Now I want you to know, I don't personally have anything against those little DVD players that seem to come standard in so many SUVs and Mini-vans these days. I really don't. I can actually see where they might be beneficial if I were driving from my Northern Michigan home all the way to Florida with my three boys in the back. But the fact is, we've never had one. When we started having children and purchased our first 'grown up vehicle' (you know the kind that doesn't allow for baby seats to tip over) I just had this feeling that kids get more than enough screen time these days and decided with the birth of that first child that we really didn't need to add transportation time to the list of additional time to be in front of a screen. I'm not going to tell you that it has been all cupcakes and roses in the back of our SUV with three boys 4, 6 and 8 years old, but I will tell you, I wouldn't change it for the world. In addition to made up games, sing alongs, stories and 'teachable moments,' I have had the opportunity to have some invaluable conversations with my sons when they have literally been my captive audience. How often, as parents, do you get that chance?
But I understand you might be wondering, if you're not plugged into Alvin and Chipmunks what can your kids do during this time of strapped-in captivity?
Of course I can offer some suggestions of things we do in my own vehicle with three active boys 4, 6 and 8:
Play great kids music.
Currently playing in my own vehicle is:
Snacktime by the Bare Naked Ladies (Polliwog In A Bog and Popcorn are favorites)
Very Derryberry by Debi Derryberry
Uncle Rock U by Uncle Rock
The Best of Laurie Berkner
and Earth Wind and Fire's Greatest Hits (it was the one thing that would instantly stop my oldest son from crying when he was an infant and we continue to keep it on hand even though he's now 8. )
Do you play Skittle? Every time you see a yellow car (no construction or service vehicles allowed) the first one to scream 'skittle' gets a point (you get 10 points for yellow motorcycles). But be careful of skittle busters (any police vehicle). The person that screams 'skittle buster' first gets to erase any one other person's skittles.
How about Animal Guessing Game? One person thinks of an animal and everyone has to ask a yes/no question. You might ask, 'would you find this animal in a zoo?' 'does it have fur?' 'is it brown'? When a person finally guesses it, it then their turn to think of an animal.
Have your little players mark off the letter or number they see. The first one to mark off all that are on their card wins.
mini-clipboard (Those little ones you can get are the perfect size for this organizer. I just added a little scrapbook paper to fancy them up a bit.)
crayon roll (these things are great for keeping writing utensils together)
His leapfrog Tag pencil which reads books you down load and 'Scout' letter recognition and sound games.
A small box for little toy items such as his figurines, cars and the like.