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Operation Preoccupy the Preschooler: DIY Travel Activities

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Well, we are getting close to our big move! In this case, big move = two long days in a car with little kids. and a cat. OMG.

So, I decided to take a couple evening hours this week and make up some DIY Travel Activities to keep the kids occupied on the road. While watching old Criminal Minds episodes, of course. With just a few supplies I managed to come up with four different types of activities, and some of those are multi-part – so cheers to at least 15 minutes of peace and quiet in the car!

DIY Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

The main ingredients are shown above, and I was also armed with a few basic supplies I had around the house. My goal was to make multiple activities with each of the supplies I bought. Mostly, I used:

  • Popsicle Sticks from the craft store ($2.99 for a large package)
  • 10 sheets of felt from the craft store, 25 cents each
  • Hot glue (I already had the gun and glue)
  • Printed out photographs (printed on our home computer on white cardstock we had)
  • Round yard-sale stickers (I had some leftover from a yard-sale)
  • A fine-tipped permanent marker
  • Scotch tape
  • A cardboard tube from a paper towel roll
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard cut into squares to fit the felt sheets
  • Optional: I bought a little plastic carrying case for about a $1.80 (originally $2.99)

The supplies above purchased from a craft store were all from Hobby Lobby, which is just the closest one to our house.

Below are pictures and a few notes on how each activity came together, along with a link to the original inspiration! The original tutorials from the blogs noted below are more in-depth than what I’ve written, so please show them some love and go check them out!

Project 1: Popsicle Stick Color Matching Game (almost finished)

DIY Popsicle Color Matching Game, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

DIY Popsicle Color Matching Game, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

Original Inspiration from the summer popsicle activity tutorial at  at Roots and Wings Co.

What isn’t finished about these, you ask? They look so cute already! Well, for our 3 year old son who can’t quite read yet, having the colors written on the sticks is great… but having one side painted the color would be much more useful. I just have not had the chance to break out the paints from the pile of boxes! I have about 2 weeks left, so will have to get on that.

While you can’t tell from the photographs, the sticks are removable from the felt popsicle-tops. I’ll take them apart, and them the little guy will be responsible for matching them back up and sticking the sticks into the colorful tops.

DIY Popsicle Color Matching Game, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

I cut out one popsicle-shaped top out of the felt, and then used that as a template for the rest of the colors. For each color, I cut two pieces in order to make the front and back.

DIY Popsicle Color Matching Game, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

Many of the tutorials online for this activity call for sewing the edges, which I have no excuse for not having done. Still, I had the hot glue gun at hand, so went ahead and glued these instead. It worked great! I put a dab of glue at the top, stick it together, and then ran a little down the sides (as shown above) then pressed the edges together firmly. Voila!

Project 2: Personalized Photo Puzzles

DIY Personalized Photo Puzzles, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

Original Inspiration from the Father’s Day Craft tutorial at Impress Your Kids.

These were so so simple, y’all! A couple supplies, and they turned out super cute. Most of all, I love how personalized it is.

DIY Personalized Photo Puzzles, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

I chose pictures of things he loves (pictures of him and his sister reading in bed, or with his Dad at the park, with Grandma June, with his friend at teacher at school, of his cat, etc.) and threw in a couple random images such as a Tiger, for fun.

Above, you can see how I scotch-taped the backs of the sticks together. Then, I just flipped it over and hot-glued the picture down over the sticks careful not to get glue in bedroom the sticks too much. After it dried, I removed the tape and then used an Xacto knife to cut the pictures between the sticks until they were separate.

I’d like to come up with a nice way to store these… maybe sew a little separate for each puzzle? Or stick to the oh-so-simple snack sized plastic bags?

Project 3: Number Matching Pole

DIY Number Matching Pole, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

Original Inspiration from the DIY Preschool Car Trip Activity tutorial at Simple Mal.

