Travel Binders for Younger Kids

Whew, it’s been a whirlwind lately. We made it through the end of school craziness that is May so I’m celebrating our summer freedom by finally getting around to this promised post from about three months ago. Better late than never, right? Last post, I showed you the travel binders I use for my kids who are 4 and up and can now be trusted with a washable maker. That wasn’t always the case so here’s a peek at the travel binders we used when they were toddlers.

For these binders almost all of the pages are file folder games. I print and laminate the file folder game. Then I stick Velcro dots to the game pieces and pages. The kids then stick the pieces to the correct spot on the page. The example above is a simple color matching game. The kids match the small colored dot to the large colored circle. The game pieces are stored in a small Ziploc bag in between the games of each corresponding game.

Here are some of the games we have used in the past:

The first page of all the younger kids’ travel binders is always a simple name matching game. This can easily be made in a word .doc. I create a table with two rows and enough columns to fit their name. I fill the first row with one letter of their name per cell and leave the second column blank. I print and laminate two copies. One I cut apart to make the matching pieces. I place Velcro dots in the pieces and blank row so the kids can match each letter of their name.

Our younger kids’ binders also always include this fun street map.  We travel with a few small cars that they can drive around on the map. We also always include this travel I spy game.  The kids have binoculars made out of toliet paper rolls and masking tape that they use to play this game.

I won’t lie. This setup does mean I spend a lot of our travel breaks digging the game pieces out of car seats, but the 30 to 45 minutes of entertainment are worth it to me. If your child is older and can be trusted with a washable marker, check out my ideas for older kids’ travel binders here.


Travel Binders

We are getting ready to take a road trip south to get away from our mountains of snow for the upcoming spring break week. One of the first things I do when to start prepping for a road trip is get my kids’ road trip binders ready. Travel binders are a great boredom buster that doesn’t involve a screen.  Here’s a peek at what my big kids road trip binders look like.

The binder is just a cheap 1 inch binder that I’ve attached a washable dry eraser marker to using hot glue and sting. The American flag duct tape is  there to cover up the hot glue so  my curious kids don’t pick it off.  The binder is full of plastic page protectors that I fill with age appropriate worksheets and activities.

The first couple of pages in each kid’s binder is a Google Map of our driving route each day. To make these I enter our starting and ending points in Google Map and do a print screen. I paste the print screen into a word doc and crop the picture to my liking. The start and stop button are online clip art images I inserted. These maps always help the kids feel like they have some idea of where we are going each day and give them an idea of how long we will be in the van.

The rest of the papers are either worksheets that are easy for them to complete without my help or games to be played in the car. Here are some links to printables I have used.

These are just a few examples of free printables available that work for this travel binder. If there is something specific that interests your kid, Google or Pinterest has never failed me. Next week, I will give you a peek at the travel binder I use for younger kids who are not ready to be trusted with a marker and long string.


How Buying a Minivan Changed My Life

I love being a minivan momma and couldn’t imagine a life without my minivan. Flashback a couple of decades, and 16 year old me swore to anyone who would listen that I would never be caught dead driving a minivan. A couple of rear facing car seats and a hatchback later, here I am, alive and well, happily driving my minivan. While I knew purchasing a minivan would give us much needed space, I didn’t expect it to have such an impact on my life.  

minivan, baby wearing
The baby that filled the 3rd car seat in the minivan.

When we first purchased our minivan we were the parents of two boys ages 3 and 1 and weren’t planning on another baby. Then the salesman, showed us how the middle row of seats could expand to fit 3 car seats. One year later, we made good use of that feature when our daughter was born. Can I say for certain that we wouldn’t have expanded our family without a minivan? No, but it sure was an easier knowing where a 3rd car seat would fit.

About 4 months after the birth of my daughter, my husband convinced me another family road trip was in order. We had been forced to take one two years earlier for a wedding of a close family member and I wouldn’t classify it as an enjoyable experience. Thank to my minivan, this time around was awesome!

Kids need snacks? No problem, I will walk down the main aisle like an airplane stewardess. Baby needs to nurse? Just pull into that parking lot. I can nurse her in the back and lay her across the empty middle row to change her diaper. We’ve been on 3 long road trips and many short road trips since purchasing our minivan. I don’t think I would have agreed to many of them with any other vehicle.

One of the best things about owning a minivan, is that it’s allowed me to become a momma who can help out other mommas. When a momma friend needs a hand getting a kid to practice or has a sitter cancel for the day last minute, I am able to say yes even if it means having to squeeze an extra car seat in. There’s no way I could provide my momma friends that kind of help with a hatchback.

16 year old me thought owning a minivan would mean my life was over. In reality, purchasing a minivan has given me the opportunity make wonderful memories with my family.  I wouldn’t want to drive anything else at this point in my life.

Still on the fence about buying a minivan after reading this? Check this out and trust me every word is true.