Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday (Vol. 4): Family Visits and Car Activity Bags

Today, I am thankful for a blessed visit to see Nana, Papa and family in western PA. Though the trip was long, both there and back – and plagued by bouts of first (second, third, fourth and fifth – but who was counting?) car sickness and a belly bug to boot – it was worth it. Time with family is such a wonderful gift. Plus, recognizing the importance of family – plus taking time and making the effort to get together with folks – is a value I grew up with and want to instill in my children. So, praise God for a blessed visit! (Pics from it can be seen here. )

And, while I am at the praising – praise God for simple things like Zip-loc bags, too! When the kids were not vomiting nor making potty stops, along with a full canvas bag of books-with-CD’s from the library and kids’ songs CD’s of our own, activities in Zip-loc bags made our trip a lot more fun – both in the car and at Nana and Papa’s, too!

Yes, with up to 13 hours drive each way (due to traffic and rest stops), I thought we should be prepared. So, Luke, Nina and I made up 26 or so different bags the day before we left. Mind you, most of these were thrown together in less than a minute each by just popping items we had on hand into Zip-locs, while others were dug out of storage bins upon the kids’ requests (they remembered some of the great activity bags from Kim and from our OLQOS exchange that we used on our last trip), while still others were easily from Internet print outs and raiding our art and crafts drawers.

Here’s what we ended up with:

Montessori Inspired Bags
These Dino Lace-and-Trace Cards were ones we picked up at a consignment shop early in Luke’s dino-craze phase. He remembered them from our last trip and asked me to dig them out.

These Lacing Cards were from Kim, also remembered from our last trip and requested by the kids as “The gingerbread lacing”. They went through a huge Gingerbread Man phase in December and January.

Nina requested this Buckle Book, which we had not had out in a while, made by craft Kim.

These Bug Stacking Rattles, great for stacking as well as shaking along to the rhythm of kids songs, were not only a hit in the car, but also lots of fun for the kids to play with with their second cousin Baby Rowan.

We also included the Mini Geo Board, which I posted about here, which Luke, especially, loves!

Sensory Diet Inspired Bags
Luke needs a lot of activity, among other things, as part of his Sensory Diet. So, thinking movement, I made up these simple Car Exercise Cards, which were a big hit in the car, as well a fun Simon Says type activity at Nana and Papa’s.

These body part cards that I found online made for another fun seated (or standing at Nana and Papa’s) action game : Point to Your ~. Nina enjoyed using them as command cards for her dollies, too, pretending to give the dollies the commands and then making the dolls point to their respective body parts.

And, these ones worked similarly, but were used as Move Your ~ Cards. The kids laughed and giggled as they discovered different ways they could move and shake each of the body parts even while strapped into car seats. And, they enjoyed playing the game with Auntie Kathy at Papa’s, too – making Auntie giggle over their wiggles and body part dances.

Thinking fine motor and the kids love for constructing, I also put together a Foam Magnet Shapes Construction bag, which the kids used with cookie sheets in the car and on Nana’s cookie and treat tins at Nana and Papa’s.

Imagination and Language Arts Inspired Bags
We have not been focusing much on letters lately, so since I already had the cookie sheets packed as car-friendly magnet-and-drawing boards, I tucked in Leap Frog Letters. Nina, especially, liked these.

I also out in the Word Whammer, which Luke is starting to explore

And, by Luke’s request from Kim's activity bags that we used on a prior trip, we grabbed our Circus Fun Cloth Book and Puppets bag, which Luke enjoyed.

Plus, as both kids love pretending with creatures and figurines, I tucked in a Sea Animals Finger Puppets bag and a Jungle Creatures Finger Puppets bag. Listening to the kids give voices to these puppets and make up stories with them is so much fun. I cannot express the amazement and joy their imaginations bring Mike and me as they play with such things.

And, we made a variety of Magnet Story and Poem bags, using printouts from the Internet, which I “laminated” with contact paper, cut out and taped pieces of recycled calendar advertising magnets to. After creating all these with the kids’ “help”, I failed to take pictures of each set. (Could that be because the kids knicked some as quickly as I could make them in order to test them out?) But, above, are pictures of some. The frogs, the monkeys (both jumping on a bed – not pictured – and teasing Mr. Alligator) and the Gingerbread Man (not pictured) were the kids’ favorites in the car. at Nana’s and Papa’s they enjoyed using all of them, mixing and matching to create their own stories at times.

