Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to enjoy a road trip with kids: Entertainment

There will probably be only two "parts" to "How to enjoy a road trip with kids" since food and entertainment pretty much covers it, other than, "Don't get lost." But that would be short. So let's talk entertainment.

Hallelujah for DVD players. They really are the best. Our set-up is such that the two older ones can be wearing headphones and listening to the DVD player while Gemma watches something on an iPhone (also with headphones), while Joel and I can talk or not talk or listen to something up front. As we discovered last year, however, the headphones make carsickness more likely (I'm not sure the exact reason, but all I really need to know is headphones=barf so we nix the headphones for the DVD player). I decided we needed to play things that actually appealed to Joel and me (unless we just put the fader to the full rear position. Which happens.). I picked out a couple loved movies from home, threw in a couple new Netflix offerings (is there anything better than hearing your children giggle uncontrollably? Thank you, "Nanny McPhee Returns!") and then, in a stroke of utmost brilliance, checked Be the Creature out from the library.

Hint: Get this. Get it now. As a family who are major fans of the Planet Earth series (I cannot tell you how many times we've seen those episodes - they're AMAZING), I figured we'd enjoy it. Add to it that Wild Kratts (the most recent offering from the Kratt brothers - Be the Creature was their first endeavor) is Donovan's most favorite show ever (right now). SUCCESS! For nearly 10 hours total, we were distracted by various animals (wild dogs, anyone?). It was educational and really quite funny. I would say it's rated around a PG because there are some predatory parts (which, it turns out, didn't bother my children at all). These guys really try to live LIKE the creature and get the full experience. I'm laughing, just remembering some of the parts (um, Kangaroo boxing, anyone?). I found a lot of the information very interesting, and not just because there's nothing to look at in Wyoming. And when we spent significant time in the car driving out to Virginia City, some of my siblings got to learn stuff, too! So this was a major score.

There really isn't much more to say there. Just get a package of these and let your kids go crazy. It requires window cleaner to get them off, and that should probably be done at a time the car can be aired out, but let your kids clean them off, too. Kids like that kind of thing. Kids are WEIRD.

This one speaks for itself. We have kids music and we have "rock out" music. And when you're frustrated with Gemma and she looks at you sympathetically and says, "Just dance, it will be ok Mom," you know Lady Gaga has surpassed The Backyardigans in playtime. The only thing worse is when Donovan tries to analyze the lyrics of "Bad Romance." I don't know how embarrassed I should be that Gemma needs only the beginning three-note pulse of "I Got a Feeling" to squeal, "It's the Good Night! I WUV dis song!" Oh wait - yes I do: Incredibly. I'm a sucker for pop music, though. I CAN'T HELP IT.

This trip gave me the opportunity to introduce Ainsleigh to Sudoku. I've heard that old(er) people do it to keep their mind sharp. I just barely started doing it because I turned 35 this year, so obviously everything is downhill now. I'M KIDDING. But seriously, I figured if it helps people keep their mind sharp, then maybe it will help sharpen budding minds. See the logic? Sudoku Puzzles For Kids has 6 boxes of 6, so it isn't as complicated as "real" Sudoku. For Donovan, I got Fun Beginning Puzzles and it has number searches (great for kids who can't find super long words in a word search, but can find 3-4 digit numbers!), word searches, and then crossword and sudoku puzzles for the more advanced. Since returning home, they have to complete two puzzles each during "quiet time" before moving onto the activity of their choice. Sharpening minds, people. That's what I'm aiming for!

This is the big one. First, I bought a couple sticker books for Gemma, wondering if she could handle it. I am pleased to say that she only ripped a few, AND she managed to actually place some of the stickers on the right spot. The important thing here is that it occupied some time. Also, that it was fantastic to hear her say, "Mom, can I have my Dora sticker book now? I need to do some work. Don't bother me." Hm...where has she heard that before?

Second, may I introduce you to perhaps the GREATEST STICKER BOOKS EVER?!?! I have yet to see an Usborne product I didn't think was fantastic, and the Sticker Dolly Dressing Fashion Long Ago is no exception. And they have a Knights one! Each page has 2-3 characters in the bare minimum (underwear/undershirts) and then there are pages of stickers that correspond with those people.

The ability to read helps, but Donovan could tell which clothes were for Sir Geoffrey from the Medieval Page and which ones were for Saladin from the Holy Land Page because he knows to look for the G, M, P and S, H, L, P. Get it?

I also got Ainsleigh the dancing one and it covers all styles. A few pieces of clothing for each person and then lots of accessories/decorations. And each page has a little spiel about that person in that age/place.

The Around the World sticker book has each page devoted to a scene and then there's a sheet of stickers for that page and you build your own scene. Still super fun for kids, but not as specific and detail-oriented as the dressing ones.

When Ainsleigh had completed her book (after much much time - yay!), I will admit to taking it and reading through it and admiring her work. $8-9 might seem like a lot of money for a sticker book, but these really are exceptional. Also, I don't want to divulge how many of these books I bought. Let's just say they are helping with "quiet time" as we begin Summer Break.

I should also plug the Lego Minifigure Sticker Collection. We didn't bring it on this trip, but Donovan got it for his birthday and loves it. The Lego Harry Potter sticker book now available was NOT released before our trip. It will probably show up around Christmas or something.


So that concludes the entertainment that accompanied us along the way. It might seem like a lot, but consider we were driving for 45 - let's type that out: FORTY-FIVE - hours. That's week of work. So you have to come prepared for success. I wish you well on your next road trip, and hope that you get to bypass Wyoming.

Now on to wading through all our pictures!


Jo said...

These posts were great! And helpful. I'm bookmarking for future road-trip-preparation-reference!