Traveling with Kids? Think Beyond the Coloring Book

When you're traveling with children, it's key to bring the entertainment along. But not all travel activities are created equal. The best portable toys and games can educate, as well as entertain.

Family adventures can be wonderful opportunities for new learning experiences. Children are visiting new places and trying new things. If you put imagination into play, a few well-chosen toys can go a long way. Here are some helpful suggestions to fill your travel time with fun and learning.

Activities for Toddlers

Make up countless activities using one simple toy: our Snap-n-Learn™ Counting Elephants. This bucket of 10 numbered elephants can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Play hotel room hide 'n seek. You hide 'em, kids find 'em.
  • Create a parade while waiting for your plane. Link them in order, counting tail to trunk.
  • Take a few along during the day for pretend play. Ask your children to imagine where the elephants go on their own vacations.

Plus, you can bring a little learning fun along to the beach or pool. While kids play, they'll practice their shapes and colors. For example:

Best of all, Smart Splash® toys include a mesh carry pouch so you can just shake out the sand!

Activities for Preschoolers

Give your preschooler's imagination a workout, wherever you are. Need some quality time after a busy day outdoors? Turn off the TV, and create a classroom with our Pretend & Play® School Set. It's a 149-piece schoolhouse in one compact case. Ring the school bell, teach a lesson, and hand out report cards, all before dinnertime!

Going on a fishing trip? Even three year olds can get in on the action with our Pretend & Play® Fishing Set. Everything—magnetic pole, fish, worms, vest—stores in a compact tackle box. Here’s an idea: bring along an extra bucket (water is optional), and your child can fish alongside you. Or, create an imaginary rocking boat from a sleeping bag, picnic table, or hotel couch.

Games for School-Age Kids

No matter where you travel, you can incorporate games that also sharpen academic skills. For example, if your kids are having fun roasting their own popcorn over a campfire, take out the Pop for Sight Words™ Game. Each kernel-shaped card features a different word, and there are many ways to keep kids playing, as they build their literacy skills and vocabularies.

For long car trips, kids often turn to handheld games. Every so many miles, shake things up: switch out the usual stuff for our 60-second Electronic Flash Card Games, like our Minute Math or Word Whiz. If you’re traveling with multiple children, turn the games into a tournament or relay: kids play a quick round, then pass the game. Who's solved the most questions? Who's most improved?

Free Downloadable Activities

Need more ideas? Downloadable these activity pages for free! You can print out the worksheets by clicking the links below:

  • "Where Are You From?” a geographic twist on the classic license plate game. The objective: spot cars bearing plates from all 50 states and mark them off on the labeled U.S. map as you go. Use each sighting to discuss that state: its capital, climate, what it's known for, etc. The twist: turn it into a Tic-Tac-Toe game. To win, be the first person to see three license plates from the same state and place them in a row!
  • Create a Family Crest. Going to a family reunion, or joining up with family for vacation? Use this Family Crest to connect with family members, near and far! Things to consider: where is your family from? What holidays do you celebrate? What foods do you eat when you're together? Kids will come away with a new appreciation of their family (and grown-ups may, too).
  • Build a Family Tree. Visiting Grandma and Grandpa on your next vacation? Work together to make a Family Tree, using this worksheet. This is a great way to break the ice and get kids talking to relatives they don't often see.
  • Postcards to (or from) home. What did you do today? Use our US Flag Writing Page to create a written memory of your trip, or "staycation". Make it a journal: use a new one each day to record all of your adventures!
  • Scavenger Hunt. Turn waiting time into playtime, while sharpening observational skills. Make a list of people or items to spot on the trip: a purple suitcase, a sneezing baby, a well-known landmark, etc. Make it different: use our ABC Scavenger Hunt to find items that begin with each letter of the alphabet.

Now, Learning Resources® wants to hear from you! Does your family play educational travel games? Have you put your own twist on a classic game, or a Learning Resources toy or game? We'd love to hear about them. "Like" us on Facebook and join the conversation!

About Learning Resources

By unleashing their imaginations, children learn problem solving and practice real–life skills, helping them grow up to be creative thinkers. At Learning Resources® our mission is to provide high-quality and innovative products that provide fun and engaging learning opportunities for children as they explore, discover their world and develop their creative side. Our award–winning educational toys, learning toys, discovery toys, and teaching tools are designed by educators and have been beloved by teachers, parents and children for over 30 years.

Give the little learners in your life more than a toy. Learning Resources toys are designed to foster the development of key skills for children of all ages. Our extensive selection of learning toys & games is perfect for promoting hand–eye coordination, early numeracy skills, letter recognition, critical thinking and imaginative play.

Learning Resources is an international company headquartered in Vernon Hills, IL.