Sketching and Drawing Inspired Bags
Upon Nina’s request, we included a Doodle Pro Board.  How our little girl loves to "write".

And, on both the kids’ requests, remembering them from our last road trip, we included some Magic Slates.

Plus, from the activity bags we made for our last Activity Swap, which I have yet to post my descriptions and pictures of, we included Flower Coloring. Our neighbors had just given us some scented crayons, which we included with this. the kids got a kick out of all the scents – from roses to dirt to new car smells. (And I thought it was cool how the crayons themselves had no scent, but, once you colored on paper with them, if you sniffed the paper, you could smell the scents.) The kids loved these crayons and used them at Nana’s nursing home to make her pictures, too.

And, because the kids love stickers (and I love the fine motor skills used to peel the stickers from their backings), we put together a Letters and Animals Sticker Art bag, which the kids enjoyed.

Travel Games Inspired Bags
Finally, we included a number of car Bingo Games that I found online on sites like Crayola and Moms Minivan, About, Kaboose. Some of these were ones the kids could color in themselves and others were simply find and cross off ones, which I tucked into page protectors and included markers for crossing things off and old socks for wiping off the marker with for reusability. To be honest, I didn’t need to do this, as we never used the Bingo Games en route this trip. (Luke did find them in the bag at Nana and Papa’s and did some creative coloring and crossing or, plus circling and sketching over, with them there, though.) .

Almost every one of the bags was enjoyed en route or during our stay with Nana and Papa. And, even the ones that were not, I think, will be in the future. So, they were well worth the partial day it took to put them together. Along with music, stories, naps and simple chatting, they helped an otherwise long – and admittedly stinky with all the sickness – trip more manageable.

Hopefully, in sharing the Car Activity Bags pictures and descriptions, I might inspire some folks to create their own travel bags. Should you to try similar ones, I would love to hear about how they work. And, if you have ideas for other car friendly activities, please share! We love comments and are sure to be making another long road trip a few months after baby Jack arrives!

If you want other activity bag ideas for home or travel, be sure to click on the “Activity Bags” category in the right column, where you’ll find posts with pictures and descriptions of other ones we’ve made and received. Also, stay tuned:  By early next week, I hope to post full descriptions of the recent Sensory and Skills with a Bit of Montessori Bags we made, like the Montessori in a Bag activities I described in a previous post..

Finally, of course, if you would like to be inspired by what others are thankful for today, please visit the links at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.


Denise said...

You are a very creative mom, bless you.

Michele said...

wow alot of neat stuff, that can keep little ones busy for sure . thanks 4 sharing

Tammy said...

What a LOT of resources! Sounds like you know how to keep them busy and learning at the same time. We homeschool too. Thanks for sharing and for stopping by my blog.

Unknown said...

Wow Girl,

What a post and I couldn't believe all the travel sickness. I'm impressed with all of you. Love the bags and the photos. hugs.

Jaimee @ Havenwood House of Boys said...

I'm so glad to have come across this post!!

We had a big move two years ago and it's now a 13hr car ride (more, when you add pit stops) to go and visit our family. And ALL our family is there. I love to see them and have the boys get time with their Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins....but boy oh boy the trip is a doozy with three young boys!!! All that car time is just so exhausting.

I have lots of ideas from your post to create some activity bags for tackling this drive next month. Thanks for posting these!

Unknown said...

Wow, I love all the ideas and I thought planning for a six hour trip was going to be difficult. I made some flannel boards for my kids with an old sheet duck taped to a cookie sheet and we use a large flannel board at home using velcro from diapers taped to letters/number etc. (the velcro works great, it saves in from the trash and if it can hold a diaper on my 2yo it's got to be tuff) thanks for the great ideas.

OrganizingMadeFun said...

Very clever and cute what you did with your magnets!!

Becky B.
Organizing Made Fun

Kim said...

Awesome!! I am so honored that you still use the activity bags we traded! Yay! I have used ours numerous times! Ready for another trade??


Related Posts with Thumbnails