Entertain your kids with this car-friendly activity

We recently hit the road to Florida for family vacation, which we broke into segments of varying travel times. Our longest days in the car were 5.5 hours and our shorter days were 2.5-3 hours. That's a lot of time to entertain restless travelers.

Even as a second-time mom who knows a thing or two, it can be difficult to predict what activities will be a hit with kids. So when it comes to packing activity bags for road trips, I like to offer plenty of options to keep Iris occupied.

This trip I made up a small bag of familiar items for Iris that she could use at her discretion (flashcards, books, Magna-doodle pad, favorite stuffed animals), and I kept the new stuff in my own bag in order to pace the fun, or Iris would have plowed through it all before we made it to the interstate.

Color Wonder products have always worked well for us when traveling, so I got two of those, allowing Iris to have free reign to use the Paw Patrol set and saving the other surprise set (Disney Princesses, which Iris is just starting to show interest in) in my bag for the return trip home.

My one wish for Color Wonder products is that they offer something that is reusable. Iris can go through them incredibly fast for the price, so for this road trip, I made sure to find a product that was reusable in hopes of getting more entertainment and more value out of the item. What I found turned out to be the HIT of the travel bag!

Melissa & Doug Water WOW! pads are reusable coloring pads. The spiral bound pads are made of thick board and have a handful of scenes to "paint." To paint them, fill up the painting pen with a little water (easy to do on the go by keeping a bottled water on hand; it doesn't need or hold much), and then your kids can paint the scenes to reveal the colors + hidden items on the page. Iris loved discovering hidden flamingos, turtles, baby chicks, etc. The finished scene has nice, vibrant colors that stick around until the water gradually evaporates. Once the water dries, which takes just a few minutes, the picture returns to its original all white version and is ready to be colored again (and again and again).

I was skeptical that Iris would want to keep coloring the same pictures over and over, but it was no different than when she wants to see the SAME Paw Patrol episode on repeat (Ultimate Rescue: Pups Save the Tigers, FYI). The excitement of this activity didn't wear off until after we had been home from vacation for two days so I'd call this purchase a win. I bought a set of three of these from Target for $15, ocean, farm, and wild animals, and they were well worth the spend. It was really helpful to have more than one pad in rotation so while one picture was drying, Iris could move on to painting another pad.


A pen that uses water might sound messy, but it really wasn't. If your child uses a lighter touch, there will be virtually no mess (I hesitate to even call it a mess), and if your kiddo is like mine, there may be some excess water that stands on the pad. Iris is beginning to get a little prissy about having wet clothing or water TOUCH HER ARM! (the horror!) so I gave her a napkin to keep on hand. Another idea is to have your child place a kitchen size towel over their lap while they paint. We did that on our second travel day, and Iris never mentioned any water issues. She would paint a scene, pass me the pad to set on the van floor to dry, and get to work painting one of the other two pads. By the time you reach the third pad, the first one is dry and you can cycle through the various scenes for as long as your child wishes. 

I think the process of "painting" was soothing for Iris, even more than coloring, and that made her feel nice and relaxed, which made me feel nice and relaxed too. 

Each Water WOW! pad comes with a pen/paint brush (plus a spot to store it built into the cover), giving you extras in case one gets misplaced. I chose to keep the pens in my hanging organizer on my seat back so I'd know where they were. These pads come in a lot of different themes and titles including religious ones and educational options like letters and numbers. I'm SO glad that we found this product. They were a total hit! #momwin 

Honorable mention goes to another reusable product from Melissa & Doug, Reusable Sticker Pads. They are static cling, not traditional sticky-back stickers. Basically what we would have called Colorforms when we were growing up. 

This product comes in a pad with a variety of scenes to place the "stickers" on. With over 300 cool and colorful stickers, I knew this activity would be Iris's cup of tea. And it sure was! BUT... the size of this item made it cumbersome to work with in the car, especially flipping back and forth from sticker pages to the scene pages. I should have inspected the dimensions before I purchased and I would have seen how large they are. In a smaller format, this could be really cool for engaging little kids in the car. We still made good use of these pads during morning times in our hotel room when everyone was getting ready for the day. Since returning from vacation, we have used them a lot at home too so I would still recommend them. 

Other items that we used in the car/hotel:
My Dress-up Friend sticker book (get them at the Dollar Tree)
Paw Patrol giant playing cards also from Dollar Tree, great for Go Fish
Magnetic letters and numbers + a small dollar store baking sheet to practice words and counting
Counting birds book, from 0-100 from you guessed it, Dollar Tree

Where are you going on vacation this summer? What are your favorite car-friendly activities for kids? Comment on the post or on Insta to keep in touch! 

Stylishly yours,



No comments :

Post a Comment