This has been in the works a little while! While I did complete a simple “busy book” a few months ago (one I realize I have not blogged about here!) I was also quite interested in some activities “for the go” — whether a long trip or a restaurant visit.
So with that in mind, here are 20 portable learning activities. While there are several mini projects here, and some take the ‘busy bag’ route, several are simple (dollar store!) items as well. All these activities made their way into a small duffel bag for easy access on the trip.
Ready for some travel tot school? Activities and items are listed from in rows from left to right, starting at the top left. Enjoy!
- Circle Stickers & Grid
- Number Tracing Cards
- Roll of Painter’s Tape
- Felt Squares on a String
- Magnetic Oven
- Road Stickers w/ Notebook
- Sensory Letters
- Car Bingo
- Bag of Mysterious Textures
- DIY Lacing Cards
- Stringing Cheerios
- Battery-powered Fan
- Word World Coloring Book
- Circle Sticker Flag
- Just Play Dough
- Laminated Activity Book
- And some books
Circle Stickers & Grid
- In Publisher, I made a some quick grids of circles that were slightly larger than 3/4″, printed on cardstock and cut out
- Put in Ziploc bag with a few sheets of color coding labels (these colors were available at Target)
Number Tracing Cards
- These are based off the cards from Playdough to Plato — thank you!
- I designed these in Publisher. I started with circles slightly larger than my Uchida Clever Lever Giga Craft Punch, Circle
- I filled the circle with color. Starting with 9, I put the number in a tracing font. Then, I put nine small, white filled circles for counting.
- I went backwards from there to 5. I had circles of 5 different colors so I duplicated that set and revised the next set for numbers 0-4.
- Printed all of these in color and trimmed with the 3″ Circle Punch
- Punched the circles on the side with a small hole punch and joined the circles with a loose leaf ring.
Roll of Painter’s Tape
- Painter’s tape! Always fun. One year we brought it on a road trip and ended up covering all the shiny but blinding chrome accents inside a rental car!
Felt Squares on a String
- This idea is from Learning 4 Kids — thank you!
- First I went to my felt scraps and cut several squares shapes
- Then I selected a string for stringing — my choice was a shoelace
- Next I picked two large plastic buttons and tied them to each end
- Finally, I used the button to measure how large the slit in the felt squares should be. I folded each square in half and cut the slit.
- String the felt ‘beads’ on — I wish I had done this activity two years ago!
- I based this idea off of a great post from DIY Home Sweet Home — thanks so much!
- Start with a stock image search. I needed an oven from the front (hard to find!), an empty oven interior, plus a few foods that go in the oven
- The next important step was sizing everything. The oven interior is to go inside, so the door can open to reveal the spot to cook. I also made sure the foods (meatballs, cookies, pie, bread, pizza) were the right size to fit inside.
- Next, I laminated it all and carefully trimmed all the pieces. This includes the opening oven door!
- I ended up leaving enough of the interior oven picture so I could tape it to the top of the oven.
- I put magnets on everything, with a large magnet on the bottom of the oven. The opening door then had two small magnets at the top so it can be opened and closed.
- Time to bake/cook!
- A road trip classic!
- I printed this sheet as is from 3 Boys and a Dog — thank you!
- Included markers and an eraser.
Road Stickers w/ Notebook
- Took a sheet out of a dollar sticker book (this one was called Vehicles, bought at Michaels!)
- Took out a full sheet and removed the ‘background’
- Gave him a small notebook to stick the stickers to.
- Our own tactile letters. This idea specifically is from Make, Take & Teach — thank you!
- Bought a pack of felt adhesive-backed letters
- Collected a pile of 3″ cardstock squares (remaining from prior project)
- Used my punch to round the corners
- Stuck the letter stickers on the cards. A with B on the other side and so on.
- Punched a hole through the side of each card and joined with a loose leaf ring
- Result is fun sensory letters!
- A classic road trip toy — Car Bingo!
- The original “fidget” toy, the Tangle, has been in my purse long before I had a kid! The pieces come apart but they are not too small. Twist and curve it and even better, combine it with another Tangle or two!
Bag of Mysterious Textures
- I started off with an opaque bag.
- Inside I put — lots of things. Strips of ribbon, pipe cleaners, pop-poms, etc.
- Reach in, grab and “keep” something you like. I see the item(s) being put in a pocket and brought out when needed!
DIY Lacing Cards
- I printed out four nice images, up to about 6″ in diameter
- I roughly trimmed around the edges, leaving some space to punch
- Then I went around with a standard hole punch to make holes for lacing strings
- This would be a great activity to customize with pictures of your destination!
- As used in our Healthy Foods theme, this is a nice combination of fun and function, especially for a hungry kid on a road trip!
- This is actually from Target. A cute fan that lights up, “blades” are not sharp, and the batteries run a LONG time!
- Dollar store! A calculator is always fun to have around. I bet Mom & Dad could give the kid some things to “calculate” while on the road. Gas mileage, perhaps!
Word World Coloring Book
- STILL one of our favorite shows, anything Word World is always welcome!
- I made all six of the printables available here at a half sheet size, printed and trimmed, then put a whole punch and keyring at the top.
Circle Sticker Flag
- First, I started with the do-a-dot flag printable from Simply Montessori — thank you!
- Tried to size the best I could to fit on a page AND have the right size circles for stickers. Printed this in color.
- Then, I added a few strips of red and blue circular color coding labels from Office Depot to make the flag!
Just Play Dough
- As it says — just dough. It’s the thing to have when a need for a sensory release occurs, no matter who needs it!
Laminated Activity Book
- I printed several activities in B&W on a half-sized sheet, laminated back-to-back, and hole punched the top with a Crop-a-Dile punch (nothing else could get through laminated cardstock like it’s nothing!!)
- Following are the activities I printed:
- Gertie Needs Gas, Puppy Maze, a blank tractor-trailer to ‘draw’ what’s inside, his name outlined to color in.
And some books
- And finally, some books!
- We included his small Clifford collection from Chick-fil-A,, Aloha Zoo, and Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!
So, why hadn’t I done this before? It took a planned trip to come up with and look for some fresh ideas for “travel tot school”.
Of everything on here, I think the felt lacing squares had been on my mind the longest. I am not a fan of cutting through felt, and I think I was always trying to find the best way to cut nice, even shapes. But when it came down to it, cutting rough squares out of old scraps was just fine! Not an activity where precision matters much!
I appreciate those single items that just stand out as indispensable. I feel the flashlight (just an easy, not blinding battery powered one), the battery powered fan, and the painter’s tape could entertain for quite a while.
A final note here is the customization options available. You could print out various maps, whether of the trip to your destination, or of the destination itself. (Use Bing Maps and you can get a high enough quality map to print in color.) The coloring pages, laminated activities, and lacing cards, for pennies you can use the computer and printing to make totally custom and personalized activities. Add a pack of sticky-backed magnets and you can make your own magnetic board activity!
Happy learning — at home or on the go!
Linked up over at Inspire Me Mondays, 1+1+1=1’s Tot School Gathering Place, Everything Early Childhood Link Up, Turn it Up Tuesdays, Good Tips Tuesday, Made for Kids Link Party, Mom’s Library, Pinworthy Projects Link Party, Parenting Pin It Party, Hearts for Home Blog Hop, Mommy Solutions, TGI Saturdays and the Learning Kid Link-Up!
Cool Favorites for Travel Tot School on the Go
Cool Kids Travel Activity Books for Travel Tot School!
Please check out more ideas on my Kid Travel Ideas Pinterest board!