We’re sharing simple and fun car activities for toddlers to make your next road trip with little ones a much more enjoyable experience—without screen time!
From free printable games and sensory activities to tech ideas and educational fun, we’ve got you covered for car activities.
Little hands and minds will love these car ride must-haves! Be sure to SAVE this list on Pinterest so you can come back to it whenever you need more ideas for car activities.
The Best Car Activities for Toddlers
Your kiddos can spot objects through their window like a police car, school bus, or train and mark them off on their scavenger hunt list or bingo card.
Or they can pick out pictures from themed “I Spy” pages like “under construction” and “under the sea”.
You can also consider downloading some kid-friendly audio books to listen to through the car or their own headset.
Toddlers love sensory play and sensory toys like slime, stickers, and fidget spinners.
Here are some sensorial car activities for toddlers to keep their hands busy and their minds engaged.
- Slime (only if there’s another adult sitting in the back to monitor this situation!)
- Gel window cling stickers (if your little one can reach the window from the car seat)
- Suction cup fidget spinners and fidget toys (these little bendy tube giraffes are really fun to play with!)
- Duplo Blocks
- Coloring books and crayons
- DIY mini sensory bags
- Magnets and mini sheet pans or magnetic boards and playsets
- Magnetic drawing pad or board with beads
- Small toys
- DIY travel felt board
- Straw or popsicle stick weaving
Not all screen time is bad screen time!
And when you’re on the road, it’s a good time to compromise.
Consider bringing a children’s tablet loaded with a few educational apps. Just be sure your toddler doesn’t get car sick easily!
You can also create a toddler-friendly playlist filled with their favorite tunes for a car ride sing-along.
- Free Kindle Fire educational apps for kids
- Family sing-along playlist
- You can also teach toddlers about emotions and feelings while on a road trip with the Noggin app.
Here are some simple and educational car activities for your toddler to enjoy.
- Paint swatch color matching
- DIY popsicle stick puzzles
- DIY letter matching pole
- Magnetic pattern block book (Tangram)
Must-Have Travel Gear
Now that we’ve shared the best car activities for toddlers, here’s some travel gear to make your trip even easier.
When you’re on the road with kids, especially toddlers, organization makes a huge difference. Having things in a set place within easy reach will save you a lot of headaches.
This headrest-mounted backseat tablet holder will keep their electronics from falling down. This kid’s travel tray is great for organizing their toys and treats (theoretically, depending on how good your kid is at keeping still), and it provides a surface for them to write and play on. And this backseat organizer is great for extra toys, snacks, and gear for the ride, but only if there is an older kid or adult in the back to help the little ones reach what they need. You know your kid and the car seat situation the best, so think through what gear would actually help you, versus what would cause a meltdown from not being able to reach it.
And don’t forget this fun snack spinner container for easy snacking!
Tips for car activities
You know your kid best, so you can decide which types of activities will likely keep their attention, and which will end up a huge mess that’s not worth trying in the car. Depending on your kids’ ages and personalities, plan on 1 activity for every 15-20 minutes. They might play longer (yay!), or might throw it on the floor sooner. In that case, try to spend some time talking to them or listening to music together before just handing them a new activity.
To prepare for the road trip, talk to your child in an age-appropriate way about expectations for not throwing their activities on the floor. Explain that you have a bunch of fun new toys and games for them for the car ride, but they’ll have to be responsible for playing with it nicely because if they throw it too soon, they will run out of games. Even toddlers can understand this and try to follow it to an extent, if you talk to them several times when preparing for the road trip.
Get toddlers to help you pack these activities. They’ll feel more responsible for them and there’s a chance they’ll plan with them longer! But remember to keep expectations realistic.
If you’re going on a road trip, try to squeeze in 5 minutes of quality together time during every pit stop. Let the kids run around to get some wiggles out and run around with them. Then read a short book to them for 5 minutes. The together time will help them feel more settled during the ride and will hopefully lead to less crying or misbehaving for attention when you’re back in the car.
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