We live a few hours and a sometimes long border wait away from my parents and while they have picked up a toy here and there they don’t have a lot for my kids to do other than TV. My kids always want to pack a million of their toys and I end up saying no to nearly every request ( there is only so much room for toys) and not packing enough. Most of the day it’s OK , we bake cookies with my mom, garden and then the ” I’m bored , can I play on your phone?” starts. This time though I was smarter.
As a member of Klutz Crew I got to choose a few fun titles to check out and I have been saving this Lego Crazy Action Contraptions book for this trip. Before we packed up the car I slipped it in my son’s suitcase.Oh and I suggested he wear his Klutz Crew tee-shirt too and he still had no clue I had something in store for him later today!
This book/ kit is perfect because everything you need to build 16 different projects neatly fits in this one easy to hide in a suitcase package. The instructions are bound and have great detailed instructions with easy to follow pictures for readers and non readers. Let’s face it as excited to see the kids as grandparents are they aren’t 25, heck I am not 25 anymore and I am exhausted after a trip. Having something new, easy to travel with and so easy to follow that it requires next to no help is nothing short of a blessing.
So how did it go when I did give it to him? I told him I needed something from his suitcase.
He chose to make a Wall Rocket Racer and it took only a few minutes to make , required one bit of help from me and then he was shooting it off the walls in my parents house and having a ball. He has already chosen which project he’s going to build next!
What toys do you pack for your kids when traveling to see family or friends that don’t have kids?
My husband and I traveled internationally a lot before kids and we want to share our love and curiosity for other countries with our kids. Like many with young kids we aren’t up to taking them to all these places just yet. Instead we read lots of books , look at lots of pictures ( our own and others) and play games like this one that GASP uses flash cards . These are in the dollar spot at Target right now, even I couldn’t pass them up for a buck.
- Gather your materials. You will need a globe or map, and some fun geography flash cards.
- Start by having your child pick a card. Ask them by looking at the picture where they think it might be. Wild guesses or close calculations are wqually good, this is all about exploring from your own playroom, not getting facts “right”.
- Flip it over and find out where it is.
- Next find it on the map.
- Keep going as long as it’s fun.
- Beware for wee sisters who swipe the landmarks.
Taking your kids to Paris, London or Pisa might not be in the budget but you can turn their building blocks into the city’s most famous landmarks. What a great way to introduce learning about far away places by using your kid’s own blocks. This was so simple and can be redone with so many different themes like these animal ones ,or faces you don’t even need a printer if you want to hand draw the pictures. My son didn’t participate in making the blocks ( I think he gets enough crafts, what do you think?) but from toddler to school age kids can color or draw the buildings too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some building blocks. Any will do but here is my opinion- we used Fisher-Price Little People Builders Blocks, they are big, snap together but not too tightly. They let me be sorta sloppy with the contact paper. If there was some bunched up I could still snap them together. Duplo is less forgiving so you will need to only get contact paper on the side none on the top where the blocks come together. Wood blocks would work well but might frustrate younger ones who want them to stay together. You will also need pictures of whatever buildings you want to use, scissors, contact paper and clear tape.
- Start by laying out what blocks you will need for each building.
- Now here I did it two ways. I first cut the image into the pieces for the blocks, then cut the contact paper and put it on. It was tedious.
- The other way was to use one large piece of contact paper place the image on it face down, lay the blocks on it, make snips where you need to cut.
- Cut and apply to the blocks. This worked WAY better. I am not the most patient or careful because my window for doing anything without kids interrupting is tiny these days but as you can see even not too careful turned out great.
- Put them together!
- Time to play – he may not have participated in the making but he sure did with the playing.
- It’s mega-landmark!
With summer vacations on the horizon some of my book lists will lean towards school age kids in the next few months. This series by Joanna Cole are books I have been reading with my 4.5 year old but they are really geared towards Kindergarten and up, with the true target being 6 and 7 year olds. There is a lot of information on every page of every book so take your time. We grabbed the Medieval Castles book on Monday and by Wednesday we’d tracked down the other two, now on Thursday I am sharing them with you. I couldn’t wait to write about how much I like these books and how exciting they make history and travel, two of my favorite subjects.
Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Ancient Egypt took me back to 6th grade when I discovered all the gruesome details of mummification . Ms. Frizzle and all the others on her tour to Egypt magically go back in time ditching their tour guide in modern day Egypt while they time travel to Ancient Egypt and learn all about the sights, daily life and the most exciting of course learning about mummification. I discovered that my son thought mummies were make believe and we took some time to talk all about what is real and what isn’t. Did I ever tell you I have a degree in history? I love this stuff and books like this one is why I craved more and more information as a kid because it was presented so well. My son sat wide eyed as I read the book to him, and he carefully studied all the details of the amazing illustrations .
Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China Takes readers from present day Chinese New Year celebrations to the rice fields and palaces of Imperial China. In this installment Ms.Frizzle explores China, explains the concept of taxes really quite well and covers many of the inventions that came from the country. My 4.5 year old wasn’t as into this book as the other two in the series but I think that’s because I read two of them to him back to back with this one at the end, which was obviously too much for his attention. I however loved this one and was fascinated by the little asides filled with information about Chinese inventions.
Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Medieval Castle was the biggest hit with both my son and I and the reason we went searching for the other books. This is a great book. The story is fun, the character’s asides are hilarious ( I love that her student is less than thrilled to see her outside of school), and the history explored is really an adventure. Ms. Frizzle heads to Medieval times after following a tunnel in a castle shop and a little twist of that magic time traveling watch of hers. Immediately they are at a castle where the Lord is on his way to fight for the King. This got my son’s attention right away and when the Castle was attacked my son was glued. We have had it out from the library less than one week but I have read it half a dozen time, and it’s LONG. I am more than happy to read it though, and the cutaway view of the inside of the castle is my son’s favorite part. I think perhaps being dragged around to open houses as we look for a new house has left a mark? There is a lot of fighting and weapons which may mean this is not the book for your family but for us it puts these toys my son loves so much ( his Playmobil knights especially) into a historical perspective. I will be buying this one for sure.
Is it time for a vacation ? A road trip to somewhere fun? Hotels, Grandma’s or maybe a beach house? Either way packing is never fun but it can be easier with this great travel sized craft supply box. This travel craft box is small but holds all he fun you need and can be packed easily into a suitcase or into your car this summer. I packed a similar one for my week in Washington DC, it was just me and three kids for most of the day , no tv , no car so these basics were our life savers!
- Gather your materials. You will need:
- A container. I like this medium sized ziplock container. It’s cheap, it’s just the right size and if something happens to it, like it gets left at the Holiday Inn, no biggie.
- Next I have an old stained but thick place mat. The benefit of using a cloth one is that the fabric absorbs paint, markers etc.. and it’s less messy as long as you don’t care if it gets rather colorful.
- Next add markers and crayons. I just put in the colors my son always uses, space is at a premium so this pip squeak markers are perfect!
- Paint- water colors are great , throw in an extra brush. Use the plastic cups in your hotel room for the water container.
- Add Play-doh and some popsicle sticks for making sculptures, and cutting the Play-doh.
- Scissors and glue. You will want scissors that are sharp enough for an adult to use but small enough for a kid.
- If there is extra room – glitter glue, stickers or pipe cleaners are great options.
- For the paper I added a handful of construction paper colors and lots of plain white paper .
- Put them in a file folder and this fits great in the front zipper of suitcases or even your carry-on. Or in a car in the pockets behind the driver or passenger seats.
Now you can take your craft supplies with you for those moments of downtime no matter where adventure takes you this summer.