In preparation for a 20 hour car trip with a 3 1/2 year old and a 1 1/2 year old (crazy, I know), I looked for a lot of information on the web about fun things to do in the car. There's not much out there -- at least for children with an attention span of 5 minutes or less.
So in addition to the DVD player with some new movies and some new CDs of music (I highly recommend Disney's Greatest Hits), there were a few other things that came in handy for the little ones.
1. Pipe Cleaners. Who would've thunk it? I think with older children it would be even more successful but after a 12 hour day, when my little one lost it and we had just an hour to our destination, I pulled out the pipe cleaners and the crying stopped. She was fascinated for about 10 minutes and that 10 minutes was enough to distract her from her misery for the last 50.
2. A box of tissues. If you're little ones are like mine, unsupervised time in the bathroom results in toilet paper and tissues strung everywhere. You should have seen the look on my daughter's face when I actually handed her a box of tissues. She went to town pulling them out, putting them on her head, ripping them apart. It was fabulous.
3. Touchy-feely books. There is a great series of fun books that are titled That's Not My . . . (fill in the blank). Every page has a reason why that's not my (puppy, kitten, dragon, fairy, whatever) with a touchable part. Another good one, Feely Bugs.
4. Sippy cup leashes found here and those little linky rings for baby toys. Both were awesome for keeping drink cups and snack cups contained!
5. Rest stops. We need more of these in America actually but Kansas, Michigan, and Arkansas had the best ones. Kansas and Arkansas had the most frequent ones. Oklahoma and Missouri were both devoid of all rest stops and that was very frustrating.
6. Magnet games. I wish I had thought of this before the trip but I had one book: Muddle Farm
that has animal magnets to play with on the pages. I should have taken a small size cookie sheet and attached small magnets (probably the kind that come in a sheet and have adhesive on the back) to paper dolls for my 3 year old to dress up dolls without losing the pieces. Well, I know what I'll do next time (if there is a next time -- that's a darn long trip!).
7. If your kids are old enough not to eat them, take a box of mexed up fun little things -- mini-erasers, pom-poms, beads and string, etc. for them to mess around with. It will be all over your car, I promise, but it will keep them entertained.
Any other ideas? I'll pass them along.