller blades and tennis rackets in the trunk, jerry rigged the bike rack to the car, gassed up and are finally ready to hit the open road. What you may fail to anticipate however, is the bumper to bumper traffic you'll be sitting in while your kids pester you from the back seat with the dreaded question - Are We There Yet???

As a road trip warrior, I've got some great game and gadget options that'll keep kids of varying ages entertained as you traverse the highways and byways of our glorious country. So what's the secret behind a smooth summer road trip with your family? Here's our Fave Five:

big_nintendodsixl_00.jpg1. Nintendo DSi XL - We received a complimentary DSi XL to review when it was first released this spring and my kids have been fighting over it ever since it arrived on our doorstep. So what's so great about about the DSi XL? Well, the screen is way bigger than the traditional DSi, there's also built-in educational software including Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: Arts Edition and a comprehensive dictionary - which my husband loves since he's a walking thesaurus - but more on him later. There's even an option to create your own digital short movies complete with audio...I've even created a few Peanuts movies of my own since I'm proficient at stick figures, Snoopy and Woodstock. As with the Lite, XL owners are also able to download games through the Nintendo DSi Shop and create and share photos - which my kids happen to love!!! Of course, there are also plenty of game options - including the brand new Mario Party 8 for DS , Atari Sandlot Sluggers, Style Savvy and one of my personal faves - Scribblenauts!

Screen shot 2010-06-03 at 4.13.01 PM.png 2. Bring Books to Life with Your iPhone, iTouch or iPad - Whenever my kids are completely bored, they ask me to hand over my iPhone so they can download apps to pass the time away. But thanks to the folks at MobiStories, I now have the upperhand! If you want to really knock your kids socks off, then try out the latest innovation in children's book technology with the debut of The Marvelous Toy - a digital and musical children's book now available on MobiStories on PC's, iPhones, iTouch and the iPad. Your kids will be mesmerized as they touch the screen and the images are literally brought to life in front of their eyes. Plus, in addition to their latest release, Mobistories offers a host of downloadable picture book options for kids ages 2-10.

3. A DVD Double Feature - Turn your laptop into a movie screen or better yet, pick up an inexpensive DVD player you can strap to the back of your seat so that your kids can catch their favorite movies - incidentally, "Alice in Wonderland" was just released this week on DVD and in my house, "The Tooth Fairy" is a current must-see (at least a dozen times or more). And hopefully, if you're not driving, you can grab a seat in the middle, whip out a bag of popcorn and watch right along with them. Another option, take the quiet time to read on your Kindle, iPad or crack open a good book...now that's a novel idea!

MadLibs.jpg4. Mad Libs - If your kids are proficient at potty words (ie. poop, fart, etc), they will have an absolute blast filling in the blanks to the age old road trip conversation starter - Mad Libs. We actually gave these out at my daughter's birthday party and they have taken up permanent residence in our car. Funny, but when I used to play with Mad Libs way back when, I thought my stories were hilarious too.

5. The License Plate Math Game - I have to give credit to my husband on this one. Whenever we're in the car, he will encourage the kids to add the numbers in a license plate and whoever gets the answer quicker, wins the points. They do the same thing with the alphabet - they look for every letter in the alphabet and call it out as a car is whizzing by. Obviously, the driver should not participate in this game, but my hubby can't help himself - he's very competitive.Thumbnail image for licenseplates.jpg

Do you have any summer road trip tips? We'd love to hear them!

Posted in: Events, Road Trip Warrior, Role Mommy Recommends, TV on 07/14/2010


  • Amanda O&aposBrien

    Long road trips for young children can be challenging but if you plan it right you can create some great summer memories. And with new tools like the smart phones and ipads you can really save yourself a lot of valuable room in the car. Instead of lugging around puzzles and games to play with little pieces to loose or eat depending on the child. Now you just have to have some great apps loaded and ready to go. Only you know your child's likes and dislikes and might test out some games before you head out on your journey.

    My 5 year old daughter loves legos and ninjago is one of her favorite, so I ended up getting a fun tap game also known as a bubble popping game. The game she really liked was Evil Sushi Squish It was a life saver and a great way for her to get her bottled up energy out. She goes to town tapping my phone and loves to get to new ninja levels. This was a really great game for our trip, and I'm sure there are many others out there.

    Another thing I did to prepare for our 6 hour drive was to go to the Evil Sushi Squish web site and download the color sheets and activities. So when we got to the hotel she spent the evening coloring the charters of the game and played her Dad Evil Sushi Squish tic tac toe.

    So one thing I see is that the app games are becoming broader based and lots of them have web pages with extended activities. Evil Sushi Squish was so popular with my daughter she never even asked for a different game. But this goes back to repetition and how children can hear the same story over and over and never tire of it. You just have to find the right story or game.

    Hope this helps other parents about to take that summer car trip.

  • This is great advice but I would also make sure to have video system of somekind, even better if you can hook up a game system to it. This has saved our sanity many times :)

  • pakou


    Okay. So my tip is always most definitely be prepared and organized. I do agree with bringing some gadgets along because it will most definitely help. To also make things easier you sing songs together, play guessing games, etc. Always remember to be active in the car. Let the children get some fresh air, stop at a rest stop for a while. If you have a portable dvdplayer, bring it along to watch movies. Also, bring comfortable pillows or sheets when the kids fall asleep. Open the windows for fresh air and remember to take turns driving. Getting a GPS system may make things easier...or worse..

  • https://www.google.com/account

    I Retweeted!!

    We pack a small bag for each child giving each of them there own space even in our car. In the bottom of the bag is a cooler for keeping snacks and small bottles or water. Inside their bags they each have a change of clothes, their portable games (Nintendo ds and Vtech vsmile)with games and chargers, some books they have choosen and coloring books (Crayola wonder). I keep some movies they have not seen in a while, a trash bag, and one small present for each (travel game,itunes card) or something small but will help keep them busy. We also keep a small map and a timer so the older ones can help see where we are and when we will be there.

  • camden44


    We love to take road trips in our family. We are actually purchasing a travel trailer this year. When we head out on the road we pack lots of fun games to play with the kids. We also pack lots of healthy snacks so the kids won't want all the junk when we stop for fill-ups.

    Singing at the top of our lungs is one of the best things about road trips. We bring the television themes from the 80's CD and guess what show it was from. You can't do this stuff on a plane:) Thanks for the chance to win.

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