Our vacation this summer is a road trip to Alabama and Florida, which makes for some very long car rides with a 1 and 3 year old. The kids rarely fall asleep in the car (boo!), so I’ve been stockpiling things to keep them entertained for the trip.
Since my 3 year old will plow through a bag of toys in no time flat, I’m going to hand out a new activity every 30 minutes to space things out. I’ve bought a few things, but many of the activities are DIY crafts I’ve made.
With the purchase of a cookie sheet from the Dollar Tree ($1), I now have a magnetic board that is the perfect size for laps. So I’ve created several magnet activities.
First up, I bought some puzzles from Dollar Tree ($1) and a roll of magnetic adhesive strip (Hobby Lobby, $3). Just cut the magnetic strip pieces to the size needed, peel off the adhesive backing, and stick them on the back of each puzzle piece.
Each magnetic puzzle goes into its own baggie to keep them separated. My son typically works puzzles with 12 pieces, but I figured the less help from mom needed, the better!
Another great magnetic activity is “I spy” sheets. I found some great free printables online. I printed them on cardstock I already had on hand and slipped them in a page protector. For the “markers,” you could use magnets you already own, or you can buy these colored dot magnets from Hobby Lobby for $3. I love that this “bingo” printable only has photos, so my son doesn’t need me to read anything.
For the Number game, he can mark numbers as he sees them outside his window (speed limit signs, license plates, gas prices, etc.). Get the printable here. An alphabet printable can be used the same way. I printed several, and I can just change out what goes inside the page protector.
Play magnets are always fun in our house, especially on the side of the refrigerator. I found these patriotic July 4th magnets at Dollar Tree, and they usually have seasonal fridge magnets for whatever season we’re in.
I also made some magnets from photos, which I thought would be a fun surprise. I printed photos, trying to find ones of the kids that capture them from head to toe. I cut them down to size, glued them on to a magnetic sheet (Hobby Lobby, $7) using Modge Podge, and filled in any small empty spaces with stickers we already had. Then I applied another coat of Modge Podge over the whole thing, which will act as a sealer.
Once dry, I cut out the photos and stickers in detail. You can see the texture the Modge Podge creates in the photo below, so that final top coat is optional if you don’t like it. I just figured these would last longer if I protected the photo paper from my kids’ sticky hands!
Here’s a photo of the Modge Podge I used.
One final magnetic activity I created are photo puzzles. For this craft, you’ll need some 4×6 photos, popsicle sticks ($1 from Dollar Tree), Modge Podge (or other glue), and the same adhesive magnetic strip from earlier (Hobby Lobby, $3). Line up the popsicle sticks the width of the photo, apply Modge Podge or other glue to the entire back of the photo, then press it down on to the popsicle sticks, careful not to move them. Apply a coat of Modge Podge over the top of the photo to seal it, if you’d like.
You can do this with wider popsicle sticks as well for a puzzle that a younger child could do.
Once dry, turn the puzzle over so the photo is face-down. Cut the magnetic strip into small pieces and apply a piece at the top and bottom of each stick. If you’re making more than one of these puzzles, make some kind of marking on the sticks to differentiate one puzzle from another in case the pieces get mixed. I drew one line across the sticks for the first puzzle, two lines for the second, etc.
Then using an exacto knife or blade, cut carefully between each popsicle stick. I pushed the popsicle sticks together as tightly as possible when I was creating these, which I think made it harder to cut and created some rough edges. You might want to allow a little more natural spacing between the sticks to avoid this.