10 Car Activities for Kids

If driving with your toddler whining from the back seat "Are we there yet?" or hearing your kids squabbling over "their half" of the car makes you want to drop them by the curb, well, we totally get it. And even an iPad or DVD player can lose their luster as the hours drag on. That's why we polled parents and bloggers on their best ways to entertain a toddler in a car. Try a few of their suggestions, and you may be surprised how you don't hear a peep until the ride is over.

More from The Stir: Top 10 Toys for Kids on Planes

How do you keep your kids entertained in a car?

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  • Metal Cookie Sheet & Magnets


    This works as the perfect makeshift desk -- plus the magnets (and any papers underneath) won't slide off onto the floor, according to mommy bloggers SixSistersStuff.com




    Letter magnets or paper dolls can be arranged in various ways for hours of fun.

  • Inexpensive Toys Wrapped in Aluminum Foil


    When your backseat passengers get really ornery, break out one of these gifts and toss it back. Whatever dollar store trinkets are encased inside, it will take kids awhile to peel off the wrapping and will eat up even more time as they enjoy their new toy.

  • Glowsticks


    For nighttime rides before the kiddos fall sleep, bring along some of these luminous bands, suggests Tisha Nagel at QuiltyTherapy.com. "The colors are bright and offer continued entertainment without overhead lights on," she explains. "We use them as drum sticks, headpieces, and just twirl them around."

  • The Counting Game


    Pick something that you might see a lot of depending on where you are -- taxis, horses, American flags, or (if you're really in the sticks) houses you pass. Count as high as you can.

  • Window Gels


    These gummy decorations (like these from Amazon.com) can be affixed and peeled off car windows for hours, with no sticky residue to clean up later.

  • Flashcards


    As compact as a pack of playing cards, kids can learn a whole deck of animals, letters, or both. Julie Rustad at JulieOriginals.com even created a deck of alphabet cards for her son called "Desert Dwellers" that catered to their frequent trip from Tucson to North Dakota. Even once you've memorized what's on the cards, that doesn't mean you've exhausted their usefulness. For instance, "Pick a card and find other things that begin with the same letter," Rustad suggests. "Find a picture in the magazine that starts with A, B, C, or look out the window to find objects."

  • A Map


    This clever idea from KidsActivitiesBlog.com will keep kids busy for a while: Hand them a map with the starting and end points marked. Then have them track your progress by keeping an eye out for landmarks, using a pen to mark how far you've come. Just make sure your map is scaled for the length of your trip: With short distances, you'll fare better with a close-up map so your kid can mark more than a millimeter per mile.

  • A Camera


    Even the camera on your smartphone will work -- just hand it over and tell them to snap photos of anything interesting along the way. It will tune them into the passing scenery; plus, they'll have a fun keepsake of their trip, says Homer at KidsActivitiesBlog.com.

  • Pipe Cleaners


    Kids will go crazy for these furry, bendable, multi-colored wires, which can be fashioned into glasses, animals, wands, and more. Then they can be unspooled and turned into something else, providing hours of backseat fun (and silence) without the mess.

  • An 'I Spy' Jar


    Since you've probably played "I Spy" to death, try this fresh twist: Fill a glass jar with an assortment of trinkets (and uncooked rice, if you want to make it more challenging). Then close it tightly (with glue for added safety). Hand it to your kids and challenge them to tell you everything they see inside.

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