Again – this is almost painfully simple. We had a garage sale last weekend, so I grabbed some leftover stickers and numbered them, then wrote the same set of numbers randomly along a paper towel cardboard roll. This was awesomely easy. Thanks Mallory!

Project 4: Felt Board Scenes

DIY Felt Board Scenes, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

Original Inspiration from the Pinterest Board of Felt Board Stories from Marcy Bishir. Nice collection of pins, Marcy!

These were the most fun out of all of the projects. I had a great time sitting and cutting out fun little shapes in front of the TV. Some I took straight off of pictures I saw online, and others I came up with myself. Those felt squares are so easy to cut through. I would grab a full-sized sheet and then start cutting out elements and adding to it, “building” the picture was I went until I felt like it had enough pieces to be fun.

Here are some close-ups of my favs:

DIY Felt Board Scenes, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

DIY Felt Board Scenes, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting SunnyAll in all, I made 5 different “scenes” to play with. A “house” scene with a tree, lake, sun, etc.; an outer-space scene; a ” party food” scene with  pizza and cupcakes; an “ocean” scene with fish, a whale, and coral; and a holiday scene with a snow man, pine tree, and presents.

DIY Felt Board Scenes, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

My strategy was to pick out a few colors I knew I wanted to leave full sheets of, as the “background” for the scenes (I chose light blue, white, green, and black). I wanted to make them firm enough for the kids to sit it on their laps and play with in the car, so I found some cardboard sheets from the back of photo frames I wasn’t using, cut them to size (shown above) and hot glued the full-sized sheets to those (shown below).

DIY Felt Board Scenes, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

Again, these were easy and fun and my goal is to bridge the age-gap and have scenes both kids will find fun the play with. We actually already have a “quiet box” of Haven’s that she loves, with a little felt girl cutout glued to one side and dress-up clothes of all types she can stick to the girl. It was a gift from her Aunt Norma, and we’re bringing that along to keep H amused as well.

DIY Felt Board Scenes, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

This little carrying case was in the “art storage” area of Hobby Lobby, and I was surprised to see that the full-price for it was only $2.99. It expands pretty wide, too, and is so nice and bright. Since I had my Hobby Lobby iPhone app up and used the built-in 40% off coupon, it brought the cost down to just a bit over $1. This post is not sponsored, btw. For me, that was totally worth it to hold the felt boards and cut-outs. I stored the cut-outs for each scene in plastic quart-sized storage bags.

DIY Felt Board Scenes, Preschool Travel Activities | Painting Sunny

Want to know the other fun thing about this post? I got all fancy and tried the Katie Bower method for better small product photography. Seems so simple, but her tips totally helped. She is so cool.

Anyone else about to embark on a road-trip with kiddos? Figured out a safe and non-screechy way to transport a cat long-distance? Sit and cut out astronauts and pizza slices while you watch TV?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.

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Author: Dani @ Painting Sunny

Hi there! I'm Dani, and it's lovely to meet you. My little family just moved to the quaint little college-town of Ithaca, NY and are loving it. Come hang out with me and talk about food, books, art, and other odd little things.

8 thoughts on “Operation Preoccupy the Preschooler: DIY Travel Activities

  1. This is a great mashup of some awesome craft ideas. I love the felt piecework!

  2. Pingback: Road Trip Busy Boxes: Kid Travel | painting sunny

  3. Hey Dani! Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you sooner! I’ve been a lil’ MIA! Thanks for the link back love and glad this helped you out! car rides can be rough with little ones so it’s nice to have a plethora of stuff to do!

  4. Car rides can be rough for sure, so anything helps. :) Thanks so much for stopping by! xo, Dani

  5. Pingback: Keeping Busy on the Go: Busy Bags | Babes in Deutschland

  6. I love your post on busy bags, I have made a bunch for my own kids and they are addicted! I did a roundup of bags we have made on my blog and linked to your tutorial, you can check it out here: http://babesindeutschland.com/ Thanks for the inspiration!

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