11 Screen Free Activities For The Car

screen free raod trip activities My son loves baseball and my daughter loves ballet so what that means is that after you add in school, speech therapy, the gym, and errands some days we spend more time in the car than I ever dreamed I’d suffer through. Most days are not like this but when they are I don’t just want to grab the iPad and hand it back to my 4 year old. Sometimes she gets to use it in the car but it’s a rare treat. Instead I stick to these screen free activities and try to make being in the car on busy days low stress for everyone.

1. Talk.

I know this will seem obvious to some but sometimes parents and other caregivers aren’t sure what to talk to their kids about. We like to play a few different conversation starter games to keep things going. My favorite is ” Top 5! ” I will ask my kids to name their top five colors, top five books, top five silly words… you can narrow it down to top 2 for younger kids too. My daughter’s favorite is a word association game we named This & That. It’s a game where I say one thing and she says the first thing that pops in her mind. It often ends with super silly words but it keeps us all giggling and I use it to slip in new vocabulary words. Remember children that have rich vocabularies often face fewer hurdles when it comes time to learn to read.

2. Tell A Story.

I go back and forth sometimes I am into telling stories and sometimes I just want to focus on the road and sort through my day. If you are going to tell stories only do it when you are really engaged. We have many on going stories about a Prince and Princess who are siblings and often go one grand adventures. Sometimes I tell stories about my own life and my children adore hearing stories about me when I was their age. Have fun with this and don’t worry about not being “good” at it. Whatever you share they will love.

learning in the car on busy days

3. Books.

Can you see how dog eared that book is? It’s time for me to get a few new books in the car. I try to keep 3 for each child in the car and switch them out rotating new more exciting ones in when the novelty of the previous titles have worn off. My favorite books for the car are ones that kids can really dive into and for pre readers books like In The Town All Year Round is perfect because there are no words and so so much to look at.

4. Mini Chalk Boards

My daughter loves this for the car and not only do we use it to color on the chalkboard we also use it as a clip board for coloring. We made ours for a few bucks. Here is the tutorial.

5. SING!

I love to sing but I am terrible. I love musicals and spent many summers at drama camp as a teen and have dozens of songs memorized. I sing like I am on stage with adoring fans. My son will normally ask me when I will be done but my daughter listens like I am Patty Lupone singing Evita on stage. Singing boosts your mood so even if you sound like a tone deaf mule ( and I do!) take some requests from your kids and belt it out! If they want to join in the fun more the merrier!

learning in the car for preschoolers

6.  Coloring Sheets.

I have never been a huge fan of coloring sheets but after my daughter did some at the gym I printed some out for her. She loves them and unlike a plain piece of paper the novelty of the character she is coloring hooks her ! I have never used coloring sheets in a classroom and don’t imagine I ever would but for the car they are great tools!

7. Practice Letter sounds, spelling, math…

My daughter is just at the stage of literacy learning where she can segment and sound out simple words and is SUPER proud of herself when she does. So I will call out a word like cat or jar or fan and then together we try to figure out what sounds are in the word and what letters we will need to spell it. With my son I will call out math problems or words for him to spell.

8. Play 20 questions.

Do you remember this game? I love it and we play it all the time. With young children I have found that only using family members or good friends as the secret thing you are thinking about works great. So with my daughter we use family members and use yes or no questions to guess who she is thinking about or for her to guess who we are thinking about. Oh and even though the name of the game is 20 questions I don’t think I have ever bothered counting or restricting it to only 20.

9. Count Cars

Maybe my childhood was just a simple Canadian one or maybe I was a typical 2nd child dragged out in the car to go to all my older sister’s and my own activities. I used to count cars all the time. I’d make a bet with my mom or dad something like ” I bet I will see 4 yellow cars before we get to Main street!” after that was done I’d move on to another.

