Play and Learn On-The-Go

By Katie Menko | Toy Guides

Mar 03
As the season for spring break and summer travel planning begins, I’ve been thinking about toys and activities to take on the road. Traveling with kids isn’t easy, but with family out-of-town, it’s something that we’ve done with our boys since they were infants. Having car and plane-ready toys and activities for them has had a significant impact on keeping our adventures smooth for everyone. Here are some products and tips that make play and learning on-the-go easier:
Newborns & Infants:

Baby Paper
This has been a favorite for my boys as babies!  As newborns, it works well hanging on the car seat for babies to gaze at the eye-catching patterns (we use links to attach it). As babies get older and begin grasping, the sound these make is so engaging. Best of all, they’re machine washable!

Baby Paper

Chewbeads Stroller Toy
Chewbeads makes a range of amazing products, but this is one that we love for travel specifically. It easily attaches to car seats and strollers and has a ring for babies to grasp. The silicone material is safe and perfect for teething phases!

Chewbeads

Dimpl
We recently got this for our youngest and its small size has made it perfect for throwing in the diaper bag and taking it on trips! The colored discs that pop in and out are great for early color recognition and building concentration.

Dimpl

PipSquigz Loops
A suction cup keeps this toy from constantly being dropped by little hands and makes it another favorite option for baby play on the go! For littles who love sounds, the colored loops on this rattle when touched which makes it a fun sensory experience too!

PipSquigz Loops

Toddlers & Pre-K:

Melissa & Doug Water Wow Books
These books are so engaging and perfect for travel! They also provide important fine-motor practice for pre-writers. The built-in pen gets filled with water and is used to “paint” and reveal the pictures. When they dry, it can be used again and again! I love that these sets specifically are taste-safe and mess-free for younger toddlers. We have so many of these- a few in the car and one in the diaper bag!

Water Wow Books

Car Track
My boys both love cars and trucks, and having an easy way to continue to having fun with them on the road has been a favorite of theirs. We transformed made a car track scene using construction paper, laminated it (to outlast any travel spills), and added magnet tape to the back. Then, we added magnets to the back of a car set. The car track scene attaches to a cookie sheet, and then the boys can “drive” their magnetized cars around on the track. The magnets really help to eliminate the number of times things are dropped. The imaginative play opportunities this offers are endless- it would also be fun with a construction scene and these construction vehicles!

Cute Cars

Animal Figures
Animal and dinosaur figures are another excellent option for creative play and language building! We’ve also adapted these for fun on the road by adding magnets to them and using a metal cookie sheet. For some added learning opportunities, we’ve printed images of the figures, laminated them, and added magnetic tape to the back for object-to-picture matching. Storing these in pencil bags works well for organization on the go too!

Safari Sidekicks

Tangle Jr.
Traveling for long hours can be so hard for young children (and adults too!) When gross motor release isn’t an option, this Tangle Jr. toy is the perfect way to relax. It provides a relaxing sensory experience because of the way the links move, and it also helps to increase fine motor skills as kids work on finger dexterity. It’s small size and the fact that it can be wiped down easily makes this another great travel toy!

Tangle Jr.

Early Elementary:

Mad Libs
Mad Libs are a timeless travel activity for kids. They’re a fun and entertaining way to mix some reading and writing into travel time. I’ve done Mad Libs with my students for years and they always create so much laughter! These books are great for older children who know some basics about parts of speech.

Mad Libs

Flip to Win Game
These Melissa & Doug games provide a fun and easy way for kids to play together on the road! They don’t have loose parts and they have interchangeable game cards that are stored right in the game board. The travel bingo, hangman, and memory options help to build cooperative play.

Flip to Win:

Memory Game

Melissa & Doug On-The-Go
Along with the Water Wow books, Melissa & Doug have also created all-in-one travel kits for older ages. The Color-N-Carry books have crayons stored in the back of the book and offer tons of coloring and activity pages! The SurprizeINK kits have a built-in invisible ink marker that kids can use to reveal pictures and complete mazes and crosswords. The Magic Velvet sets would be a great option too!

As the season for spring break and summer travel planning begins, I’ve been thinking about toys and activities to take on the road. Traveling with kids isn’t easy, but with family out-of-town, it’s something that we’ve done with our boys since they were infants. Having car and plane-ready toys and activities for them has had a significant impact on keeping our adventures smooth for everyone. Here are some products and tips that make play and learning on-the-go easier:

About the Author

My name is Katie Menko, and I’m wife to Justin and mom to Asher and Aiden. We live in Royal Oak, MI where I (try to) balance my time between living life with my boys and being a middle school special education teacher. I am entering my tenth year in teaching and feel blessed to work with students who always inspire me and stretch my thinking. I’m also a Montessori student-turned-parent! I attended Montessori school preschool-6th and want to pass on my love for Montessori-style learning to my sons. I believe education should be hands-on, engaging, and should meet the child or student where they are at.