10. Have a compliment circle in the car.

This is something my son brought home from school this year. We all sit together and share the things we love and appreciate about each other. Each person says one thing about everyone else.This is a great way to re-group on a busy day. It’s much easier to crank up the music and ignore the whining than it is to reign it in and turn it into something positive but if you have the energy try this and don’t sweat the days when the best thing for everyone is to crank the music and rock out for some much needed sanity!

learning and having fun on busy days

11. Get some fresh air between stops!

Is there a small park between preschool and the grocery store? Can you hang out at preschool on the playground before you hit the next stop on your to do list? Even 5 minutes of climbing and zooming down slides will make a huge difference in your child’s mood. I know that for my kids the more fresh air they get the easier bedtime is so even if it slows down your must do list it’s worth it. Above is my daughter balancing in the gym parking lot yesterday which was a busy day of must do things I wish I could have put off but couldn’t. Still taking an extra 2 minutes to let her show me how well she could balance and to challenge herself to go further than she ever had before helped the day feel less about being dragged around and more about play.

I use technology with my kids too. Just today my daughter played a Daniel Tiger App on the iPad while I had a conference call. My hope isn’t that posts like this make anyone feel guilty about using technology but that they remind parents ( and yes I am reminding myself too) that there are lots of low tech ways to engage your kids even on those high stress stuck in the car days. Hopefully this helps all of us find a balance that works for our kids.

Monster Math Craft

halloween math This math craft activity is the perfect example of mixing directed learning and creativity. When I create activities like these I try to make them appeal to the kids who love creative art as well as the ones that are excited by the math. You will find that there is a ton of overlap as well, kids who are into math love art, kids who are great readers love to move, and when we only focus on one way to teach we miss out on so much fun as well as learning. When I created this activity I messed up. My kids were my testers and the activity failed the game test. I tried to make it a game but it was too complicated and I really need to avoid having my kids compete with such a huge age difference. As a craft it was much more fun and we abandoned the game idea a few minutes in.

For a simpler and re0usable version of this craft check out our Monster Math Tray, it’s perfect for a small PreK classroom!

Gather your materials. You will need some card stock, some brightly colored paint daubers or markers, scissors, glue, dice, and a ton of googly eyes. math monster craft supplies

Start by folding your card stock in half and cutting out a monster. I just cut our squiggles and spikes and go for it. math monster template

Set out your paint daubers and invite your math whizzes to the table. Let them decorate their monsters with the paint or markers. I like using these paint daubers because they dry fast and for this activity that is a must. Markers would be perfect too. math monster for kids

When they are done painting the monster it’s time to introduce the glue ,googly eyes…and dice.

Each creator takes a turn rolling the dice and adds that many eyes to their monster. Only the roller added the eyes on their turn. math game and monster craft for kids

To put a limit on the eyes I had a number line and we blacked out the numbers as they were rolled. monster math number lineIf we rolled a blacked out number we rolled again until we rolled one that had not been blacked out. This gave them extra practice substituting the amounts on the dice and adding as well as adding a team element to trying to black out the number line. Hearing them say ” Come on roll a 6, we need a six.” is not really ground breaking but little instances likes these add up and build teamwork that all families can use.monster math for elementary

They rolled a lot of the high numbers first… monster math craft for preschooland then we could not roll a 2 to save our lives! My 4 year old suggested ” Just use one die instead it will be easier.” Now here’s the thing, The point of the two dice were to provide more opportunities to subitize, and add larger amounts but I couldn’t just ignore that at 4 she was busting out some awesome logic and I wanted to support that. So we put away one die and kept rolling until we got our last number we needed. monster math for PreK

Let the monsters dry and enjoy the fun math monster! googly eye monster math activity for kids

 

Glitter Heart Recycled Crayons

recycled crayon favors for frozen themed  partyMy daughter like so many other young kids loves the movie Frozen. These DIY recycled crayons were inspired by the movie and the frozen heart that gets unfrozen by true love. This post is not at all sponsored by or affiliated with by Disney. It is simply a spin on a craft we’ve made before inspired by our favorite movie.  What I like about making crayons is that the finished product is a huge motivator for drawing and writing. Children are proud of what they’ve made and that motivates them to use the new writing tool.

Gather your materials. You will need some crayons in icy colors like white, grey, blue and teal. Silver and blue glitter, a silicone heart shaped pan and plain cookie sheet, and 2 containers to hold the broken crayons and paper.

Have your child sort through crayons to find the colors.sparkly heart recycled crayons

Peel the paper off. This is fantastic fine motor work so let them go to town on this step. Pop the crayons in one cup and the paper in the other.frozen inspired crayons for kids

Shake some glitter into the heart shaped pan.  Add the broken crayons and then add some more glitter.frozen heart recycled glitter crayons

Set your oven to 250 and pop the pan on a cookie sheet and into the oven. Turn the oven light on and watch the crayons melt. They shouldn’t smoke at this temp but every oven is different please watch the crayons the whole time.recycled frozen heart crayons for kids

Once melted take out and let cool.frozen heart recycled crayons for little hands

Pop out !

heart shaped crayons

Add the new crayons to your writing center, use for party favors, or just a fun add on to your box of crayons.

 

 

 

 

Kids Crafts & Activities { Link Up ! }

Happy Sunday!

It’s time to link up to Link & Learn and show us what kids crafts and activities you have created with your kids this week.

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If you have never linked up before this is the easiest linky party around. All you need to do is link up below. I’d love for you to check out some of the other links as well or see some of my favorites on Pinterest.



15 Books About Cars and Trucks with Crafts To Match!

car and truck ideas for preschool We love cars and trucks and everything else that goes with them at our house. My son was obsessed with garbage trucks first, then moved to firetrucks, and my daughter loves bulldozers so much she had a bulldozer themed birthday party. Needless to say we have read a lot of truck themed books and created many fun car and truck crafts and learning activities. I have matched 15 of our favorite transportation themed books with activities and crafts that match them. I hope this post and all our other Read & Make` posts help you find simple activities to do with your kids or students.

The book link takes you to amazon and is an affiliate link while the craft link will take you to the full tutorial for the craft or activity.

 

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Read I Love Trucks! by Philoemen Sturges and explore tire tracks with small transportation toys. This is great for toddlers.

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Learn all about emergency vehicles  in  Emergency! by Gail Gibbons that race to fires and then work on fine motor development with this ripping and gluing letter f activity. Read and Make cars and trucks 13

 

The Wheels on the School Bus by Mary-Alice Moore is the perfect match for this fun school bus craft. Read and Make cars and trucks 12

 

Read  Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha and then work on shape recognition with this simple shape garbage truck craft.

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See all the different kinds of trucks on the road in I’m a Truck by Dennis Shealy then pop outside and give all your different kinds of trucks a good wash!Read and Make cars and trucks 10

 

Read about Firefighter Frank in this great book by Monica Wellington and then make him a shape firetruck. Read and Make cars and trucks 9

My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a funny book and after reading about this stuck truck you can help your child develop fine motor skills with this cool straw truck craft.

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Truck Driver Tom by Monica Wellington is another great book by one of our favorite author illustrators and after reading you can create your own town and drive Tom all over it with this upcyled doormat roadway. Read and Make cars and trucks 7

 

Read Flashing Fire Engines by Tony Mitton  and then work on number recognition and number writing with these count and write fire trucks! Read and Make Cars & Trucks 6

 

Read Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson a great alphabet book and then work on sorting letters into upper and lowercase with this alphabet road activity. Read and Make Cars & Trucks 5

 

Curl up and read Sputter, Sputter, Sput! by Babs Bell and then make your own traffic light craft that is also a color matching activity!

 

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Learn all about how roads are made in Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy then make your own roads with construction vehicles with this truck track art activity!

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Count all the construction vehicles in Construction Countdown by K.C Olson then create your own construction site with this construction themed sensory activity. 

 

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Race to read The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race by Stan and Jan Berenstain and then use car makes for a literacy activity. This car alphabet is perfect for your car obsessed kiddo!

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Last but far from least is this perfect pair. Read Machines at Work by Byron Barton then create this fun bulldozer craft using all sorts of shapes.